Friday, June 11, 2010

Mood Music with Dark was the Night

Music has a glorious ability to enhance or transform our mood. We all have those songs that make us feel happy, sad, lost, thoughtful, pumped, or impassioned in some way.  Some bright songs will pick us up in spite of an otherwise sour mood (although admittedly, some depressions are so deep that even the liveliest, cheeriest of tunes becomes a cruel mockery of our unhappiness).  And some bad moods call for music that will bring catharsis; raging guitars inspire a burst of angry energy that can beat out negativity, sad songs let one embrace a loss.  I like to listen to Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes for a good cry that is guaranteed to bring me to the bottom of a slump so I can climb out again.  Music has been an incredible crutch for me in my life, and I know so many people feel the same way.

I've been fortunate to call myself relatively happy for a while now, and consequently I have felt a little less affected by the music I listen to. This means that to some extent I have been less able to attach the songs I've discovered lately with my experiences. However, this doesn't mean I don't still enjoy music immensely, and I continue to be swayed by the tunes in my life.  Currently I cannot stop listening to a compilation called Dark Was the Night, a 2009 charity album that benefits HIV and AIDS by raising awareness and funds for relief.  Picking a single favorite of the two disc set is, without exaggeration, impossible for me to do.  I could probably narrow it down to six or seven if pressed, and the list might vary depending on when I am asked.

I selected the following tracks for inclusion here because I feel they foster a certain pensiveness.  On Tuesday this week, I took the bus to and from work (the bf works from home on Tuesdays), and there is something about riding in a vehicle (or several) for over an hour without speaking to others that makes me feel very reflective. These songs enhanced that feeling.

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Again, while I can't choose a favorite, I would say the spotlight here is on Yo La Tengo's "Gentle Hour," a song that makes me feel a several things, some seemingly incongruent with others and all somewhat difficult to define, including an intense yearning--an excitement that is hopeful but almost melancholy.  More potent though, is the feeling of contentedness I get when I listen to the song.  It makes me feel so happy that I wouldn't change a single thing in my world, giving me a such a sheer joy for life that I even appreciate the sensory experience of a bus ride and all the noise and odor and jostling that goes with it.

I am so glad to live in an age in which we not only have recorded music, but portable music as well.  I'm sure traveling minstrels were grand, and I still say there's nothing like hearing music live, but I consider the library of music available to us a great blessing.


  1. You know, I didn't know who Justin Bieber was until a couple weeks ago when someone referenced him?

    Anyway, apparently, the music widget I embedded above isn't showing up in Firefox. So I'm sorry for anyone who can't see it, but honestly, I just don't know how to fix it. It functions properly in Google Chrome and it also seems to work in Explorer. I don't know about Safari.