Our resident Pop Doc offers some musical advice…
Music can reflect our mood, shift our perspective and articulate our feelings more eloquently than we could ourselves. It’s also good for drowning things out, such as the neighbours having operatic sex for the 17th time in one night, or for flailing about to on a dance-floor of your choice. But this new column is going to take a more focused look at how the right songs can sort our heads out, taking individual problems and creating musical prescriptions that will blast them into kingdom come. No weird side-effects either. Cowabunga! As CALM’s resident rock ‘n’ roll therapist, my job is to provide a complementary sonic solution for your every need. You’re welcome.
We’ll commence with a tuneful prescription for something that affects us all: money – or lack of it. Maybe you’re so skint that the idea of downloading a track for 79p is an impossible dream, and you can’t even remember the last time you made like Nick Hornby and got stuck into the wares of a record shop. Well, luckily for you, it’s easy to listen for free thanks to YouTube and Spotify. Don’t download illegally though. Think of all those musicians slaving away to make your life better. Suitably guilt-tripped? Ok great, we’ll move on.
Right, don’t listen to Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ for a start. It begins with the lyrics: ‘Money, get away.’ It’s already done that, that’s the flipping problem. The song then suggests you ‘get a good job with more pay and you’re ok.’ Yeah, we knew that already. Plus, excellent as it is, all of this might sound a bit rich, no pun intended, coming from a group of millionaires.
You need reminding that money isn’t everything and that the best things in life are free. You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Yes, I’m afraid so. Prepare for some twinklesome musical fromage as I usher in Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross. Wait, come back! Hello? As I was saying, this upbeat song (you love it) extols the virtues of the freebie, specifically that most priceless of gifts – love.
Ah, but you might not be in love. Or love might be getting you down. Or not being in love might be getting you down. Mayday! Well, being single can be pretty fantastic (I’ll get onto that next time) but, to return to our theme, there is a plethora of experiences we can have that never sully our hands with currency. Get back to nature! (You don’t have to take your clothes off, but hey, if it makes you happy.) Draw a picture! It doesn’t matter if it’s shite, no one has to see it! Have some ‘me’ time! I’m not talking about glumly sitting alone with no purpose, I’m talking about sticking on an uplifting record, watching a movie while eating your favourite food, rolling around on the floor making animal sounds, burping the theme tune to The Professionals. Basically, I’m talking about escaping your spiraling thoughts and doing something you wouldn’t normally do (within reason) to lift you out of your funk. Something you’d advise a mate to do if he was feeling similar. One of the things about depression is that our thoughts continually funnel inwards, literally ‘pressing’ down on us, so it’s vital to step out of your head for a bit. Never mind ‘It’s a waste of time’, or ‘I’m not worth it.’ What are you? The anti-L’oreal? You bloody well are worth it, my friend.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, one of the lines in ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’ is: ‘I’m keeping my heart open, hoping you won’t stab me in it.’ Which is so alarming taken at face value that it should take your mind off your troubles at least momentarily. There’s always someone worse off than yourself. No amount of dosh can reassure the male character being portrayed in this song that his lover won’t sneak up and harpoon him. And you thought you had problems?
Alternatively, you could take the approach of cosmic ordering (if it’s good enough for Noel Edmonds…) and ‘acting as if’ you are already loaded, therefore bringing about a wealthy lifestyle just by ‘attracting’ it with the right ‘vibes’. And so we come to the Beatles. Forget ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, I’m talking about ‘Baby, You’re A Rich Man’.
For once, here’s a song about being wealthy without any reference to shame or corruption. Rich men singing about how great it is to be rich men. At least it’s not hypocritical. “How do you feel to be one of the beautiful people?” croons Lennon. “Happy to be that way.” Quite right too. I would be. Absorb those moneyed vibes that are oozing from the speakers and into your ears, every word a golden nugget (as opposed to a chicken nugget – you have to imagine that those days are behind you if this technique is going to work), every chord a veritable Faberge egg. Shrug off resentment and shift into ‘rich man’ mode. So, how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? Pretty good, right? Thought so.
I can’t vouch for the wisdom of the lyric “you keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo,” however. I know banks aren’t the most popular entities, but I really feel that storing your cash this way is just inviting curious chimps to come and munch on it, or worse. . Undoubtedly the chaps couldn’t find anything to rhyme with ‘too’, which you wouldn’t think would be hard to do (see, I just did it accidentally there myself), but hey, it was the ‘60s. That’s the key with pop therapy, it’s important not to follow the lyrics to the letter, otherwise where would we be? Lovers would be harpooning each other and our hard-earned savings would be languishing inside a gibbon enclosure. Use what works and take it with a pinch of salt. (You can afford salt, can’t you?)
Next time – terminal singledom.