Sunday, November 16, 2008
The Sad-Happy Happy-Sad
I had a conversation with friends this weekend about the phenomenon of happiest sad songs and saddest happy songs. The song above "Home" by Brian Eno and David Byrne is an excellent example, but I'm not sure whether it falls into the former or latter categories, not that it really matters.
What's the deal with the happy-sad? After a reading in Olympia when I was still in school, I remember talking with my friend Amy Hitchcock and sort of complaining that people always seemed to find even my happy poems sad. Alternatively, they always managed to laugh at the bits I found the most sad. Amy quickly corrected me in her usual way saying, "Well, Lindsey you're the happy-sad. That's how you've always been." Amy always had a knack for nipping my existential deliberations in the bud--thank goodness. Most art, if it's any good (I'm not saying my college poems were any of that) spans an emotional range. Still, there's something very unique about the happy-sad or sad-happy song. Sometimes it's an upbeat tempo and major chord structure with the most God awful depressing lyrics (Belle and Sebastian) or it's a song about Summer and love but all slow and lethargic and tortured with diminished chords and minor 7ths (I'm making this up). Sometimes maybe there is no need to reason why, just classify. At least it helps a little. So we have the chimerical happy-sad and sad-happy--two very important double-headed beasts.
Here are a two other happy-sad or sad-happy songs that top my list:
"Sunday Morning Coming Down" --Johnny Cash version
"My Dear Someone"--Gillian Conoley
Friends, remind me of yours?