Sad Songs

Someone approached me at a coffee shop (while I was writing some lyrics), asking if I was a songwriter. After the usual questions about what type of music I write and sing (which I always have trouble answering), this person said they used to write songs. I asked why they stopped, and their answer was that they were writing at a time when they were full of angst and didn’t want to “put that out into the world”.

It seems as I struggle to put myself and my art “out there in the world”, I run into people who have trouble with what they consider negative or painful thoughts. This is the second time someone said this EXACT same thing to me (I refer to the first time in the blog titled “Lonely Boy Short Film” from July 18, 2006). The first time, it was a friend, who after hearing 4 songs, thought my songs were depressing. He emphatically criticized the song “No”, and its title in particular, for being negative. I tried to explain that the song “No” is the opposite of negative It is in fact victorious! It is about standing up for one’s self and saying “NO – I’m not going to change” in the face of a world that keeps telling you you are not right the way you are. He still thought it was sad and negative. I asked what he thought was wrong with sad songs – after all, there is even a genre known as “The Blues”! He stated he didn’t like “The Blues”, and asked me several times, “Is that what you want to put out into the world?”.

I still find that question puzzling. I understand not wanting to put hatred or violence out there (or any messages that put down specific groups of people – women, gay people, different religions or nationalities, etc….), but I find it fascinating that many people feel angst or sorrow is negative. I understand not WANTING to feel those types of feelings, but when they are present, there is nothing “wrong” with feeling pain (other than the awful discomfort of the hurt). Even some of the most “enlightened” people I know have felt that way as well. I can remember a few years ago, shortly after my mother died, a close friend asked how I was doing. I responded that I was having a hard time. He immediately asked how I could turn the situation around to empower myself. I can understand that, and do believe we create our life experience – so why not create a positive experience. At the same time, life can be painful and that is the way it is sometimes. I was grieving and needed to experience the grief to get through it. He had a very hard time allowing me to experience the pain I was experiencing. But to try to avoid it, ignore it, diminish it’s existence, turn it into something else, and pretend it isn’t there, seems to me like a denial. And from what I’ve observed of denial, whatever you are denying, stays with you until you acknowledge and accept it. I realize we humans have an aversion to pain. Who WANTS to feel that?!! But pain is there. It is something we all feel. It is part of the human condition. If we didn’t have pain, we wouldn’t know we had joy.

I strongly believe a sad song can help people feel feelings they have inside and can’t express. Feelings that need to get out. I’ve experienced it myself with music. There are times – especially growing up – where I was full of sorrow, and would play a sad song which truly made me feel better. Perhaps it gave a voice to my sorrow? There is something about a sad song that touches emotions deep inside. Emotions that don’t get expressed. I guess emotions some people don’t want to feel. If all we had were happy, “positive” songs, I think music would get boring pretty fast. And it wouldn’t be a true reflection of the human experience – which I think art and music at its best is!

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Update and words by Willa Cather

I am still going through a rough patch. Boy oh boy, life can be tough! As life keeps unfolding in front of me in ways I didn’t plan, I am having to change with life. I am now giving in to the notion that what is “IS” (and life is the way it is – good and bad), so let what is, be. As I accept what is, I don’t have to fight life, and it is easier to be. I can take “what is” and use it as a starting place. It is MUCH easier than pretending things aren’t the way they are, or trying to “believe” they are another way. I’m trying my best to use all this angst in my work!

Speaking of work, here’s a brief update:

I am one of 4 “Featured Artists” on the internet radio station, Logical Radio ( I’m featured along with Happy Rhodes, who is one of my very favorite artists! What an honor to be along side Happy! If you get a chance, please check out the station, and you can even request a song of mine!

I continue to write new songs for my second CD, which is still scheduled to start recording in July. I’m still having trouble getting a band for live gigs to promote “Infinite Man” – but I’m NOT giving up!!

On the acting front, my Improv show ended very successfully! And I’ve been asked to return to “Bang!” to create a new show in August. More on that in the next few weeks.

My short film “Lonely Boy” is finished, and I’ve started to submit it to film festivals. I’ll keep you posted on that as well. Also, THANKS to all of you who sent me your thoughts on the acting vs. music website. I deeply appreciate your words. For now, I’m leaving things as is. Perhaps in the near future I will have a site devoted to my acting career.

In the meantime, I’ll end with this GREAT quote from Willa Cather! I love it because it points to how we are all the same no matter what our lives are like…

“There are only two or three human stories and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

– Willa Cather

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