The power of a sad song

While writing the music for my latest album, Northern Boy, I noticed that most of the songs I was coming up with were quite sad songs. In fact I would also notice my self favoring the sadder ones over the occasionally chirpy number. Little bit of me was getting worried that without me noticing I might be suffering from a depression or something… But then again, few sad country and folk songs is not really the best way to determine your mental health.

I was writing a lot. I have a folder on my computer that I created on Tuesday the 1st of October 2013 and before the end of the year I had 30 songs in the folder. Now considering that during that time I spent two weeks on tour with Sliotar, a week in Spain celebrating my grand fathers 85th birthday, on the 23rd of December I flew over to Finland for Christmas, before that I managed to do all my Christmas shopping and play 33 concerts with Sliotar in Dublin. So you could see I was being very productive. I was trying to cheer up the subjects, but the happier songs usually ended up in the “dump file”. Was there something wrong with me?

So I stuck on some of my favorite CD’s, “Closing Time” by Tom Waits, One of my favorite Johnny Cash Albums “American IV” and even some new ones, like “Southeastern” by Jason Isbell, “All The Little Lights” by Passenger. I started to notice a pattern here. Not exactly some of the happiest albums around.

I started to read articles on this subject to better understand what I thought as “My weird obsession with sad music”. But boy was I wrong! It seems it’s not just me, but most of us humans. I came across a research on how music, even sad music releases estrogen in our brains, and we all know that is great stuff ;-). Apparently even Aristotle thought that by immersing ourselves in sad feelings, we free ourselves from those same emotions in real life. But the most interesting was a research done by the Tokyo University of the Arts and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan. The details of the research is posted widely on internet, so I won’t go in the details, but they concluded that “In general, sad music induces sadness in listeners, and sadness is regarded as an unpleasant emotion. If sad music actually evokes only unpleasant emotion, we would not listen to it,”
The sadness, heartbreak or loss is not real and our mind can separate it from real life, which actually percents a real threat. This is why the sad song is enjoyable and can even be helpful to help us get rid of negative emotions. Wow!
So I will definitely continue to write those sad songs, as it turns out they are more enjoyable for me to write and might actually serve a purpose to help others 🙂


If you want to get two of my songs for free download, click HERE