Music For Emotional Health

Started by SueC, July 28, 2019, 16:21:03

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.


OK, I think this song actually does qualify as an emotional health song for romantic relationships.  Really, truly, because I think cultivating a certain kind of insanity is good for us.  :angel

It's also one of the slim minority of love songs I can actually relate to.  :lol:

In other news, look what popped up in The Guardian this morning. Apparently we are now old enough to pass on our accumulated wisdom to other people!  :1f631:  Two weeks ago we were interviewed by lovely Alex, and this is the result:

She really took the time to understand where we were coming from, was great fun to talk to (we spent almost as much time laughing as conversing), and wrote her piece superbly without distorting anything. We think it's important to be open about mental/emotional health and relationship backstages, in an era where so much stuff is stage managed to look picture perfect, so we put our hands up to be part of this series which attempts to look honestly at how people overcome the inevitable challenges of making long-term relationships work. I think it's really important for big-picture mental/emotional health not to conceal the things that are difficult for us, and not to invent a fairytale that doesn't represent your lived reality. The more we can talk about the hard things as a community, the better.

If you've got a story that might add something useful to the community conversation, contact Alex - she's great.
SueC is time travelling


There's some music that you shouldn't listen to if you're depressed or otherwise down, which is actually a really great idea to listen to when you're feeling good.  I don't think memento mori are generally advisable for when you're in a dark place (although sometimes they can be cathartic there), but I think they're so valuable in general.

Here's some words by WB Yeats, set to music.  We are all faeries... and I love how this track is beautiful and bitter-sweet...

Here's a nice video someone made for it - audio not as good, but also makes a point well.

Like it says in the Fight Club song, "You have to realize that someday you will die. Until you know that, you are useless."

This memento mori by Yeats says, in essence, "Life is short, live it well, enjoy it, do wonderful things."

Soon shall our wings be stilled
And our laughter over and done
So let us dance on the waves
Let us dance in the sun
SueC is time travelling


OK, who else has been using music as one of their strategies for promoting mental and emotional wellbeing during the pandemic and the woeful political spectacles in many of our countries?  Playing favourites and half-forgotten things from your collection, perhaps practising an instrument in your lounge room for brain gym, and perchance singing in the shower?

I'd like to thank all musicians out there who make thoughtful and complex music, all the people involved in making musical instruments and CDs and records and sheet music and online tutorials etc etc etc, and all the people who buy recorded music and concerts, and go to gigs, which supports musicians to make music. Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for helping us to be human.  ♥
SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on November 06, 2020, 06:11:31OK, who else has been using music as one of their strategies for promoting mental and emotional wellbeing

Hm, I guess I have always done so. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

(It depends, there are days when I'm just not too keen on music. On others, I look through my collection and just can't seem to find something fitting my mood. But thankfully, on most days I do find something to listen to. Often it leads to me thinking "why didn't I find this last week?" or "why did I not listen to this for ages?"...)

Quote from: SueC on November 06, 2020, 06:11:31Playing favourites and half-forgotten things from your collection

Yes, I've always done this, but I had a bit more time during "lockdowns" and such (less work, less meeting people, no concerts, no cinema...)!

In fact I've been listening to some old vinyl records, I otherwise wouldn't have found time & patience for.  :cool
Theorize and talk yourself
Until you're tired and old


Quote from: Ulrich on November 06, 2020, 12:24:53(It depends, there are days when I'm just not too keen on music. On others, I look through my collection and just can't seem to find something fitting my mood.

This is when you have to get in the shower, and improvise some singing.   :smth023

Or maybe buy a big kettledrum and beat it up?   :-D

Know what you mean re music-free days.  We're like that too - sometimes we have podcast phases, sometimes we just want quiet, and sometimes it's another music binge...

QuoteBut thankfully, on most days I do find something to listen to. Often it leads to me thinking "why didn't I find this last week?" or "why did I not listen to this for ages?"...)

The other day I realised I'd not listened to an album I like in five years!!!  :1f631:

It's like, sometimes we actually forget we made ice-cream.  And then it's, "Oh, we have ice-cream!" when we look in the freezer for another reason...  :1f635:

QuoteYes, I've always done this (playing favourites and half-forgotten things from your collection), but I had a bit more time during "lockdowns" and such (less work, less meeting people, no concerts, no cinema...)!

In fact I've been listening to some old vinyl records, I otherwise wouldn't have found time & patience for.  :cool

This does sound like a nice spin-off from having to stay home a lot!

