Have you ever had a period in your life when you were only able to listen to the same musician in massive quantitative amounts to do justice on how your’e feeling? This is a common human experience and usually devoted to a melancholic or even deeply tortured time in a listener’s life.
Although this is a generally shared experience we believe that this music in correlation with our sadness is blatantly individualized, that nobody has ever felt quite this way before and that this music has never been able to connect with anybody else quite the same way. During this period it is as if a band has entered a recording studio in your subconscious to create an album based off of your thoughts and feelings. It is as if this album some how belongs to you more than others and you have a rich and infinite connection with this album that nobody will understand the way you do but they may in a different way and that may bring you two closer.
This is just a symptom of the everlasting selfishness and the oblivion of sadness that human beings are made of like water and cells.
Many people experience this with Radiohead (album of your choice) as they are a band able to grasp the wide and bizarre variety of human emotion through sonic expression. Listeners that play music are often inspired by their rare and extraordinary melancholic approach. Non musicians enjoy the abstract and impalpable connection they have to the music. Another skill Radiohead has is to not only grasp your emotions in a song but also grasp your relationship with something in the world at large such as the apocalypse or the fear of dying but it is still YOUR relationship with this giant subject matter.
I personally went through a time when I felt I could only listen to The Rolling Stone’s “No Expectations” over and over and over and over and over. Every time I tried to listen to another song it sounded mediocre and inadequate. This was because I was going through a breakup like everybody else goes through but I, of course felt like somehow the Stones got together, recorded my relationship and decided to make a song about it with the perfect amount of slide guitar 40 years before the relationship. Everything about the song engulfed the tumultuous yet undefinable feelings swimming through me. The song eventually taught me to rationalize the situation and appreciate the natural conclusion of the relationship.
I then went through a phase when I felt all I could physically do was listen to Mazzy stars’ ‘So Tonight that I might See” on vinyl and fall into the abyss of my bedroom floor while feeling as if each lyric subtly exuded from Kendra Smith’s mouth was an answer to a question I didn’t know I had. Every time I listened to the album which is approximately 70,000 I felt like I just visited the best psychotherapist in the nation and was able to further my personal clarity by listening to the album again.
Then there is of course ,Nick Drake’s “Fruit Tree” which made me feel less sad as he was always somehow more sad but made it seem so enticing. He made me want to be sad forever and that any sign of joy was for fools and stoners. I then realized this notion could be detrimental for my lifestyle and eventually put the record at the bottom of my shelf, which I save for those special days when I am well past the blues and into the reds.
A friend of mine listened to Bon Iver’s “For Emma forever ago” and went missing for two weeks.His situation was clearly shared amongst other sensitive men that lost the one that got away and without her their facial hair grows in reckless abandon.
Then there the classic musician-emotion combinations: Elliot Smith for misery, Cat Power for insecurity, Portishead for intimacy, Bob Dylan for heart-break, Amy Winehouse for heart-ache, Nina Simone for heart-sake.
The point? We are not alone when we are sad and that is OK, music isn’t strategically designed for our personal experience and that is also OK if there is some kind of interplanetary connection all of us share is this disordered world- it is this.