Off-Topic => Something else => Topic started by: SueC on July 28, 2019, 16:21:03

Title: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 28, 2019, 16:21:03
I racked my brains about this thread title.  I really wanted to avoid giving off "let's sit down in this sandstone cave and meditate" vibes.  But, so many people have had difficult experiences in life, and especially when that happens really early in your life, you can end up carrying a heavy weight around, sometimes without knowing it, and sometimes conscious of it.  A lot of families are dysfunctional, so that you never learn certain things in childhood that people in emotionally healthy families do - about yourself, about other people, about the world - it's like you saw everything in (un)funhouse mirrors as a child, and when you get out into the world, you're desperately trying to see it straight - and it can take a bit of time to get there, particularly if you're not aware of these imposed distortions.

If you've had especially traumatic experiences, like family violence, emotional abuse and/or neglect, your brain develops differently to the way it would in a healthy situation. It grows up highly focused on survival, and marinated in stress hormones.  The hangover of a very stressful childhood with little emotional and/or physical security and repeated traumatic experiences can be in the form of complex PTSD, depression etc.  Depression can also happen to people who think they've had lovely childhoods and don't remember any raised voices or fists or nasty put-downs etc from their caregivers - you can be affected by what didn't happen, as well as by what actually happened.

And then there's bullying, and being different, and dealing with that in childhood, and even in adulthood.  If you're lucky, you grow up in a good community and don't see too much negative stuff around that. If you're not, well, then it's harder.

So in short, many of us live with the after-effects of all sorts of BS that went down, and few of us can afford to go see a competent mental health professional as much as ideal when there's something that needs to be sorted - if you can actually find one, because while some are great, some are not so great and you might have to keep shopping.  Anyhow though, the complete outsourcing of these problems to the mental health profession isn't great either - the idea that you take your brain to be fixed like you take your car to be fixed.  The problems come from human community (its dark sides), and need also to be addressed in the human community (in the brighter sides and safe places).  The mystery and stigma around all this stuff has to go.  Self-education is always a great idea, and there are great (and not so great) books and online resources around these days to help with that.

And then there's the power of stories - reading the stories of others, writing your own story, looking at fictitious stories which deal with some of the great challenges of being human - in literature, in drama, in poetry, and in music.

Music is a bit of a multi-layered beast - something more than words.  Looking at the science of music and its effects on the brain has always fascinated me.  Music - listening to it, playing it - taps into emotions like mere words cannot, and effortlessly take us places we can't as easily go unassisted - sort of like amazing landscapes can, if you're sensitive to that.

Many people use music not just for enjoyment, but as a space to help them get their head around life and its problems. People connect with it, and process things with it. You may hear a song which just strikes a huge chord with you, and you go, "Yeah, that's me, I feel this, I think this, underneath!"  That's a magical moment of common ground, and of someone else clearly expressing what you've been thinking and feeling yourself more murkily all along.

Epiphanies are nice, and so is working on your capacity to listen and empathise, through music.  And, on a more basic level, there's that music itself can fly you to all sorts of places, just with the sounds, and give your mind something that serves as a form of meditation (without having to sit and focus on your breath - headphones in the dark do this so well), to break it out of the circles it might be going in.

So - here's a thread for sharing music that has been particularly helpful for you emotionally.  It may help someone else.  We're all like a bunch of Venn diagrams with overlaps in common, and sections not in common.  (Have you heard that saying, "If two people are exactly alike, one of them is superfluous"? :) )The in-common stuff helps us relate in the first place; the differences in perspective can help us to grow, if we listen to each other. 

If I'm asking people to go out on a limb, I better practice what I preach and post a couple of songs.  This is difficult, because so many songs are relevant.  So I've picked two that for me have dealt with the big picture very well.

The first one to me is like "Take Off Your Rose-Tinted Spectacles 101".  It cuts through a lot of crap.  Just ignore the last couple of sentences at the end of the song, as this is a song from a movie where people beat the crap out of each other recreationally / for existential reasons / because they've got excess testosterone / whatever.  I don't have a Y-chromosome, plus I loathe violence because of my own experiences with it when I was defenseless.  I still thought it was a good movie, even if that aspect of it made me shudder.  But the song, by itself, is brilliant, and doesn't need further explanation.

The next song speaks volumes about growing up in a dysfunctional family and then dealing with the rest of your life.  It came out about the same time I was officially diagnosed with complex PTSD - and it's typical that you don't find out until your 40s, because your brain is in survival mode all your life and so tightly clamped down that it doesn't allow you to look behind the wall it made to compartmentalise the deeply disturbing stuff you grew up with, not until you feel safe, and for me that didn't happen until the world wasn't going to end if I wasn't working fulltime.  So, tree change at 40, build your own house, downshift to part-time, find yourself in a safe and happy marriage and actually trusting someone close to you, and bang - the wall falls down, and suddenly you start having vivid nightmares that re-enact all the stuff that happened when you were a baby, when you were three, when you were eight, and re-unite you with the emotions you once had to put to one side just to get through your childhood.  (I had most of the memories all along, it was largely the emotions that went with them that had been walled off.)

It's an a-ha experience ("Well, that explains so much of what was a mystery to me!"), but it's also vastly disconcerting on a physical and emotional level to confront all that stuff, and to see technicolour movies of horrible scenes from your childhood night after night, accompanied by all the feelings you felt at the time, as a little girl - feelings that are visceral, and overwhelming, because you feel them finally from the perspective of the small and defenseless person you once were.  It's your brain in surround-sound, plug-in multisensory movie mode, and with a season of repeat screenings that goes on for months before petering out eventually.  Sort of like being dropped in a Matrix that's your past - or like going down a Harry Potter type pensieve night after night.

Nearly five years have gone by since then, so I'm looking back at it like a reporter now, at the re-integration of a brain that's in my head as we speak, after the storm.  I can talk about that now, but couldn't at first.  Our on-board computer is an interesting piece of equipment... and it's so logical that it does what it does.  All the stuff that turns out is just software!  It's almost amusing, and it takes a huge load off your shoulders.  And I know there are so many people like me as adults, and so many children growing up as we speak with terrible traumas in their young lives.

But at the time, when it was movie season, this song was a lifeline to me.

Love to anyone out there who has been down this road, or is on it now.  ♥
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on July 28, 2019, 18:54:53
Can't say much about the subject; but this came to my mind, so I did a quick google search:

QuoteFrom AGRELIA'S CASTLE - Grammy Nominated Producer/Keyboardist for the Waterboys, "Brother" Paul Brown, and his wife April Brown, vocalist and Native American-style flautist.

Combining the sounds of vintage Fender Rhodes, B3, and warm soundbeds with hauntingly beautiful vocals, Native American Style Flutes, guitars, cello, and sitar, set over the soothing sounds of nature, the music is both ethereal and earthy, calming and uplifting, inviting the listener on a heart-filling journey into a healing space for release, relief, and relaxation.

"It's like stepping into a parallel world of this gorgeous hypnotic healing music
and April sings like an earth angel."  -Mike Scott / The Waterboys
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 29, 2019, 01:16:22
Thank you, @Ulrich, that's lovely.  Much of art seems to be about catharsis.  It's nice to have excellent antidotes to all the venom in the world. And Mike Scott frequently nails it to a T.  It's funny when you look back at your life and realise that the music you listened to the most growing up was written by people who had similar childhood experiences to your own, even if they weren't writing about it at the time.  So for instance, I had no idea Bono came from a home which went cold when his mother died, and apparently was blamed in some way for her death by the remaining parent, who wasn't an encouraging, affirming sort of bloke to his son, and that he saw a lot of violence and strife on a personal level - not when I was listening to their first five albums as a teenager.  And, I had no idea Mike Scott had been abandoned by his father, when I was listening to This Is The Sea and Fisherman's Blues.  I was just drawn to that music emotionally because of its affirmation, its light, its breathing room, its determination to be authentic; and because these guys were showing me that people could have quite different orientations, opinions and values to the ones I was seeing at home.  I bet it was as therapeutic for them to write these songs as it was for me to listen to them.

Songs Of Innocence was looking back at all that stuff from the perspective of midlife, and it's amazing what you see in the rear-view mirror pulling away from a situation that you didn't see clearly when you were in the thick of it.

Good art is so wonderfully humanising. <3

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 29, 2019, 01:52:13
A friend who knows my story has two young daughters and listens to a lot of "young" music at her house.  I love knowing that they gel over music, have it as a common thread, dance to it in their lounge room, connect over it, at their house.  My own experience was quite different - my father would come in without knocking and mock the music I was listening to with barbed pantomimes and sarcastic wailing.  I soon learnt to only play the radio over the speakers, so that if he came in with his mockery, I could say to him, "This is the phone number of the radio station, if you'd like to complain about their programming."  And I reserved all the music that meant something to me for headphones sessions, so I ended up spending quite a bit of time sitting cross-legged on the floor of my room in the dark with headphones on.  Then it was, "Are you on drugs?  Why are you isolating yourself in your room?  Your behaviour isn't normal."  :1f633:

This is, of course, an example of how you make your own world, have your own thoughts, your own feelings.  As a teenager, books and music were universes I might actually want to live in.

So anyway, this friend of mine sent me a song a few months ago, saying, "I heard this and I thought of you."  And this song sums up the relationship I had with my mother and my survival of that so well, I cried listening to it, as I did again when I was preparing it for inclusion in this post.  It's not a miserable crying, it's just that my emotions are now freely available to me, and it's great to have them come out, rather than freezing into ice when you hear something like this, and just sitting with a cold hollow inside (which is how it used to feel before my emotions about my own early experiences came back to me).  When something is sad, it's just sad, and it feels so much better when that just comes out.

The song is about bullying, probably in a more conventional sense, but also fits the variation I found myself in - a lot of good songs are adaptable to different situations. Schoolyard bullying paled in comparison for me... this is a great song if you know what it's like to be chronically put down in your own home, to have your good characteristics ignored and your flaws blown out of proportion, to have always the worst possible motivations superimposed on your actions, to be consistently blamed for everything that goes wrong and told you are unlikable and morally corrupt, and to be generally demonised by someone who should have supported you and been glad to see you.

This is also a great song if you've ever been unkindly singled out because you have an accent, came from another country, were in any way different from the local crowd that they objected to.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: PearlThompsonsBloodflower on July 29, 2019, 06:41:51
Positivity by Suede
1, 2, 3, 4 by The Plain White T's
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 29, 2019, 07:04:48
So, note I didn't call this thread "Music For Mental Health" - although that would have worked, too.  But, I prefer to talk about emotional health because it has less subtext attached to it as a term, and also because I want to make the distinction between thinking and feeling.  When you hear that someone has "mental health issues" it's so easy to jump to the conclusion that there is something defective about their thinking, and that there's something fishy going on. Or, that if that person only learnt to think in the "right" way, everything would be fine.

Yeah, aspects of your thinking can be affected with cPTSD and also depression.  Your thinking can be very negative, especially about your own person and your own prospects for happiness - and especially if you were actively taught to think that way about yourself in childhood.  But for me, that was the easiest part to fix.  I've got a brain that does intellect and analysis, and which has had a lot of practice from a very young age looking at what people are saying and comparing it to what I am seeing - because I grew up with so much disconnect there. I had to be like a forensics specialist to make sense of my world - had to get out my magnifying glass, and think things through from first principles a lot, rather than accept what was being said to me by my caregivers.

So, for instance, the message you are often getting from your caregivers is that you are stupid, and you take that and weigh it up against the fact that none of your teachers think this, and that you have lots of A grades on your report card, and that you win prizes in writing and science and geography and are representing your school at the regional spelling competition less than two years after coming to Australia and less than three years after you did your introductory year of school English in central Europe. ("The cat sat on the mat.  The frog sat on the log. In, into, on, onto, under, over, beside. Hello, how are you, goodbye, which way to the train station?  I like, I don't like. How much is that? Mind the gap." Just before we came to Australia, I spent a week in England, and bought my first ever proper English-language storybook at a little bookshop in Hastings.  I have it in my hands now, a lovely hardback, with only the spine faded:  Richard Adams's Favourite Animal Stories.  Inside the cover, my schoolkid running writing: England, November 1982, £1.99.  The very first story I turned to in that book was by Rudyard Kipling.  I am the cat who walks by himself, and all the places are alike to me.  I loved that, the sense of it, the sound of it, the rhythm of it, the freedom of it, and I started saying that to myself in my own mind, when I was walking places. The Cat That Walked By Himself is of course wonderful and poetic and intricate and naughty and metaphorical, and I smile 37 years later to think of the luck of having that be the first story I came across in the English language, when I had learnt the basics. :) )

Anyway, so you start to look at external objective indicators versus what people are saying.  It's a bit disconcerting that you have to develop that modus operandi to deal with your own parents,  but the up side is that it comes in handy for spotting all sorts of other instances of people trying to pull the wool over your eyes, like in advertising, or public discourse.  It's a very applicable skill.  And so, because of this, you actually know you aren't stupid.  You've checked the word in the dictionary.  You've looked at objective evidence until you're having out-of-body experiences.  You can refute it intellectually.

But this is not the same thing as processing it emotionally.  That is the big thing.  That was the big thing for me, with this and other examples of improper mirroring from my caregivers.  You develop this split between thinking and feeling, where you can know something as surely as it is possible to know anything in this world - that the sun is shining today, that 1+1 = 2, that there are elephants in Africa, that you are actually not stupid - but you feel differently. So for instance, you can be accused of something and know you've categorically not stolen the item in question, that you had nothing to do with that at all, but you can feel all the red-hot shame as if you really had done it - and have enough metacognition to be bamboozled by the phenomenon.

It was this kind of thing that took me much longer to deal with.  It was not easily switched off, but understanding is your friend there, and you can just feel a feeling actually, and know it's a distortion - a projection from some evil shadow puppets theatre - a dirty trick.  You can live your life and function very well for the majority of the time - your thinking is if anything sharper because of all this, and although you can't access part of your emotional history because it's buried behind The Great Wall Of China, you can, for the vast majority of the time, be genuinely happy and vibrant, and very creative and productive and engaged, and very empathetic with others because you've been there.  And because you know, and because you can sense it.  The one thing you can't do is to emotionally connect with the traumatic things that happened to you.  When you look at those things, the footage of these things in your head, they are like a silent movie.  There is no sound and it all seems to be underwater and far away.  There are no feelings, just a yawning chasm, a coldness, a paralysis - and a vortex which you don't want to get too close to, in case you get sucked down.  You're intermittently aware that you have a miniature black hole somewhere inside yourself; sometimes you accidentally get near the event horizon and experience spaghettification, and then you pull back against the gravity and yank yourself back out before you get completely pulled down.

