We are all lame, sappy, suckers for heartbreak. Let’s face it. Turn on the radio, peruse your iTunes library, sift through your record collection and old mix tapes. (Yes, I said mix tapes.) Now, observe the lyrical content of a lot of your favorite songs. From the dawn of time, songs of love and heartbreak have dominated the musical atmosphere. It’s the human condition. We like thinking about it. We like singing about it. We secretly like suffering about it. So, let’s take heartbreak and talk about it. Let’s go there.
Is there any other emotion that can illicit so much passion as love? Is there anything so frustrating, so sad, so absolutely freaking ridiculous as loving someone, leaving them or being left and so on and so forth? It’s almost always irrational. It is definitely all consuming. At the same time, is there any emotion so inspiring and vital to songwriting, music and art? The best songs are about love and heartbreak. I challenge you to find me a song that speaks about being “sorta kinda heartbroken” or “sorta kinda ecstatic”. Unless I am mistaken, a song of that nature just does not exist.
My favorite song of all time is a very old country song, written by Willie Nelson and recorded by Faron Young in 1955. It is called, “Hello Walls”. In this song, Faron laments an unrequited love. He is talking to the four walls of his room. I can just see this guy, lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He sings, “Hello, window/Well, I see that you’re still here/ Aren’t you lonely/ Since our darlin’ disappeared?/ Well, look here, is that a teardrop in the corner of your pane?/Now, don’t you try to tell me that it’s rain.” That line KILLS me and I sort of love it. We have ALL been there.
One very influential and prolific artist, writer, poet, (and in my humble opinion demigod), Leonard Cohen, hits the nail on the head when he says, “I’m good at love, I’m good at hate, it’s in between I freeze.” For me personally, I do a lot of my best work when my feet are to the fire emotionally speaking. At the time of me writing this blog, I’m sitting on my living room floor, drinking absurd amounts of coffee, listening to Motown and working my way through what is looking like an entire bag of cookies. (Upon that admission, I sincerely wish I had a working filter in my head.) That said, my pen is to the paper and I am tuned in creatively. I am singing, writing and kicking my own ass. Like much of the music that carries me through my day, I am hopefully creating things that will inspire others or help them through a hard time. That’s what music does. A good artist can take personal situation, lean into it and change the world. That is beautiful and cathartic. Van Gogh cut off his ear, Ernest Hemingway drank himself into oblivion, Smokey Robinson sang about the “tears of a clown”. Oh, the tortured artists of the world. Thank you.
I obviously wrote this blog about me. I’m being self indulgently introspective. But the real epiphany here has nothing to do with me. Whether you are a fledgling songwriter, in a band, write blogs or want to be the next Michael Jackson, open yourself up and allow your story to inspire others. There is beauty in all of the things that life brings us. Love, suffering. happiness, fear and self doubt are all things we can come together and relate to. We can celebrate those aspects of life. We can listen to happy songs and dance around our apartments (my personal favorite morning-time activity) or we can put on the songs that make us cry. Adversity and experience in any form can bring forth beautiful songs, books and simply, help people.
I’ll leave you with the profound words of Aldous Huxley taken from his wonderful book, Brave New World. “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn’t nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.”
Now get to work ya’ll.