Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why We Like Dark and Depressing Music.

Every two weeks I submit an article to a free publication in Joplin called The Current, Etc.  It's always short and about music.  This was the third article I wrote for them:

Why some of us Like Dark and Depressing Music.

I have in my digital possession almost 8 Gigabytes of “goth” music, or music one would normally label as sad, depressing, or just plain tragic, i.e. bands such as The Cure, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Smiths, Joy Division, etc.

I am not a depressed person.  In fact, Robert Smith (lead singer of The Cure, one of the pioneers of Goth music) has echoed the same sentiment in interviews.  He writes sad songs because he’s more inclined to write when he’s depressed.  Writing and/or listening about/to sad stuff, as Steve Almond (writer of the book Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, reviewed by me last issue) affirms, lifts that depression...expunges it, even.  Sometimes you just have to vomit up the bad stuff to move forward into an otherwise happy life.  Americans have been embracing the deep dark depths of a tragic soul since the lush lounge ladies of the Jazz Era, i.e. Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan.  It’s ok to wallow, as long as the act of wallowing leads you to better times.

That being said, I don’t even have to be sad to listen to The Cure.  In fact, when something from the first four Cure albums (Boys Don’t Cry, Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography) comes up on the shuffle, I can feel the rush of dopamine flooding into my brain like I’ve just eaten a piece of dark chocolate.  I feel elated and almost downright sedated listening to “One Hundred Years”.  Is it the nostalgia of a Gothic Girl adolescence?  Perhaps.  Is there something wrong with me?  I don’t think so.
I suppose what I’m trying to convey is the importance of acceptance, in yourself and in others.  Listen to whatever makes you happy, even if others don’t get it.  If you know a kid that is really into darkness, perhaps it is their particular form of chocolate.  And if this Dark music thing intrigues you, here are a few of my favorite Dark Albums to get you started:

Pornography // The Cure
Songs of Faith and Devotion // Depeche Mode
Treasure // Cocteau Twins
Garbage // Garbage
Tidal // Fiona Apple
Europa // Covenant
Exile // Gary Numan
The Information // Beck
Epitaph // Front Line Assembly

*honorable mention, a new album: Only In Dreams // Dum Dum Girls