Sunday, June 30, 2013

Too Happy? Take Two of These


It's Sunday and when I took my morning walk to downtown Chapel Hill this morning an old Kris Kristofferson song, Sunday Morning Coming Down, stuck in my head. If you remember the lyrics, you won’t find that surprising. Maybe it was that line about the “Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken”. This is the South, after all, and Lord knows someone is always fryin’ something.

Heck, over at Mama Dip’s Country Cooking they deep-fry the napkins.

Anyway, I got to thinking about songs that people should listen to when they find themselves feeling too happy.

See, I walk a lot and to paraphrase A. A. Milne, sometimes I walks and thinks, and sometimes I just walks.

Back to Kris, though, this might be the most depressing song ever written; yet, it sticks in my head. Do I like it? Don’t know, but I’ve been singing it in my head all morning. (I sound a lot like Kristofferson in there.)

There ain’t nothing short of dyin’ that’s half as lonesome as the sound, of a sleepin’ city sidewalk with Sunday morning coming down.

Yeah, if I were feeling manic, I could probably stabilize my mood by listening to that.

I heard Kristofferson do the song in concert. In the middle of the tune, he stopped singing and said, “Kinda makes you wanna get up and dance in the aisle, don’t it?”

It don’t.

This week, a friend on FaceBook mentioned what an awesome song Dan Fogelberg’s Same Old Lang Syne is. It is awesome. I loved to play it on my guitar until I noticed that I always seemed to want to jump off a bridge after I did.

It tails off with a guitar solo of Auld Lang Syne. Taps would’ve worked equally well.

I worked with a young lady named Carla years ago and I remember something she said when several of us got together for a beer after work. She said, “I was feeling depressed last week so I went to a record store and bought a Dan Fogelberg album. Never. Do. That.

She got a round of amen’s.

We went to have ourselves a drink or two, but couldn't find an open bar. We bought a six-pack at the liquor store and we drank it in her car.

If there is a more depressing scene for two old lovers having a drink together and reminiscing, I’m sure Dan would’ve found it.

I’ve always thought Janis Ian’s Seventeen, and in fact the entire Between the Lines album, could bring Betty Boop down. It’s a pretty catchy tune, though, and I’d love it were it not for the lyrics. Truth is, I love it with the lyrics.

Besides, if your parents named you Janis Eddy Fink, you’d change it and find yourself writing lyrics like, “I learned the truth at seventeen, that love was meant for beauty queens”, too.

If I were super-manic and looking for a natural way to dampen my mood, I have always thought that listening to Seventeen and Same Auld Lang Syne back to back would do the trick. I would worry about an overdose, though. 

They should come with warning labels. “Same Auld Lang Syne: Do not take with Seventeen. If you have suicidal thoughts, stop listening and call your doctor.”

There’s no shortage of competition, though. One of my favorite John Lennon songs, Imagine, posits that if we just have a fertile enough imagination, we can envision a world that doesn’t suck. Imagine wins polls for best rock song ever.

My favorite song ever is Fire and Rain. Nothing I’d rather hear. Nothing I’d rather play. J.T created the genre of acoustic singer-songwriters.

But it’s a recovery song. About heroin.  You better look down upon me Jesus, you gotta help me make a stand. Just got to see me through another day. My body’s aching and my time is at hand. I won’t make it any other way.

Would it be my favorite song if I had understood the lyrics the first four hundred times I heard them? Probably. It’s a hell of a song.

Gordon Lightfoot is another of my favorites, but The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald just relentlessly beats the joy out of you, verse after verse. And it’s not like you can’t see how it’s all going to end.

It can’t hold a candle to Gordy's  Circle of Steel, though. A child is born to a welfare case where the rats run around like they own the place. And it goes downhill from there. At Christmas, no less.

One of the greatest hits of the Beatles? Yesterday. And because the lyrics might not totally rip your heart out, George Martin added that damned cello. As a result, Guinness World Records has named "Yesterday" the most recorded song in history.

I wish I could figure out why we love depressing songs so much. I have every song mentioned above. On vinyl. And most on CD, too.

But I can’t figure it out, and my brain is getting tired.

Time to just walks for a while.

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Dirk Cotton is a retired executive of a Fortune 500 technology company. Since retiring in 2005, he has researched and published papers on retirement finance, spoken at retirement industry conferences and events, and regularly posted on retirement finance issues at his blog, The Retirement Cafe. He is currently a Thought Leader at APViewpoint, Advisor Perspectives' online community of  investment advisors and financial planners. He provides retirement planning advice as a fee-only financial planner.

Mr. Cotton holds an undergraduate degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky, an MBA from Marymount University, and a certificate in financial planning from Boston University.

He and his family currently reside in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He loves to spend time with his family, fly fish, shoot sporting clays, attend college baseball games, sail, follow the Wildcats, and write.

Dirk holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky, an MBA from Marymount University, and a certificate in financial planning from Boston University.  He attended high school in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

email: JDCPlanning@gmail.com