What’s On Your Playlist?

“Don’t you like anything happy?”

I remember having that question posed to me several years ago regarding my music collection. This was before the days of mp3 players, so all I could really do to figure out an answer was to look at my collection of CD’s. Now, though, all I have to do is plug in my iPod and peruse the list of songs that pops up before me.

Apple_MC293LL_A_650131This will sound sort of silly, but getting a 160GB iPod for Christmas a few years ago pretty much changed how I collect songs these days. Whereas I was once miserly with the 16GB of memory on my previous iPod, I suddenly realized one day that I would have to just go completely crazy to fill up 160GB of memory. As a result, I began grabbing any song that was even remotely appealing to me and adding them to my collection.

As evidenced by the “Tuneful Tuesday” posts I write here, my collection of somewhat morose music is still quite impressive. Let me just hit a few of the highlights right now…

– Johnny Cash, “Hurt”

– King’s X, “Dogman”

– Duran Duran, “Ordinary World”

– Echosmith, “Cool Kids”

– Elvis Costello, “All This Useless Beauty”

– Eminem (featuring Rihanna), “The Monster”

– Eric Clapton, “Tears In Heaven”

– Hootie & the Blowfish, “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You”

– John Hiatt, “Crossing Muddy Waters”

– Kansas, “Dust In The Wind”

– The Gaslight Anthem, “Break Your Heart”

I could go on and on, but you get the point. There’s a lot of less-than-happy stuff on there. As someone who has struggled with depression, however, I think I almost felt like that was the kind of music I should be drawn to. If I’m in a down mood, I should listen to down songs, right? At least, that was my reasoning.

Without realizing what I was doing, though, I gradually began to debunk that theory. Sure, there are certainly times when I just want to listen to something I can wallow in, but for the most part, I’m beginning to find that songs that are more upbeat in nature have a tendency to make me more upbeat as well. (I’m sure about half of you just smacked your foreheads and said “Duh” to that last statement.)

With that in mind, here are some of the more unexpected songs that have their way onto my iPod recently and managed to bring a smile to my face…

– DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, “Boom! Shake The Room”

– Katy Perry, “Roar”

– Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars), “Uptown Funk”

– Asia, “Days Like These”

– Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party”

– Blackalicious, “Alphabet Aerobics”

– Bobby Brown, “My Prerogative”

– Carbon Leaf, “Life Less Ordinary”

– Georgia Satellites, “Keep Your Hands To Yourself”

– Jet, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”

– MC Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This”

You’re probably getting the picture by now. One, my musical tastes are extremely eclectic. Two, for some reason, rap and hip-hop songs seem to be amusing to me. And, three, I probably have too much time on my hands. Nevertheless, not counting several Hozier songs I downloaded recently, I have noticed at least a slight uptick in the number of more lighthearted songs on my iPod.

Now, do I think a person’s playlist defines who they are? Certainly not. Some of the happiest people I know enjoy some of the saddest songs ever written. If you’re noticing a distinct lack of levity on your mp3 player, though, you might want to consider freshening up your library a bit. Music is there to help us grieve, but it is also there to help us celebrate. Like all things in life, striking the right balance is the key.


Tuneful Tuesdays … On A Wednesday

Here’s something all you bloggers out there might want to keep in mind: If you’re going to dedicate one day a week to a specific type of post, you might want to remember to actually write that post on the day you specified.


Anyway, yesterday was supposed to be “Tuneful Tuesdays,” where I share a song that’s either helped me deal with my depression or does a good job of expressing how a depressed person might feel. Obviously, I got so caught up in what else was on my mind that I forgot to mention any song altogether. So please accept my apologies as I present “Tuneful Tuesdays” … on a Wednesday.

For my money, not many (if any) finer hard rock/heavy metal albums have produced in the last 20 years than Dogman by King’s X.dogman

Unfortunately, most Christians today only know of King’s X for how far its members have distanced themselves proclaiming any kind of faith. Bassist and lead singer Doug (or dUg or however it’s spelled now) Pinnick is now a professed homosexual and agnostic. Guitarist and sometimes lead singer Ty Tabor seems to still be a Christian, but called the Christian music industry “vile” a few years ago. And drummer Jerry Gaskill was quoted in 2012 as saying, “There was a time when Christianity was a part of my journey. There was also a time when drugs were part of it.”

As a result, it’s not exactly cool for Christians to say they like King’s X anymore. While I certainly haven’t been a fan of every album the group has produced, though, they have churned out some excellent music over the years. Their past two albums – Ogre Tones and XV – were excellent. It could be argued that the songs on Dogman are not the group’s best collection as a whole, but I think as an album it makes the most definitive statement of how explosive King’s X can be.

Mood-wise, the album might as well be called An Ode To Depression. From the title-cut opening track on down the line to the Jimi Hendrix cover “Manic Depression,” happy, go-lucky sentiments are scarcely to be found. These brooding emotions come to a head in the heavy, atmospheric “Cigarettes,” in which Pinnick sings, “Sometimes I think the pain blows my mind.” The bass is mixed super-deep, the guitars are a wall of sound, and the drums are crashing. This album actually sounds like depression.

As someone who is recovering from depression, then, why would I still want to listen to it? Well, sometimes you just want to know that someone understands. Has the pain ever blown my mind? You bet it has. And even though I think Pinnick is a fallen and bruised soul right now, he made a statement in the June 2013 issue of Bass Player magazine that I thought was particularly insightful:

“I come from a dark place, and there are people that come from that place that understand that loneliness, feeling like you’re worthless and nobody cares. But you’re not angry and you don’t want to beat everybody up and scream. That’s the kind of stuff I write.”

This is where I could say something cheesy, like “I pray for dUg Pinnick…”, but I can’t honestly say I remember him in my prayers every day. Whenever I hear a King’s X song (and the likelihood is high, considering how many I have on my iPod), though, I do think of that place he’s describing and where it’s taken him in life. And I pray for him, not because I pity him or look down on him, but because he’s on a journey just like the rest of us, a journey where (to quote an older King’s X classic) “we are finding who we are…”