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Old 12-22-2019, 03:09 PM
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Songs About Mental Illness?


If you can think of examples of songs about mental illness by those who were mentally ill, even better, since its coming from a familiar place, as opposed to someone writing about something they don't know.

Pink Floyd - Brain Damage

I think Roger is intelligent and was troubled, but he had it under control... Someone like Jim Morrison did not have control. Perhaps "Break on Through" is one of many, since many of his lyrics are surreal and can be interpreted differently, where Roger is very direct.
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:15 PM
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I don't think Willie Nelson was really Crazy.
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:41 PM
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Fire and Rain by James Taylor is about his depression and drug abuse and a friend who killed herself.
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:39 PM
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Alice Cooper's "From the Inside" is a whole concept album inspired by the time he spent in a sanitarium for alcoholism, and the people he met in there.
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Old 12-22-2019, 04:47 PM
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"They're Coming to Take Me Away," by Napoleon XIV is pretty mental.
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Old 12-22-2019, 05:13 PM
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"Twisted", written in 1952. It was covered by many and found on Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark album.

Quote:
I had a brain
It was insane
Oh, they used to laugh at me
When I refused to ride
On all those double decker buses
All because there was no driver on the top
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Old 12-22-2019, 05:22 PM
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Syd Barrett - Vegetable Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7e1RUXUx7o
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Old 12-22-2019, 05:24 PM
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John Conlee's I Don't Remember Loving You:

"..But everyone who's living in this place is very strange.
If you hand me my crayons, I'll be glad to take your name,
In case I come across the guy you knew...
But I don't remember loving you"
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Old 12-22-2019, 05:26 PM
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"Alone Again (Naturally)"

That guy is definitely having a breakdown.
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Old 12-22-2019, 05:33 PM
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Old 12-22-2019, 05:53 PM
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File under close but not quite: In a live version I have the sisters from Larkin Poe explain that their song "Mad As A Hatter" is about their grandfather's experience with severe mental illness.
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Old 12-22-2019, 06:39 PM
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I'm not sure if it was Pete Townshend's intent when he wrote it but "Behind Blue Eyes" does provide a good description of someone who's severely bi-polar.
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Old 12-22-2019, 07:38 PM
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"Sweating Bullets" -- Megadeth
"Institutionalized" - Suicidal Tendencies
"Hurt" Nine Inch Nails (or Johnny Cash)
"Black Hole Sun" - Soundgarden
"The Day I Tried to Live" - Soundgarden
"Under the Bridge" - Red Hot Chili Peppers*







*Speaking of, John Frusciante is back after ten years!!! YAY!!!!
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Old 12-22-2019, 07:43 PM
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"Manic Depression" by Hendrix
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Old 12-22-2019, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by journeyman_southpaw View Post
Alice Cooper's "From the Inside" is a whole concept album inspired by the time he spent in a sanitarium for alcoholism, and the people he met in there.
Another Cooper tune: Ballad of Dwight Fry

Cherry Blossom Clinic by The Move
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Old 12-22-2019, 08:19 PM
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Old 12-22-2019, 08:32 PM
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"Song" implies lyrics, which leaves out a lot of instrumental jazz sides portraying addiction, like Miles Davis's "Bitches' Brew."

Doug Hopkins of the Gin Blossoms was clinically depressed and an alcoholic. He wrote all the band's most notable material, including "Hey Jealousy" which just barely qualifies for this thread.

How about "Miss Misery" by Elliott Smith?
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Old 12-22-2019, 09:37 PM
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Some great songs about depression:

I See A Darkness - Johnny Cash's cover of Will Oldham's song, with Oldham backing

Big Black Dog - Motorpsycho

Black Dog On My Shoulder - Manic Street Preachers

I'm Not Working - Manic Street Preachers

And if you're going for authenticity, I strongly recommend the whole (small) work of Nick Drake. It's superb.
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Old 12-22-2019, 09:45 PM
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I don't know if Wesley Willis' oeuvre really discussed mental illness to any degree, primarily because I didn't listen to much of it if I could help it.

