Collaboration column | Music can change lives
Collaboration Columns consist of multiple columnists offering their own views and experiences on a topic. This week, we’ll discuss how music can create a deeply personal experience related to the times we hear it.
“Depressing” music can make you feel better // Lucas DiBlasi, senior columnist
Music has an incredible intercultural capacity to have a profound impact on people. Almost everyone has their favorite musicians – artists who created songs and albums they will remember until they die. For some people, music is a way of connecting with others, dancing, singing and drumming together, or creating a great atmosphere during dinner. Others use music as a vehicle to bring back happy memories, and some just put on a catchy song to make their day a little brighter as they commute to work.
But there is one specific type of music that struck me the most: sad music. Don’t get me wrong, I love happy music, but there is something that a depressing song can do that can have a very positive impact on your life. When you connect deeply to a heartbreaking song, like that of Bon Iver “Skinny Love” or Iron & Wine’s “The swinger trapeze”, you can realize that these artists must have been feeling the same emotions that you are feeling right now.
Somehow, through time and space, through a short piece of audio, you may realize that you are not the only person going through an excruciating breakup. You may realize that you are not the only person who feels overwhelming anxiety for the future and regret for the past. In short, music like this can make you feel less alone when you are more alone. The most depressing songs, ironically, can make you feel better.
While sad songs may seem like the epitome of self-worth, and the furthest removed from a dance tune you can get, they can create a sense of community. Take the time to listen to a sad song when you are feeling down, as it reminds us that some experiences, even lonely, are shared. It makes them a little less lonely and makes the music a little more wonderful.
Mac Miller’s music changed my outlook on life // Grace DeLallo, For The Pitt News
Music is introduced into our lives at the genesis of our existence. Music touches humanity in inexplicably deep ways – the spectrum of emotions it makes us feel produces a certain magic that is precious and intimate. My own experiences with these same sensations have totally impacted my existence.
Mac Miller has never been one of my favorite artists. I haven’t listened to all of his songs, bought his merchandise, or posted his picture on my wall. I loved his music but lacked the passion I felt for other bands and artists.
Then “Swimming”, Mac’s fifth and final album before his death, came out and that changed – a connection was forged.
Barely a month after this outing, Mac Miller was found dead from an overdose. I felt a strange sadness come over me – the kind that lets you realize that the person who left will never be able to live the life they so desperately wanted.
Mac had a thirst for life that lifted her music into the hearts of millions of people. When he wrote “Brand Name” he foreshadowed his death to the world by stating that he did not want to die young. Mac used his music to convey his fears and aspirations to those willing to listen to him, making art the most human of experiences. With songs about drugs, sex, partying, depression and loneliness, his lyrics transported me to a world where the intricacies of life conversed with me. The growth he demonstrated in his albums showed how much he matured – that his experiences resonated deep within him as he tried to improve himself and learn how to not only survive, but thrive. in this world.
I wondered how this same person could have left?
My cousin Shaun passed away on January 9, 2020. When I first received the call detailing his death, I didn’t feel much emotion. Honestly, I thought I was a little broken, because how can I not be sad about the tragic passing of this family member? He’s a person I’ve known my whole life. He hid the eggs of the younger cousins at Easter, wanted to sit down and know what life was like and play games during the holidays. It was not rational.
I went back to my dorm, took a shower, slipped into my bed, and listened to the Mac Miller song that came out that day – “Good News”. Putting on my headphones, I quickly slipped into a trance that would touch my sadness and unlock it within me. Mac brought Shaun’s death to life.
As I listened more and more, I began to realize the synchronicities of their lives and their deaths. Shaun, like Mac, was overdosed. It was as if the universe was trying to tell me something. I cried and found messages that seemed meant to reach me in my new grief.
I no longer listen to Mac music without a huge emotional investment, because I hear his music as a reminder of Shaun. Although they are no longer with us, the music has given them a kind of extended existence. Mac Miller’s music allows me to keep a piece of my family alive – and for that, I can never be grateful enough.
The Smiths’ sadness is a vehicle for my happiness // Breanna Jones, For The Pitt News
I couldn’t live without music. Everyone who knows me is aware of this fact.
Music brings me and others a multitude of sensations and incredible atmospheres. Intense euphoria radiates throughout my body and a serene disposition fills my mind. But it was noted that many people don’t necessarily need a song describing mirth to feel some kind of joy in their heart. A 2008 study conducted in Japan and published in “Frontiers in Emotion Science” found that listening to sad music can increase levels of the hormone prolactin, which produces a “consoling psychological effect”.
If you know the 1980s indie rock band The Smiths, you know their reputation as one of the the most depressing bands forever exist. Their lyrics describe many themes such as grief, loneliness and depression. Despite this, their British punk melodies brought me an immense amount of happiness, providing me with a lot of the “happiness hormone” prolactin.
The sad lyrics in the music of the Smiths too allows me to better understand my own thoughts and feelings. It’s amazing to have an artist who perfectly expresses how you feel, when you can’t describe it yourself. It allows me to dive deeper into my mind, explore my own thoughts and feelings to better understand them. Sometimes it can be hard to explain how I really feel, but that’s okay when I listen to The Smiths.
I feel less alone. I especially listened to their music in times of mental instability where I feel lost or confused. It got me through a lot of tough times when I thought no one could really understand my inner sadness.
One song that’s always number one on my Spotify Wrapped – a personal chart with stats on your most played music – is “I Know It’s Over”. This tune describes the immense pain of depression, as does most of the Smiths’ music.
The Smiths never cease to impress me. Although many of my friends wonder why I listen to such “painful” music, I still share The Smiths’ unbelievably understated. Their desperate music brings me more contentment than sadness.