Gretchen Rubin

Music and happiness: the joy of re-discovering a song I love.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours working in one of my favorite spots, the Pisa Pizza pizza shop. I usually don’t notice the music playing in the background, but I heard a song that I love that I hadn’t heard in a long time.

I don’t enjoy music much; I don’t have an iPod, I don’t buy CDs or songs from iTunes, it never occurs to me to listen to music as I got about my daily routine. I wish I liked music more, but as part of my resolution to "Be Gretchen," I've accepted my tastes. Nevertheless, when I do like a particular piece of music, I love it.

As with this song. I didn’t know its title, or the name of the band, and I couldn’t understand the words very well, but I stopped working to listen.

In keeping with my resolutions to “Follow my curiosities,” “Take time to wander,” and “Be Gretchen,” I decided to try to track down the song.

Ah, the glories of the modern age. I jotted down some lyrics that I could understand, and when I got home, I searched for them in Google. I discovered that the song was “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Big Man had put all our (really, his) music on our computer, so I searched for it and – there it was. In a flash, to my intense gratification, the song was playing in my office.

Studies show that listening to music is one of the best ways to bring on a good mood, and 92% of people get a boost when they listen to music of their choice.

“Under the Bridge” rouses strange emotions in me. I wouldn’t say it makes me feel happy, exactly. The song is beautiful, and I listened to it many times. But listening to the song is almost painful, too…I can’t describe how it makes me feel. There is a kind of exquisite pleasure that is happiness, but also not happiness. But there is happiness in experiencing it. And it sure made me happy that I could so easily track down and listen to the song.

It’s playing right now.

Just as I was getting ready to post this, I decided to see if I could link to the song without violating any copyright laws. I'm not sure about the legal status of this link to YouTube, but here it is: Under the Bridge, live in concert. On the one hand, watching the video undermined my experience of the song, because I was distracted by the band's questionable fashion decision to forgo their shirts (of course, they're known for their propensity to forgo much more than their shirts). And a live version has more glitches than the recorded version. On the other hand, I loved hearing a stadium full of people crooning the chorus along with the band.

I don't ever want to feel like I did that day
Take me to the place I love, take me all the way...

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