Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sad Songs Say So Much

Recently, I listened to a rather insightful This American Life podcast about break ups. "After a break up, you just stare at what happened," the show's host, Ira Glass, astutely observes in the introduction.

I think this could be said for any unwelcome event in life that comes out of nowhere and knocks you flat on the ground, leaving you shaking and desperate to figure out what exactly did-- or did not-- happen that so drastically changed things.

The show continues with an amusing and honest analysis of how break up songs simultaneously help the healing and perpetuate the hurting after you've been through a break up.

"Rather than listening to songs for pleasure, I began listening to songs for pain. I listened to break up songs to feel better, and by better, I mean worse, " explains writer Starlee Kline as she describes her post-breakup trauma, which led to an unhealthy obsession with Phil Collins and an attempt to write her own break up song.

She continues, "There is something satisfying in listening to sad songs. . . they make you feel less alone with your crazy thoughts. . .they don't judge you, they understand you. They don't tell you to try online dating or that you're better off without him. They tell you what you do want to hear, that you're worse of without him because that's how you feel."

But what nailed it for me was when she said, "I wanted to wallow-- big time, deeply and with the least amount of perspective as possible."

I have not experienced a break up recently (you actually have to date for that, which requires a whole different set of sad of songs-- found on the unrequited love playlist) but this week has been a Thelma and Louise kind of week-- the kind that could end with me in the car, driving off a cliff. Ok, so I wouldn't do that.

But something that wasn't broken last week crumbled this week and even though I should have seen it coming (and possibly did see it coming), I didn't prevent it and now I don't know how to fix it.

And the only thing that has been making me feel better (and by better, I mean worse), has been sad music. I've been listening to Kelly Clarkson's "Sober" and Linkin Park's "Waiting for the End" almost nonstop, mixed in with DCFC's "Tiny Vessels" and Broken Bells' "Sailing to Nowhere." The music understands me, I tell myself. I can't drink. Sex is out of the question (again, hard when there's no dating), and I don't want to go to the store and buy ice cream.

So music it is.

And maybe going for a run, reading my scriptures or talking with a good friend would be better choices-- but I still prefer the catharsis pathetically sad songs offer me. Because sometimes I don't want to be told to try something else or that I'm better off. Sometimes I really do need to wallow with the least amount of perspective as possible.

What sad songs do you like to listen to when you're "staring at what happened" after something unexpected and painful happens?

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