I wonder if some people have a rigorous system to make sure they don't forget to listen to anything in their music collection for too long.  Maybe they write an algorithm.  I'm not talking about iPods here, of course - you can programme those and make playlists etc, and listen by artist or song or album, alphabetically - I'm talking about the physical stuff on the shelf - not all of which is on the iPod, and anyway, the iPod reduces the quality of the sound both by data compression and because of the types of headphones that go with it - speakers in a room with good acoustics is always so much better, and I think it's nice to feel the low range in your thorax anyway rather than just blast your ears specifically...

For that, Brett and I mostly just seem to operate on whim - sometimes just happening to feel like XYZ, sometimes browsing shelves, and sometimes we say to each other, "YOU put something on - surprise me!" - or, even more fun, "Play me something you like that I don't know, and tell my why you like it, where you first heard it, etc etc etc."  :)

It's also really nice to ask your friends to bring some music to your house, and play you something they like.  You can get to know each other a lot better with this, even if you've known each other ten years already!   :cool

A bit of a tangent, but today we happened to catch a talk by a 17-year-old with progeria, and he too has music as something that's important for his happiness... and gives some cogent advice on happiness, as well!  Very cool kid.  :smth023

SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on November 07, 2020, 10:53:23This is when you have to get in the shower, and improvise some singing.

Hm, I don't really sing in the shower... sometimes at work (when I'm alone & a song is on I want to sing along to) or in the car...

Quote from: SueC on November 07, 2020, 10:53:23I wonder if some people have a rigorous system to make sure they don't forget to listen to anything in their music collection for too long.

Well I don't really have a "system", but: when I don't really know what to listen to (new albums already listened to or nothing new been bought for a while), I take it upon me to "celebrate anniversaries", i.e. in 2020 I would listen to albums from 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010. (I don't own a lot from 1970 or earlier, but that might be added too if I find anything.)

Which can "backfire" a bit, because I might find an old cd and then think "oh that's from 1991, I'll have to wait until next year".  :lol:

Quote from: SueC on November 07, 2020, 10:53:23It's also really nice to ask your friends to bring some music to your house, and play you something they like.

Only if you have friends with taste!  :winking_tongue

I don't wanna think about the many times I heard someone say "you like The Cure, then you'll surely like this too" - in most cases I didn't.  :expressionless:
Theorize and talk yourself
Until you're tired and old


@word_on_a_wing 's favourite romantic songs thread has started my brain on a background trawl through all sorts of songs related to the subject of love.  Here's one it spat out this morning - a song I've not listened to in years, but the lyrics are fabulous.

It doesn't belong in a romantic songs thread, because it's not about romantic love, it's about love more fundamentally.  I like in this song the recognition that the whole idea of some knight or knightess in shining armour rescuing you is immature bollocks, ditto the idea that falling in love with someone, or even being a part of a healthy couple, will solve all your problems - which are ideas frequently peddled in the popular music played on some radio stations I avoid like the plague.  But, nothing gets around having to sort out your own stuff, before you're ready to inflict yourself on another human being in an intimate relationship.  Noone else can or should solve that for you.  So this song talks about love rescuing the narrator, not a lover - and goes on to make that clear.

Some people think that love in this case refers to God, which would potentially really just put that whole "someone else do the work" thing another step removed, especially according to the instant-salvation, I-do-nothing, God-does-it-all-for-me ideas of the fundamentalist evangelical religions that have a case to answer for promoting and glorifying emotional immaturity.  But not everyone who believes in God thinks this way - believe it or not, some people who are that way inclined do take responsibility for their own selves, and for sorting themselves out, and they see God more as a pathway, rather than as a magic-wand fairy.

And you can be agnostic or atheistic, and the main premise of this song still works - love at the core of what you try to do - but not dysfunctional versions that you might have been brainwashed into.  Here's where it helps to actually read about it, starting with Greek ideas - the Greeks have so many different words for love, like eros, ludus, philia, storge, pragma, agape - you can look that up easily if you've never heard of it; here's a useful summary.

According to that classification, I think the most useful aspects of love for changing the self are philia, agape and a healthy form of philautia or self-love/self-care - but the interesting thing is to think about that for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

SueC is time travelling


Still supremely relevant today, and connects the dots from outside to inside...

