The Dichotomy of Being Me

I have loved sad songs for as long as I can remember; I was only 7 years-old when Austin Roberts’ song Rocky came out.  The haunting lyrics reverberated through my mind for years, “Rocky, I’ve never had to die before, don’t know if I can do it”.  The song played often in 1975 as I rode the school bus back and forth from school in the cold Wyoming winter.  Certainly, I would not have sung out loud, but in my heart I was singing as loud as I could, probably wishing I was the girl dying at the end, the one Rocky was in love with.

Later, I obsessed over Bobby Goldsboro’s Honey; many times I’ve had discussion about the line, “One day while I was not at home, while she was there and all alone, the angels came.”  I have often debated the side I believe she committed suicide while the opposing side, if you can call it that, would rather not discuss it.  My point, inquiring minds want to know.  Somehow, I know it was suicide; sadly, I always wanted it to be.

My most recent obsession has been the song about Vincent Van Gogh and his painting Starry Night, well, mostly just Van Gogh and his mental illness, but it refers to Starry Night.  The poignant lyrics of Don McLean’s hit song remind me so much of my own battle against the demons in my mind, that I have obsessively played the song time and again, sometimes looking for answers that I know do not exist.

There are songs that make me sad for other reasons, because they remind me of my dad, like Seven Spanish Angels, just a “dad thing”; or a song that is reminiscent of something fun with my girls, Meatloaf’s Two out of Three Ain’t Bad, when they were little, we used to sing it into hairbrushes and fall onto the bed giggling and laughing; and a song that reminds me of my cousin that died when she was 26, Seasons in the Sun, a real tear-jerker.

Strangely enough, when I want to be sad, as sometimes happens, I play one of my favorite, suicidal thought inducing songs and wait for the sadness to set in.  It does not take long at all, one or two notes and the memories, the pain, whatever trigger I need it floods my mind and the tears flow.  Usually.  Occasionally, I sit faced with no emotion and simply listen to the notes, each staccato sound punctuating a feeling I am suppressing.  So it goes.  So it goes.

The dichotomy of this side of my personality is I abhor anything depressing in any other form of entertainment.  A few years ago I was incapacitated while having 15 surgeries over a 3 year period; as a result, I watched far too much television.  It was even challenging for me to read a book, as one of my surgeries was an incredibly painful shoulder surgery followed up by six months of intensive physical therapy.

With so few choices in television, I watched a few (read – a few too many) of the reality based, contest television shows.  However, I would watch the first 45 minutes of the show and then change the channel, and I would not watch the last episode when they determined the winner of whatever challenge they had.  I seriously did not want to watch anybody being hurt or disappointed.

Additionally, I do not watch horror films of any sort or movies where there is gratuitous violence.  Romance, comedies, documentaries, or dramas are all fine, but blood and guts, or anything where somebody is going to get hurt, and I am out.

Still, a song where somebody dies, commits suicide, or loses their loved one; I guess I’m all in.  Not in the gangster rap kind of way, as you can tell by my music choices; but in the way where you can listen to the song and still understand the words.

I wonder daily, what’s wrong with me?

4 thoughts on “The Dichotomy of Being Me

  1. Wow. You make me intensely realize one of my great disabilities related to music, I cannot process the words because so many things about the music engross me. I invent meaning in the tone and rhythm and feel of the vocal. If I am deep into practicing and I’m interrupted by my wife I have to wave her off and pace for about two minutes so my brain leaves music mode and switches to verbal, then I can make out her words like a normal person.

    Two of the songs you list are favorites of mine. Seasons of the Sun by Terry Jacks I just always parsed as a catchy tune with some mildly serious undertones. I followed the link you provided and couldn’t believe what the lyrics actually were and I’ve listened to that song many many times. The other is Starry Starry Night which I knew to be about Vincent Van Gogh and I know enough of him to not have to parse the lyric.

    What is important here is the drastically different way we process things. You are rightly hearing about death and dying and insanity and I am hearing a sensitive gentle song that is uplifting in Vincent, and a serious but catchy song in the other with Seasons where the chorus actually wants me to go into a happy dance. It is profoundly important to realize that two people like us can experience such different things from the same stimulus. I don’t think I can learn to process words in the context of music, partly because I don’t want to.

    Maybe something to consider is whether you want to perceive the world in a different way; there are as many ways to process and interpret an experience as there are people. Sometimes perceptions and perspectives can be changed but it kind of seems scary and maybe even dangerous to just arbitrarily attempt.

    Sorry I’m so wordy this evening. It is difficult to talk around this as I don’t have adequate vocabulary.

    • Sir, you make perfect sense to me. As my earlier request demonstrates, the way my brain works, or doesn’t work, as the case may be… since I am bipolar (I think this is the reason), I process things very differently depending on my mood, or the day.

      For example, sometimes I almost crave being sad; during those times, I want to listen to those sad songs where I find the meanings that I want… I listen to them and I find the meanings I need to hear, the ones I know are there… maybe only for me, but they are there. Then, when I need to study or write, I do not want any words to my music, as words are distracting, I love words, but they draw me out of my own mind and take me somewhere else… they lead me.

      During those times, I want music, notes, no words.

      I love you to come here and express yourself… be verbose! Share! What a wonderful time we live in that we are able to share across the miles… or, you could be next door, I really do not even know.


      • From your descriptions I think it is much warmer where you are. I will reveal that I am in southwest Michigan. For your safety you should not say where you are, you have had a rough enough time without attracting some crazy person.

        I only ask that you keep in mind that I am married and there are certain lines that should not be crossed. Given that I am willing to be here regularly. I am benefiting from this exchange and you seem to be as well. That is not something I take lightly.

        Until next time

      • I am likewise attached, Sir… but very much enjoying my time here with you.

        I certainly appreciate your concern, though, truly. I smile (something I do rarely) when I see your name show up in my comment field.


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