That was before the Great Wall Of China came down five years ago.  Now the footage has sound and comes complete with feelings, and the black hole is gone.  But looking back, there was no intellectual way to solve that problem.  No amount of cognitive behavioural therapy would have worked - I didn't have a problem realising what had happened in reality.  I knew what had happened, clear as day.  I didn't have significant errors in my thinking.  It was the feelings that were the problem, and feelings can't be rationally controlled.  They reside in a completely different part of your brain, and have to be approached differently.  It's more like herding cats, actually.

OK, that's enough heavy stuff for one morning.  I actually came here to post some songs that were important both to a dear friend, and to me, in our adolescences across the world from each other, grappling with respective cabinets of horror. I just thought, "Hmm, I'd like to explain something about the title!" and look where that went!  :)

So, when this friend and I talked about books and music, we had a few significant-to-us artists in common.  On the music side, Sinéad O'Connor was a major overlap.  I'm not at all surprised - 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.

Here's Ms O'Connor with a song from her early 20s, that resonated deeply both with my friend and myself when we were growing up.  Musically this is really powerful, and gorgeously arranged, and that voice of hers is like no other...

I'll just put in one other song of hers at this stage - one that I first heard in my mid-20s and that gives me goosebumps every time - it's a what-if story about a child who has killed a parent it could never please.  Really, this song is from the same tradition as the fairytales with the evil stepmothers - stories like this make us think about this world, and how to deal with it.  I think music like this helps us be in touch with our own emotions and the things we are needing to process.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 29, 2019, 07:06:30
Hello, @PearlThompsonsBloodflowers! :) Do you want to post those songs? Then we can all listen!

That's open to anyone reading, too, obviously!  Don't be shy! :)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 29, 2019, 10:21:28
I feel the need to lighten the mood a little, so I'm going to post a few examples of instant feelgood songs - real foot-stompers.  These also have an important place in my life - they're basically instant endorphins, instant toe-tapping.  Also, there's something about the process of people cooperating to make music that has always made me happy.  When people can get together to make music like this, something is right with this world, and also with human beings.

First-up: You can really hear why this Irish tune is called The Bag Of Cats...

This next one is from Cape Breton...

And now we're going to Scotland...

Karen Matheson's voice is so unbelievable... she just opens her mouth and this gorgeous sound comes out, like this gift to the world.  I suppose it indeed is one of her gifts to the world. If we have something like that, it's important to let it shine.

Fun fact:  The only international live acts I've seen in person since 2005 are Capercaillie (twice!) and Sharon Shannon!  They came down to Albany, Western Australia as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.  Another fun fact is that I actually bumped into Karen Matheson - in the toilet, of all places - the gig was at the Vancouver Arts Centre lawns and they had put in a row of portaloos for the day... When I got over the cognitive dissonance of meeting a singer who is normally just a voice on a CD to me in such an unprepossessing place, I recollected myself and my manners and had a little chat with her, basically thanks for coming down to play here and how are you enjoying our coast etc (she did actually have time off for sightseeing, which I was glad about because the coast here is magnificent...).  The other thing that really threw me is that she only came up to my armpits.  Very petite person, with such a big, big voice! :)

This last one isn't a foot-stomper; it's the other thing Celtic music does so unbelievably well...

(And she really does sing like that, in person!  It's not a trick.)

Now that kind of music is something else entirely.  You can end up with tears going down your face, just because it is so incredibly beautiful, and because it is so good to be alive to experience this sort of beauty... in a voice and a song like this, in the wild landscapes it evokes, in having a sky over your head and just breathing air... And it's a beauty and a joy that reminds you of its opposite as well, of grief and of loss and of heartache.  So now I'm going to have to quote Kahlil Gibran (rather predictably ;) ), who explained that aspect of life so well:

    On Joy and Sorrow

    Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
    And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
    And how else can it be?
    The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
    Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
    And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
    When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
    When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

    Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
    But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
    Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

...just a little reminder that there is a lot of beauty in this world...

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: PearlThompsonsBloodflower on July 29, 2019, 17:43:40
Quote from: SueC on July 29, 2019, 07:06:30Hello, @PearlThompsonsBloodflowers! :) Do you want to post those songs? Then we can all listen!

That's open to anyone reading, too, obviously!  Don't be shy! :)
Sounds good
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 29, 2019, 22:22:34
I sorta mean, put the YouTube clips in and tell us a little about these songs, if you want to! :)

It would kind of be nicer to have a few people joining in with their own songs and ideas than to have this sort of monologue... ;)  I can see that people are reading this page; can I tempt anyone to bring out their typing fingers? :)  I've never really understood why people just read when they can participate in stuff like this... it's so space-age!  :angel
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 30, 2019, 00:24:23
My husband was teasing me today, "Have you put in a Cure song yet?  You are on a Cure fan forum, you know!"  And I was going, "Oh no, then I have to explain why I like Bloodflowers, and that would be such a loooooooong post! And I've already written so much!"

And this is going to be so complicated...because then I'm going to have to tell you about 2014.  It was the year The Great Wall Of China started coming down in my head, just before Christmas.  But before we get to that, I have to summarise another story.

When we arrived in Australia in late 1982, my parents bought a quite remote farm.  They had brought two horses out to Australia, one of which was allegedly mine, but when we got here, they decided to take her off me for breeding.  This was an animal I was deeply bonded to, an ex-broodmare who'd kind of adopted me and carried me all over the countryside in Europe, and she ended up bleeding to death and dying in my arms after giving birth (and later I found out that my parents had been advised by the previous owners that the reason she was being sold as a child's riding horse was that she'd had a difficult birth with her last foal and the veterinary advice was that further breeding would risk her life...and I have never been able to fathom why you'd do something like that...).

When this horse was taken off me ("because she wasn't really mine, because I hadn't actually paid for her") I wanted that kind of situation never to be able to happen again, and I scraped together all my pennies from selling items I had left behind in Europe, and from what my grandmother had given me for my birthday.  I had $600, and went to see our neighbour, who bred working-line Arabian horses.  It was a drought year, and horses were going half-price.  There was a skinny little yearling in the paddock who looked like a cross between a bicycle frame and a moth-eaten blanket.  She was for sale, and cost twice what I had, so I did an International Velvet type thing and did odd jobs and chores nobody else wanted for another couple of years.  But, this one couldn't be taken off me.  It was years before I could ride her, and I did all her groundwork and training alone, closely following an excellent horse training manual by Australian horseman Tom Roberts.  And after that, I rode her many hundreds of miles through the Australian bush, exploring the Reserves and State Forests near where we lived, and eventually competing in endurance rides. She was, during my high school years, the only independent means I had for getting off our farm besides my own two feet.  She was my freedom in those years, and my best friend.  And by the way, the Australian bush is amazing...

Here's a photo of us when she was two and I was 12:

The rest are from 2008, on the South Coast where I live with my husband, when she was 27... and yes, that is the same horse, she was a heterozygous grey, and those start a solid colour and grey out slowly:

So when this mare died in April 2014 - and I had to make the decision to end her life, she had cancer and her quality of life was nosediving - it was actually a huge bereavement for me.  Yes, she was old, yes, it was to be expected, but none of that makes it hurt any less when you lose a dog or a horse you've had for a long time - and I had this horse for 31 years.  Also, when I have to make end-of-life decisions for horses, I opt that they be shot, because it is instant and so much better than sticking needles into their necks and poisoning them slowly - having seen both - and having also personally experienced that anaesthetic agents can have pretty disconcerting side-effects as you are going under (I had a backwards-of-the-cliff type experience, which was neither expected nor fun).  Shooting is an instant out for the horse, but messy for the onlooker (...I think the onlooker is less important in that situation).  After you've got a dead horse, you have to move it to its burial site (because I won't walk them into a pit); so the neighbour came with his tractor to help us, and we buried her at the back of our place, in the bushland.  Anyway, it's so sad to see these larger-than-life animals dead.  She was like a beautiful silver statue, lying motionless on the ground, with blood flowing scarlet out of her nostrils, and she looked so small.  They always do compared to when they are alive.

I had been on autopilot the whole day she was put down, and busy with burial and cleanup and dealing with the other animals on our farm.  I didn't get to stop until sunset.  As the sun dropped below the horizon, I sat down on a grassy bank in our garden and watched the colours in the clouds until they faded away.  And I was sad, and it wasn't until then that I cried.  That's because I always have an autopilot that gets me through situations like this, and I don't let up until all the necessary tasks are done and everyone has been looked after.


Sitting on that bank in the twilight, I contemplated how strange it felt to be breathing when she was not.  The universe felt different, as if the moon had been taken from the sky.  I felt small, and space felt big.  It was the day of the Australian election, and my husband was down the town hall helping out, and didn't know my mare was dead, because it had been a snap decision I made during the day, after I'd already voted.  Doing the count takes time, and people get home late. Bereavement is different when your spouse has got their arms around you, and Brett is always supercalifragilistically wonderful at times like that.  But in the gap before that happened, I sat with night falling around me, my dog leaning against me and the crickets chirping in the bushes, just breathing and contemplating mortality.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 30, 2019, 05:00:36
This is turning into such a tapeworm...  :o

So where was I?  2014. I think a heartfelt bereavement possibly has a weathering effect on Great Walls Of China, so that they may be slightly more likely to crumble.  I'd only lost two relatives up to that point, both of them on another continent; the rest was all losing companion animals.  But, none of those were like the loss of this particular one, which was so in my face, and a friend to me from childhood to midlife.

It is a very difficult thing that sometimes the only thing you can do to help someone you love is to kill them.  What you wouldn't give for a magic wand...  But, on the other hand, I trained as a biologist / environmental scientist, and I am acutely aware that the cycle of life works the way that it does for a reason.  If you halt death, you have to halt birth (something the human race has been slow to understand, to their own peril and the entire planet's); otherwise the place gets out of balance.  The process of evolution is facilitated by excessive offspring coupled with huge fatality rates - that really drives natural selection, and therefore adaptation to a changing environment.  This is the very process that has resulted in the splendour and stratospheric diversity of species in the wilderness areas of this planet.

People generally are out of touch with this; many live in cities, and rarely encounter death, and when they do, it's all hushed up and sanitised for them... I really recommend the Japanese film Departures:

Death is basically the price paid for life, and the two are inseparable.  But just look at the life... the photos below are all taken in the on-farm remnant vegetation conservation area that we steward at our place:





And I'll just finish with a few of our orchids.  This is a Flying Duck Orchid:


Next is the Hammer Orchid.  The BBC came to film this species near the Stirling Ranges some years ago, and we discovered it in our own conservation remnant.  The Hammer Orchid lures the male wasps which pollinate them by producing for them a dummy female complete with pheromones that they will try to pick up and mate with, as they ordinarily do with their own wingless females waiting for them on branches.  Attempting to fly off with the dummy catapults the head of the male into the stigma at the other end of the joint in the plant, and by repeatedly being duped, the male will carry pollen from orchid to orchid...


This one may be called a Hare Orchid, but it looks like a ballerina to me:


We also have "normal" orchids:


I could string on literally hundreds more photographs, but will restrain myself.  The heathlands around where we live are one of the planet's biodiversity hotspots, with over 2,000 identified plant species alone, so we never stop ooohing and aaahing, but unfortunately, most people simply don't know what is there...

...and if you ask me if death is a price worth paying for the very existence of all of this, then that makes death so much easier to accept.  But of course, it still hurts when we lose someone.  I spend more time in wild places when that happens; the more you grow to love the wilderness, the more you can see and accept that individuals die but life always continues, and just be deeply grateful to have a turn on this stage.

In 2014, I had to do more reflecting than usual on all of this, and perhaps, as I said earlier, this played a supporting role in the crumbling of The Great Wall Of China. 2014 also finally cleared up a lifelong mystery for me. 

I'll relate a little anecdote:  We know a veterinarian who once drew up a horse-sized load of adrenaline into a syringe to treat a horse in shock; he put it on his driver's seat while changing into gumboots, then forgot it was there...and sat on the seat.  He copped a fair whack of the horse dose in his own posterior, and nearly climbed into the trees after that.  The effect of this on a body not in shock is sort of like setting a firecracker off directly behind an individual who is really nervous in the first place.

This is an old story, from back in the 1980s, and I always thought about that when I had these little episodes happen to me periodically - on and off, but especially in stressful phases of my life.  What would happen is that I would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, as if I'd had a colossal nightmare - my heart would be racing, my eyes nearly popping out, and the bedsheets would be completely soaked in sweat - but there was never an actual nightmare I could recall, not even a little one... just nothing!  I'd have to collect myself and jump in the shower when the hammering in my chest died back a bit and I stopped hyperventilating like a racehorse at the finish line.

And actually, it was just like that guy who accidentally shot himself with adrenaline.  I mentioned it to a GP occasionally.  Did I have an adrenal tumour that intermittently released a boatload of adrenaline?  And always at night?

It's funny to me in retrospect because it is so, so obvious in hindsight.  Yet even the GPs didn't pick it up, not from casual conversation anyway.  I'm not a nervous sort of person, nothing was bugging me in the daytime, it was just The Mystery Of The Intermittent Adrenaline Events.  Plus, the observation that there seemed to be more of them if I was stressed out at work, or with a family situation.

Brett noticed it first.  It was coming up to Christmas 2014, and I was suddenly having a whole spate of these things, night after night.  And he said to me, "You know, thinking about it, around Christmas, you've always had more of these than usual! And any other time we are coming up to a visit to your family."

We thought about it.  It was true.  I was always apprehensive around the time of the twice-yearly 800km round trips to see them.  It was never pleasant to visit - it's not a happy family.  And the happier I got with Brett, whom I'd at that stage been married to for nearly seven years, the more I hated the way I felt when we were visiting them, and the more it upset me to be in their company and see them behaving the way they were.  They yell at each other on a daily basis, use choice terms of verbal abuse and basically just treat each other with total disrespect in countless ways. I think the main reasons they are still married are 1) because they're co-dependent and possibly enjoy making each other miserable, 2) because they don't know what else to do, and 3) because they like saying, "We've been married over 50 years!"

(They don't generally throw things at each other or hit each other when someone who's not from the immediate nuclear family is around, so things had got a little better on visits since Brett had been in my life and was accompanying me there; but we were both agreed on limiting the number and duration of our visits from the beginning.)

