The other day I was sat here trying to get some oommph back so I could get off my backside and do some useful stuff. I started thinking about what music I could put on to get me on my way. And then I wrote the bones of a really profound post about music and mental health. But it started to turn into this post – which was a little too long on its own, so I saved the musical insights seperately to work on later.

Well, tonight I decided to polishg up my draft post and guess what, no it’s not a surprise at all, I can’t find it saved anywhere. So, here instead, is a late night, half remembered waffly summary.

Before I continue I should explain one thing. I consider myself musically dyslexic. I like music, I like listening to music, but I cannot for the life of me remember names of bands or albums or tracks. I can hum the intro of the next song on the album/compilation after the one we’re currently listening to, but I have no idea what either track is or who they’re by.

So, there I was, sat on the sofa, wondering what to put on to get me motivated, no racking my brains is a better phrase because this kind of thing is hard for me (this is how some people find algebra, right?). I came up with a few ideas (now forgotten) and I started thinking about my favourite radio station, Now I like 6 music, because they’re all music geeks, into playing decent music (in my humble opinion at least), both new and old, so they do all the hard work for me (like knowing the names of stuff and choosing it) and I just get to listen. Plus, it has the added bonus that they play stuff I used to listen to back in the day and seem to think it’s cool. My music tastes have never been cool, and I glow inwardly to think that my distinctly uncool teenage self was actually listening to music too cool for her peers to appreciate.

In particular I started thinking about a couple of features they have. On Lauren Laverne’s show in the morning, she has a feature called biorhythms, where they play three tracks chosen by a listener, one that moves them physically in some way, one intellectually and one emotionally. The phsyical tracks picked tend to be high energy. I always struggle with the idea of a track meaning something to me intellectually (maybe I just like the wrong songs?) but I always know the emotional track I’d pick. I think of it as Four O’Clock In the Morning, but actually the internet informs me it’s No Rest by New Model Army (If listen to the link, it does take a while to get going as it’s a live version). It takes me straight back to being a teenager, awake in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because I was upset about something (probably teenage boy related, I can’t remember now) – the details are a little hazy but the feeling of raw strong emotion (and teenagers are good at strong emotion) it brings back are palpable.

The other feature it reminded me of was Steve Lamacq’s Good Day Bad Day – where he talks to a listener about what track they’d play on a good day and why, and what track they’d play on a bad day and why and then they get to say if they’re having a good day or a bad day and he plays the appropriate track. Sometimes they choose bad day tracks to lift their mood, and sometimes ones that reflect the emotion of how they’re feeling in a bad mood.

I realised that the tracks I’d been thinking of were all quite high energy. Which is not that surprising as I started out trying to get myself into action. But as I thought further I realised that I couldn’t think of any happy tracks that weren’t bouncy and loud. Obviously bouncy happy loud can be a good thing, it’s certainly good for getting things done and it’s fun to dance to, but calmly happy is a good thing too – in fact I probably need to be spending more time in a calmly happy state than a bouncy happy one. And I’m not sure I’m good at calm at all. Sure I can waste hours reading or noodling on the internet, but whilst that’s physically inactive it’s not really mentally calm. The rest of the time I’m generally doing something. Like today, my mum showed me how far she’d got painting her spare room. We’ve agreed I’ll come and do the top of the walls as for various reasons they’re hard bits for her to reach. So whilst we were discussing this I lept up a ladder and started dusting the cornices. I wasn’t going to do any painting today (wrong clothes, children in tow), so it didn’t need doing now, but I just couldn’t stand still. That’s me, doodling whilst on the telephone, washing up whilst talking to someone, knitting at the toddler group. Generally not sitting still, always doing stuff, but randomly disorganised stuff that often doesn’t get finished. (e.g. the washing up, I’m forever washing up (forget how it feels for hubby, I feel pained after I see the excema on his hands if he does more than minimal washing up, yes, even with gloves) but I never get it finished.)

So, thinking about music made me realise the links between emotion and music. And that maybe my music tastes say something about my emotional and mental health.

I’m not sure where I go next with these musings. Maybe I need to enlist hubby’s help (he knows far more about my music tastes than I do) and create some playlists to help me with “getting things done”, “being quietly happy”, “calming down”, and possibly even “dealing with anxiety”. I’m not sure if that last one is even possible with music, but maybe it’s worth a try.

How about you. Do you have certain things you listen to when you’re in certain moods, or certain things you listen to to help you through/out of certain moods? Maybe what I need is a mix tape/playlist that starts of reflecting the mood I’m in and slowly shifts to a more positive one.

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