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Why does everyone write about loss, lonelieness and despair?

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 pbee
(@pbee)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2097
 

Hey Dneck,

thanks for posting that link, what an extraordinary song, I loved it.

cheers

Paul


Check out my Reverbnation page here


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(@dustdevil)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 99
 

I agree a disproportionate amount of songs are just downright depressing. The ones I write in DADGAD generally are that way simply because it seems to fit the eerie, droning sound. But sometimes a little humor and not taking oneself so seriously is good for you and makes a good song too.

I suppose people equate deep, emotional, soul-baring with good writing for some reason. Maybe it's because people tend to be more introspective when they are sad and not when they are happy. (I've never seen a person stop and ask themselves, "Why am I so happy?".)

I suppose you could write 47 sad, depressing songs. But think about it, would you really want to hear someone play a 2 hr set of all sad, depressing songs? (Unless you're a 14 year old boy or girl with parents who "just don't understand"...) :D

I think it's best to mix it up a little.

John A.

They say only a pawnshop guitar can play the blues. An eBay one does it better. A guitar's bound to feel unloved if her owner plasters pictures of her over the internet for all to see and then sells her off to the highest anonymous bidder.


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 pbee
(@pbee)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2097
 

Maybe its about closure and resolution, when you're happy, its like you've made it to some relative end point. When things are unresolved then a process takes place to try and get to grip with the issue and find a solution or closure. I think the human condition is such that there is always something that needs our attention, and so our life experience is dominated by unresolved issues, and the emotions that these create. When we write songs we draw on our own experience, and if that is dominated by emotions from unresolved issues then to me its no surprise that the majority of songs tap into those feelings. Just my thoughts.

Paul


Check out my Reverbnation page here


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(@coatbutton)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 14
 

(Unless you're a 14 year old boy or girl with parents who "just don't understand"...)
I resent that! I'm a 14 year old girl, but that doesn't mean I can only listen to or relate to "emo" music.


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(@saber)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 351
 

Great music isn't written in depression. I think you've only got half the story. Depression works like the bottom half of a sin wave. On the way down it's difficult to write anything because everything is clouded by confusion and sadness. It's on the way back up, when the tension is easing that your supposed to be able to utilize your creativity the most. Oddly enough this is always the point where people kill themselves. I GUESS IT'S CONVICTION!!!

At least I think that's it. Anyway, on a basic hormonal level tension would really only help your creativity because it helps you concentrate and rack your brain more. It's similar with sports though. Slight tension increases your performance if you know what you are doing, but if you are uncertain it will make things much worse.

I think the best idea though, is to try to be creative all the time. Then maybe you'll hit the sweet spot every once in a while.

As far as songs being mostly depressing, it's very simple. Inevitably, with sadness comes the feelings of being trapped and confused, which not only leads a person into desiring some cathartic out source for their emotions, but also makes them want to feel connected in a time of loneliness. But when you are happy you are generally satisfied, and don't possess this need to connect. You are already connected to the world. You are happy. You are content.
So in the end, not a lot of songs are written about happiness.

I think a lot of the songs that come out about being happy, are generally by those who have already recognized the repetitive sentiment of their songs, and branch out into happy songs, or merely just better, more original, and more refined songs about loneliness and depression.

"Like the coldest winter chill. Heaven beside you. Hell within." -Jerry Cantrell


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(@dneck)
Honorable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 632
 

Hey Paul, ya I love that song, you should listen to it, it sounds great also. Did you figure out the mystery? I listened to the song like 20 times on this trip and didnt fully understand it till I had the lyrics in front of me and looked at the title. And then I got very sad, you don't realize how sad the beginning is until the end.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


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(@gram99)
Trusted Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 62
 

to surly

of course you like happy songs. you live in paradise. spend a week here (alberta canada) in january and you will write the saddest coldest songs humanly possible. :-)))))))))))))))

keep up the good work.
gram99

"Nothing happens until something moves."

Albert Einstein


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(@surly)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 62
Topic starter  

hehe, maybe you have a point. Ive spent the last 3 australian summers in the Austrian Alps for their winters and i have to say i write mostly when i get home. Maybe because my hands are so cold.

I think dust devil nailed it when he said 'I suppose people equate deep, emotional, soul-baring with good writing for some reason. Maybe it's because people tend to be more introspective when they are sad and not when they are happy. (I've never seen a person stop and ask themselves, "Why am I so happy?".)'