Their behaviour towards each other was repugnant enough, but there was another thing:  Once we arrived at their place, we would mostly just see my mother in the commercial breaks of her soap operas, and my father when he came in on breaks from training his horses, and the two of them together at mealtimes if noone had the urgent need to watch television or train horses.  And I was just disgusted with this - why couldn't we have normal catch-up conversations, like normal people, and smile at each other over cups of tea?  Brett and I often sat around reading books for hours, or went on long walks, because we actually saw so little of them, and wondered what the point of visiting was.  When we asked them this question, my mother said, "Don't expect us to drop everything just because you are around." (I want to make clear that they were forever asking us to visit them, and sounding really keen on the phone.)  At that point, we cut our visit short, went home, and decided from now on, they could be the ones making the effort to visit, if they really wanted to see us.

When we came home, those adrenaline-spike episodes started again night after night, and then, one night, when I woke up like that, I had an actual nightmare to remember.  And from then on, the two always went together.  What I was suddenly seeing, in glorious technicolour, and complete with feelings of abject horror, was scene after scene of things that had terrified me growing up in that family when I was a very little girl - from the perspective of the child I had been.  The nightmares were all scenes from early school age or before.  Soon I was getting more scenes like that coming back to me in broad daylight.  And there were more and more and more of them.  It went on for months.

The Great Wall Of China had suddenly collapsed.

Within a couple of weeks of the start of "movie season" I was really tired, hardly sleeping, really low on energy and starting to get despondent.  Insomnia has never agreed with me; if I don't get 8 hours of sleep a night at least 6 days a week, I start to run down - and this wasn't mere insomnia, this was insomnia with bells on.  I couldn't use my usual tool, exercise in fresh air and splendid scenery, to reset my sleep cycle because I had zero energy to do anything strenuous.  Just thinking about a mountain exhausted me.  Realising this wasn't just going to go away by itself in a reasonable time frame, I went to see my GP.  She was relatively new to town, we got on like a house on fire, and I knew and liked her well enough to feel comfortable with the idea of talking to her about what was going on.  Also, mental/emotional health is one of her areas of special interest, so bingo.

As I'd not yet processed all this rubbish coming out from behind the ruins of The Great Wall Of China, it was really difficult for me to talk about it, despite the fact that my GP is brilliant.  I was so afraid that I was going to cry all over her in the process and not stop, because since the start of "movie season" I suddenly had random emotions bursting out of me all over the place like a rampaging herd of elephants.  Looking at that now, of course someone who's suddenly revisiting their deepest childhood traumas from the perspective of a little person is going to cry, in fact like that little person should have been able to in the first place (and over the next year or two, I finally cried all those tears for the little girl).  But, the little person often heard, "If you don't stop I'll really give you something to cry about."  So if you didn't stop crying, you got hit, yelled at, shamed, sent to your room, and soon you learnt to hide your tears, and push them to one side, and distract yourself.  I was a fluent reader at age five and I loved books, that was my favourite place to go when I needed an alternative universe with kind people, happiness, adventures, flowers, kittens, wizards etc.

I said to my GP, "Why now?  It's insane.  I've known this all along, that this was there.  None of it is news.  I've been constructively dealing with it for years, in some way, shape or form, and knowing it was there.  Why does all hell break loose now?  Now that I'm happily married, we've just built our own house and it's like living in our own piece of art made with our own hands, we've downshifted, neither of us work fulltime anymore, we've got time for each other, we've got all this space and all these reasons for life to be happy."  She said to me, "Yes, that's typical.  You're off the treadmill, you're feeling secure, and it's far less destructive for that to come out now than at any previous point in your life."

Thinking about it, I would not have been able to face going into an office or working with groups of people with that stuff going down.  It was different on our farm; I made my own hours, simple physical work is easier than brain-related work when dealing with this kind of stuff; and I could work when I was up to it, the world wasn't going to end because a few things were going to lie around for a while.

But I also said to her, "When is this going to end? I understand I need to process all these emotions that are swamping me right now, that have finally broken through from the past.  But it's making me miserable, and I can't sleep properly at night.  I'm finally in a place of security and happiness; I don't want my past to destroy my present; it's already hurt me enough all my life."

All my life I'd lifestyle managed all this stuff: Enough sleep, plenty of exercise, healthy nutrition, books, music, community involvement, friendships, self-education, journalling.  I was like the poster kid for healthy lifestyle, and it was 100% necessary for me to do it.  It was compulsory if I wanted to be able to hold it together.  Without all that looking after myself, I'd start to fray around the edges quickly.  In my 20s, I couldn't believe people went nightclubbing.  It would have killed me.  I wanted to sleep at night.  I gagged once I got past half a standard drink.  To this day, that's still my limit.  We both like cider - a nice, dry one, not that sickly stuff - but it's an occasional thing, and we share the one, unless I'm naughty and persuade my husband to have another one all by himself, just to watch him get a bit tiddly.  He's funny when he gets tiddly - he's very English, not through birth but DNA, upbringing by English parents, and marinating himself in the BBC and British alternative music; so he doesn't let his hair down as easily as me. The one time I've seen him actually drunk, he took all our books off their shelves and arranged them artistically on the loungeroom floor, and kept barging into the bedroom to tell me I should come out and see the great artistic masterpiece he was making; it was going to be famous and win art prizes. :rofl  That was before he started throwing up, and he never did that again!  :rofl  I've never needed alcohol to get completely silly; it's a setting I can switch on at will.  I have psychedelic experiences from eating too many profiteroles (although that's an oxymoron :) ).   Neither of us regret lacking an alcohol habit; it means we can buy more books and CDs, which usually don't make us vomit or give us hangovers or liver disease.  (But let me tell you about that CD of Italian folk accordion music that nearly did...:rofl)

Yeah, lifestyle management - and that one time it really wasn't enough.  I've always been really hostile about the idea of taking any kind of pharmaceutical that messes with my brain.  Rrrrrrrr!!!  I saw a university friend from El Salvador, who had PTSD from walking over dead bodies on her way to school, go completely blurry on antidepressants.  Her emotions were lopped to half height, her thoughts slowed down, she put on 20kg in a year.  She wasn't herself on this stuff.  So when my GP suggested it to me, very gently and diplomatically and with all the time in the world to discuss the science, I was very wary.  But, she said to me, "I'm only suggesting you try it for three months and then see."  She was recommending a trial of basic SSRIs, which she said did not usually result in what I had seen with my friend, and she was recommending it to stop the cascading stress reaction that was going on in my body and eating all my serotonin, causing the insomnia and setting up a vicious cycle of more stress and insomnia.  She explained to me that the brain of a person with complex trauma had already been messed with developmentally, and this was a countermeasure - I could try out what it might have felt like had this not happened to me.  And then she made me laugh by saying she had needed a course of these once, and now the only time she went back on them was when she had to visit her mother-in-law - then that lady could say and do whatever she wanted, and it wouldn't disturb her at all. :rofl

It was an interesting experiment.  We went with minimum dose.  The first thing that happened is that I slept 16 hours a day for the first three days, and after that, I got back into a normal sleep pattern.  I had less nightmares at night, but spontaneously remembered so many, many painful things in the daytime.  I'd be in the kitchen, and an egg would slip in my hand, and I'd get a sudden ringing in my left ear and duck.  And then I realised: It was my body remembering for me, just like with the nightmares.  My mother had a habit of slapping me open-handed on my ear if I dropped something, or offended her.  That wasn't the only move in her repertoire, but it's amazing how specifically my body was remembering these things. The SSRIs worked out acceptably for me.  I extended them to six months at the starting dose to work through all this stuff at a more leisurely pace than would otherwise have been possible.  I wanted to hear the birds singing and notice the sun, not just compulsively self-educate about emotional trauma.  It was useful for that, and for sleeping properly at night, and I have to say, I did not get in any way blurry or not feel like me anymore.  I was a rested me, and I got my energy back.  The most adverse effect for me was that SSRIs made me so totally relaxed that I wanted to spend hours sitting on the sofa reading, and had difficulty kick-starting myself to do other things.  So I ended up halving the dose after six months, which reduced that problem, and eventually tapered off these things altogether.  I think it would be fair to say that it was a helpful experiment.  I also realise now just how much I had been driven by nervous energy all my life (without actually feeling nervous), and have scaled that back a bit now.

By the way, the mysterious Intermittent Adrenaline Events I had all my life are called emotional flashbacks, and can occur independently of any cognitive memories surfacing.  Mine were mostly happening in the form of night terrors.  The feelings from those past events need to integrate with the memories, like they did for me that Christmas, before most people realise what is going on.  Here's a good link on the topic.

In the first six months, I was processing stuff on a daily basis, and highly driven to understand what was going on, above any other thing - it was a really intense six months, where I was spending at least half a day every day dealing with the old traumas, and basically only working half-days.  Then, it became gradually less time-consuming.  Two years later, things were nearly back to normal.  I basically swapped the mini black hole I once carried inside me for regular popups of past situations that my brain is bringing to my attention, as if to say, "Look at this! Look what happened!" and these days this still happens, but not distressingly - you just basically are doing the equivalent of listening to a three-year-old and giving her a hug, and then she runs away happy again, until she finds the next thing.  You just keep hugging her.  She's OK now.  You just have to love her, and to re-parent her.  She's not sitting in a corner afraid anymore; she's exploring her world, and she's quite feisty now when she says, "Oooh look, I found another thing like that! Yecchhh!"

Music was one of the helpful tools in my recovery.  I have a violin, with three years of lessons back in my late 20s / early 30s.  Just playing notes on an instrument with a beautiful tone is incredibly therapeutic.  The brain gets all focused on making patterns, and the verbalised thinking stops.  You can just be.  It was one form of meditation I was always able to do, like really listening to music on headphones.

Brett suggested I borrow his iPod starting around that time, for when I went to work outdoors, and I sampled more of his huge music collection that way.  (Eventually he gave it to me outright, and bought himself a new one.  :heart-eyes )  I wrote about all that in the essay linked to in another section here (an essay I wrote because I had a bee in my bonnet) - and here's the link to that again, which will save me re-telling the story of seriously discovering The Cure as a band:

In a way, dealing with childhood trauma as an adult gets you back into the same sort of serious thinking and re-assessing everything, that you first do as a teenager.  I found myself magnetically drawn to music in both those phases in my life - that's when things have more emotional impact.  And what I have discussed here today is something I left out of my essay, which was written for different purposes and really didn't need to be any longer than it already was. :angel

So finally, without further ado, here is the song that became an anthem for me when I was re-assessing my own relationship with the world as a result of all this - the fallout of bereavement followed by the collapse of The Great Wall Of China.  It just struck chords all over the place for me.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 01, 2019, 02:27:35
Here is a song this thread desperately needs.  It always has me in stitches!  :rofl

From the guy who also brought the world the Nokia ringtone!  ;)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 03, 2019, 19:48:55
It's time for a bit more music.  This is an example of a rather hypnotic Celtic song from the Cape Breton tradition.  The percussion and voice are so mesmeric I can listen to this on repeat for hours.  There has been research on "The Mozart Effect" - and that's not the only music that can affect your brain in a constructive way, of course...

Hello to anyone reading.  :cool  Everyone is very welcome to join in and post songs they find helpful for brain management and life in general.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 04, 2019, 03:40:25
I can't mention Mozart without actually playing something by him.

When I was 13, I'd never consciously heard a piece of classical music that made me go, "Wow!"  The family I was born into wasn't very musical, and didn't play music in common or interact in any way over music.  We didn't sing together, dance together, talk about music - nothing like that.  No lullabies when I was little, and we didn't go to concerts together when I was growing up.  The only thing I remember is a general broadcasting station being on in the mornings when I was having breakfast before going to primary school in Germany, on a tinny radio.  Besides news bulletins, there was a lot of talk and occasional music.  One song I do remember because it was played so often is Morning Has Broken.

School made up for the deficit for me when I was very young.  Our fabulous, warm, enthusiastic Year 1/2 teacher played at least six instruments I can remember (accordion, recorder, percussion, xylophone, harmonica, acoustic guitar), and frequently played and sang for us as part of music lessons, or just to wake us up between maths and language lessons, or as an accompaniment to art sessions.  She taught our class traditional walking songs sung in multiple parts; the harmonising nearly lifted me off the ground when we did it. I loved loved loved being in that class, and thrived for the first time in my life from being in an environment of emotional warmth, constructive feedback, fun and learning - the world was suddenly amazing, and full of astonishment and wonder.  She also played back a lot of nature documentaries for us reel to reel, and I remember us begging her to run certain historical re-enactments backwards, so that, one memorable time, the jousting knights were falling onto their horses from the ground - now that was a trick! :)

I do remember hearing classical, folk and contemporary music as part of the music education lessons in Germany (I left after Year 5 - music was a specialist subject at that point, and the teacher that year was Beatles-obsessed and made us sing Yellow Submarine, which felt like a nursery rhyme to me after learning multiple-part singing as as a seven-year-old).  Because of differences in the education system, I skipped into Year 8 (first year of high school here then) when coming to Australia, and there the music teacher tortured us with the dreary Planet Suite (well, I found it dreary at age 11, my husband is putting in a good word for Mars-The Bringer Of War and says he thinks the rest of it is pretty tedious).

I sort of thought at that point that classical music was generally either dreary or twee, involved a lot of sawing of the worst kind on strings and screeching opera singers shattering windows arguing over "love" (and perhaps what was for dinner), was written by old fogeys with wigs, and really had nothing to do with me.

And then, at the age of 14, the year after it came out, I saw the film Amadeus, and that totally changed my attitude.  I realised that human beings made music with whatever was available to them culturally, and that just because someone had lived hundreds of years ago didn't mean they were never young, or that they had been terribly boring.  It's like with contemporary music, or any particular genre really - some of it will appeal, other stuff will not.  I'd just never heard the things that later on lifted me into the sky.

This scene dramatised the writing process for Mozart's Requiem Mass - his unfinished last composition:

Now that was music I could relate to.  The Confutatis and Lacrimosa parts remain my favourite sections of that composition to this day.

Classical music increasingly became part of my listening repertoire, alongside folk, from my late teens and into my 20s.  At the same time, grunge was appearing on the contemporary music scene, and that really didn't appeal to me at all, so I burrowed deeper into the things that did.

Here's some highlights...and as with contemporary music, no justice is done to this music by playing it on tinny speakers.

