People often ask me…

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People often ask me why a number of my songs seem to be “sad” and why I don’t write happy songs to cheer people up. Firstly, I don’t believe that my songs are genuinely sad at all; although I readily confess a number of them are tinged with melancholy. Sadness and melancholy are very different qualities. Sadness in its classic form generally involves a kind of self-centred hopelessness whereas melancholy (if rightly identified and understood) is ultimately outward-looking, subtly hopeful and stimulating creativity. Melancholy is merely mournful whereas sadness is solely sighful. Melancholy is like smiling softly and forgivingly through tears whereas sadness has an austere streak of bleak remorselessness. Sadness is cynicism dressed up in sackcloth and ashes whereas melancholy is sensitivity clothed in temporary darkness. Sadness bleakly has no ground to till and bears no fruit whereas melancholy is the death-throes of wintertime before the buds break through. Sadness is a woeful winter of endless discontent whereas melancholy — like Autumn leaves — is tinged with brown and already hopes for springtime.

The experience of listening to music can be a kind of therapy doing its work on your soul. A melancholic song does its work when it takes you to a place where any sadness can be healed. This is why I say that melancholia is creative. You could listen to a “happy-clappy” song and it could induce feelings of well-being for a time. But the work performed on a soul by a melancholic song will last a lifetime at a more profound level. The pursuit of happiness is a chimera. Melancholia is more healing than mere happiness! And the reason for that is because of the depth. Most happiness is only skin-deep, shortlived and then out the door; whereas melancholia reaches the parts that happiness can never penetrate and stays for dinner. Melancholia makes you think. Happiness merely anaesthetises.

So instead of runninmg from melancholia as if it was a disease, we must learn to embrace it and understand its necessary work within. It actually *does* cheer people up — though not in a conventional sense but by clearing out the pathways to the soul with fresh warm tears. This is especially the case with music…

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