SueC is time travelling


Theorize and talk yourself
Until you're tired and old


I've been dipping back into this particular album today; two songs on that especially fit my own experience on the road out of a dysfunctional family of origin.  Here's one:

This song is midlife looking back, which is exactly where I was when I first heard this track.  Everyone's life is different but lyrics can be sufficiently non-specific and stretchy to become "your" song.  I feel these words in my bones:

Old man knows that I never listen
So how could I have something to say
Old man knows how to cheat ambition
You don't lose if you don't play

Soldier soldier
We signed our lives away
Complete surrender
The only weapon we know
Soldier soldier
We knew the world would never be the same
Soldier this is where you can reach me now

(On a double decker bus
Into College Square)
If you won't let us in your world
Your world just isn't there

Old man says that we never listen
We shout about what we don't know
We're taking the path of most resistance
The only way for us to go

The path the writer of this song took was into music, but there are many ways we can make meaningful journeys that take us out of bleak circumstances and massive initial handicaps (and we may not see until much later how huge these were).  This song always makes me take a wry look back at being treated as if I knew nothing and had nothing worth aspiring to by my father when I was a teenager (one of many issues, but it's not just the outward bruises that hurt you), and really feel the celebration of the journey out and its wonderful things along the way, in my life.

I so, so identify with "Complete surrender/The only weapon we know" - having also been hugely influenced by Martin Luther King's book Strength to Love as a very young person, and finding it a far superior philosophy than what I saw in my family of origin.  It's amazing what will take you out of the bottomless pit.  "We're taking the path of most resistance/The only way for us to go" - that's very much how it was for me, so much so that it became natural for me to swim against the tide, rather than with it - and I think that's the only way you're not going to just be swept along all of your life by whatever is going on around you.

The other song I really love off this, and that was very helpful for me when I was first processing the complex PTSD diagnosis in my early 40s, was in the very first post in this thread but bears repeating, it's such a gorgeous song:

Bono also came from a dysfunctional home background, and there's certain things you don't see clearly until midlife, when you look back.  It's a shame really - it would be so much better if we could see this clearly when we are 25 and struggling, and/or papering it over.  I'm at the tail end of my 40s now and only these past few years feel like I've actually got a sufficient handle on how things work that it's fair on me to be in this world.  (Fair on others is easier, and I managed that much earlier.)

I guess when I've really worked it out, I'll be old enough to have to plan my own imminent funeral.  :winking_tongue

On another, lighter note - I remember a remark I read many years ago in an interview with Bono, where he said he realised he "sings like a girl"...  :?

I think what he meant is that he actually sings notes, without distorting his voice - at the time of interview, that's all he'd ever done, and that wasn't actually a bad thing if you ask me.  What he'd not done was what quite a few male popular singers do, especially in the louder, more macho genres of contemporary music, which is to:

...sing as if constipated
...sound as if regularly gargling with Drano
...attempt to match the decibels of a jet airplane at lift-off
...yowl like Tarzan with electrodes attached to precious anatomy while swinging on a vine

(There have to me more examples like this - feel free to add your own...)
SueC is time travelling


Music that makes you feel better, think better etc isn't always dependent on lyrics / a message to do that - as music aficionados would be well aware.  I've often looked at lyrics and messages on this thread, but of course the atmosphere and raw beauty that can be created by instrumental music is in itself something that can be profoundly moving, and a reminder that despite the darkness, there is so much that is amazing.

For classical music examples of that, you can visit earlier pages in this thread, and submit your own here too.

We were chatting about this in the car last night - that you don't actually need lyrics to make something that connects deeply with the deepest parts of us, and that a lot of the songs with decent lyrics that we love best go with amazing music.

We looked at instrumentals on our drive home from the beach - we'd started with this:

Then we went to this:

My iPod doesn't have all our music on it, so many of our favourite instrumentals were at home.  But then we were talking about the fact that The Cure, in their non-pop-songs, more often than not have the quality of fabulous instrumentals right there alongside the singing - not behind, but alongside the singing.  And I put on this:

...and the moment the track started, Brett was making spontaneous appreciative noises - this is an all-time favourite for both of us, and we were again exclaiming over the silly music journalist who, in a review of the Disintegration + B-Sides shows in Sydney a couple of years back, bemoaned the inclusion of this song - "Should've played Friday I'm In Love" - I ask you.

