So Voldy* and I have been having an argument for several months now, on the merits of happysad music. She thinks it makes me unproductive, and on a recent visit unchecked all offending songs/artists from my iTunes and even went so far as to delete the first track of Bon Iver’s eponymous album. Because it’s called ‘Perth’ and I once got myself entangled with a beautiful boy who also happens to hail from the most isolated city on earth. And listening to said track would obviously result in snoozebuttons, missed lectures and more-bitter-than-sweet melancholy.
At this point I should probably define happysad music, though I think you may have guessed. It’s the musical embodiment of old photographs, steeped in a nostalgia all the more potent because maybe it never really was, with the same capacity to induce a quiet smile, to make you throw your arms out and lift your face to the sun, to cower under your blankets, to call up an old friend on a whim, to miss suddenly trivial deadlines, to laugh, to weep, to dance in an empty room. In other words, it’s music that makes you feel alive. Intensely so. So much that it hurts a little bit. Exactly the way it should. It’s Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, certain songs by Holly Throsby, Feist and most of what you’ve heard from Jeff Buckley. It’s melodic, at times delicate and will almost always break your little heart. It’s the Isbells album I nabbed from the station last week which has been on repeat ever since. And it makes me feel I really could do everything, or maybe nothing, and that maybe there’s something in that.
Voldy thinks there’s nothing much in that at all, that I should listen to bright shiny pop music because in theory this will make me get up when my alarm sounds of a morning. Yesterday she admitted defeat, by posting the latest offering from the Paper Kites on my wall with a delightfully sincere apology, and I feel vindicated. Because this week all I’ve listened to is happysad music, appreciated a certain quality of light and the smell of Australian Spring, been gratifyingly productive and smiled to myself on the train home.
*New pseudonyms? Seeing as this is the one you already use when creating implausibly hilarious status updates on my facebook.