...more to come... and to finish for today, this isn't exactly classical, but works extremely well on classical instruments:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 09, 2019, 03:26:44
I think this is a good time for a humorous interlude.  A fun "mental health" song:

...hilarious lyrics...
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 09, 2019, 04:06:51
...and on a serious note:  I started this thread because lack of love - past love, present love - affects so, so many people, and because when I was in dark places, some of what other people had written or made into songs was often a lifeline to me.  Since that time, I've always wanted to do the same for other people in dark places, or with memories of dark places.  My story won't be something everyone can relate to, but some people will.

In my home forum journalling group, we have a lovely bunch of people talking to each other about things like this (and life, the universe and everything).  I was looking through my own back pages to try to retrieve a Paganini track from a particular artist I want to post here, when I landed smack bang in a past discussion we had about dark experiences growing up and how we got out and more and more into the light.  If you'd like to read that discussion, here's an entry point smack in the middle of it - but it gets lighter both before and after. (

Those people are so fabulous, and so are their stories and ideas.  :heart-eyes   Talking to them was really the prelude to being able to write the posts I wrote at the start of this Music For Emotional Health thread.  :cool

PS:  I thought I'd linked to it in this thread, but it appears I haven't.  There's two posts of related stuff on brains, relationship dysfunction, addictions, virtual mushroom tripping and spirituality here:
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 13, 2019, 05:17:30
Further to Post #14, some more amazing classical music.  Good music has so much power to expand your thinking and feeling, and to put you in touch with your own humanity.

Something like that done as a fusion:

The other day I posted a clip of a studio version of an Arvo Pärt composition; here's a live excerpt that really shows how it's put together...

A lovely version of Paganini's Caprice No.24:

An interesting variation of the above:

I can't find the piece of Paganini I've been looking for all morning and will insert it at a later stage, when it decides to pop up again...

Found it:

I think it's so clever when people can play a melody and their own backing on the one instrument, all at the same time. In violin playing people do a thing called double stopping (and even triple stopping), where two (or three) strings are bowed simultaneously. On open strings it given you a lovely resonant blend of complementary notes - violins are tuned GDAE (much to the delight of Australian violin teachers, who tell their young students, "Just say G'Dae!" for a handy mnemonic... :)). Of course, you can also be playing notes on the simultaneously bowed strings - you have enough fingers, even if some of them might end up in unorthodox positions compared to playing on the one string.

Here's a piece that left me completely gobsmacked when I first heard it in my 20s and understood it was solo violin. You can see a bit of how the player does it, but it's pretty subtle as well and bits of it are very fast. In the intro, he starts playing a simple melody, with an open-string backing from simultaneously played strings. After that, things get a bit more complicated... A one-instrument band...

This guy is great! A lot of the players who specialise in Paganini are amazing technical wizards; on top of that this guy has amazing expressiveness, real soul... wow!

Paganini's Caprices are famous for this level of complexity. They don't always sound pretty (the 20th is one of the nicer ones), but they're always super-challenging. Paganini, born 1782, was the sort of Jimi Hendrix of the violin. There are Paganini competitions all over the world every year, where people try to play the Caprices, because they are technically some of the hardest violin music that can be played. I had a teacher once who was able to do the intro to the 20th. It was fun to watch!

To finish, these aren't classical, but so lovely I'm going to put them in...

And I love the audience interaction with this next's someone who made the choice to stop touring with an international contemporary band, and who instead reverted to his roots, with wonderful results.

It's nice and cosy for performer and audience, no craziness, everyone on the same page.  More like music was for a long long time, and it's great to experience it this way.  One of the schools I taught at was very musical and there'd be lunchtime gigs you could attend where you could heartily applaud, for very good reasons because they were excellent, the same students you later on plagued with vocabulary lists and entertained with various explosions and wizz-bang gadgets.  It gave everyone this feeling of common humanity and connectedness, noone above the other, we were all just human beings doing their thing. :-)

Here's an example of one of those erstwhile kids from those lunchtime gigs, who's stuck with music.  You can see why we were clapping our hands off.  And why he used to have a faraway look in his eyes at the back of his English class!  :-) This is from a gig at the Denmark River.

Didgeridoo is an amazing thing - here's a more traditional performance:

We've had a didgeridoo at our house for over a year now, but only manage to coax rather rude-sounding things out of it... nevertheless, even the attempt brings a lot of mental / emotional health benefits!  ;)

Last but not least, another example of what music can do... this is so magical and beautiful it always makes me cry, and smile...

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: dsanchez on August 18, 2019, 17:51:34
Quote from: SueC on July 28, 2019, 16:21:03If you've had especially traumatic experiences, like family violence, emotional abuse and/or neglect, your brain develops differently to the way it would in a healthy situatio

I haven't, but there are other type of traumatic experiences (e.g. the loss of someone very close to you, the end of a long time relationship, etc.) where we can benefit as well of the power of music. For such cases, I usually listen to instrumental pieces, such as:


Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: dsanchez on August 18, 2019, 17:59:14
Quote from: SueC on August 09, 2019, 04:06:51because when I was in dark places, some of what other people had written or made into songs was often a lifeline to me

How could I forget this one. I played very often in certain moments, still do, it always helps. it should be an anthem for any darkest hour...

I sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour
Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they're touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me
In love, in fear, in hate, in tears

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 19, 2019, 07:11:42
Oh, it's so fabulous to hear from you, @dsanchez!  :)  Thank you so much for sharing some thoughts and special songs!  :cool

I really like that last song you posted especially - I'd never actually heard of the song or artist.  Will have to look out for this one!  The other two people I was familiar with.  Brian Eno also gave a lovely speech at the Long Now Foundation a while back, which made me laugh and think.

Yeah, there's all kinds of trauma that can affect you, and no matter what variations you've experienced, it's so good to have antidotes... I'm trying to find the right word.  It's not just that music can make you feel better, it's also that it can actually really let you come to terms with something awful without glossing over it - that it can really express the pain that is inside of you at the time.  I sort of think that it's important to feel those feelings, not push them to one side and pretend they don't exist, and I think people who do let themselves feel their feelings are to a considerable degree protected from just turning it all into anger, or despair, or just going numb and becoming disconnected from their feelings.

I had a friend who was a music teacher and musician, who was very much loved in our little coastal community.  When she performed songs though, they seemed to all skew towards a bit artificially bright, and never looking at the dark side of things, sort of like, "Everything's completely great! (...and don't look over there!)" 

I'm especially drawn to music and to artists who understand that there is light and there is darkness - not music / artists that focus on one to the exclusion of the other - because I think both are important and inescapable aspects of what it is to be human and to live a life.  And with this friend of mine, the dark side wasn't being expressed.  I was only in my 20s, and didn't know then what I know now, or alarm bells would have seriously gone off in me.

Because one day, when nobody was looking, our friend and much-loved community member went and jumped to her death off The Gap - off a huge granite cliff that towers above a pounding Southern Ocean.  And it shocked all of us so very deeply - none of us had any idea that could possibly happen, not with our smiling, warm, vivacious friend...

So many people turned up to her memorial - the beach was overflowing... her brother explained to us that she was affected by bipolar disorder and had from childhood locked herself completely away in her dark times, and only come out when she could put on a happy face.  Oh, how we wished we had understood that, known there was something she wasn't telling us, been able to look out for her with that understanding.  There wasn't a person on that beach who wouldn't have been glad to be there for her when she was in the dark, and sit with her in it; and now there was nothing we could do.

Except that I've always remembered that, and something like this hopefully won't fly by me again...

For Melissa:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 19, 2019, 07:50:20
Something else, and from Australia.  The first one has become a bit of a personal humorous anthem to me, living in the times that we do...

...songs like that make me feel better about accidentally watching the news sometimes.

The next song was a big comfort to me in reference to my own crappy family-of-origin situation:

The audio on that isn't great unfortunately, but good downloadable versions exist, including in a great gig via this link:'s interesting that The Cure's Wrong Number was similarly therapeutic for me in that context.  More the sound than the intended meaning of the song, I think.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 20, 2019, 04:02:37
I looked closely at the lyrics to the James song @dsanchez posted - it's such a beautiful song that it's on our iTunes addition list now - I don't know how we never heard of this band in Australia.

I was struck by this:

If I hadn't seen such riches
I could live with being poor

I've personally never yet had the misfortune to lose a romantic relationship that was healthy and worth having - I've only known what that was like once and am married to this person.  Because of my background, it took me until my 30s to know not to put up with disturbing crap from partners, and then it was a matter of finding the right sort of person with whom I could have a real, decent, actually relating relationship - an equal, connected partnership, where each truly sees and hears the other, instead of projecting images on them - and loves what they see and hear, and supports the other in their personal evolution.

In Australia, the main forms of socialising are going to the pub, supporting a football team and belonging to a religious group.  These things didn't appeal to either of us - we liked hiking in our spare time, reading books, listening to music, and being in our own spaces.  This makes the chances of meeting smaller, but alas, we finally did.  But, both of us had spent the majority of our adult lives before we met single.  The up side of that is that you do really learn to live with yourself and to understand what makes you tick - my fastest growth phase as a person was between ages 24 and 31, when I wasn't even dating anybody, nor looking to, in consequence of a bad experience.  I really didn't want to go there again.

It wasn't just the usual young-romance-ends-badly scenario - like many people from dysfunctional homes, I was subconsciously attracted to not very nice people - it's like a bloody software virus, I tell ya!  :1f629:  You get to the point where you can intellectually see what's going on, but you still can't prevent yourself being drawn to unsafe, disrespectful people. It's like you have an autopilot setting that says you have to fall in love with someone who's very much like your parents.

So, my first serious relationship, starting in high school, was with a person who I later found out had tied cats to railway lines and watched them being run over for "fun" - and had killed a dog with a hammer.   :1f631:   Had I known this, I'd have given it a wide berth, but people don't tell you stuff like that about themselves on their first date, or until you're well and truly in deep.  They also don't tell society as a whole this, so when things start to fall apart, the outside world also tends to see that person as the wonderful person, and you as the person who must have done something wrong - because they have all the confidence, while you're losing all of yours and quietly going mad.

Couple that with the misguided idea that the end of a serious relationship is some sort of personal failure that renders you worthless, and the equally misguided but culturally persistent idea that you don't truly love someone unless you're giving up your boundaries, values, happiness and identity for them, and it can take years to extract yourself from something that only you know is a nightmare, because these things often look so normal from the outside - when you're not behind closed doors.

...just like in my family of origin, where very few people would have suspected what was really going on, because on the outside, that was the respectable, self-made middle class family with the clever systems analyst father and the Jackie Kennedy lookalike mother and the nice home and one boy, one girl and holiday home in Italy.   ...never trust superficial appearances... really, really look.  One of my primary school friends, when I re-contacted her as an adult and we talked about life, said to me that she'd always sensed that there was something awful going on, and that's why we had spent more time at her house than mine.  Young children often sense this kind of stuff, because they've not yet swallowed the social conditioning that makes us myopic around certain "nice" people, especially when they have money and status.

If anyone out there knows from personal experience what I am talking about, you have my empathy and my best wishes.  It is possible to crawl out from such a black hole and find sunlight.  It might just take years and be a bit of a convoluted path, but don't give up, don't feel ashamed, don't feel alone, and do find safe people to hang out with (that's a skill all of its own too...).

Because paradoxically, people are both hell and redemption.  Don't give up on humanity altogether, lovely people do exist and are very good to be around.  Understand what they look, feel and act like before you even begin to think about romantic relationships.

Not everyone has to deal with the trick of not becoming attracted to people who pathologically lack empathy (and on the outside, they cover it extremely well and fool most people) - for a lot of people, it's just garden variety dysfunctions around not feeling worthy and never truly having been seen or heard by the people who are (allegedly) close to them.  But that too is a journey and a half, and if I take the word of friends in social services, and my own observations from 20 years of working with a lot of people, such is the case with the majority of human beings, having to learn how to love themselves and others in a healthy, affirming way that is respectful to the self and to others, and sees noone as intrinsically above or below.

It took me 36 years (minus childhood) to find a romantic relationship truly worth having, and by extrapolation, my heart goes out to anyone who has known that, and lost it.  Our wedding witnesses were Alice and Robert Paisley-Kerr - at the time the people who had been married longest, out of everyone we knew - over 50 years, and such wonderful characters!  Alice lost Rob a couple of years ago, just after his 80th birthday party - aneurysm.  It was very sad to go to his funeral, and to see Alice without him, handing out eucalyptus leaves for all of us to put on his coffin. We all loved Rob, and we all love Alice, and while it was hard for her, she was surrounded by people and love every day after her (and everyone's) bereavement.

Every time I bake a loaf of bread, or plant a tree, I think of Rob - because he gave us a breadmaker he used to bake with before his grandchildren bought him a new model, and an adze from his days as a farmer when we bought our own farm.  He's still with us that way, and we carry his light, with which he lit us up.

For anyone who has loved and lost a special person - a poem by Australian author Judith Wright.

This Time Alone

Here still, the mountain that we climbed
when hand and hand my love and I
first looked through one another's eyes
and found the world that does not die.

Wild fuchsia flowered white and red,
the mintbush opened to the bee.
Stars circled round us where we lay
and dawn came naked from the sea.

Its holy ordinary light
welled up and blessed us and was blessed.
Nothing more simple, nor more strange,
Than earth itself was then our rest.

I face the steep unyielding rock,
I bleed against the cockspur's thorn,
struggling the upward path again,
this time alone.  This time alone,

I turn and set that world alight.
Unfurling from its hidden bud
it widens past me, round my sight,
filled with my breath, fed with my blood;

the sun that rises as I stand
comes up within me gold and young;
my hand is sheltered in your hand,
the bread of silence on my tongue.

...where would we be, if we didn't have poets...
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: dsanchez on August 20, 2019, 13:55:56
Quote from: SueC on August 20, 2019, 04:02:37I looked closely at the lyrics to the James song @dsanchez posted - it's such a beautiful song that it's on our iTunes addition list now - I don't know how we never heard of this band in Australia.

you need to make sure to listen the definitive version of this song, which is the one from the video I shared. The reason why that version is so emotional (you can feel the sadness of the keyboard player like making long the start of the song because it would be the last time) and special is because the band when on a hiatus after that night for many years, it was their last concert during that era in their hometown in Manchester. All was filmed in a video named 'Getting Away with it...' worth getting it
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: dsanchez on August 20, 2019, 22:37:40
Someone on YouTube on the song below...

