Even When I’m Happy I Listen To Sad Music

I love that album title. Even When I’m Happy I Listen To Sad Music. Magic, there should be an award for the best album title, song title and best album art (which would need a few sub-categories).

This title comes from the fertile mind of music maker Ollie, aka Ollie Raps. I’ll go with Ollie because while it is true that some of his songs sound like rap, I hear spoken word and some parts that come dangerously close to singing. Either way, Ollie delivers the goods with confidence and skill. Mystic Sons delivers the album to us via popular music streaming platforms.

Ollie is a gifted music creator from the rural hinterlands of Ontario, making street-legal urban music. I correct myself. I only know that he lives in a small town not far from Toronto, and I think his music would play well on Yonge Street or Marsville.

Speaking about the new album, Ollie said, “This project has been something I’ve been working on for over a year with the release date being delayed twice already. This goes without saying, but these songs are very close to my heart and represent everything that I am. Throughout my past, like most, I’ve experienced my fair share of pain, some of it a direct cause from my own actions. Let’s just say if I could go back in time, there are a few situations that I would like to change, unfortunately that isn’t possible. I struggle sometimes with that reality, regardless of my shortcomings have ultimately led me here. This is where music comes into play, I’m not a very emotional person and typically withhold a lot of my feelings. But somehow music has the ability to extract all of that from within me without my egotistical conscience realizing, it’s an emotional heist guised in melodies. Some of my biggest self realizations have come from this, I see another perspective, sometimes the exact one I wish I couldn’t. Life and ultimately God has a funny way of showing us what we don’t want to see, simply put, nobody is perfect. Each of our stories is a combination of good times and bad times, beauty and chaos, success and failure. The balance of these two realities shape who we are, give us purpose and help us understand and appreciate the opposite. So, even when I’m happy I listen to sad music.”

Ollie starts this album with two slow songs backed with only an acoustic guitar. Gutsy move, Ollie. There is no place to hide with this simple but effective arrangement. The first song is Only You and sets the tone for the remainder of the album with these lyrics:

“These melodies

They’re stories

They’re sadness

It’s comforting.”

That tone is honesty. Ollie is laying all the cards out on the table. He is telling us a story accompanied by melodies. And these stories are both sad and comforting. Wow! That’s a lot to take in, and I can’t wait to hear those stories and the music that carries them along.

In track two, Ollie sings of rain falling on the roof in a lightning storm. I can spend hours watching a lightning storm disperse its majestic power. That past time alone can do wonders for clearing the depression in my head.

Ollie builds the album around being alone in his head. In a recovery group, there was a saying about this idea that I liked. “Our heads are a scary place to be alone.” 

Throughout the album, Ollie shifts between rap, spoken word and singing and the use of backing singers (and occasionally sharing the song with backup singing). The Rolling Stones sang about Dead Flowers, and Ollie narrows that down to Dead Roses. I wonder what happened to the other flowers in the trash bin. The floral industry is weird. We buy something that isn’t cheap, knowing full well that it will dry up and be in the compost bin within a week. We have flowers growing in our backyard and inside the house. If we want flowers, we buy ones that last, either the growing season or longer.

I am skipping ahead over a few songs that deal with the topic of broken relationships. We then come to “Where Do We All Go,” which I like due to a couple of lines:

“Somedays, things get overwhelming.

Not because of what you’re currently experiencing, but

Because of the realization that you have no control over so much of your future

Certain feelings are inevitable, inescapable, and unpredictable

They’re what make us human

And without them, without the need for adversity, who would we be?

Difficult choices create character

And character is how we’re remembered

I can promise you you’re not the first person to go through what you’re going through

And you won’t be the last.

Have faith that everything you experience in life is for a purpose

It just might not be clear yet what that purpose is”

Some more boy loses girl songs, albeit well done, lost love songs. I love the song Home; I think it is about living with arthritis, “I feel aches in my bones.” Ollie then closes the album with More Than Music IV, another song with some deep philosophical questions and a dash of Christianity.

“Guess the closest to your heart can deal you the worst cuts.” That line can be read backwards and still be dead-on accurate. You can deal the worst cuts to the ones closest to your heart.

“Start to question my existence.” That is deep, man, real deep. Who am I? What am I? Why do I exist? The list goes on and on. That is a question that philosophers have been kicking around for as long as people could contemplate their existence.

“What if I dropped a song and no one relates to me in the end?” That is a great question that I have contemplated myself. What if I wrote a blog about an album, and no one read it?

I will close this blog with a lengthy cut and paste from the song More Than Music IV.

“This ain’t what I planned, not even close to what I was hoping

But there’s beauty in the struggle, something I’d come to find

God tests His strongest soldiers to keep ’em present in mind

And in mine, would you stay? Never leave from my side?

‘Cause in Christ, you strengthen me, I’m so powerful I could fly

But I stumble often, I’m not as perfect as I seem

All this anger in my chest I keep hidden behind the scenes

Along a journey and my growth, I’m only a human being

More Than music is precisely what all of these lyrics mean

It means I’m incomplete, broken, often misunderstood

On this lonely road we walk, never gave up when others would

Found in a lost place, done everything that I should

Just ’cause there’s darkness in my past; it doesn’t mean I’m not good.”

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