Music Therapy

Back in the day I had cable. You know, before the cost of having 999 channels (and nothing to watch) skyrocketed. Often times the cable box would be tuned to VH1 and I’d become one with my couch while marathons of Behind the Music aired and the twins crawled over each other while tickling their Elmos.

Battery operated evil.

One particular day I was watching Behind the Music: Poison, in which I took a particular interest since for a time in the late 80’s I loved Poison. At some point during the show there was a then current interview of lead singer Bret Michaels lamenting the rise of grunge, and, thus, the decline of glam rock. He said, and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t recall his exact words, “I don’t understand rock music today. Bands today sing about sad shit. In our day way sang happy songs.”

I don’t know that I’d describe 80’s rock as happy, but most of it certainly was not sad. When I think of Poison’s discography, mostly I associate their music with their lifestyle; which was the stereotypical sex, drugs, and rock and roll scene. And, of course, an occasional ballad.

This may be shocking to Michaels, but most of us can’t relate to that type of life. We don’t have the time or money to rock and roll all night or party every day. We don’t have desperate groupies throwing their bodies at us and while providing carte blanche to do whatever we wish to them. We have children. We have jobs. We have bills to pay.

On the surface, Michaels’ opinion seems valid. Logically speaking, it seems absurd that one would rather listen to a song sung from the depths of despair rather than one sung from a positive place.

I, obviously, can only speak for myself, but the “sad” music I listen to, and love, is very relatable to me. When I listen to music in which the artist can capture exactly how I feel I become lost in those lyrics, and the emotion with which they are sung. I can blend right in to music which explores darkness because the darkness is where I often roam. Too many times I’ve felt sad for no discernible reason. Too many times tears have dripped from my eyes with no readily apparent cause. Too many times I’ve felt the frigid absence of hope. So yes, Bret, when someone can expertly capture those feelings and express them in musical form I become ensnared by such a work of art. It gladdens me that you do not understand because that means you’ve never been there.

This weekend past I met someone with a degree in music therapy. I had never heard the term before, so I asked her to elaborate. Music therapy, put simply, is using music to express your feelings when you do not have the ability to articulate them. I cannot count how many times in my life where I’ve been in some desolate place and suddenly I hear a song which perfectly captures exactly how I’m feeling and I just emotionally explode. It’s like, “Yes! These guys get it!” And then I play the song on repeat more times than is probably healthy and feel all the feels that song might evoke. It’s an amazing feeling I really don’t have the words to describe. I might equate it to how the sun may feel as it rises in the morning. Or perhaps how a flower feels when it blooms.

I’ve been giving myself music therapy for years and had nary a clue. On occasion I’ve even turned certain songs, and their associated feelings, into blog posts. Music, as Bob Segar once so eloquently said, soothes the soul.

My latest music therapy session has been provided by Breaking Benjamin.

Tired of feeling lost, tired of letting go.
Tear the whole world down, tear the whole world down.
Tired of wasted breath, tired of nothing left.
Tear the whole world down, tear the whole world down.
Failure.

Many of you will read these lyrics and wonder how on earth they could possibly mean anything to me. Still, many others will read these lyrics and understand perfectly well what they’re meant to convey. Bret Michaels is obviously one of the former.

So, I evidently listen to sad music. And I’m perfectly okay with that. It works for me. I’m abnormal. I prefer winter over summer. I prefer cloudy skies over a sunny day. I prefer night to day. Given a choice between black and white, I’d choose black. And, given a choice between a sad song or a happy song, give me the sad song. It’s therapeutic to me. It’s how I roll. It’s my therapy.

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Does music make you feel all the feels? Does it sooth your soul? Is it therapeutic to you? This is your confessional. Tell me everything.

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About Twindaddy (328 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

53 Comments on Music Therapy

  1. Music truly heals. I love all kind of music( and in all languages. Spanish. Italian. Even from places that I never visited.) And I love winter over summer plus everything you mentioned in your last paragraph. I know a lot of people who love cloudy skies over sunny day, sad song over a happy one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This. I agree. But I have always been more of a grunge kid than glam rock chick. I think it might have to do with my age as I just missed the big hair rock days of the 80’s. In fact, a guy recently wanted to take me to a Van Halen concert. I can’t relate to songs like Hot for Teacher and Panama. I like depth. Glam rock lacked that.

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  3. Melanie (DoesItEvenMatterWhoIReallyAm?) // September 21, 2015 at 6:50 pm // Reply

    I truly get it. Rage Against the Machine sang me to sleep in my teenage years. To this day, I’m always playing music to suit my mood. Thank god for Pandora!

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  4. I love music. I have an addiction to it, and when I hear a song that truly reaches my soul, I play it on repeat. I become obsessed. I can’t say that I only like sad songs, but they do have their place, as do happy songs. As far as music therapy, to me music has always been therapy. Always. Music has always provided me validation for my feelings. And man, Brett has it all wrong because as a musician, nothing captures emotion like sitting down and playing my feelings. Just ask my piano how much emotion I’ve poured into her over the last 30 years.

