Music is a gift we’re blessed to be able to share with many folks, and mostly we tend toward the upbeat and positive natured songs.
Many years ago, the mother of one of my friends listened to some of the songs I was playing then–mostly rock and roll tunes–but they all had downer lyrics. She asked me why all my songs were sad. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed because I was a guitar player and I didn’t listen to much else in the song. What? There are words? A bass player? Drums? Sheesh.
It took many years to come to the realization that my friend’s mom was right, the songs were sad and quite at odds with the way I really felt, not to mention the music.
Sadness is a universal trait, however. People write more when they’re sad or mad. A problem with a product is going to get a letter to the company much quicker than if everything is okay with the product. A case of “no news is good news” syndrome. My mom used to tell me that she figured–since I rarely wrote home after a certain age–that NNIGN.
Two of the three singers that we’ve gone to see lately proudly proclaim they’re all about the sad songs. Jeffrey Focault wants to make everyone cry. Justin Wells’ songs are all deeply sad, about loss of love and killing, but, he said, he’s “really all right so come on over and talk.” (And he was.)
So, we substitute a few slow songs for sad songs, try to interject a bit of humor into otherwise depressing situations, or tell a story in which the dire situation is relieved in a positive way. It’s easier to do when you write your own songs, too, let me tell. We’ve looked at adding many songs to our sets that didn’t make it because when you dig deeper into the lyrics, they’re appallingly depressing. (Take a look at You Are My Sunshine .)
Maybe being happy all the time isn’t the goal or a reasonable way to appear, and we don’t forget that to feel truly happy, you have to know a little sadness. And you probably already know that it takes way fewer muscles to form a smile on your face than it does to make a frown.
And knowing that sad songs mean a lot to people, we’ve steered toward a gothic or ironic sort of slowish folk song construction, like “Life Should Be So Easy,” one that also aims for humor in the first verse.
Life is pretty easy when you’re making ends meet by doing what you love, and that is position we find ourselves in, so we’re still finding enough positive in life to keep our music upbeat for the foreseeable future. It’s how we are and what we believe.