This is one of those perfect pieces of music, like a perfect landscape - every element of it sings, and together the elements make a sum so much greater than the parts.  Both the tone and melody of the guitar seep into your blood in a language you can't even begin to describe in words, but understand so clearly on an elemental level.  The bassline similarly speaks volumes.  Piano and drums/percussion add their own voices.  And that's a long way before the vocal kicks in.

Friday I'm In Love indeed.  :P

More songs with highly instrumental flavours followed, including this:

The story set in the lyrics is so beautifully echoed in the instrumentation...and that wistful, almost Chinese/Japanese guitar melody has been getting into my marrow for decades.

And then there's the drum sound on this, which makes me do cartwheels inside:

Also, people on this forum introduced me to this, and I love it:

If a picture is worth one thousand words, what about a track like this?

You can share all your favourite instrumentals / extraordinarily well put together songs that really get under your skin here. :)
SueC is time travelling



When I started this thread, I spent some time talking about complex PTSD - from an insider's perspective and also as a friend to other people with complex childhood trauma, which is sadly not an uncommon occurrence, but tends not to be talked about and needs bringing out into the open.

I also discussed in this post that when a friend and I compared notes, we found Sinéad O'Connor was a significant artist for both of us, initially while we were growing up with trauma and then in the aftermath of trying to process that in adulthood.  Her voice and her subject matters gave voice to the hurt places inside of us, and to hope and dignity and the things that are beautiful about life.

In retrospect I'm not at all surprised that people with emotional wounds are drawn to her music - she was dealing with childhood trauma herself.  Of course, you don't say at the time, "What I like about that music is the way it deals with childhood trauma."  I think it's that there's a certain emotional sensitivity that comes with the territory, plus that the under-addressed hurts inside of you can be really huge in amping up your creativity and your desire to express yourself, so that can make for good writing and good music, and for a lot of passion about what you do, and a lot of attention to detail.  It can actually drive you to be really good at what you do.

Sadly, complex trauma, even when you've dealt thoroughly with it in your adult life, does tend to leave you vulnerable to very low lows in response to additional traumatic circumstances in adulthood.  It's not like you're teflon coated because you've already been through hell, it's more like you've got sensitive skin that's prone to blisters, and if you can't protect that skin adequately, you get blisters.

How many people have suicided when they've crashed into a low that turns them into a raw walking wound is anyone's guess, but too many.  I was saddened when Big Country's Stuart Adamson suicided in his 40s after his marriage had fallen apart - like Sinéad O'Connor's music, Big Country's music was incredibly cathartic for me and continues to be so.  It's so sad when a person who makes light for others succumbs to a black hole themselves.  This was also the case with one of our community music teachers here in Albany, who struggled with bipolar but hid that from all of us because she was ashamed.  Hundreds of people came to her memorial and walked around in a daze because none of us knew and we would all have wanted to be there for her in the dark.  But when things got dark for her, she would hide herself away on her own.  :1f62a:

Sinéad O'Connor had a very public crisis a couple of years ago when she was falling apart, after surgical menopause without HRT collided with other problems in life.  She made a number of suicide attempts and a very public distressed video, and ended up being picked up by the Dr Phil machine in America.  It's not my favourite show, but I do very much respect it for bringing mental/emotional health and relationship dysfunction into the public arena, and discussing these matters in the open.  I don't always agree with how they do things - I get a bit of a rash from how American shows seem to over-dramatise and generally present things - but on the whole I think the world is actually a better place for its existence, flaws and all, and it's good that they cushioned a very painful fall for Ms O'Connor when she had nobody else she felt she could turn to.

Yesterday I watched the episode they made with her.  I always knew she'd had a difficult childhood, but when you hear about it from her in more detail (see 12.23 onwards in the clip), it's no wonder she sang with such an ache in her voice and that her lyrics showed so much compassion for other people in pain.  Here's the programme:

Very brave to come out like this, and I'm sure that a lot of people struggling with such central hurt will feel a bit better because she is actively sharing her story.  When long-delayed and very vivid and distressing flashback nightmares suddenly began to pummel me night after night in my early 40s and I had to re-think my life and history from the ground up, one of the most helpful things for me was to read other people's stories about dealing with these things.

And to have emotional support.  Luckily I had that, mostly in the form of my husband and a very good GP. We live quite remote and I'm very aware that my eggs have been overly much put in the one basket as a result (every relationship is capable of failing, plus you have to be careful not to overload any one person), although I do have a small circle of friends where such subjects can be broached without being hugely uncomfortable.  But with some of my friends, honestly, no - we don't see each other regularly enough anymore for me to be able to go to them with stuff like this, and presumably for them to do that with me.

