So you’re planning a mental collapse – a descent into paranoia, debilitating depression, substance abuse, what have you – and you want to get the music right. What’s on your playlist?
In Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta”, the narrator wants to “publish 'zines and rage against machines”, and grouses that “only stupid people are breeding”, but he ends up with visions in which he contemplates the “rottenness and evil” in himself and has his arms and legs amputated. He cries, “I’m not sick, but I’m not well, and I’m so hot 'cuz I’m in hell”, and “Paranoia, paranoia, everyone’s coming to get me!” He’s coming apart at the seams. If you’re not on edge, the video will get you closer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wYsMjEeEg4g
Awolnation’s “SAIL” has unsettling lyrics, including “maybe I should cry for help. Maybe I should kill myself.” But it’s mostly the music that gets my brain squirming. The mix of the plinky piano, strained vocals, and distorted bass line just makes the whole song seem off kilter. The narrator is clearly not all together. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2CaypEojjKQ
I don’t entirely understand what’s going on in “Pretty Pimpin” by Kurt Vile, but anyone who doesn’t recognize his own face in the mirror and sees himself as some “stupid fool blocking the bathroom sink” is dealing with some shit. Feeling like you’re “brushing some stranger’s teeth” instead of your own is not a good sign. I’m no psychiatrist, but if you’re viewing yourself from a third person perspective, and not reliably recognizing your own face, it’s probably time to seek professional help. Something ain’t right with this guy. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=659pppwniXA
And, finally, “Hate Me” by Blue October is less a song of mental unraveling than one of overwhelming guilt, but I think it belongs here. The narrator tells his mother, “I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head. They’re crawling like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed.” Which is a bit of an unsettling image. He goes on to describe the “nervous bleeding in [his] brain.” The whole song is his begging his mother to start hating him and put him out of her life so she can reclaim her own life after all he put her through in his addiction. The narrator is sober now, and relatively mentally stable, but he’s facing the overwhelming guilt of all he’s done. That’s… not cheerful. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dDxgSvJINlU
What are your go-to songs that are either about people at the end of their rope, or should be used in a movie when a character comes undone?