accurate depictions of mental disorders in music

The other day, ‘‘Brian Wilson’’ by Barenaked Ladies came on the radio. I’m always struck by how accurately that song depicts depression without glorifying it.

I know there is a bunch of teenybopper shit out there that puts a glamorous spin on being depressed and usually totally misses the mark.

I’ve always felt that Green Day’s song ‘‘Longview’’ deserves the ultimate award for Best Depiction of What It’s Like To Be Depressed. That whole song is one giant nasty opus to living with depression.

Rest of lyrics here.

What songs do you know that depict mental illness accurately?

If that’s too narrow a topic, what songs do you know that depict typically glorified/misunderstood things accurately?

Many outsider musicians have made songs that accurately depicts (or illustrates) mental illness. Daniel Johnston is one of the most well-known.
If you don’t mind wading through a bit of spoken word and other oddities you will find many examples of great portrayals of mental illness in ubuweb’s project 365.

Yeah Daniel Johnson for sure.

Similarly, the late Wesley Willis had chronic schizophrenia and his song Chronic Schizophrenia is presumably pretty accurate. He had a lot more songs about his mental illness as well as other topics like bestiality, Kirk Cobain and riding buses.

Chronic Schizophrenia lyrics

Steely Dan’s Don’t Take Me Alive traces the steps of a lone-nut gunman trekking up to the watch tower to pick off the innocent standers-by.
Becker and Fagen present their guy as deeply troubled rather than a raving lunatic. The second stanza, from memory:

The fact that the song’s intro kicks in with a ripping guitar solo makes a great song that much better. I’d provide a sound link but can’t from work. Frickin’ management always wanting employees to be productive. One of these days I tell you…

Wow, I never thought I’d see someone cite that song (one of my favorites) in any context at all. Excellent call!

I would say Pink Floyd’s music captures the alienation, confusion and fear of mental illness or drug addiction pretty masterfully.

I always thought Bright Eyes covered depression with a side of self-medication very well. “Something Vague” is probably the best example.

Black-eyed Dog (ignore the irrelevant video) by Nick Drake is the most powerfully musical, and lyrically minimalist, depiction of depression I have ever heard. Written like had got to the end of everything, and there was nowhere else to go. He was only 26 when he recorded it, and he killed himself a few months later.

Six degrees of inner turbulence by Dream Theater. Musically and lyrically quite a presentation.

I’ve never been psychotic but I’ve sort of figured it was like this: Psychosis Safari by The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

Joy Division - songs like Digital, Something Must Break, Dead Souls, Insight cover depression quite well.

"It was one morning when I woke up, and then I found out that they’d
signed some papers, and then I was…I was gonna be kept in a bed… owing to the state of me mind. And then I found out that the uh…that the authorities had said, um, that I’d gotta’ ave special food fed to me for me thoughts… um, and I think it’s
because… well, because I was going off my…


From The Move’s Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited

Bonnie Prince Billy’s ‘I see a darkness’ album as a whole is the best I’ve heard at describing depression, as well as being one of the best albums I’ve heard full stop. Dealing with depression would be a better way of putting it, as a lot of the songs are uplifting. So whilst the sonic range of the album is rather narrow, the emotional range is magestic. Tracks like ‘Today was another day full of dread’, ‘Death to everyone’ and the title track are just outstanding examples of dealing with the dark thoughts.

I also love their take on panic attacks in…um…Panic Attack. One of my favorite songs to sing on Rock Band.

Came in here to say this.

I also like, although it’s not precisely what the OP asked for (it fits the wider category asked for at the end of the post better), the song “Paradise” from The Rising, the album Bruce Springsteen wrote (mostly) after and in response to 9/11. It’s haunting. It describes a suicide bombing from the point of view of the bomber. He/she has lost a significant other, apparently in the 9/11 attacks or some other terrorist attack, and is looking to get revenge and meet the departed on the other side. It’s pretty amazing.

Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” is a pretty accurate view of depression as well.

YMMV but I think The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” gives the listener a pretty good idea of what being bi-polar (or manic-depressive) is like.

MC Frontalot - “You’ve Got Asperger’s”:

Full lyrics

Fade to Black by Metallica is a good look at a person so depressed he is contemplating suicide…

*As a baby in my mother’s arms
She would croon and I’d see pink
And when she’d bathe me in the sink
The radio would play red or green or lavender
When the Beatles sing it’s a yellow thing
Yeah, the Stones are always purple
Every melody that I hear
Fills my mind with colors bright and beautiful

If everyone could see the things that I hear
A giant box of Crayolas in my ear

I’d never heard of synaesthesia before hearing that song. Not sure how accurate it is, but I found it posted (with permission) on a page with other synaesthesia resources.

The best Drug description song for me was the song “Celebration of the Lizard” by The Doors

Just… so vivid and the way he sings the various poems. It’s mindblowingly cool.
*The snake was pale gold
Glazed and shrunken
We were afraid to touch it
The sheets were hot dead prisons
And she was beside me
Old, she’s no, young
Her dark red hair
the white soft skin

Now, run to the mirror in the bathroom