As a fan of melancholy songs , I find that there is a relationship between the songs I listen to and the moods of my life. In many ways there is a vicious circle between our moods and how we feed them. Earlier this weekend, when things were going particularly poorly, I had in mind a particular song to pick as my song of the week, but as the weekend went on things got a little better. What had seemed appropriate at the beginning of the weekend for a song to describe what was going on was not appropriate by the end of the weekend, as matters improved somewhat. Not only does music influence our moods, but sometimes the moods influence what songs correspond to the mood.
Today as I was reading an article, the author misquoted the same song that inspired the title of this blog entry, which is a folk song written in the late 19th or early 20th century based on an earlier English song with a different lead character but the same general idea. The author of the article, even though he misquoted the song, was trying to compare his doomed subject to the doomed young cowboy who had done wrong but who still had loyal friends. It is a good thing to have loyal friends, but important that those friends are not only loyal but lead us in the right direction. When that fails to happen, we can take bad advice and end up in some serious trouble.
“Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story, / For I’m shot in the chest, and today I must die .” There is something poignant and touching about someone telling their sad story before they die. For some reason human beings feel compelled to tell their story to a sympathetic audience. I know that I am not immune to that tendency myself. Of course, just about anyone who has a passion for writing or for self-expression in general is likely to be subject to the same sort of compulsive tendency for self-defense and self-expression. It is a sad thing when one’s desire to defend one’s own dignity leads others to feel threatened. I wish we could all just get along and feel safe and sound, but sadly that is not something that tends to happen very easily for myself or anyone else, despite my best wishes and intentions.
For whatever reason, I am fond of songs about early death and the fact that many of these songs of dying youths involve roses. I’m not exactly sure why this is the case (“If I die young, bury me in satin; lay me down on a bed of roses…”), but if I had to guess, it would be because early death has with it the connotation that there is an absence of the sort of love and relationships that one would expect to have if one lives a long life. Of course, perhaps my own melancholy longing leads me to appreciate songs that share that combination of longing and a sense of melancholy. I suppose if I die young then can put some roses on my coffin to deaden the clods as they fall. And if things go better, then perhaps those roses could be put to some better purpose.