My first year of university was spent on the 15th floor of a residence on campus, the same summer Pearl Jam’s cover of Last Kiss became a radio staple for over 35 consecutive weeks. Unsurprisingly, it started playing in the elevator when I was once making my way to the cafeteria with a floormate, who winced upon hearing Vedder’s gravely voice and did her best to talk over it, explaining her dislike of sad music.
I was taken aback. Depressing lyrics and minor chords were an enormous comfort to me1. As the sole child of a dysfunctional home, the only thing I could turn to when my parents started raising their voices at each other was a set of headphones and Discman, and I’d been hunting for sad songs like a ravenous stray ever since I was old enough to appreciate music.
The same became true of upsetting movies with difficult scenes. Moments of violence, tragedy, and grief would leave me glued to the screen. I was fascinated with the way people processed their pain (or didn’t). War films were particularly apt for this, as relentless years of depression caused me to relate to any soldier with a thousand yard stare. That glazed, expressionless face spoke of a person who had long given up on making sense of the countless horrors and endless suffering they had gone through.
- I’ve come to understand how naive it is to think everyone enjoys that kind of mood. [↩]