I was listening to my ipod on shuffle today and Dar Williams’ “After All” came on and I got to thinking about how many songs I know that really reflect what it’s like when I experience depression. Maybe it’s a little teenage-angst maudlin to be all, “OMG these songs really speak to meeee and my ennui!!” But sometimes you really need to hear a song that makes you say, “YES. That is exactly it!” Then you can write about it in your journal. (Ed. Note- TW for talk of depression and suicidal ideation).
“After All”, I like because it speaks to the experience of coming out of depression, re-entering the cycle, and how the experience of being depressed can change you in positive ways. I especially like the lyric, “It felt like a winter machine that you go through and then you catch your breath and winter starts again, and everyone else is Springbound.” She also talks about not committing suicide not because you’re choosing to live, but because you’re not worth the pain of your death, which articulates how I have felt at some of my darker times. Plus it’s a beautiful song.
Speaking of Dar, “What Do You Hear In These Sounds” is another one that has articulated how I feel about therapy. My favorite line is, “Well I’m lucky because I am like East Berlin, I have these walls and what I knew of the free world was that I can see their fireworks and I can hear their radio.” It’s such a powerful metaphor for feeling shut off from the rest of the world, knowing that there are people out there who are “happy” and feeling like you have no way of accessing that.
The song that I will always feel was written exactly about my depression is Rilo Kiley’s “A Better Son/ Daughter” – from the beginning about sleep paralysis, to the goal to be better to the people that you love (once you’re not depressed any more, of course), to the hope that things will get better. I will love this song forever for being the one that made me say “YES. Exactly!”
There are several Rilo Kiley songs that have amazing lines about depression. The Good That Won’t Come Out is another one: “You say I choose sadness, that it never once has chosen me (maybe you’re right).”
If you had known me from 2001-2005 you would know that Bright Eyes sings a lot about depression and that every one of those songs speaks to the very heart of my depressed soul. But for the purposes of this post, I think that “Nothing Gets Crossed Out” probably illustrates the anxiety and feelings of paralysis and hopelessness that accompany depression. I also like “The Center of the World” for the lyric, “When you drive home from your place to the job that makes you sleep to the thoughts that keep you awake.”
I think most of my depression songs are those that I discovered in the early 2000’s when I was in college, the most depressed I’ve ever been, and still a teenager so susceptible to obsessively listening to depressing music. That’s why Dashboard Confessional’s “Saints and Sailors” makes the list: “Wandering this house like I’ve never wanted out, and this is about as social as I get now” pretty much sums up the self-isolation when I’m depressed.
So now that I’ve suitably bummed you out, you can listen to these songs and doodle pictures of crying kittens for the rest of the day. How about you, are there any songs that really define how you experience depression?