Friday, 26 June 2009

Prescription Songs

If music be the food of love, so said Mr Shakespeare, then don't forget music can also be the medicine to ailments of the melancholic nature. Music can connect with our moods and thinking so effectively, it's a shame BT can't work out the secret formula and apply it to their broadband speeds.

But you don't have to be a music expert, buff, or connoisseur, to have it as a part of your life. One of the wonderful things about music is it's accessibility to everyone, even if you (okay, oddly in my book) only like one tune out of the plethora of musical delights that life offers. Music affects us all.
Sickeningly loved-up couples nearly always have 'their' song. People will often lay down lists of certain musical numbers they want at their funeral (or wedding- maybe the same song, not much difference in occasion if you ask me). Random songs will be held dear to people for the memories it brings back. Shops, bars, galleries etc...they often have music blaring out to provide an atmospheric soundtrack for buying, enjoying or just simply annoying. Is it any wonder road-joggers are all plugged into their ipods as they pound away the miles? Ok it relieves the boredom but there's no doubt the right tempo-track can boost flagging muscles. Music is everywhere. Songs can take you to dreamy worlds and new adventures, it can help you sleep and keep you awake. By jove there's not much it can't do. Aside from your laundry, unfortunately.

What I particularly enjoy about music is how it can lift my mood, accompany my moods, soothe my soul. When I am happy, I want to sing along out loud to certain pieces of music. It makes me more happy (it may make the neighbours vexed, but you can't have everything). Music can be invigorating. It fills my heart with little quavers and crotchets of energetic delight. It might remind me of lovely memories, enabling me to experience part of that time again.

When I am blue, I often want to listen to nothing but depressing songs. True, it can make me feel more depressed. If that is humanly possible. But often than not it will actually lift my spirits (eventually). I even have a special playlist in my itunes for the occasion, entitled: Songs to Die To.
There is something comforting in the knowledge that feeling blue is quite a normal, natural human emotion. Others have, and are, feeling it too. And there is (if seemingly a little warped) a reassuring sensation that you're not alone. There may be different reasons, but the emotions can be the same. It's similar to why Shakespeare is still relevant for study now (despite many kill-joys demanding it isn't). The language may be old, but humans still suffer the same slings and arrows of outrageous mood swings and emotions today as humans did hundreds, thousands of years ago. Music is no different. It's just we are lucky enough to now have the t'interwebs to express to the world our delight/disgust/obsessive natures [please tick where applicable] about it all. (We're also unlucky enough now to suffer X-Factor-type-reality-shows, but let's not fall down that particular boulevard of Zeleb-broken-dreams)
As a child I was haunted by The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby & She's Leaving Home songs. Sgt Pepper was the main album that I grew up with, my parents being avid Beatles (and not much else) fans. (Imagine my shock when I grew up and discovered that other bands than the Liverpool four existed. It was like opening a musical Tutankhamun's chamber of treasures) I first remember hearing them when I was about 6, and even then they seemed to fill me with a strange sensation of sadness. I registered the songs made me feel curiously reflective and were highly evocative, but I had no idea what this response was or meant. But I understood music could make you feel things.

Here are a few of my favourite, most melancholic songs, pieces of music so sad they have often driven me to tears. No mean feat for an emotional retard such as myself. But I go back to them time and time again. And they never fail to pinch me sharply, whether to realise things aren't so bad, or simply to reflect on the fact life is a bit of a bugger at times, but it happens to us all. Sometimes they oddly make me feel more alive than ever, that life is so fragile and beautiful it is too difficult even comprehend. (I'll be videotaping plastic bags in the wind next......)

Nick Drake - Place To Be
Elliott Smith - Needle In the Hay
Johnny Cash - Hurt
Nico - These Days
Rufus Wainwright - This Love Affair
Robyn Hitchcock - I Saw Nick Drake
Radiohead - Street Spirit (Fade Out)
THE BOWIE - Warszawa
Tracy Chapman - Goodbye
The Beatles - She's Leaving Home
Eels - I Need Some Sleep
Rufus Wainwright - The Maker Makes
Sufjan Stevens - Romulus
Elan - At the Edge of the World (This is based on The Challenger disaster)
Kate Bush - The Coral Room

I could list hundreds more. Of course, when all fails, a loud blast of Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill never fails to lift my mood. That song is my personal life-smelling-salt. This is mental viagra of the most potent kind. Sod anti-depressants, just prescribe Kate Bush.

With-a-thank-you to my musical muse the lovely Jon


danny boy said...

wot no Massive Attack? ;)

TrefforestGump said...

I'm awaiting 'wot no Frog Chorus....' comments....

Dan the Man said...

"Prescription Songs" - for the title alone should include Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space by Spiritualized for the art cover and limited edition packaging.

TrefforestGump said...

Heh. These are just a small number of my faves, not a definitive list. I could have listed 3498572938457293845798475 tracks.....

mpathy said...

braaaaaaaavo sianzabelle. i love your choices! your musical taste and somberness is almost as good as mine

Berowne said...

"Music affects us all."

Yes, but isn't that a problem?

Often, when I go to a restaurant I get, along with my huevos rancheros, music in the background.

And I have to wonder, how could anyone select music, even just a piece of music, that would please everyone? Or maybe just not irritate someone?

It would be impossible.

The older diner, who might enjoy a nice quiet Mozart string quartet, is unable to even eat the food when there's heavy metal clanging in the air. Whereas Mozart would probably drive a huge number of the customers right out of the place. Should it be Celine Dion, Yanni, elevator music? The restaurant's owner asks: What can I play that will please -- or at least not drive crazy -- just about everyone?

The answer to that is easy, old fellow. There is nothing, absolutely nothing. So I vote for silence...