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Painting With One Color

I like to write songs that are sad. I’m great at wistful, bittersweet, hurt. For a long time that was how generally how I felt in life. I got into a groove of writing songs that reflected my inner melancholy. I know the formula: a repetitive piano riff over moving chords, a pleading chorus, a few punch-you-in-the-gut lines. Sadness is my “zone.”

But I’m generally not a sad person, at least not anymore. I have a much broader emotional palette these days: giddiness, gratitude, sarcasm, anger, passion, drive, joy, clarity. Sad sometimes too, yes. But my writing doesn’t reflect this spectrum. It’s all sadness, all the time.

I have song ideas that are things other than sad: happy, biting, goofy. But it seems to be that before I can finish one of these songs, my Inner Critic shows up to tell me it’s stupid, self-serving, that no one will take this song seriously — which is funny, because in fact I enjoy songs that are joyous, and find the kind of woe-is-me darkness that I’ve often written with to be grating when it comes from other people.

Sad songs give me gravitas. I think I have this leftover useless belief that I am a Serious Artist if I am Tortured. I lean into sad songs because they fit more with my persona.

For me, a song becomes a time capsule, a box that I can open whenever I want to go back to a feeling of a particular moment in time. Why am I only documenting my sadness? If I keep creating songs that only reflect my sadness, do I create more sadness for myself? What would happen if I finished all the “stupid” happy songs I’ve started? Would I, myself, become happier?

What about you? Do you find yourself creating art with a particular tone? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Published in Inspiration

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