One of the hardest lessons of these last several months has been separating the symptoms & pressures of my bipolar disorder from the grief & depression of my wife leaving. Before I acquired that skill, it was too much, was overwhelming, the disjunction of my mind & the pang of the broken heart coinciding. Since then, I've been able to see the sad seep on the edges of what would otherwise be completely normal days. I call them sad sack days, & I've found that singing my sorrow helps alleviate some of that burden. It gets me through the moments, through the mood, through the sad sack day. Here are seven songs that I like to sing on a sad sack day:
"Sometimes" by Luke Bell
Key Lines: "Sometimes I'm alright / And sometimes I get you off my mind / But other times all I do is cry, I cry"
Take with: a glass of whiskey, a seat at the drum kit
Quick review: This is a prime example of how contemporary country music doesn't have to suck. It packages Bell's modern cowboy swagger into a catchy tune that combines age-old despair & the classic structure of our lonesome country heroes of the past.
"Bite the Dust" by State Champion
Key Lines: "It's always shining on Kentucky when you're sad / But I ain't mad about the weather / I just ain't trying to feel much better about my past"
Take with: a warm shower, a good book of poems
Quick Review: The way Ryan Davis of State Champion clarifies how he's feeling is more poet than rocker, an honesty that isn't always brief, an experience that isn't always clear, as in exactly like life is.
"Weakness" by Margo Price
Key Lines: "I can't hide what I am, guess it's plain to see / Sometimes my weakness is stronger than me"
Take with: a cool glass of water, a handful of aspirin
Quick Review: Whatever your brand of weakness, Margo Price acknowledges the dual-nature of the self, one's good & bad. They say admitting is the first step; sometimes it is best to start with a song.
"Dylan Thomas" by Better Oblivion Community Center
Key Lines: "If it's advertised, we'll try it / And buy some peace and quiet / And shut up at the silent retreat / They say you've gotta fake it / At least until you make it / That ghost is just a kid in a sheet"
Take with: a PB&J & a glass of almond milk
Quick Review: The unapologetic forward-trajectory of this song forces one to sing along, to get tangled in the knotty mess of these lines. I find comfort in the being swept along, almost child-like joy of being in the blur.
"Oh Messy Life" by Cap'n Jazz
Key Lines: "Fire is motion. / Work is repetition. / This is my document. / We are all all we've done."
Take with: a lawnmower & a needs-to-be-mowed yard
Quick Review: Recovery is hectic, as they say, "messy," winding one's way through the catastrophe. Sometimes it just feels nice to shout in unison with another body, proof you can move along.
"I Said I Wouldn't Write This Song" by Black Belt Eagle Scout
Key Lines: "I said I wouldn't write this song / I said I wouldn't write this song"
Take with: a dog in the yard & a sparkling water
Quick Review: A song like this exists for that single line, loosely surrounded by few other quips, & in that single expression, there exists much possibility for application, depth. It might be deceiving how joyously I dance to this song in my yard with the dog.
"All the Best" by John Prine
Key Lines: "I wish you love / And happiness / I guess I wish / You all the best"
Take with: a cherished photograph & some CBD
Quick Review: I've been doing metta loving kindness in my mindfulness practice. This is that in song form, trying to move beyond the heartbreak to get to a gracious, open place, to be able to say to the one that hurt you, "I wish you all the best."