Making Your TBI Mix Tape

I’ve already told you how old I am so I guess dating myself with that title is no big deal. One nice thing about seeing the door swing shut on the 80’s is now I don’t have to rewind the tape to listen to the same song. Not just 8 or 9 times. I mean over and over again. For hours. I guess I was doing that this past year in some pathetic attempt to get my old self to come back to me. Picture me holding up that boom box like John Cusack with that yearning and hopeful look on my face. Hey, don’t shake your head like that. You could twist your neck.

When a song gets right into me like a key fits a lock it simply captures me. I can’t predict it either. Based on my favorite songs one would expect me to like a particular one but instead I hate it. And then there are songs I love for no good reason at all. You know? Those ones that have you ready to say “Hey, don’t judge!” when you’re listening to them? Even before my injury I tended to listen to mostly sad songs but not all the time. It wasn’t always because I was sad or depressed but it certainly was accentuated my emotions when I was. But what do you do when it seems like I’m doing it just to stay in my pain? Well, it could be that I like where I am for the moment, however long that may be. I appreciate the ways in which you may have pointed the way out of the pain, but I can be obstinate. You supported my move out of that quagmire, but you couldn’t make the move for me.

But ya know…. Maybe I’ve been doing what is right for me all along. The link below is to an article I found on by Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch.

The Paradox of Music-Evoked Sadness: An Online Survey

In their words: This is the first comprehensive survey of music-evoked sadness, revealing that listening to sad music can lead to beneficial emotional effects such as regulation of negative emotion and mood as well as consolation. Such beneficial emotional effects constitute the prime motivations for engaging with sad music in everyday life.

So rock the fuck on, people. Just don’t blow out your ears with concert level sound in your car or with those earphones or buds. Let’s be reasonable here.


I let this post sit for a while before making it public, and for good reason. Through some comments in one of the support groups I’ve come to find that some people have no use for music anymore. What they used to enjoy, even love, no longer resonates with them or worse, strongly irritates them. Anhedonia or the lack of enjoyment is a common symptom of depression but in these cases it would be more like music suddenly being fingernails on the chalkboard of your mind. Hey, that sounds like a song lyric. Anyway, since it is more than just the volume of the music it points to something neurological that apparently happened due to the brain injury. It’s not just listening to music either; some people report that their injury has caused them to not tolerate playing their musical instrument either. Man, talk about mourning a loss after a TBI…


Not surprisingly, these songs now have a different level of meaning for me since becoming a TBI survivor. Some lyrics are striking in how true they seem now while others are almost exactly what some of the people in the support groups have experienced. This post may be one of those that I just keep adding to over time but these are some of the ones wearing out my car stereo. Okay, yes, I like listening at what is probably concert level sound. Maybe this will wind up a section in and of itself. My weird TBI Musical Jones. Remember that comedy skit “Basketball Jones” from way back in the 70’s? Well clearly my long term memory has largely stayed intact. Chris Schenkel, don’t sing nuthin’.

Donovan’s Season of the Witch was the first song that hit me once I could finally drive on my own. I hadn’t heard that thing in so long. Come to think of it those first 3 months were almost devoid of all music for me since different people were giving me rides all over the place. I KNEW something was missing… Anyway, it has so many reasons why it was the perfect song to describe what life was like now, too. The video I link to here has a series of Gothic pictures to go along with it since MTV didn’t exist back then for Donovan’s first venture into electronic music. So be forewarned. Sorry about the ad, too.

Those reasons? Why yes, I’ll list ’em here. Thanks for asking.

  • It’s just two chords, A7 and D9, over and over again. Life became like that; the same 2 things, home or therapists, with slight differences each day. Not that I remembered any of it unless I wrote it down.

  • Frustration because even though it was only 2 chords I can’t get my left hand to let me play a D9 chord anymore. &^%#%$#!@^%$%$#@!@%$#

  • It’s certainly not a comfortable feeling you get from the song. I don’t really know what all the lyrics mean and yes, I know the stories about how he was indulging in psychedelic nutrition.

  • Try to sing along with it. Every time through a verse and the refrain he sings it differently. Different lyrics, different melodic lines, even different rhythms at the end just when you think you know how it will go. But it sits right inside my vocal range so I sing along with it anyway.

Live’s Lightning Crashes

Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth 

Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone
I used to hate how Bob Dylan’s voice never seems to be in tune but now it sounds so perfect in this song, like it’s actually cross between song and chiding someone from across a room.

Josh Turner’s I Had One One Time – Yes, I know I wrote that I had to stop listening to it.

Joe Nichols’ Just A Little More

Brad Paisley’s Part Two, Who Needs Pictures?, Whiskey Lullaby, Oh Yeah, You’re Gone, Everybody’s Here But Me

The Band The Weight

About peterwick

I was a long-time jack of all trades. Until suddenly I was different.
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3 Responses to Making Your TBI Mix Tape

  1. peterwick says:

    I’m thinking this should be its own post but I’ll put it here for now. Tina Kelley sent me a poem about repetitive music immersion. She was of a similar mind as I am. At least when she wrote this.


    The places you hear it inhabit the song

    the left turn at the top of the hill on the way home from work,
    the three-mile stretch with no exits on the interstate,
    the bathroom mirror where you watch yourself sing it,
    the uphill part of the bike ride where it runs through your head

    and they resurface each time you hear it again.

    Five years from now you’ll hear it and it will all come back to you

    the closet door that wouldn’t close, the crazy family of four
    across the street who sat in their car reading after ten, the cat
    nestling on your thighs, purring as you worked, the scent
    of lip balm, the minutes rolling over on the clock radio

    the song carries those ideas wedged between its notes, its rests.

    So many creatures praise the over & over again,

    dog fetching; bee stepping down foot after foot after foot
    along yellow hyssop walls striped by shadow; evaporation;
    precipitation; sandpipers tracing surf in an endless Braille;
    pulse; inhalation; chanterelles fruiting; trees adding rings; sunset.

    Is it only humans who seek variety in all our verbs?

    I believe there is a part of us that always loves a person

    as much as we loved him when we loved him most.

    And the same is true of songs,
    the adrenaline of first acquaintance,
    delight in the mere act of liking,
    rhythmic joy, indelible vigor and tune.


  2. peterwick says:

    Maybe she’ll be embarrassed if I name-drop her here, maybe not. She knows where to find me if she wants to get me for this. 😉
    Tina is one of the co-authors of Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope
    I don’t tell her she’s incredible enough. I should work on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rockstar says:

    That’s a good post Peter. Almost everyone gets caught up in that moment where you hear a song and get taken back to a moment in your mind. What most don’t realize is the power a song can have after a TBI. We really don’t remember things, and a song can make our minds think and feel things we weren’t sure we could anymore. Eric Church sang it best…. “funny how a melody sounds like a memory”
    Good post Peter. I look forward to your next one.


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