Music can play a big part in your mood. I have always listened to sadder songs when I have been feeling low. With hindsight this is not the best practise, so I don’t recommend it one bit. A couple of weeks ago when Lizzie passed away, I went into the office on the day after the tragic event and had to leave earlier than usual due to the depressing songs that every radio station was churning out that day. I am a big fan off Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, but I am not sure if I will ever listen to it again following its multiple plays that day. It was as if the media had wanted us all to feel this immense sense of loss for an old lady who had never impacted our lives in any way. Now, I know this may alienate some readers of the blog, so I apologise to you right now if you’re offended by those comments about someone you never met and who didn’t care about you. I think I felt more loss towards the death of Marisa Cooper on The O.C – see earlier Jeff Buckley reference which quite frankly, is an incredible link.

Controversial start….

The charity Key Changes have said, “Music can play a valuable role in recovery from mental illness. It can stimulate emotional and aesthetic responses, develop creative, technical, social and vocational skills, improve expression, communication, confidence and self-esteem, and facilitate positive changes in behaviour and wellbeing,” which from researching their charity is clearly yielding very positive results. The charity is designed to help promote positive mental health for musicians and music enthusiasts suffering from any mental health conditions. They help the least represented communities affected by the mental health system looking to dispel the discrimination that still exists around this subject. I will post a link to the website at the bottom of this blog for anyone that might be interested in finding out more.

The power of music is quite remarkable. According to the University of Central Florida, listening to your favourite tracks can; improve your immune system, evoke better memories, make you a better communicator, assist in repairing brain damage plus much more. Studies were carried out with sufferers of dementia. The results of these tests found that patients respond better to the music they grew up listening to. Memories associated with music are emotional memories which don’t disappear even amongst patients with Alzheimer’s.  

So why have I listened to sad music when I have been feeling sad? It doesn’t make any sense to me now writing this blog. It is obviously not conducive to feeling better. I think from my own experiences there is a sense that wallowing in the current position can be the right thing to do when it clearly isn’t. I am fairly certain I can recall an evening of self-reflection involved a bottle of white wine and Lewis Capaldi’s first album. Fucking hell that isn’t good, it is? You can jump onto Spotify right now and find many different playlists that are titled ‘sad songs’ for you to listen to. Are they going to improve your mood if you are feeling low? For many people (including myself) wallowing in a bad situation can be the default reaction. One of the things I am hoping to learn from the last few months is to try and combat this reaction and not let myself be drawn into the default position. This is something I must work on. In the past it was easy to say to myself oh you have had a bad day, grab a bottle of wine from the shop, stick on some sad music and that will make you feel ‘better’. Then I would get into the cycles of having more bad days because of the amount I was drinking the nights and days before which could only be offset by, you guessed it more booze.

Now, I am going to flip this on its head and look at it from the other viewpoint. There are professionals who tell us that listening to sad music can be cathartic experience. I read an interesting article in the build up to writing this blog on the ‘psychology today’ website which explains that listening to gloomier songs can induce feelings of nostalgia and develop vicarious emotions or help to regulate a mood. By disconnecting the brain from reality and being lost within the music this can help the person listening. That last one interested me when I was reading. According to Shahram Heshmat, “Sad music produces psychological benefits via mood regulation,” and “lyrics that resonate with the listener’s personal experience can give voice to feelings or experiences that one might not be able to express oneself,” it is definitely an interesting hypothesis but not one I am totally sure I agree with. I am potentially looking at this only from the way in which I have experienced sad music in the past. Possibly, now looking at this from a different perspective I can use it in a more beneficial way. Maybe. However, at the moment I still have the belief that listening to sad tracks will not be the best remedy in a negative situation, but this has certainly made me question that notion a little.

Thanks for the lovely comments received on last week’s blog. The feedback and messages were very kind and I appreciate them all.

Thanks for reading this one, bit of a different tone this week but I hope you still enjoy.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts