When my marriage dissolved a decade ago, I went to a cognitive therapist to see if I could make sense of it. I sat in a small room with a kindly old lady who was not my mother, but who may as well have been, as we discussed love and sex as best we could. Although delivering my opinion about what had happened out loud without shouting was an enjoyable relief, I can’t say I truly learned much. We decided I wasn’t such a bad person. We decided my ex-wife wasn’t a bad person either. Then I paid my £60 and arranged to return the following week.
Eventually, I stopped making those arrangements to return. What was I learning there, in those meetings, that I hadn’t heard a thousand times already listening to Pain in My Heart by Otis Redding, Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, or You Can Leave, But it’s Going to Cost You by Marvin Gaye? I hadn’t spent my entire teens in my bedroom with the door closed playing records, to not have those hard-won insights to fall back upon in times of romantic trouble. Therapy helps lift the weight from your chest, which is useful in times of crisis. But music can illuminate the way forward.