Everyone keeps saying that writing depressing songs makes them feel better. It just seems like catharsis in the from of free-expression of your feelings just doesnt lead to good songwriting. How many good songwriters write about depression and solitude by trying to simply word their own feelings? Think Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, they tell stories about other people or any number of techniques to give a new angle.

I guess the obvious question now wil be, what is good songwriting? If it makes you feel better and your not wanting to perform it or share it, then hasnt the song fulfilled its purpose?


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

Coatbutton, he was joking (witness the smiley after the statement). It's funny though, because when Dustdevil wrote that I thought of a number of my students and, thankfully, only two of them fit that bill. But they do fit it.

I do think that the issue does come down to "what constitutes good songwriting" and I think that becomes yet another personality driven discussion. Surly mentions rap songs in the original posting, but there are (obviously) good and bad rap lyrics as well. I think it takes two parts - one being a little more than clever with lyrics, being able to provide a new twist or insight into a subject. The other being able to well-match the lyrics with the music. Many's the time I've forgiven someone a mediocre (or worse) lyric if the music more than makes up for it.

Peace


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5384
 

Great music isn't written in depression. I think you've only got half the story. Depression works like the bottom half of a sin wave. On the way down it's difficult to write anything because everything is clouded by confusion and sadness. It's on the way back up, when the tension is easing that your supposed to be able to utilize your creativity the most.

Then I have to option then to assume depression works differently in the States then it does here. For example, non of the people around me diagnosed with any level of depression were 'clouded by confusion'. If anything they were far more clear-headed and way more able to put a realistic link between cause and effect. That's not what the books say but it is what I've seen with my own eyes on numerous occasions. Or take a case-study: Beethoven was a manic depresses person, at times suffering depressed periods for some years without any kind of manic period in between. You can rest assured he wrote plenty of music at the time.

It is true that the really deeply depressed persons are totally energy-less when they hit the bottom, which explains why people indeed commit suicide slightly after they hit the bottom and are somewhat on the way up. But I severely doubt you can call someone who kills himself to be 'in a state of moderate tension'. Same goes for people writing music or literature in the same state.

But I guess most sad music isn't written by sad people at all.


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(@manontheside)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 179
 

But I guess most sad music isn't written by sad people at all.

I agree and I don't, I guess it's a relative thing. Winnie the Pooh said something like "You don't get any wetter than wet"

:)
-man

"I wish there was an over the counter test for my loneliness"


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

(Unless you're a 14 year old boy or girl with parents who "just don't understand"...)
I resent that! I'm a 14 year old girl, but that doesn't mean I can only listen to or relate to "emo" music.
There are some of our members, who are still relatively close to 14 and others (OK, me), who barely remember that far back, but it's a standing joke amongst us older folks. We have all seen ourselves, in our children - and we are still surprised when they tell us that we "don't understand them"
When you have a 14 year old child, the day will come, when he/she shouts "You just don't understand! You're too OLD!" You age 10 years in two seconds!
It still doesn't mean that you can't listen to whatever music you like. On the contrary, we've heard any number of times from members, who tell us that GN has got them listening to types of music and to artists, that they would, otherwise, never have considered listening to. Welcome to the musical madhouse and feel free to listen to whatever you please.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@tiger-jam)
Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 21
 

Isn't it the same reason that comedies don't win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

(unless we are talking about a romantic comedy written by William Shakespeare, but is that even a fair fight?)


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(@davidhodge)
Member Moderator
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 4485
 

They used to win more often than you'd think -

It Happened One Night

You Can't Take It With You

The Apartment

Tom Jones

And if you consider musicals to be comedies (many are and some aren't) you could add more to the list. It's only after 1970 that things turn almost deadly serious, with Annie Hall being the only uncontested comedy (depending on one's definition, Forest Gump might be included). And again, one musical, Chicago.

But not to highjack the thread, I do think that there's an art to writing any lyric, happy or sad, that requires objectivity (or at least being less than totally subjective) and that's not always an easy thing for a writer to manage.

Part of it may also be the ability to connect over time. There are a lot of songs (both happy and sad) that were big at one time (usually when first written and released) and that nowadays seem dated. They simply don't manage to make the same connection out of their time frame. That can be something totally out of the writer's hands.

Peace


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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

When I was young, I had a fine head of hair,
Oh, when I was young, I had a fine head of hair,
Now I put my hand on my scalp and it's so terribly bare

But now I can tell you where all that hair goes
But now I can tell you where all that hair goes
The mane of my youth is hanging out the end of my nose.

This is why so many songs talk of sadness and despair.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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