Quote from: undefinedWhat a powerful song! Probably the greatest song of all time for those struggling with life & depression. Kinda sum's up how we sometimes feel: Hope, Faith, Love "Tomorrow may bring us light". As this world today seems so cold and dark. There must be someone we can turn too for help when we want to leave this world

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 21, 2019, 11:40:40
Quote from: dsanchez on August 20, 2019, 13:55:56
Quote from: SueC on August 20, 2019, 04:02:37I looked closely at the lyrics to the James song @dsanchez posted - it's such a beautiful song that it's on our iTunes addition list now - I don't know how we never heard of this band in Australia.

you need to make sure to listen the definitive version of this song, which is the one from the video I shared. The reason why that version is so emotional (you can feel the sadness of the keyboard player like making long the start of the song because it would be the last time) and special is because the band when on a hiatus after that night for many years, it was their last concert during that era in their hometown in Manchester. All was filmed in a video named 'Getting Away with it...' worth getting it

We'll look out for that version, thanks for the tip!  :) Live versions are often better in cases like this anyway, because it seems having real people in front of you can make you reach further in and bring more out. It's like that song by Ruth B that a friend sent me, which I referred to on the first page of this thread - I found a live version that makes even more impact (and that's the one I posted).

I really liked the audience interaction on Sit Down (as well as the next one) - it's pretty clear that a lot of people are really relating to these songs.  There's still not enough open discussion of this sort of thing in public spaces, and it's great when people bring these things out in the open, through songs, music, poetry, just talking about it.  Part of the problem with all this stuff is the sense of isolation around it, and feeling like you can't say anything.  It's a good start when someone shows you it's OK and important to talk about it (and that your own life is valuable and important and matters), by setting an example and showing you can do it, as James are doing here, and many people do.  These are lifelines - and enable people to get to the point where they can do the same, and be OK about it.

I read the Wikipedia entry the night you posted the song, and that's why we wondered why the heck we'd never heard of this band.  Also, that's such a lovely comment about the milk and cookies at the end of the song...  :)

I've been asking Brett if he's got any suggestions for songs for this thread, and you know what he said? "One Hundred Years.  That should put everything in perspective!"    When I pursued this further, he said he listened to a lot of Portishead when he was depressed, which he says he was on and off for years, before we met.  It seems that loneliness and the lack of a nice girl was the main reason for that for him.  He asked me to post this:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on August 22, 2019, 10:30:30
Found an interesting article, which relates to this topic (in parts):

QuoteHuman development is led by our senses. Our senses exert a formative and shaping pressure on our brains. So if our experience of the world around us can damage our brains and our souls, it makes a kind of intuitive sense that music can also help us feel better. Every musician, and every music fan, believes that.

It was this belief that led me to the work of a French doctor named Alfred Tomatis, who, in the late 1940s and '50s, began manipulating sound in the hope of healing people. Among his patients were opera singers and fighter pilots, whose brains had stopped processing sound correctly as a result of work-induced auditory trauma. Because our fight-or-flight response is connected to our auditory system, any disturbances can cause a host of physical symptoms. Tomatis came up with a treatment that involved decreasing or emphasizing specific frequencies of what he believed to be particularly salient forms of music — including Gregorian chants and the music of Mozart, which is perhaps the most perfectly structured and at the same time most effortlessly fluid sound that human beings have ever made (at once the most human and the most perfect music on the planet). These interventions helped retune the muscles that control the auditory pathways through which sound makes its way to the brain.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 22, 2019, 11:57:24
Aaaah, @Ulrich, it's such a pleasure to read a super-well-written article on a musician / music you like.  It's like really exquisite Lindt-type chocolate.  And it's such a nice contrast to the usual bilge in the press.  Thanks for the link, and go New York Times!  :heart-eyes

I totally agree with Young re music compression.  When MP3s started, I was going, "This sounds wrong!!!"  And the whole loudness wars thing makes me want to weep.  It's so rare now to hear great dynamic range in contemporary albums...  :'(

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 26, 2019, 16:17:36
Having actual fun is an important part of staying emotionally and mentally healthy, so here's a nice song (and clip) for that:

I was listening to an Esther Perel interview today, in which she made the point that many adults completely forget all about the creativity, play and fun that came naturally to them as children, and that this cripples them, and their ability to have happy relationships with other people - especially intimate partners, which is sort of her specialty area.  Always worth a listen!
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on August 27, 2019, 15:28:50
These two songs I find have an amazingly helpful impact on me emotionally.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 03, 2019, 13:22:31
Sometimes, and especially when I was growing up, I've really benefited from hearing people making a stand and not mincing words.  Three examples of such songs:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on September 04, 2019, 11:32:30
Quote from: SueC on September 03, 2019, 13:22:31Sometimes, and especially when I was growing up, I've really benefited from hearing people making a stand...

Yeah, I know the feeling. Years ago I re-listened to this song (I first heard when I was 21 or so) and realised how much the lyrics influenced my younger self:
Quote from: undefinedThis whole country is scared of failure.
My head keeps trying to sell me ambition.
But in my heart, I want self-respect.
There's a conflict.

You and I are not huge mainstream stars
But unlike them, we're really what we are

I don't want to dip myself in trash
I don't want to give myself for cash

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 07, 2019, 09:14:24
Those are excellent lyrics for encouraging people not to sell out, @Ulrich!  And doesn't this guy have a great voice, especially those low notes.  His duet with Kate Pierson, those two different distinctive voices are like combining avocado with lemon juice, or raspberries with cream, or chocolate with chilli - they really bring each other out by the contrast. :-)

It takes a village to raise a child - just the village is looking a little different in modern society!
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 07, 2019, 10:07:58
I'm spring cleaning at the moment, and came across three pages I thought I'd throw on this thread. If you come from a family where healthy patterns of relating to other people are not taught by example, you have to try to learn that stuff from elsewhere - because otherwise you're likely to repeat many of the unhealthy family-of-origin patterns on autopilot - subconsciously, without thinking about it, because much of our social behaviour is programmed into us in childhood.

When I thought about what helped me to learn the things I didn't learn at home, there's role modelling by healthier adults I was exposed to - I had a superb Year 1/2 teacher, for instance, and people like that along the way (my Year 3/4 teacher was a dragon whose chief function for me was to give me yet another example of the sort of person I really didn't want to become).  There's books, both fiction and non-fiction, that exposed me to different ways of thinking and being; same with movies and music.

One other thing I found incredibly helpful was formal learning about human psychology and human relationships - in part through a post - B.Sc. qualification in education, and in part through services which exist to deliver exactly that, usually after the fact, when things come to grief in a family or a couple relationship, or when we're trying to unravel some of our own reactions when they strike us as really unhelpful.  These services also offer proactive learning, i.e. don't wait for disasters to happen in your relationships, actually go see how these things tend to work!

Like most people, I only sought help when I was already drowning - at the tail end of my first serious (and textbook dysfunctional) relationship, in my early 20s.  You can end up with very good help, or yet more not very useful experiences.  I was lucky because the people I went to actually did family of origin training - looking at what had shaped you from that perspective - and that's usually the main source of all those frustrating aspects of our own feeling, thinking and behaviour which we know aren't helpful, but we just can't seem to get rid of.  You can do a web search for "family of origin" and find all sorts of helpful materials on it, if you're unfamiliar with the concept.  Or, in Australia, both Anglicare's Kinway and Relationships Australia are examples of organisations running relationships education courses and counselling.  Formal learning about this sort of stuff is fascinating, and it's much more fun to do it proactively than when you're smack bang in the middle of difficulties.  Prevention is so much better than cure, with this, as well as physical health!

Really, this kind of stuff should be taught in schools - and there are some attempts by some schools to do it, as part of the Relationships Education section of Health Education, and I've seen bits of it as part of a Religious Education curriculum in Catholic schools - say what you like about religious organisations, but this is one thing that I thought was really well done in the Catholic system (and I'm not Catholic, I'm an onlooker) - students were trained to self-reflect, and learnt formal things about human relationships, emotional self-regulation etc.

Family of origin is only a part of all the stuff you can learn about humans and their behaviour, and how to evolve into the direction you want to, but it's a really good starting point.  Another really useful thing to do early on is to educate yourself about boundaries - how to be who you are, and let other people be who they are - without the interference.  Again, if you do a web search on "boundaries - psychology" you can get to a selection of useful resources.  If you grew up in a dysfunctional family, you were taught that love means people can mess with your boundaries, and that can get you into all sorts of trouble, until you recognise and then change this.

The three pages I scanned in to share here as sample formal material are on Emotional Intimacy.  This is not straightforward for many people, but it's very much possible to learn to develop that.  However, you've got to be able to see the forest for the trees - and also, in the words on the poster on the wall in that first place I formally learnt about family of origin:

If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.

(Personally, meditating formally has never worked for me - journalling, reading, spending time in nature, and listening to music has - I think they can have similar roles - but that's just me; lots of people find formal meditation helpful.)

This just gives some idea of what these organisations offer, and educate people about. It's not lying on the sofa and talking endlessly about your childhood - but having said that, here's a re-post of a hilarious song on that.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 11, 2019, 10:40:40
Sometimes, a song is such a fabulous way of telling a story that it becomes unforgettable.  Here's one that raises what you can and cannot live with, and how this can distance you from people in your own family.  The story is the same as covered in the Australian film Jindabyne, but I think the song conveys it much better.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on September 12, 2019, 11:10:13
When thinking about former relationship(s), this new Waterboys song seems very nice and "healing" in a way:

"I look inside my heart and mind
to find a trace of you
and there's love
I think of all the hungry days and dreams
I shared with you
and there's love
in starblown old cafes and cabarets
and fairs with you
and there's love
from the proud heights of praise
to deep despair with you"
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 13, 2019, 14:24:47
Hello, @Ulrich! :) Neither this video or any others of the song are available in our area...  Harumph!  I did manage to track down a full lyrics though.  Yes, he's putting the best possible face on it.  Since she's the one who left, she could have been the one who had more grievances, in which case it's probably easier looking back for the person who was left to see the relationship in a positive light, once they get over being dumped.  That's my theory, anyway...

It's not always possible for people to look back and feel this way, unfortunately, since in really dysfunctional relationships, it's not so much love as compulsion and/or bad programming.  And then, all you can do is look back and say, "OMG, is that what I thought love was?"  On the upside, you can potentially learn from that if you really put the effort in - or it can become a case of those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.  Now, has anyone written a song about that?  ;)

Let's see - Sting wrote that spooky number Every Breath You Take which many people thought was so romantic, but it's actually obsessive and portrays stalking behaviour.  Later on, presumably wiser, he wrote If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, portraying a healthier take on love.

And Brownie points to Mike Scott to get over being dumped; it's a rather different response to this one:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on September 13, 2019, 14:47:19
Quote from: SueC on September 13, 2019, 14:24:47Hello, @Ulrich! :) Neither this video or any others of the song are available in our area...  Harumph! 

I'm really sorry about that.   :1f62a:

This here is one of the most beautiful albums ever (to my ears at least); 30 years old now (I think I finally managed to find it early in 1990; after months of looking out for it). I don't listen to it very often, but when I do, I like to think it has a good, emotional "healing" effect on me.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 13, 2019, 16:07:22
Quote from: SueC on September 13, 2019, 14:24:47Sting wrote that spooky number Every Breath You Take which many people thought was so romantic, but it's actually obsessive and portrays stalking behaviour.

wow, so true 😂
Don't know how I never heard that before
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 13, 2019, 16:15:56
I find the album Graceland by Paul Simon very helpful for emotional well-being, though I'm not sure how much is the album itself, and how much is how it reminds me of being at home as a child while my Mum was listening to it

This is one of my favourite tracks, and the "Owwweewww" part gets me every time !
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 13, 2019, 16:41:29
And another song by The Magnetic Fields.  I find Stephin Merritt's voice strangely soothing, and love that beautiful Happy-Sad atmosphere he creates.

"And I'm so happy I could crryyyy,  ow baby"

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 14, 2019, 11:02:39
It's lovely to have so much music added to this thread! :heart-eyes

@word_on_a_wing, if you've got the Graceland album (and I've always liked the feel of that particular track you chose), I'd imagine you're already familiar with Ladysmith Black Mambazo?  :)  Here's one of my favourite songs of theirs - it's very calming and grounding:

And I actually like some of the early Simon & Garfunkel stuff too - like this one:

Something about the harmonising I think... have you ever sung in a choir?  That produces a similar effect, but far stronger when you're actually a part of it.  I used to go when I lived in town, and we did some fun stuff - it's a great feeling singing in a group (just don't ask me to solo... except in the shower ;)).  Automatic breathing exercises and lots of laughing, and it's a super experience to have a group of people synchronise like that. :cool  We did things like Summertime and It Ain't Necessarily So, but also had a shot at Mozart's Requiem Mass - which is fabulous just to attempt! :)  Choir is like a bath in endorphins - you go home smiling from ear to ear and all tingly.  Highly recommended!

Thanks for the intro to The Magnetic Fields - I'd not heard of them!  Really nice voice (I like in-the-basement voices).

@Ulrich, thank you likewise for another introduction to a band I'd not heard of!  I've begun listening to that and the start is very much encouraging me to listen to the whole lot.  It's amazing how much stuff comes to me by recommendation these days, and I've been catching interesting things on this site - the strike rate is much higher than turning on the radio (we don't really have alternative radio here, although I suppose we could get that via the Internet these days).

I'm going to have to look up where that artist is from etc, and also this music reminds me of something - I'm not quite sure what.  Here's something from our part of the world with a similar feel though, also over 25 years old now, and it's suitably obscure for you to probably not have heard of it in Europe.

Shane Howard's best known song would probably be Solid Rock, which he did with Goanna - and you may have caught that 30 years ago?  @word_on_a_wing  will almost certainly know this song - it's one of the quintessential Australian anthems, unlike our idiotic official national anthem, which was written by a suit, not a musician, and he really had no idea about Australia.  Girt by sea, my backside; not to mention the complete lack of historical acknowledgement of indigenous people, and just this lobotomised propaganda version of white Australia... No truth and no soul, unlike this track:

It's so lovely to have real musicians singing truthfully about our country - also good for emotional health!  :)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 14, 2019, 13:40:40
Quote from: SueC on September 14, 2019, 11:02:39Shane Howard's best known song would probably be Solid Rock, which he did with Goanna - and you may have caught that 30 years ago?  @word_on_a_wing  will almost certainly know this song - it's one of the quintessential Australian anthems, unlike our idiotic official national anthem, which was written by a suit, not a musician, and he really had no idea about Australia.  Girt by sea, my backside; not to mention the complete lack of historical acknowledgement of indigenous people, and just this lobotomised propaganda version of white Australia... No truth and no soul, unlike this track:

It's so lovely to have real musicians singing truthfully about our country - also good for emotional health!  :)

Brilliant choice! This song always gives me chills, and I agree wholeheartedly to ditch the Australian anthem and put this in its place.

