"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?"
– Rob in the High Fidelity movie
I experimented by switching back and forth between sad and cheerful songs and found that upbeat tunes generally make me happier for about three minutes but are often hard to relate to. It is not because I am some kind of a sad little person, I am generally perfectly optimistic. In a way, life reminds me of parents. I love it despite all the crap it gives me. Then why do I keep listening to music that makes me cry?
I think maybe it is because there are so many sides to happiness while the pain of loss is generally one. I think there is a certain threshold of grief after losing a person, a place or a battle that was fought so hard… After crossing that brink of a primary shock, for a while there the pain becomes so strong it blurs the differences of all the initial reasons that hurt… It becomes all-engulfing. Excruciating. So similar to other pains. The melancholic words coming out of the headphones suddenly rhyme so perfectly with emotions… It brings a sense of a pleasant surprise amidst the ocean of sorrow, making you wonder how in the world someone else could put your heartache into their words so perfectly even before your heartache existed. It’s that easy-to-relate factor that makes sadness so listenable. In the words of one dentist I interviewed recently, “our market is essentially based on pain.” I know the producers of sad songs will make sure I stay miserable a bit longer and I know I won’t put up too much of a fight against it. I guess it’s all about the core. As long as you keep it strong, all that wavy stuff like the music in your head won’t really matter in the long run. Like a storm in the sea, it will stir you up and subside. And then comes new happiness, new pain and new music to complement them.