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Positive notes: Mark Mallman tells of coping with grief through music in ‘The Happiness Playlist’

Musician and author Mark Mallman will make a stop in Albuquerque to read from his book, “The Happiness Playlist.” (Courtesy of Wilson Webb)

Mark Mallman has written and composed music for years.

Yet when he sat down to write what would become “The Happiness Playlist,” it was a journey.

At two-year one, to be exact.

“Writing for this is totally different than songwriting,” he says in a recent interview. “Writing songs, I’m searching for a melody. With the book, I would just journal every day, and that became what the story was, though the flashbacks in the book were difficult for me to write.”

Mallman’s book tour will make a stop at Bookworks in Albuquerque at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23. He will read from and sign the book.

For more than 20 years, the Minneapolis-based musician spent his time as a composer, songwriter and performer.

He composed music for films, including “The Hitcher, “Adventureland,” “10,000 B.C.” and “Haunting of Molly Hartley.”

He’s played in Albuquerque many times, performing songs from his album releases.

With his debut book, he reaches a new level of creativity and intimacy.

The memoir is written about the months he spent listening exclusively to feel-good songs to make his way through grief brought on by the death of his mother, the end of a relationship and winter in the frozen Midwest.

Mallman says the point of the book is to show people going through trauma how music as a tool can help in their healing process.

“The scariest part was writing in the church where I had to light a candle for my mom,” he says. “I had this open hole in the book. I wrote about what I was feeling, and that’s the only part of the book that wasn’t re-edited.”

Mallman listened to his happiness playlist for six months and saw how his mood changed.

The playlist included positive songs from friends and other musicians.

“The story takes place a year and a half after the traumatic events, after PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) was born,” he says. “It’s written in present tense with flashbacks to fill in the audience.”

Mallman wrote in his journal every day for nearly two years.

During editing, he filled in pieces with greater detail.

He’s looking forward to getting back to Albuquerque because he has a long history with the city.

“Albuquerque, it’s an important city for me in my music history,” he says. “Downtown is cool; it has some edge to it. It’s a unique place and holds a place in my heart.”

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