Mood Music

I’ve been thinking a lot about the relation between our state of mind and the music we choose to listen to.  This is due in part to the fact that one of my favorite people spent part of the past weekend listening to what is maybe the saddest mix of all time.  Even the title of the mix made me want to cry.

Part of me wanted to yell (and did, come to think of it) “Stop listening to sad sack music!,” but I understand that part of the beauty of music is that it can express the way we are feeling in ways that we aren’t able.  And honestly, if someone suggested a song like “Walking on Sunshine” to me when I was in a foul disposition, I would probably punch them in the face.

So, is there a balance to be struck here?  Is sad music while we are sad, and happy while we are happy a source of therapy?  Or does it just compound and sustain the mood that we are in?  But isn’t there some comfort in that as well – that in some way listening to the music means we are not alone in our feelings?

Clearly, I’m not the only one that has ever wondered this.  Nick Hornby expressed this dilemma in his novel High Fidelity:

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”

I don’t have any of the answers to my questions and will probably always wonder this.  But I will buy coffee for anyone that has opinions about this matter and is game for a lively conversation.



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