All Your Songs Are Sad Songs

Posted: March 18, 2014 in A Little Less Profound
Tags: , , ,
Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event performs at the Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY. Photo by TATE fan Erika, Sept. 15, 2013.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event performs at the Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY. Photo by TATE fan Erika, Sept. 15, 2013.

By Jamie

She said, all your songs are sad songs
Why do you always have to make me feel like shit?

I was discussing my favorite band (I’ll let you guess the band) with a friend the other day when she said, “I know you love them, but isn’t their music depressing?”

I was suddenly very defensive, “No! No, it’s not depressing at all. I mean, it’s sad and Mikel talks about death a lot but…”

“Sounds depressing. I don’t like to listen to that kind of stuff most of the time,” she interrupted, before changing the subject to a band she was currently into.

I was too irritated to defend The Airborne Toxic Event any further, but I realized I needed a response to the statement that their music is depressing. So I started thinking… a lot.

When I hear the song “Innocence,” I want to cry. I’m not going to analyze the song. I’m no music critic and I have a hard time putting into words what music means to me. Specifically how it affects me. It just does. I either feel something or I don’t. Some bands make me feel more than others, and TATE makes me feel everything. “Innocence” specifically makes me feel sadness. I feel my own sadness, even if it’s not directly related to the song. Suddenly I feel the weight of all of my life’s tragedies, all the wrongs I’ve suffered, all the times I’ve felt alone. Mingled with this sadness, though, is another emotion. Comfort. The music swells around me like a blanket. I feel understood and not at all alone. We are all sad sometimes, and that simple realization makes me feel better.

I may feel all kinds of emotions listening to Mikel’s lyrics set to the band’s music, but I never feel depressed. My friend wasn’t the first person to use the word “depressing” when describing TATE. I’m not sure why that is. What makes people find the music depressing? Is it Mikel’s lyrics, which often deal with death and heartache? Is it the addition of the string instruments? The two certainly work together to create feelings that maybe they couldn’t alone. But feeling things isn’t depressing, is it? Feeling lost and alone can certainly be depressing, yes… but TATE’s music never makes me feel alone. It doesn’t even always make me feel sad. Their music can make me feel hopeful or even romantic and sentimental, finding beauty in everything. Often, I feel so damn in love with life I dance around my living room, with my eyes closed and my arms in the air. Some of the happiest times of my life have been accompanied by a TATE song blaring through speakers. There are times that the music tells me what I’ve been feeling even before I’ve sorted it out myself; instead of feeling lost, I feel found. Mostly, I’m inspired.

If you find TATE’s music depressing, I’m not here to tell you the things you are feeling are wrong. I’m just sharing with you the overall effect their music has on my mood, hoping that if you haven’t experienced it the way I have, maybe you’ll give it another listen. Next time someone asks me if their music is depressing, I’ll know what to say. We all need a soundtrack of choice for our pity parties, it’s true… but TATE can be so much more than that… they can be a soundtrack for life.

Jamie: A Strange, Strange GirlJamie spends most of her days with her husband as they attempt to raise 4 future TATE fans and all around decent human beings. In her free time, when not obsessively listening to her favorite bands and going to concerts, she is also an aspiring seamstress. She writes about her handmade wardrobe on her blog Such a Strange Girl, and is a regular contributor to This Is Nowhere.

  1. Matt says:

    Awesome post, it’s a great response to idea that their music is depressing. I would say the absence of feelings is what is depressing, not feeling the negative emotions.


  2. […] All Your Songs Are Sad Songs […]


  3. […] All Your Songs Are Sad Songs: Jamie shatters the myth that The Airborne Toxic Event is a major downer. […]


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