Updated: Oct 11
There's a reason why He Stopped Loving Her Today is considered the greatest country song of all-time, and why, generally speaking, George Jones is considered one of the best, if not the best country singer of all-time as well.
It all starts with the song. Sad songs connect the Super Fan (like me) to the artist in a powerful way. When a song links to your heart, you immediately feel that the singer understands your pain, tears, and life. When you are nursing a heartache after a breakup, you don't want to be happy, or think about the brighter side of things. you want to feel what you feel even, if it means tasting tears, and sleeping in.
There is something to listening to sad songs that goes a bit deeper than what you might think. In 2014, Taruffi & Koelsch conducted the first music-evoking research project, and found there are several benefits associated with listening to sad music.
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1) It triggers your imagination. You know those bittersweet memories of days gone by, when things seemed to be great?
2) Empathy- hearing a song that details someone else's ordeal, impels feelings of sympathy, and affinity. You are not alone, others have gone through, even harder times, got through it, and lived to write about it.
3) Regulation of negative feelings- In other words it can actually make you feel better by stabilizing your own negative feelings. How does sad music do that? Sad music consoles the soul.
Additionally, a significant portion of the research participants indicated they listened to sad music when they were in situations of distress, and the music was used as a way to self-medicate. Have you ever noticed you feel better after listening to a sad song? There's a reason for that too. Apparently, there is a chemical named prolactin in our brains that tones down grief, that is released when we listen to a sad song!
Fellow Songwriters, if you are reading this, please bring back sad to country music. Our happiness depends on it!
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