I’m Happy When it’s Sad
Study concludes sad music evokes positive emotions
A group of researchers from Tokyo University of the Arts and RIKEN Brain Science Institute have decided to tackle an interesting subject: Why do we love sad songs? It's a valid question, considering many sad songs have entered the top-40 and kept listeners on their toes while belting out minor chords over hopeless lyrics. Adele's “Someone Like You” is one example that comes to mind. These researchers not only wanted to discuss the various reasons why people listen to sad music but also to see if they could pinpoint certain characteristics within the music that pique certain emotions.
They had 44 volunteers listen to two pieces of sad music and one piece of happy music, and they basically came to the conclusion that sad music actually made people feel more positive about their own lives. They concluded that while the volunteers listened to these despairing, emotionally-driven opuses, they found “sad music to be more tragic, less romantic, and less blithe than they felt themselves while listening to it,” according to an article in Science Daily. So maybe we do listen to sad music to realize how good we have it?
This got me thinking about what sad songs I enjoy listening to, or better yet, got me thinking what my favorite sad song is. As a music journalist, that's a hard question to answer because I like different things at different times. But one sad song that did come to mind was Joanna Newsom's “Go Long,” from her 2010 album Have One On Me. It's one of those songs that if you see her play it live, it utterly kills you. I witnessed the most rough-looking dudes crying like babies when the song was over. I don't cry when I hear it, but I do really enjoy it. It's a beautiful number that dissects the “Bluebeard” story in its most poetic, morbid sense. But now I'm curious … what's a notable sad song for you?
That thing I saw today that made me sad
Can of Vienna Sausages stuck in the mailbox of a boarded-up house. Is it a message? Is someone going to kill me?
This song cheered me up (a little).
Old pair of underwear outside of ABQ Jump. They've obviously been there for some time; alone, scared … sad.
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Five Hours In The Presbyterian Emergency Room
Fourtysomething barefoot man, in handcuffs, led out by police:
What am I being charged with?
That's something we need to talk about.
Man, early 20s, wearing a hospital bracelet, consoling a visibly upset woman, early 20s:
You don't have to worry, he's never going to fuck you up again.
Old woman, wearing sweat pants and hospital gown, talking to triage nurse:
I'm tired of being treated like a child!
Same woman, 5 minutes later:
Stop lying to me!
Triage nurse, to receptionist after old woman storms out:
I'm so happy right now.
Man, after taking a bite of his Subway sandwich:
They put mustard on it.
Receptionist, to older biker guy:
Sir! Sir! You cannot smoke in here.
Later, same older biker guy to older biker girl:
I told you it's over between me and her. Over!
Younger woman on phone holding sleeping toddler:
These doctors don't know anything.
Old man with bandage on head to wife (CNN on in the background):
So someone dropped a nuke in Japan?
Old drunkish looking dude, being escorted out by security:
Come on man, I just want to lay down here for 10 minutes.
Teenager with ice pack on his hand, talking on waiting room phone:
Just put my mom on the phone, fucker!