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.

I don’t think Willie Nelson was really Crazy.

Fire and Rain by James Taylor is about his depression and drug abuse and a friend who killed herself.

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.

“They’re Coming to Take Me Away,” by Napoleon XIV is pretty mental.

Twisted”, written in 1952. It was covered by many and found on Joni Mitchell’s **Court and Spark **album.

Syd Barrett - Vegetable Man

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”

“Alone Again (Naturally)”

That guy is definitely having a breakdown.

“Veteran Of The Psychic Wars”

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.

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.

“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!!!

“Manic Depression” by Hendrix

Another Cooper tune: Ballad of Dwight Fry

Cherry Blossom Clinic by The Move

Pretty Pimpin’

“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?

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.

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.

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