I have never heard any of their other music, or Shane's either but at your suggestion will Check it out.  👍
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 14, 2019, 14:32:47
Now that I'm warming to this subject: A few more contenders that make worthy Australian anthems, and are written by real people: Waltzing Matilda is already an unofficial Australian anthem... here is our Jenny Thomas doing a nice version. It's really about the low-ranked people versus the land aristocracy in colonial Australia. (For non-Aussies, translations for Australian jargon in this song are easy to find online!)

I first heard that version driving across the South Australian outback on the way back home from the Eastern States; my hair was standing on end (thankyou ABC Radio National!).  Jenny Thomas also did the violin for the Lord Of The Rings movies (soundtrack). This is far more Australian than that rubbish anthem that some toffee-nosed politician imposed on the Australian population.

This next song, by Icehouse, is also often used in lieu of our awful anthem. It really really conjures up Australia for me, and what I love about it. This version comes with gorgeous scenery...

And then there's this little number, originally written by the Warumpi band, a neat Aboriginal outfit who have some excellent songs. Nice clip too.

This was Christine Anu's version, which she performed at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. This song is really important for giving voice to the original inhabitants' connection with this country. They were totally left out of that silly official anthem we have, and can't identify one bit with it. And the funny thing is, I'm a European immigrant, but I can so, so identify with these songs written by the Aboriginal Australians - because I so share their sense of place - because the Australian landscape, flora, fauna, light, heat, wind and rain have sunk into my very bones like nothing else has, and have made me Australian - although in terms of allegiance, I'm simply human. :)

And finally, another important Aboriginal anthem, about reconciliation, held in high esteem by many of us:

So now you all of you reading who aren't from Australia will know what our REAL anthems sound like over here! :cool

PS:  Found this and just had to include it:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 14, 2019, 15:23:48
...and speaking of Yothu Yindi, I just can't think of a better "feelgood" song than this one:

They make such great clips too.  :cool

Several remixes were done, and this was considered the "grooviest" by some people - it's also how I first heard it:

Another remix:

...I can't make up my mind which I like best - I love all of them!  :heart-eyes

Listening to this just has an extraordinary effect on mood and optimism, for me.  Always lifts me into the stratosphere!
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 14, 2019, 16:40:23
I just remembered another musician who I find VERY beneficial to my wellbeing.
...Nat King Cole.
...his voice just seems to melt away any troubles I may be feeling, and an inner smile starts to shine. Ahhh that voice!

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: word_on_a_wing on September 14, 2019, 16:46:58
Oh my gosh, and his renditions Of Christmas songs 💕

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on September 15, 2019, 10:42:49
Quote from: SueC on September 14, 2019, 11:02:39@Ulrich, thank you likewise for another introduction to a band I'd not heard of!  I've begun listening to that and the start is very much encouraging me to listen to the whole lot.  It's amazing how much stuff comes to me by recommendation these days, and I've been catching interesting things on this site - the strike rate is much higher than turning on the radio (we don't really have alternative radio here, although I suppose we could get that via the Internet these days).

Yeah well, that's maybe because on this site you have (mostly) like-minded people with a leaning towards (early)1980's "new wave" music, so you're likely to find something you might like!
The above mentioned I knew only by name, because Adrian Borland used to be the singer of The Sound (a band I knew through friends), so I was interested in his solo album (not heard one song; just read a review somewhere) and when I finally got it, I was rewarded with a beautiful album.

Back on topic: sometimes I need a more quiet "background music" (e.g. while reading), which is when "ambient" music is near-perfect.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 29, 2019, 23:42:55
Because of the B-sides thread, we've been pulling various 80s albums back off the shelf at home. As a teenager I disliked a lot of the mainstream music of the day and preferred alternative music, which had more to offer musically and lyrically.  However, sometimes a mainstream piece heard on the radio would wiggle its way into my affections.

I thought this number was pretty mainstream musically, plus when people use the word "baby" as a term of endearment for an adult, I've always cringed.  Great ideas and atmosphere though.  ...Does anyone else here ever appropriate a part of a song for their own life, because it's somehow helpful?  While the context of this song was specifically about a romantic relationship, I thought the "If you fall over, don't think it's terminal, get up again" idea translates really well as a general life principle.  Life was tough for me as a teenager and up to about my late 20s, so if I heard a song which expressed hope in a way I could relate to, it became important to me, and at particularly tough times I'd listen to songs like this.

This exact thing came up on an early 90s radio interview when Bob Geldof visited Perth and dropped in to 96fm to guest DJ for a couple of afternoons.  This was his song for that topic:

Getting back to the idea of 80s mainstream that ended up significant in my life despite not liking some of its musical elements (I really don't like that hand-clapping synth effect, for instance - but I love bagpipes in the right context :)), this next song came out in 1987, which was my final high school year.  I was living with domestic violence at home and international violence on every TV screen, and about to be launched on this world, just 16 going into university on a science scholarship and feeling a long way from adulthood, but I felt very strongly about wanting to be a decent adult when I grew up, who didn't make other people suffer as a result of ignorance or selfishness if I could avoid it, and I very much wanted to be a more positive human being than both the people in my immediate family and the adults in charge of international relations at the time.

This song became woven into these things for me, and became an anthem for a lot of young people.  It really was an excellent song to have for your school leaving year.

I had to laugh at one of the YouTube comments on this - "Please rise for the Australian national anthem!"  :)

When I was 27, I came out of science research and training undergraduates and jumped over to high school teaching.  I had a fabulous :heart-eyes Year 12 English class that year, and remember the leaving song that was played at their graduation, by one of my Science department colleagues on acoustic guitar and his graduating daughter on vocals. 

The lyrics were so apt, and all the graduates were sitting on the stage in their finery while a slide show of their progress through high school from age 12 was shown on the screen behind them - school camps, excursions, presentations etc - and I had tears rolling down my face because of the beauty and the fragility of everything, and because of how you feel when people you love are sent off into an often difficult world - I had all my fingers and toes crossed for these young people, who are now in their late 30s.  I still hear from some of them periodically - one checked in recently courtesy of Grass Roots (I wrote an article on podcasts) - "I just had to check if it was you, I'm sure it is!" - and she's in a good spot and has a young family, which is lovely... :cool

It's funny how one moment you're starting out, and then suddenly you're midlife looking back.  Like my former student, I've ended up in a good spot and am happy with life.  It's been wonderful though, to actually watch the wheel turn and follow other generations from school leaving into adulthood.  When I was teaching this bunch, I already saw significant improvements over my own generation, and I love seeing the 30-somethings now on things like The Drum, being eloquent and compassionate and witty.  The world might actually begin to improve when their generation starts to run the show. :)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on October 05, 2019, 15:59:30
Here's a song I first heard as a teenager.  That chorus was instantly adapted by me as one of those anthems for life...

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on October 14, 2019, 00:41:14
When this song first came out, I was too young to realise it could be cathartic...

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on October 31, 2019, 09:09:49
I've been listening to home-grown Australian music this week and would like to share a track called Animal Song, by the Warumpi Band.  I really like this band for its blend of indigenous Australian instruments and musical styles with guitars, bass and drums.  They are very good at evoking the Australian landscape, and what it's like to live here.  When I'm working on the land, it's a very good fit.

And see if you can spot the world's oldest woodwind instrument here! :)

The next one isn't so upbeat, but sometimes, brooding, apocalyptic music really hits the spot.  This is new to me this week, courtesy of mining my husband's music collection - this band is from Perth, Western Australia, and I'm thrilled that a band with a wonderful sound like this has come from our home state!

And I've returned to add this - sent to me by my editor this morning - also Australian and great fun!  :cool

...and this is where he puts it all together at a German blues festival...  :)

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on November 07, 2019, 01:48:50
I found a really good clip on the concept of low-contact / no contact with people who undermine your emotional health, and tried to find a place to slot it in, in the earlier discussions on this thread (which is possible because of the open editing feature here, so I sometimes add stuff to existing posts).  I couldn't find anywhere it wouldn't have interrupted the flow, so I'm just going to put it in as a post-script.  It's from Alain de Botton's School of Life stuff from this site:

It's a really helpful site for looking at your own life with a magnifying glass, and picking up all sorts of interesting ideas for useful change.  Alain de Botton is a modern philosopher, and I first bumped into his material when reading his book Status Anxiety over a decade ago.  He's great fun as a presenter - I've seen clips of his talks and heard podcast interviews, on which he is always good value.

Very good visual storytelling on this clip too:

More on low contact / no contact here:

Once again, lots of love to anyone who has had to deal with this kind of unhappiness. ♥  You're not alone.  There's a lot of it about.

An old Waterboys song on the topic:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on January 22, 2020, 14:22:34
With this one, the singing itself is such a thing of beauty that it makes me glad to be alive.  Also, like with a lot of traditional Celtic music, there is a sense that joy and pain are interconnected - as they generally are.

Here's a track from a South Australian folk/roots outfit called The Audreys, which would deserve a spot on the Emotional Health thread just for its brilliant lyrics - but its music is also very beautiful...

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on January 31, 2020, 15:22:25
Well, today I had to deal with an emotional flashback, which is a really unpleasant "hangover" from PTSD.  I don't get them much anymore, as most of those things flooded out five years ago when The Great Wall Of China collapsed.  But, today the question of violence against animals came up on my home forum, and it made me remember the time my older brother, who is ironically a practicing veterinarian, beat my horse across her head with an iron bar and my parents hushed it up and tried to pretend it had never happened.  This was over 20 years ago, but thinking about it made me feel ill, in a typical flashback reaction.  Just physical disgust, nausea like you get with a migraine, both at what happened to my horse and how it was dealt with by my family.  And you go around trying to shake the disgust like trying to shake a migraine.

Not all emotional flashbacks involve disgust; all sorts of emotions can be involved.  Five years ago, the primary emotions that flashed back for me in recollections were terror and helplessness, because they came from so far back in early childhood.  That's pretty typical, as PTSD really is a brain response to situations in which you felt that your survival, and/or the survival of those you love, was at risk.  Therefore, the typical flashbacks involve the involuntary replaying of scenarios of terror.  It's later on that the more nuanced stuff comes out - like reactions you had as you got older, and started processing these things, and thinking for yourself a bit more.  That's when things like physical disgust kick in.  Really, all emotional flashbacks involve emotions that were frozen into ice cubes for later, because you couldn't fully process them at the time.  Later is sometimes a very long time...

I've added these comments to the Emotional Health thread because they're an extension of things I've already talked about early in the thread, and because today, music made a difference to me when I was dealing with that "hangover nausea" from way back.  Not all of what I listened to, but I put on bits of Hyde Park live to cajole myself through an outdoors task so I would do it instead of just vegetating in front of the men's tennis semi-final.  But then, the track Disintegration came on, and that particular composition made me feel significantly better very quickly - the nausea was actually disappearing in a minute or two, much to my amazement.

It's not the only song in this world that could have done that, but it is one of that group.  It was not because the lyrics are anything to do with what happened in my life - Robert Smith could have been going "la-la-la-la" or singing in Swahili, and it would still have had that effect.  It was purely the sound of the thing, because it has the same sense of emotional hell in it somewhere, yet also something over the top of that which is bigger than that.  Obviously, music is like a Rorschach test as well (not just ambiguous lyrics) - and it's going to evoke different things for different people, but listening to this song today made the nausea subside significantly.  I think sometimes, it's not distraction we need, or reminders of the bright side of life, but an actual acknowledgement of the difficulties of the human condition etc.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on February 01, 2020, 15:30:49

Today, I want to think out loud about the arts, The Cure and emotional health.  In the last post, I mentioned that sometimes, when you're trying to deal with difficult things, you do need an actual acknowledgement of the difficulties of the human condition, rather than just distractions, or reminders of the bright side of life.  All of these have a place, of course, and it occurred to me that all of these are addressed if you look at the catalogue of this band - you can find fun stuff, and odes to awe and wonder, and celebrations of love and life, and also grappling with the sad things and with the dark sides of being human.  That's actually a very well-rounded approach, and yet when you read about this band you don't hear that mentioned very much.

It's the capacity to look and think in these different ways that very much underpins emotional resilience, and a healthy approach to life.  In the age of Instagram I get wearied by all the airbrushing and editing of what life is supposed to be, and think it's refreshing when people can be real, and they can show you their flaws instead of Disneyfying themselves for public view.  It sets a very good example of what it really means to be human.  If you look at the pressure that's created for teenagers now, compared to thirty years ago, to have these perfect airbrushed lives, it becomes unsurprising that depression and anxiety are on the increase, along with body dysmorphia and loneliness.  The commonly paraded ideas of what you're supposed to be are completely unrealistic, and it's worse than that - it is hollow, and the opposite of authentic.  It's inviting you to be a commodified shell instead of an actual person.

Add to that the increasing isolation of people from each other, the struggle for many to feel part of any kind of meaningful community, the escalating deficit of nature and the outdoors in increasingly suburban and indoors lives, the demise of the free-range childhood, the tyranny of personal devices and screens that now starts in infancy, the decreasing job security, the ever-widening gap between ultra-rich and dirt poor as the majority of the planet's resources become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, not to mention the spiralling rape and pillage of the Earth's remaining functioning ecosystems and our overloading of the planet with waste and pollution, all now coming home to roost - and you've got a recipe for poor mental / emotional health for the majority of people on this planet.  You almost have to be an activist these days to stay sane, in some area or another that you particularly care about, and to feel that you can do something about the increasing madness all around you, instead of letting it all happen while you sit in impotent horror and dejection.

In the middle of all this, the arts humanise us.  Reading stories and poetry, listening to music, watching movies, looking at art that makes you think and reflect, and participating yourself creatively in some way, is one of the most effective antidotes to consumerism and general hollowness we have in the modern world.  It addresses what economics and politics never will.  Its themes include love, beauty, wonder, mortality, justice, identity, society, and critical reflection about all these things; it encourages thought, playfulness, humour, creativity and real-world engagement.

