Loud music calms me down
Somber music cheers me up
Happy music is just…happy music
If you listen to cheerful music no one ever asks questions. It is as normal as being in a stable, heterosexual relationship, having a bank account or owning a car. No one will question your sanity, even though it is clearly insane to listen to cheerful music in dark times. But then again, escapism is one of the fundamental human traits.
The last time I had the sensation of normality was around 1975, after I bought my first record, the best of ABBA. My favourite song was ‘Waterloo’, it always made me happy. ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘S.O.S’ were also pretty cool, but none of their songs matched the excitement and exuberant happiness of Waterloo. Couple of years later my father gave me ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘ and from there it all went downhill. By 1983 I was a proud member of the ‘confused kids who only listen to hardcore punk and Joy Division’ club. I’m still an honorary member.
I never wanted to destroy something or beat someone up. I never even came close to a thought about suicide. I’m not aggressive, I’m not depressed. I’m a pretty well-integrated member of society who happens to get his kicks out of weird music. Depressive music elevates me, aggressive music calms me down and weird abstract music stimulates my thinking. It’s just the way it is…for me.
On that note…a couple of years ago I bought a book with the fascinating title ‘I hate myself and want to die: the 52 most depressing songs you’ve ever heard’. I was expecting a book about the best dark, somber, melancholic or downright depressing songs. Fifty-two songs I could stick to a playlist, an endless source of joy and happiness. Unfortunately, most songs made the cut for a different reason, because of being a depressing listening experience. I didn’t need a book to tell me that listening to Mariah Carey or Barry Manilow is a depressing thing to do. I do think that a next edition should include Pharell William’s ‘Happy’, the one song that manages to be depressing start to finish, from title, lyrics, production, voice, all the way up to popularity and airplay. A remarkable achievement.