Does a Positive Attitude Mess with Your Singing the Blues?

Sure, that sounds like a weird question but hey, that’s how I get going sometimes. I have always liked easy listening music: you know, the slow stuff, the stuff that some people might think is depressing. As I began striving to think more of myself, I tried to latch on to some ideas that would help me look at the world in better ways. I heard someone say that some popular music was very negative in how it made us think. A lot of it has a theme of “I’m not good enough for you” or even worse, “I’m nothing without you”. Wow, I never looked at it that way before. It is a bad thing to think that you need someone else to make you okay or that if someone is no longer in your life, you are less. Listening to songs that say as much, over and over again, can’t be very good for your self esteem. I understand what they were saying (I don’t remember if it was Brian Tracy, or Steve Chandler, or Zig Ziglar, but it was somebody like that who I hold in high esteem). We need to be reminding ourselves that we may be sad when someone goes away but we need to know that we are not less (even if we feel like it for a little while) and as soon as we possibly can, we need to believe in who we are and move forward.

After not performing much for quite a few years, I’ve returned to my music again. I’ve started learning some new instruments such as the dulcimer, banjo, and mandolin and they really can be fun instruments, mostly used for bluegrass or other mountain music. I started down that musical road when vacationing in the Ozarks. What great stuff to be playing or listening to. Along those lines, I’ve been playing similar types of music on my guitars. However, I’ve been playing and singing some of the styles of music that I’ve loved in the past. Songs that are about heartbreak and love lost and the pain that goes along with it. As I think about that music and the people that really sing it well, I realize that sometimes you really need to feel the pain to put it in the music. I know because I feel it. Tears can come to your eyes easily and some songs hit so close to home that you have to practice them again and again and again to get through them without breaking apart. After my brother died, I wrote a song to say goodbye to him and when I sing it I can get through it but I sure feel it. When I sing the songs that really touch my heart I feel the ache and I know that it can be felt in the music and I know that’s what makes some of these songs so real and so powerful.

I think because I’ve had a challenging year from an emotional level, I notice these things a little more. My brother died. My best friend’s wife just died and he’s is in hospice and will be passing very soon. Holding crying people can be good but it can cut into your soul a bit too – not to weaken it but to shape it. When you feel a little beat up, it’s easy to get beat up some more. When I’ve got the hurt in me and it’s not buried so deep, I feel it when I sing. Sometimes I need to sing just to feel it pouring out of my being. It makes me think of the great artists that get so messed up in their lives but their work is so powerful. It makes me wonder if their work is powerful because they keep feeling the pain and keep it so close to their surface. We know we should move on to higher ground in our life but sometimes the ache and pain have such a strong grip on us that we feel we need to simmer in it. I don’t think simmering in it is necessarily a good thing but in a strange way it has some comfort to it.

I’m not really sharing any wisdom in this message, just pushing some thoughts out tonight. I believe that I need to move away from the pain when it’s pulling me into the darkness because if I don’t it has the power to swallow me up and hang on so tightly. When I do move to the world where I’m (seemingly) running on all cylinders again, it’s okay to touch my soul within, even the sad and painful parts to add my signature to the things that I create.

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One Response to Does a Positive Attitude Mess with Your Singing the Blues?

  1. Colleen says:

    I hear you. I often wondered some of those same things when I listened to Croce (I Got a Name, Working at the Car Wash Blues, Lover’s Cross). I don’t know if singing those songs helped him work through stuff; but they sure helped me!

    Thanks for another thought-provoking message.

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