I'm careful with what I allow to take up my time, because it is finite (and wrote about how I make those decisions here  I'd never be interested in buying books or CDs or movies that didn't somehow help me be a better human being by honing my thinking or my empathy or both.  And the reason I took to The Cure's music five years ago is because I found it did both.  Writing about it adds another layer of both, so I'd be doing that even if I locked it in a cupboard at the end of the day as per my decades of paper journalling, but here we are in an age where we can write on virtual paper and allow other people across the globe to read it, and to comment and get discussing if they wish (and I hope that those reading will get more out of this than out of spending their time with the Murdoch press :winking_tongue).

Something else I was thinking about is that The Cure have been beneficial to the mental and emotional health of many over the years by being different and wearing that well.  When you are a kid especially, being different can come with so much ostracism and pain, and it can be such a great source of hope to see adults who are different who are making that work for them.  I was a different kid, and I paid a price for that.  Now I'm a different adult, but I'm really enjoying myself, and am largely buffered from the adverse rubbish that went down because of it when I was younger.  Because I taught teenagers for 15 years, I had an opportunity to role model wearing difference well, and that was very rewarding, and it did actually make a significant difference to a lot of people (they told me so, I got hugged a lot, etc).

I think that The Cure probably made an especially big difference to boys who were different, who didn't want to be sports jocks or macho men or suits, who didn't want to live their lives constrained by narrow definitions of what is acceptable for men physically or emotionally - and the men those boys grew up to be.  As a person who was long involved in the pastoral care of young people, I really applaud that kind of role modelling.  I think boys especially are prone to getting so much of their humanity and potential amputated by the process of mainstream socialisation, and are under so much pressure to deny their feelings.  It is so, so important to have voices and faces out there to show boys that it's OK to be outside of the narrow roles that narrow-minded people want them to inhabit, and that they can be fully human, and be themselves.  This is also so, so important when you get into romantic relationships down the track, for both sides.

A couple of years ago I was reading some background information on The Cure and laughed about this anecdote that the teenage Robert Smith was trying out eyeliner and found that it made him more likely to be targeted by idiots, and this made him more determined to wear eyeliner.  :lol:  That's the spirit!  :smth023  There's people I know who are actually very put off listening to The Cure when they see Robert Smith in stage make-up - and most of these people are either males with very narrow definitions of masculinity, or females who like males with very narrow definitions of masculinity - in other words, highly conservative people, plus rednecks.  I think it's an interesting phenomenon.  As a 13-year-old I was bashed in the face by my own father for the crime of putting up a poster in my room of a male pop star in a kaftan and make-up.  My nose was bleeding and I was on the ground and he was still laying into me like a maniac.  Eventually I escaped through a window and ran into the night, with a great deal to think about.

It was impossible for my father and mother and the rednecks in the playground to beat or bully difference out of me.  The more they attempted it, the more determined I was to live on my own terms.  A lot of so-called teenage rebellion is exactly that - a determination to be who you are, in spite of everything.  To thine own self be true.  And yet the thing that can be so painful for you as a teenager is the very thing that will richly reward you later on, because that's exactly what authenticity does - it allows you to live broadly and deeply and fully and with joy.

And of course, this makes you a terribly disappointing consumer, and the economy would collapse if everyone was like that, so we can't have that!   :winking_tongue

I'll leave you with an Australian movie on the topic that I highly recommend you catch if you haven't already!

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on February 03, 2020, 00:46:40

One thing I didn't get around to in my last post is anger, and how that's often a substitute emotion males are "allowed" to feel and to display instead of more "soft" things like sadness, or hurt.  With rubbish like this still around (because it hasn't completely died out yet and is still prevalent in some sections of the general community), it's always excellent when there are male adults in public view who express a wide range of emotions instead of suppressing them, or channelling them into anger instead.  It's antidote role modelling to that whole toxic masculinity thing, and that's something that The Cure have done very well and that I commend them for.  Often the people who role model something well aren't actually aware of that, they're just getting on with the business of living and being who they are.

In broader terms, it gets back to authenticity, and when there are people around who live authentically and who can be fully human regardless of their gender, that's very healthy for people still forming their identities to see.  When you give yourself permission to be who you are, instead of adopting what's prescribed for you socially or what other people want you to be, you're helping other people do that too - and instead of creating a social monoculture, authenticity encourages diversity (and thorough thinking).

Boys Don't Cry has been used many times in schools to start class discussions around stereotypical gender expectations versus deciding for yourself who you are and what you can think, feel and express.  I used that song as a discussion springboard myself well before I was ever a Cure fan.  It's just become so culturally embedded that it comes to mind when people are casting around for songs to use as springboards to discuss various issues with high schoolers.  Other songs used tons of times include Cat's In The Cradle, She's Leaving Home, Another Brick In The Wall, Salt Water, Imagine, and more recently, Caught In The Crowd - and then of course there's the whole "bring your own song and tell us what it made you think about" side of it too (which is incredibly interesting - people can become very communicative about music they like, and it also tends to foster group cohesion and mutual respect to have these discussions).

In Boys Don't Cry, the protagonist talks about covering up, trying to laugh about it and "hiding the tears in my eyes - because boys don't cry" - but often it gets worse than this, when that kind of suppression ends up as destructive anger - and as a society we pay a very high price for that.

To me, The Cure make a very nice contrast to the heavy metal genre, which is so full of anger and destruction, yelling, screaming and bashing up various instruments.  I have PTSD and therefore have never been able to listen to stuff like this, nor been "entertained" by violence depicted by Hollywood for that purpose (!!!).  Growing up at the pointy end of violence, it was impossible for me to be anything but sickened by it, or to find any aspect of that funny or entertaining.

Anger, of course, isn't always about violence, and isn't always destructive.  Anger can be the thing that lets you know someone has seriously messed with a personal boundary of yours, and therefore be a useful alerting system - and the next step then is to respond in a considered way.  Anger can be used constructively, as an impetus to make you work for justice and fairness, in your own life, in your social and work circles and in broader society.  Anger is useful for keeping you away from people who are toxic and harmful to you, and anger is useful if you have to defend yourself or someone else, especially from physical assault.  It's not that you shouldn't feel it, it's what you do with it.

When I was growing up, pretty much all the anger I saw in my household was destructive and violent.  I saw anger in general as a bad thing and had no idea it was possible to be constructively angry in the service of something, until I started listening to music as a teenager.  U2's War album did that especially well.  Here were a bunch of people who'd grown up with violence and civil war in their own country, and in some cases, with violence in their own homes, and yet they were channelling their anger not into more destruction, but into constructive actions.  I will close with a favourite song off that album.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on February 10, 2020, 10:28:55

This is an open letter to anyone who is dealing with (or alleged to be dealing with) mental/emotional health conditions.  Hello if you've got PTSD, depression, bipolar, GAD, SAD, social anxiety, OCD or anything else like that as part of your current package.  I have the complex PTSD version of PTSD, and amongst my acquaintance I know at least one person each for all the other examples I listed, and all of them are people I really like, and who contribute very usefully to society in some way, shape or form. :cool

I don't let PTSD define me in the same way I don't let having a cold define me.  It's something you have to deal with.  With PTSD though, unlike with a cold, it's probably always going to be a part of who I am, and it's certainly a significant part of what shaped me - and why I have many of the positive attributes I have as a human being, because nothing made me care more than understanding what it is to suffer.

I didn't even know I had PTSD for the first 43 years of my life.  How it manifested itself was already written about in the early pages of this thread, so I won't repeat that.  Knowing for the past five years did help me make sense of a lot of things, and helped me to make amends for the things that had hurt me deep down when I was little.  How I did that is another story, and I might add that to this thread sometime later.

So who am I?  Above all, a human being, class Mammalia, order Primates, family Hominidae, genus Homo, species sapiens (which means wise, and that's a laugh applied to our species :yum:).  I'm an Australian born in Europe, of German and Italian ancestry (that I know of).  I'm generally a political leftie, a social progressive, and I think democracy is broken, at least in this country, and I can see that it is in many others too.  My senior high school education was by choice mostly in arts, language and literature, and then I won a scholarship into a science degree when I was 16.  I finished with a double major degree in Environmental Science and Biology, and was awarded an academic prize for being the top graduate in the Biology programme.  I knew I wanted to work with people, and I also had a phobia about public speaking, so I did a post-graduate diploma in Science education for the dual purposes of formally qualifying to teach, and desensitising myself so I could stand up in front of an audience without dying.  :1f635:

I worked in sustainable agriculture research and biodiversity conservation before teaching undergraduate students in botany, zoology, ecology and general science subjects.  At age 27 I started teaching in high schools, since I love the diversity that you get with the 12-17 age bracket:  One end oohs and aahs over things like sultanas bobbing up and down in soda water, and with the other end I've had deep and meaningful discussions on life, the universe and everything at the same level of seriousness that you get with university students.  Also, since I'm basically a Hermione, I taught Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry and Physics at senior levels - and also Geography, English and English Literature.  I've always liked a broad approach, and would have suffocated just limiting myself to one side of the sciences as a teacher.  :1f634:

I did that for 15 years, and then my husband and I did what Australians call a "tree change," and moved to a smallholding in a rural area to build an off-grid eco-house with our own hands, downshift to part-time work, and nurture our inner hippies.  We are both passionate readers and writers, and we love hiking the local mountain and coastal tracks.  We've planted over 5,000 seedling trees and bushes by hand to create shelter belts in our pasture, and we steward 50 hectares of superbly preserved on-farm remnant sclerophyll bushland that's bursting with wildflowers, marsupials, birds and insects, which we mosaic burn like the indigenous Australians did, mostly in the autumn, to maintain its internal diversity and to protect it from rampant wildfires.  We grow our own fruit and vegetables, keep honey bees and a small group of beef cattle, and barter with other smallholders for eggs and milk.  We have five extremely cute donkeys, and three horses that grew up in the same prison as myself, and like me, they got out, and it thrills me to see them revelling in their freedom.  These horses had spent years solitary in sand yards, kept from others of their kind by double electric fences, unable to graze, roam or socialise.  They paced up and down their fence lines with dead expressions in their eyes, wearing deep grooves into the ground.  And now they do this:


:heart-eyes  :smth023  :cool

We're passionate foodies and don't do convenience foods; we avoid refined flour and added sugar like the plague.  We love music.  We have a happy, respectful, mutually supportive, equal relationship with each other (but this doesn't mean we are perfect).  Everything I wrote about above is an outgrowth of what is important to us as human beings.  Actions speak louder than words, or dreams (but dreams are a great start).

Did I mention I have PTSD?  (I also sometimes have dessert before mains.  Grown-ups can do things like that.  ;))

PTSD is one of the more "presentable" disorders - if you say you have it, the rednecks will think you're a psychological weakling, but educated people understand that PTSD results from exposure to trauma, and people generally don't think less of you for having it.  Depression is slightly less presentable, but it's getting better as more people open up and the public get more educated about it.  Bipolar still scares people, yet a number of my circle have it, and I'd not have known just from working with them.  We're all just people.  This stuff is not the most important thing about us.

By the way, complex PTSD is a more recently recognised phenomenon, and some people think that it could really displace the majority of the conditions currently listed in the DSM - since many of these conditions are at their core responses to complex childhood trauma.

Our mental health system in Australia has much to recommend it, but also many shortfalls.  I want to illustrate some of the shortfalls by telling you about what happened to a student of mine after he graduated high school.

This particular student was above-average bright, funny, and decent, but he had a history of being bullied through primary and middle school, in part because he was "different" and in part because he was overweight.  After going to tertiary education and qualifying in his chosen area, he went to work up north as a new graduate, in a mining town.

Some of the local rednecks got it in their heads he was gay and decided to teach him a lesson.  He actually isn't gay, not that this should have made a difference, but to some stupid people, anyone who's not like them is automatically gay, and being gay is in their tiny minds some aberration they feel entitled to punish. 

So what these three men did is to lie in wait outside the front door of this young man, waiting for him to come out to go to his early-bird shift.  Noone else was around.  And when he came out, they started beating him up.  Brutally and like the cowards they were, three against one, planned for them but a surprise for him.  He ended up on the ground, with the three of them on top of him.

But he had a black belt in a martial art, and somehow he managed to start fighting them off.  The tables turned, and then the gang leader was on the ground, with the young man pummelling him until he was unconscious.  The ambulance was called, and the gang leader went to hospital.

The police then decided the young man was in trouble for assault occasioning bodily harm, and he had to undergo psychiatric assessment and follow-up as a result of that.  (The three bullies didn't.   :evil:  :smth011 )

Over the next couple of years, the young man was in psychiatric treatment, and the "professionals" working with him convinced him he had some kind of antisocial disorder because he had beaten someone within a couple of inches of death.  (Somehow they seemed to forget about the exact circumstances behind this matter.)  They convinced him that if he was a normal person, he would have known when to stop, and that he was a danger to society unless he went on psychiatric medication and continued to work on his "problem."  And he believed them.

Every time I heard from this young man again, they had diagnosed him with something different.  The alleged antisocial disorder morphed into ADHD and that into bipolar disorder and from there to God knows where.  And the reality was that they were talking to the wrong guy - he was a gentle giant, but what are you supposed to do when you get physically assaulted by a group of sociopaths who think it's their God-given right to beat up people they don't like the look of?

Along the way, his confidence in himself, never strong in the first place, eroded further and further. He was encouraged by the people treating him to see himself as somehow defective and dangerous, and he grew into the labels these people were putting on him.  It made me so sad.  Because all along, he wasn't the danger to the public - his assailants were, but somehow, this had been conveniently forgotten.  A system which should have helped to validate that it was not OK for people to turn up on his doorstep to beat him up, and should have helped him process the trauma that had happened to him, instead made him the scapegoat, and traumatised him further, while letting the real offenders go free.

Stigma and labels aren't helpful for anyone trying to recover emotionally from an unprovoked assault.  They're also not helpful for anyone trying to grow beyond the hurts and scars of their formative years. 

And nobody showed the adverse effects of stigma and labelling better than Jane Elliott...

This is the documentary we were showing to high schoolers about general discrimination in society, and well worth watching if you've never seen it before, because it is so powerful:

Similar workshop here:

I'm including these resources here both because they are so hugely relevant to emotional/mental health as a whole, and also to make the point that one of the many differences that can be used to try to make people feel defective, and bad about themselves, is being diagnosed with something listed as a mental/emotional disorder in the DSM.  The irony in that case is that it was abuse that often caused these disorders in the first place, and that people need support and understanding, not more grief.

