My therapist recently suggested that I create a playlist of songs that make me happy so that I could listen to it when I’m feeling anxious or depressed. She asked me to think about music I like. The first artist that came to mind was Neko Case. But with lyrics like “My true love died in a dirty old pan of oil/That did run from a block/Of a Falcon Sedan 1969” and “Carved your name across three counties/Ground it in with bloody hides/Their broken necks will line the ditch,” her songs are maybe not the best example of happy music. So I thought a bit more and came up with Aimee Mann (“Life just kind of empties out/Less a deluge than a drought”). Nope. Sleater-Kinney (“My falling shape will draw a line/Between the blue of sea and sky”). Uh-uh. Clearly, these are not artists known for their catalog of feel-good ditties.
When I couldn’t come up with anything that I was willing to say out loud, my therapist told me that a lot of her clients liked show tunes, which made me wonder if she treated a lot of gay men but didn’t give me anything to work with. I’m just not a fan of musicals. Finally, I told her I liked the Beastie Boys. I don’t think she knew what to make of that, and I suspect she wrote in her notes, “Shannon is so depressed and/or unintelligent she can’t even recognize happy music.”
On the drive home, I tried to think of songs rather than bands. I considered and quickly rejected a whole slew of songs, the most uplifting of which was “Ode to Billie Joe.” I don’t know if I was just confusing “good songs” with “happy songs” or if my taste in music is an indication of severe depression.
When I got home, I Googled “Feel good music,” and got songs like “Walking on Sunshine,” “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and, of course, the ubiquitous “Happy.” Sorry, but that’s just not my groove. I looked at my iPod to see if I had any music that didn’t involve death, destruction, or despair. The Beatles. Okay, that works. They Might Be Giants. Of course. Barenaked Ladies. Now we’re getting somewhere!
I was finally able to come up with a playlist of songs that are perhaps not as peppy as “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” but they make me happy. Here’s a little sample of what’s on my playlist, which I had intended to share on Spotify, but because I’m technologically impaired I cannot figure the hell out how to make happen. I’ll keep working on that, but in the meantime, tell me: What songs make you happy?