    Also, from the time I was eight years old until high school, I was in a band very much influenced by Poison (they were are band boyfriends, obvi). We might have also played some Tiffany and some Debbie Gibson. You know because . . . “I get lost in your eyes. . . “

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I think Bret was just kinda pissed that the music scene shifted away from his type of music.

      I took piano lessons for a few years in my youth. I stopped going, though, because my young, stubborn self didn’t think playing piano was cool and my parents got tired of fighting with me about it. Sigh…I was so stupid.

      It’s not just sad songs that I can sit down and get lost in, but any evocative song, really. Sometimes it can be a song about heartbreak or a song that reminds me of a time in my life years past. Usually, though, it’s a song which I can identify with because depression.

      Have you put any of your music online for your adoring fans to listen?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Scott… I love that you have learned what you have been doing all along! Music is an incredibly powerful healing source for many. You are surely not alone. Music empowers, inspires, soothes, releases, comforts, validates, and evokes what is in us… ultimately healing our deepest darkest places. It’s profound really…

    I too, not only listened to songs through my most difficult times- for those reasons, but I wrote and played my own. Over and over and over again….

    Our time together was such a gift. Both in the hilarious fun crazy part of it and the deeper conversations we had as well. THANK YOU for that. It’s just SO cool to have been with you in REAL life. 🙂

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  6. I’m an old and I still relate more to the sadder songs of today than the hairband rock of the 80s. Maybe that’s why The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen resonated so well…Depeche Mode deeper cuts too, not what they played on the radio. Lie to Me is still one of my favorite songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I’ve heard anything by those bands.

      I’ve gone through a lot of musical phases. I’ve had a pop phase, a rap phase, a country phase, and a rock phase. I think the rock phase is permanent, though, cause it’s lasted for the last 13 years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Echo and the Bunnymen and Depeche Mode are both still great live.
      Haven’t seen the Cure. (And I don’t feel bad about that at all.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah yes , playing a song on repeat has been a long time hobby of mine. So much so I used to drive my family nuts when I was in my teens. These days it’s earphones and no one needs to be the wiser. There is just a comfort in some songs.

    As for being weird – if we were having a weirdness contest I’d win with both hands tied behind my back. I love a rainy day. All people who live here do. You should see it. People being all happy when it is rainy. I prefer black over white and find the dark restful.

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    • I imagine you probably don’t get much rain where you live. 😉

      I don’t know. Sometimes (okay…almost always) I get looks when I tell people I’d rather have winter than summer. People don’t get it. Ah, well…

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  8. Music has been a daily part of life as long as I can remember. I have a permanent playlist in my head, and I need music in the background to be able to work. I saw that documentary too and totally agree with your thoughts…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wrote an entire intelligent comment but it failed to post… So attempt # 2 will be shorter.
    I see you point and I too feel that music is very important, but I think that sometimes it’s better not to listen to sad music when you’re sad. It might drag you in even more… Sometimes it might feel better to listen to neutral music.
    At least, that’s my experience 🙂

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  10. Fortunately, and despite Brett, there is plenty of great music on both sides of the coin.
    And even on every facet of the icosahedron.
    And then some.

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  11. To quote Elton John, “Sad songs say so much.”

    While I like both sad and happy songs, sadder ones have more power to me. Because they help me express the sadness I’m feeling. And then they stop, and I can replay the song, play a similar sad song or go on with my life. It lets me get it out, and then I am better able to listen to and participate in the happier stuff.

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  12. All I can say is, same here. And, it works.

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  13. I completely agree with you! Music adds exactly what one needs at the right time. When I am down, my husband blasts his playlist with all kinds of funk and upbeat songs and it is amazing how quickly I feel better. The louder I sing along, the better I feel! I tend to stay away from sad songs when I’m down, they take me right down with them, even if they are beautifully written or relatable. Everyone has their own therapy, right? 🙂 🙂

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  14. I love music, but I can’t remember a single time realizing that a certain song captured my mood at the moment. Am I doing this wrong?

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  15. I think we listen to what is relatable at any given moment in time. My library of music goes across the spectrum, both as a time warp (60’s to current) and a emotion (sad to happy). It also crosses many genre’s, my playlists are so eclectic most people hate them. We all get our therapy in different ways.

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  16. Music is an amazing thing. It has prevented me from losing it and knifing people to death several times, and the Black Album is great for falling asleep.

    (According to statistics, English songs are more “depressing” than non-English ones. Now, the question is how they defined depressing, but I’ve found that Japanese songs on the whole aren’t any more positive or “happy” than a Taylor Swift break-up song)

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  17. Music does amazing things because it bypasses the brain and goes straight to the soul.

    I had a discussion with my flute teacher about baroque music and emotions – there’s a whole group of people who don’t see beauty in baroque music, they only see it as being like a technical exercise. But baroque music has the beauty of the repeating patterns, it’s a kaleidescope rather than a sunset, it’s got the same beauty as the perfectly balanced mathematical equasion. And in the repeating patterns you get the moments which speak to the soul, because actually, by not having to worry about conveying a feeling, the music can go straight to the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

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