Medical Mysteries of Music

What to make of music that feels even sadder than you do?

Had a bad day? Some sad music might be just the thing to help you feel better. But what should we do with music that’s even sadder than we feel? This comes from MelMagazine.

“What’s the blues when you’ve got the greys?” sings Scott Hutchison, found dead at age 36 last week in Edinburgh, on the opening track of Frightened Rabbit’s debut album. Instantly he marks the border between melancholy and depression, anguish and the art it creates. But already he’s blurred that line. This is a shredding, stomping indie-rock single that recounts Scott’s worst weeks in unromantic terms — the sweat-stained bed, self-enforced solitude, and that visceral, permeating nausea with no relief: “I’m sick of feeling sick and not throwing up, and you sit in my stomach and you seem to be stuck.”

I’m lucky. I’ve never felt this pain that Scott poured into his music. So far in life, I haven’t needed medication for mental health problems. No suicide prevention hotline has fielded any call from me, nor have I given friends and family cause to worry that I might harm myself. By any conceivable metric, I cannot know Scott’s affliction. So why has Frightened Rabbit, for more than a decade, and since that very first song, plucked at something in my throat, as if they’re saying what I want to? Was I always just a voyeur, fetishizing what Scott called his “Scottish miserabilism,” the way he’d “chuck a bucket of cold water over” something as happy as California pop and drown its entire meaning?

Keep reading. But beware: It’s sad.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38427 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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