I'll get back to music specifically next post.  As always, anyone reading is invited to participate in this thread as well.  If there's something you'd like to say, just say it.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on February 22, 2020, 00:27:56
One of our guests at the moment is Irish and so naturally we came to talk about wonderful Irish people.  One of those is Noel Fitzpatrick, who specialises in small animal orthopaedics.  A lot of you may know him from The Bionic Vet series.  If you don't, here he is with Oscar, one of his patients.  I've posted three clips back-to-back that tell Oscar's story well and sequentially, because the long clip disappeared off YT a while back.

What a lot of people won't know is that Noel Fitzpatrick had an emotionally horrific, lonely, isolated childhood.  What got him through was music, the company of animals, and a teacher who believed in him.  He had been faltering in primary school, including academically, until this teacher sat him down and told him that he wasn't stupid and that he could do well in his subjects, and started mentoring him.  So this emotionally starved boy from the back woods of Ireland with an alcoholic parent and a very sad home life became one of the most extraordinary veterinarians on the planet today.  It's a wonderful story of overcoming a really rough start in life.

Margaret Throsby interviewed him as part of her ABC Classic FM series where she gets various people in the public spotlight to come in for a chat and play some of their favourite music.  It's a super interview, but at the moment the ABC is re-shuffling their archives and this one has disappeared from their site.  I might be able to find it on iTunes though.  When and if I find a link I will post it here, because it's really inspirational stuff.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 03, 2020, 05:56:13
Time to add to this thread, I think - and once again invite anyone else to add their own songs.

Since I didn't grow up with particularly compassionate parents, I learnt compassion from compassionate people at large - teachers, friends, random people - and also, indirectly, through some books and songs I was lucky enough to come across.  It takes a village to raise a child, and the village that raised me included Shakespeare, Dickens, Yeats, James Herriot, the Brontës, early U2, Big Country, Suzanne Vega, Sinéad O'Connor, Paul Kelly, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and many others (it all matters). 

Who raised you?

I'm currently revisiting some John Mellencamp albums (and realising I need to add to my collection).  Here's some songs of his that showed me you could give a damn about others, when I was in senior high school.

...and here's a fairly recent live version of the same song - complete with folk instrument intro.  The violinist ROCKS!  :heart-eyes

I have so, so much time for music like this.  Mellencamp was always a sort of lone voice in American music, telling it how it was, instead of regurgitating the official brainwash - something a lot of his fellow citizens don't necessarily take to kindly, but that's exactly why the world needs people like him.

Another gorgeous, sad song: is so much better at telling it how it is, than the "news"...
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: BiscuityBoyle on April 10, 2020, 16:22:45
My "self-care" music is The Fall

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 11, 2020, 01:13:20
I've been meaning to post some Paul Kelly songs here for a while.  He's an excellent storyteller, and always concerns himself with life, whether in the personal sphere or being part of the wider world.

Here's one about what you can and cannot live with:

His song for the Bicentenary - saying it how it is:

One about the death of love:

A life cycle song:

Stuffing up, and regret:

David and Goliath, AKA Australia's first people versus the white elite:

Know your friends...

...and a new one, about public apathy while the world goes to hell in a handbasket:

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 14, 2020, 08:47:57
For everyone who is feeling down. ♥

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on April 14, 2020, 15:52:14
Found this today, fits in here:

A few quotes:
QuoteThe best music for relaxation had a slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics. The optimum time for listening was 13 minutes.

We discovered that you only need 9 minutes of music to feed the soul and make you feel uplifted. The type of music which worked best had a driving rhythm, fast tempo and happy lyrical content.

Music to process or release sadness
For sadness, we found most people chose music with lyrics that they connect with. 13 minutes was the optimum time to process their feelings.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: BiscuityBoyle on April 14, 2020, 17:31:34
Quote from: Ulrich on April 14, 2020, 15:52:14Found this today, fits in here:

A few quotes:
Quote from: undefinedThe best music for relaxation had a slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics. The optimum time for listening was 13 minutes.

We discovered that you only need 9 minutes of music to feed the soul and make you feel uplifted. The type of music which worked best had a driving rhythm, fast tempo and happy lyrical content.

Music to process or release sadness
For sadness, we found most people chose music with lyrics that they connect with. 13 minutes was the optimum time to process their feelings.

I deeply dislike this kind of thing. Everything has to be quantified, put into pie charts and infographics, group-tested, packaged for optimum consumption and fed to the appropriate target demographic via an app-shaped, or "appified", tube. You could use labels like "dystopian" and "Black Mirror", but it's just neoliberalism, in the sense of the penetration of the market logic into every human interaction and thought. Shoot me now.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 15, 2020, 00:55:14
I think both of those posts were well worth making in this thread.  Research into music and the brain is generally very interesting, even if we can (and should) be critical of the methods used in the studies, the conclusions that are drawn, and the wording people are using.  :cool

Quote from: undefinedThe best music for relaxation had a slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics.

Presumably they quantified how they were defining "best" for this study, plus what is "best" for an individual often diverges from what is "best" statistically for a group.  So I imagine what they are trying to say here is that on average, music with a slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics was most effective at producing relaxation in their test group.  They probably quantified relaxation by measuring heart rate / blood pressure etc, and/or asking their subjects to rate how relaxed they were afterwards on a scale.

And yes, turning that into the generalisation above is something I find annoying, just like I find dumbed-down-to-reading-age-of-eight journalism annoying.  I've always believed that instead of sinking to the lowest common denominator, we should lift people up, educate them, challenge them; whether that's to do with vocabulary or logic or scientific method or anything else important like that.  So, instead of making a "digestible plop" for the general public, people communicating stuff like this should make an accurate statement which isn't overly convoluted and therefore reachable with a little effort - and people ought to be making a little effort mentally when they are reading something, so their brains don't turn into custard for lack of use.

That generalisation is not an accurate statement, and lamentably reinforces the existing lack of public understanding of the scientific method, and what scientific studies can and cannot conclude.  On average, music with a slow tempo, simple melody and no lyrics was most effective at producing relaxation in their test group would be more accurate, and more educational; it's still referring to the process used etc.

Quote from: undefinedThe optimum time for listening was 13 minutes.

Optimum for what? And how do you figure that? ...again, reference to the method and the maths is lacking, and shouldn't be.  I used to do "critique this science reporting" with my students, of things like this kind of study summary, and of cosmetics advertisements etc - to help them develop and apply critical thinking (and this was lamentably not on the curriculum, so I did it as warmups and extras, but did it consistently, because science is so often abused in order to sell people a notion or product, and I wanted my students to have a little immunity to that when they went out into the world).

Quote from: undefinedWe discovered that you only need 9 minutes of music to feed the soul and make you feel uplifted. The type of music which worked best had a driving rhythm, fast tempo and happy lyrical content.

Same comments as above apply here, blah blah. I find the "feeding the soul" comment jarring - how did they figure that?  It's a subjective thing... maybe they asked for subjective ratings?

Quote from: undefinedMusic to process or release sadness
For sadness, we found most people chose music with lyrics that they connect with. 13 minutes was the optimum time to process their feelings.

A live version of Watching Me Fall ought to be able to make that magic 13-minute target!  :yum:   And then The Cure can go home, apparently, having optimised audience processing.  :winking_tongue

Would you still like to be shot, @BiscuityBoyle?  :angel  If so, might I recommend a flu shot? :)

As a soothing balm to the everyday annoyance of these sorts of encounters, we would like to heartily recommend one of our favourite books to you.  It's like an antidote...

Quote"Part diatribe, part cool reflection on the state of Australia's public language, Don Watson's Death Sentence is scathing, funny and brilliant.

' ... in public life the language has never been held in less regard. It withers in the dungeons of the technocratic mind. It is butchered by the media. In politics it lacks all qualifications for the main game.'

Almost sixty years ago, George Orwell described the decay of language and why this threatened democratic society. But compared to what we now endure, the public language of Orwell's day brimmed with life and truth. Today's corporations, government departments, news media, and, perhaps most dangerously, politicians – speak to each other and to us in cliched, impenetrable, lifeless sludge.

Don Watson can bear it no longer. In Death Sentence, part diatribe, part cool reflection on the state of Australia's public language, he takes a blowtorch to the words – and their users – who kill joy, imagination and clarity. Scathing, funny and brilliant, Death Sentence is a small book of profound weight – and timeliness."

And here's a little musical number for promoting one's emotional health in the face of such stuff.


I'm dumbing down the world
Yes, I'm dumbing down the world
And my head is held high
And the glint in my eye
And my arrogance rumbles before me!

I'm dumbing down the world!
I'm dumbing down the world!
I'm dumbing down, I'm dumbing down the world!
I'm dumbing down the world!

And my thoughts are banal, like a stagnant canal
and my sycophants shamble behind me

I'm dumbing down the world
Yeah, I'm dumbing down the world
I'm dumbing down, I'm dumbing down the world
Yeah, I'm dumbing down the world!

And my power is come around, is come around
Yes! My hour is come around, is come around - look around!

I'm dumbing down the world
Yes, I'm dumbing down the world

And my works are designed to suck blood from your mind
for you energy feeds and sustains me!

I'm dumbing down the world!
Yes, I'm dumbing down the world
I'm dumbing down the world (and I love it!)
I'm dumbing down the world!
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on April 15, 2020, 09:35:06
Quote from: BiscuityBoyle on April 14, 2020, 17:31:34Shoot me now.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 15, 2020, 10:29:27
ROFL  :lol:

On a serious note, I think all three categories referenced in that study you cited, @Ulrich, are important for emotional health:  Relaxation, increasing energy / motivation / inspiration etc, and processing difficult emotions.  And broadly, the characteristics of music outlined for each category do fit, I think.  I do think there's more categories than that - where do we put the delight-inducing parody, for instance?  Also that not everything fits neat categories, although a lot of songs on the radio suit shovelling into those three (not that they tend to play much of the third type on most radio stations people play at work; I guess the neoliberalist machine thinks we should do therapy in our own time :angel)...

Classify this one:  ;)

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on April 15, 2020, 11:27:13
I have fond memories of the song "Nothing ever happens" - it was playing in a pub in Camden Town when I was around in the late 90's and as I drunkenly walked out of the pub, the song kept playing on and on in my head...

Quote from: SueC on April 15, 2020, 00:55:14I think both of those posts were well worth making in this thread.  Research into music and the brain is generally very interesting...

Yeah, that's why I thought it kinda fits into this topic (without going into detail or saying it was THE perfect article).
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 15, 2020, 12:20:58
Quote from: Ulrich on April 15, 2020, 11:27:13Yeah, that's why I thought it kinda fits into this topic (without going into detail or saying it was THE perfect article).

Your posting that link and quote is appreciated, and a great basis for thought and discussion.  We're not personally responsible for the shortcomings of other people's studies, or obliged to comment on that when posting a link.  If we did that every time, we'd all be here a hundred years... :)

What's perfect anyway?  Hmmm.  The song of a bird.  The taste of an apple fresh off a tree.  A walk by moonlight.  Not Homo "sapiens" I think. ;)

And I can't think of a song for this right now.  :1f62e:
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on April 16, 2020, 10:47:00
Quote from: SueC on April 15, 2020, 12:20:58And I can't think of a song for this right now.  :1f62e:

This maybe?  ;)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 16, 2020, 12:11:04
ROFL :lol:

Silence is golden... ;)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 22, 2020, 09:30:32
Because my iPod also has a huge selection from Brett's collection on it, when I listen randomly (or in alphabetical order of songs) I still get "surprises" after all this time (that music collection is so huge I don't think I'll be through it before I die...).

So this is a real gem which I'd never, ever heard before and which has me jumping up and down with enthusiasm... and anyone who's ever had to leave anyone else (significant other, friend, family) because of persistent disrespectful and / or unpleasant treatment should be able to relate to this big time.  It's a breakup song, but a breakup song for all the right reasons, and delivered with huge panache. :cool

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 07, 2020, 12:33:47
Here's a link to an interesting page on music and catharsis of negative feelings - including suggested playlists:
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on July 23, 2020, 04:29:59
I can't remember if I've got Making Plans For Nigel on here yet, which is a fabulous song - but I certainly didn't post the official clip of it so far, and it's quite an effective clip - unfortunately subject to aspect ratio distortion, but still worth catching I think:

This came out of a discussion on dysfunctional parenting, here ( - and if anyone on this forum wants to talk about stuff like this, because it's hit a nerve or whatever, feel free to post to this thread, or even the Ranting Thread (, or to make your own.  There's people here who care, and you won't be alone.

I do get that it's difficult to talk about this kind of stuff, especially when you're in the real thick of it.  I'd never have made posts about this in public back when I really needed to talk about it, I was way too traumatised - it's sort of like having to look at your own leg that's just been chopped off while the blood is pooling on the ground - and I was so ashamed at the state I was in, which is also a common feature of stuff like this.  So when all of this came to a head in me six years ago, I was most comforted by reading other people's accounts of their experiences, and I slowly realised that I was not a leper, and very slowly started to be able to talk about it, first anonymously on websites dedicated to recovery from childhood abuse, and to my GP (but I was terribly afraid at first that I was going to cry all over her - I'd never been able to cry about this stuff before and suddenly it was like I couldn't stop), and my husband and friends obviously (they were great).  None of this is fun.  If you are hurting, please reach out - and reach out to someone safe - if all else isn't an option, ring a helpline, but talk to another human being - there are many people in this world who care, even if you've not met many yourself yet.  Find the people who care, and be a person who cares - it makes a world of difference.  ♥
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on August 16, 2020, 05:03:59
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.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on September 25, 2020, 04:48:42
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
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on November 06, 2020, 06:11:31
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.  ♥
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on November 06, 2020, 12:24:53
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
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on November 07, 2020, 10:53:23
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

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on November 09, 2020, 10:25:26
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:
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on November 24, 2020, 00:13:51
@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.

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on November 29, 2020, 03:44:07
Still supremely relevant today, and connects the dots from outside to inside...

Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: Ulrich on November 29, 2020, 11:08:58
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on February 16, 2021, 12:35:08
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...)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on March 08, 2021, 02:31:27
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. :)
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on April 23, 2021, 05:25:16

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.
Title: Re: Music For Emotional Health
Post by: SueC on May 27, 2021, 05:04:31
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.  ♥