What I can say with assurance, though, was that he was a homeless and deeply schizophrenic individual who wrestled with his mental demons for a long time. He was also a very prolific song-writer, though you may find his music formulaic and challenging to listen to.

All the same, hopefully that may scratch some of the OP's itch.
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Old 12-22-2019, 09:46 PM
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David Bowie's "All the Madmen" is just a starter for his songs about madness.

I'd rather play here
With all the madmen
For I'm quite content
They're all as sane as me
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Old 12-22-2019, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MortSahlFan View Post
If you can think of examples of songs about mental illness by those who were mentally ill, even better, since its coming from a familiar place, as opposed to someone writing about something they don't know.

Pink Floyd - Brain Damage

I think Roger is intelligent and was troubled, but he had it under control... Someone like Jim Morrison did not have control. Perhaps "Break on Through" is one of many, since many of his lyrics are surreal and can be interpreted differently, where Roger is very direct.
Mental illness is a common theme is Pink Floyd's music, so I guess it depends on how much of the song needs to be specifically devoted to it, and just how obvious/overt the link must be, to consider the song to be "about" mental illness. A good portion of their catalogue might fit the bill.

For instance, "If" from Atom Heart Mother has the line "if I go insane, please don’t put your wires in my brain" and seems to deal more broadly with depression and loneliness. Honestly, I think it’s more "about" actual mental illness than "Brain Damage" is, titles not withstanding (not that I’m not saying "Brain Damage" isn’t also about mental illness). And then there’s The Wall and The Final Cut, which are whole albums dealing with, among other things, problems of the psyche—mental illness, if you will. And, bringing it around to your "from a familiar place" criteria, it’s generally understood that much of the content of those two albums (and most especially the last) was heavily influenced by his own personal feelings, if not always his own personal experiences (I mean, shit, it’s not like he ever went up against tiger tanks along the approaches to the Anzio beachhead or landed in the Falklands).
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:17 PM
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Pretty much the collected works of psychedelic pioneer Roky Erickson, who struggled with schizophrenia for most of his life.
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Old 12-23-2019, 01:51 AM
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The best example I know is the album "On My Way to Where" by Dory Previn. She had a history of psychosis and depression, and had a breakdown that landed her in a mental hospital. Her therapist suggested to Previn that she write songs as part of her therapy, which eventually became this album.

Several of the tracks are available on Youtube. Here are some.

Scared to Be Alone

Esther's First Communion - This describes the onset of her mental illness, and her mother's reaction to it.

With My Daddy in the Attic - Previn's father was also mentally ill, and at one point out of paranoia he locked himself in the attic. The lyrics come very close to saying that she had an incestuous relationship with her father.

Beware of Young Girls - Dory Previn's husband Andre Previn had an affair with Mia Farrow, which Dory blamed for her breakdown. This song is an attack on Farrow.

Twenty Mile Zone - This song is based on a true incident where Previn was practicing primal scream therapy in her car and she was pulled over by a cop.

Mr. Whisper - This is about the voices in her head, the electroshock therapy that was used to treat her hallucinations, and the breakdown she had while a passenger on a commercial flight.
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Old 12-23-2019, 02:47 AM
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An obscure one: An Inmate's Lullaby by Gentle Giant.

One of the more peculiar songs from a pretty peculiar band.
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Old 12-23-2019, 03:18 AM
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Imaginary Lover by Atlanta Rhythm Section might qualify.
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Old 12-23-2019, 03:22 AM
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I always thought Drive by the Cars might be talking about mental illness, though there are varied interpretations of that song.

In Alice Coopers 2 creepiest songs years Ago and Steven the protagonist is clearly in the depths of madness.
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Old 12-23-2019, 03:27 AM
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Oh, and how can we forget
Angie Baby ("It's so nice to be insane, no-one asks you to explain.")
Delta Dawn
or I suppose pretty much anything by Helen Reddy for that matter.
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Last edited by Senegoid; 12-23-2019 at 03:29 AM.
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Old 12-23-2019, 03:34 AM
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Oops. Let me try this again, with fixed links:

Oh, and how can we forget
Angie Baby ("It's so nice to be insane, no-one asks you to explain.")
Delta Dawn
or I suppose pretty much anything by Helen Reddy for that matter.
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Old 12-23-2019, 03:37 AM
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I'm Going Slightly Mad-Queen

My favorite line- I think I'm a banana tree
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Old 12-23-2019, 06:18 AM
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Jenny by Nothing More (Wikipedia, YouTube)

Quote:
You're beginning to drag the ones you love down
Will this phase ever end?
A thousand arms to hold you
But you won't reach for any hands
Halestorm Chemicals YouTube

Quote:
I am not insane
Blame the chemicals inside my brain
I need the pain to get me through
Just like you
Lyrics
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Old 12-23-2019, 06:56 AM
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Two hits in a row by the Stones,

19th Nervous Breakdown


Paint It Black.

Last edited by TonySinclair; 12-23-2019 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 12-23-2019, 07:40 AM
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Sanitarium Blues , Townes van Zandt.
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:10 AM
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Paranoid, Black Sabbath.

And the complete works of Kurt Cobain.
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:33 AM
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Lump by The Presidents of the USA

"Lump lingered last in line for brains and the one she got was sort of rotten and insane"

Sunny Came Home by Shawn Colvin is about a woman planning to burn a (her?) house down
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:06 AM
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Sadly enough, the vast majority of Linkin Park's songs always seemed to resonate with people (like myself) who struggled with substance abuse and depression.
After singer Chester Bennington's suicide it became apparent why.
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:09 AM
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Richard Thompson's "Grey Walls" is a fairly unsettling description of having a loved one institutionalized.
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:13 AM
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Men At Work's Who Could It Be Now is a homage to total paranoia.

Sting's Every Breath You Take is the tale of a stalker.
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:18 AM
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"You Done My Brain In" by the Bonzo Dog Band.

Lead singer Vivian Stanshall was actually institutionalized for a short time after the band broke up.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
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I don't think Willie Nelson was really Crazy.
Patsy Cline had her demons.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:14 AM
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Randy Hanzlick- I'd Rather Have A Bottle In Front Of Me(Then Have To Have A Frontal Lobotomy)
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:27 AM
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Oh, I forgot, half of the work by the Ramones:

Teenage Lobotomy
(Guess I have to break the news, that I got no mind to lose)

I Wanna Be Sedated
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:42 AM
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Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer
Came down upon her head
Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer
Made sure that she was dead
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:46 AM
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Kinky Friedman's The Ballad of Charles "Texas Tower" Whitman, based on a true event.

Cat Steven's Sad Lisa is about depression.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:54 AM
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Jeremy by Pearl Jam - biting the recess lady's breast doesn't seem like something a normal kid would do.

I always thought Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas was about mental illness, but it can be interpreted in different ways I guess.
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Old 12-23-2019, 11:10 AM
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I don't know much about The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster other than that they really need a shorter band name, but Psychosis Safari is a pretty solid description of having a mental illness.

There's also Everybody Knows That You're Insane by Queens of the Stone Age (which is worth a listen for the opening guitar part alone).
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Old 12-23-2019, 11:38 AM
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Vincent. By Don McClean.
  #47  
Old 12-23-2019, 12:02 PM
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Avenue Q's The Holi-Daz is all about how to cope with the holidays

It's that special time of year again that's meant for peace and joy.
But then your relatives descend like locust and people beat up strangers for a to.
he season turns into a stressful nightmare for every girl and guy
But we never let it get to us. Let us tell you why.

We're drinking out way through the holidays
What a wonderful way to survive
When you're losing your grip then it's time to get ripped
Somewhere in the world it's always after five.
We're drinking our way through he holidays
Pouring beer and vodka and wine.
We're drowning in cheer this time of the year
From Hannukah to Old Lang Syne.
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Old 12-23-2019, 01:46 PM
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Just Another Nervous Wreck by Supertramp is about loneliness and depression.
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Old 12-23-2019, 02:20 PM
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Ghost, by Badflower.
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Old 12-23-2019, 02:34 PM
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Psychotic Reaction by The Count Five
I Live in a Split Level Head by Napoleon XIV
Crazy In The Night by Kim Carnes
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