When I am feeling angsty, I enjoy making myself feel worse with sad music. I don’t know why. I think most normal people would choose upbeat music to bring them out of their funk. But not me. “I MUST LISTEN TO MUSIC THAT WILL MAKE ME MORE SAD. DAVID BOWIE. JEFF BUCKLEY. RADIOHEAD. LET THEM BE THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY TEARS.”
(Has Radiohead ever written a happy song? I’m pretty sure the answer is no.)
Back in the days of crushing (very unsuccessfully) over men, I had two playlists. The first one was rather large in scope and included a decent assortment of both girl power and wallowing music. Then there was a special playlist, which I dubbed the “Misery Playlist.” It is what I would play whenever I was rejected and wanted to reinforce to myself that I would never find love, ever.
I’m kind of embarrassed of the Misery Playlist, just because it was so emo. I’m pretty sure the Carpenters’ “I Say Goodbye to Love” was on it. I wouldn’t put it past me to have Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” on there, either. I made the mistake of telling my brother of its existence, which meant that, naturally, he had to bring it up in front of Boyfriend, who was NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT THE MISERY PLAYLIST WAS EVER A THING.
I can’t quite say why, but it’s almost like I enjoyed my self-imposed suffering…that I was really FEELING and these songs SPOKE TO ME because THEY ARE ALL ALONE and I AM TOO.
One day I listened to Jeff Buckley all morning, and had his cover of the Smith’s “I Know It’s Over” on repeat. If you haven’t heard it, he somehow manages to make it even more depressing than the Smith’s version, which is quite an achievement (“How Soon is Now?” is another song that I would play to myself when I wanted to feel like I would be Forever Alone.) I had been rejected by someone I had really, really liked, and I thought he’d liked me too.
When my mother called me that day during lunch, I started blubbering to her. Listening to three or four hours straight of Jeff Buckley will put you in that mood.
My mother told me, in the kindest and most loving way that mothers know how, that I needed to woman up and not let a man make me break down like I was.
The pep talk worked. I felt more energized, and when I went back inside to my cube, I picked more cheerful music.
Sometimes, picking a pensive song to match your mood is all you need to let the negative emotions out of your system. And sometimes, you have to shake yourself, put Jeff Buckley on pause, and listen to something like this* instead:
*A permanent fixture on the hypothetical “Makes Me Instantly Happy” playlist