So if anyone is wondering how someone like Sinéad O'Connor could end up with nobody she could turn to in a time of emotional crisis:  That's not uncommon with people from dysfunctional families, because your birth family is then generally not a good source of support, and you're likely to have been socially isolated and/or otherwise socially compromised as a result of your upbringing, which tends to leave you with a smaller circle of people you can trust.

And ask yourself, even if you're not from a traumatic family of origin:  How many friends do you have that you would feel comfortable going to with something like this?  When you're distressed and out of your mind with emotional pain?  Or even before it gets to that point?  Personally, and after some bad experiences falling apart with the wrong people and in the wrong way in my 20s, I'm way more comfortable going to see a professional when something like this happens.  My GPs already know and they're paid to deal with this stuff, and I'm comfortable with them.  It's not like bursting in like a raincloud at someone else's home.

If you feel that you would like your friends to come to you with things like that, you've got to give them an "in" - which is why mental health campaigns in Australia are teaching people to check in with their friends, "Are you OK?" but since that's easy to answer with an insincere "yes" then maybe be more specific, "Got any dark clouds messing things up for you at the moment?" or something like that.  I think that's where our community music teacher's friends could have been better - but we just assumed people would talk to us about stuff like this.  Naive assumption when you think about it.

Imagine a world where people would be more generally mutually supportive, so that the load would be shared and nobody got spread too thin.  A world where mental/emotional health is not like going to the mechanic's when the car breaks down and nobody else's concern.

Looking at the Sinéad O'Connor clip above, I found it really interesting that she looks back and sees music as her main DIY therapy from the outset.  Both making your own music, and listening to other people's songs that strike a chord with you, can be like that.  For most of us, more the latter than the former, because we don't specialise in the performance arts.  But we're glad of our bards and poets - and we should remember that they are human, just like us, and not automatically more buffered than ourselves from misfortunes and crises.

By the way, I remember the way some evangelical Christian preachers made fun of Sinéad O'Connor when her marriages broke down one after the other.  But these are the same people who will prop up their colleagues if they get accused of sexually abusing children.  We've seen it all before. At the end of the day, they should read their own holy book that says not to judge others, to remove the beam from your own eye before remove the splinters from others, and to love thy neighbour.  Only many of them seem to miss that bit.

♦ ♥ ♦

Just in postscript, if anyone is wondering how Sinéad O'Connor can be talking of her sociopathic mother in such glowing terms at the time they filmed the episode:  Stockholm Syndrome is a common cause of people having continued sympathy for family members and spouses who have abused them in ways that outsiders to the situation are deeply shocked by.  I had that myself for a long, long time - right up until I had that period of flashback nightmares, which shifted the perspective very significantly for me.  It's really the norm for children from abusive backgrounds to spend much of their lives yearning for healthy, happy relationships with their parents and trying their utmost to make things better, when actually that's a two-way street.

So personally I think that she's probably got a really distorted view there of her late teenage relationship with her mother before she died in that car crash - seeing it more through the lens of what she would so badly wish it to be, than the reality.  You don't have the same compass bearings from young when you come from a situation like this, so this can bring you adrift for a long time.  Or you can accept that you didn't deserve this treatment, and that there's nothing you should have done to prevent it - you were a child.  They were the adult.  Although of course many adults are toddlers in disguise, but that's another matter.
SueC is time travelling


Re-visiting an album I had on cassette a long time ago (remember those?  :winking_tongue) and used to play in my car a lot the year I was in my first job out of university in 1994. This song stood out to me then, and stood out to me still after my first re-listen to the album in over a decade - having now re-acquired it:

I was just starting to be able to eat properly after years of malnutrition from being under the poverty line, and it sure felt like "the world on a string" to be able to do that, and to be paid well in a respected job in a workplace with wonderful colleagues. But the song reminds us that there is more to life than this, and I have great memories of listening to this track on the local scenic roads when I was on my way to some recreational hikes on the weekends, and agreeing with the assessment that we shouldn't over-value success in the world.  :smth023

In retrospect, the over-valuing of worldly success is a key part of what made my family of origin so difficult a place to grow up in - and when you've seen the internal dismissed and the external appearances take centre stage, your heart can't help but chime to a song like this.  ♥
SueC is time travelling