Friday, 7 February 2014

States Of Mind - Songs about mental states

The music that was birthed by "The Blues", personal laments of woe, depression and the like, mental states have always been present in rock music. So here's 15 songs around the theme of mental states.

No prizes for guessing the first one-
1) Black Sabbath - "Paranoid"

I was never a fan of Heavy Metal, but this song broke through my natural resistance and affords the grudging acknowledgement that it is undoubtedly a classic. Doesn't excuse hair and clothes though as demonstrated on this video. I own a pair of Ozzy Osbourne style slippers by the way. Oh what has become of Heavy metal? it's become merchandised into asininity like every other music style.

2) Jimi Hendrix - "Manic Depression"
Not great quality I'm afraid, but in a way it only lends to the unsettling nature of its subject matter. Of course mental health experts would insist on the track being renamed Bi-Polar disorder. My father suffered it under its old guise. Not easy to live with, not knowing if he would be bouncing off the ceiling one day, and refusing to get out of bed to go to work the next.

3) Clipse - "Ego"
The heart of it all if you're a Freudian. In an industry dominated by the exaggerated projection of the ego, perhaps Rap projects it the furthest. In this particular case, Clipse's album tracks are littered with song titles drawn from therapy such as "Counselling" and "Life Change" as they struggle with the trappings of their success.

4) Talking Heads - "Psychokiller"
David Byrne is a curious egg, (though not as odd as David "Behemoth" Thomas from Pere Ubu, must have been something in the New York water in the late 1970s) but I've just bought his learned tome "How Music Works" which I'm looking forward to reading.

5) Rolling Stones - "19th Nervous Breakdown"
Not one of my fave tracks of theirs, I prefer "Paint It Black" to be honest and it's such a strong song it even survived a murdering by the band The Mo-dettes.

6) Pink Floyd - "Comfortably Numb"
The shadow of founding member Syd Barret who succumbed to mental illness possibly brought about by drug use, sits large over Roger Waters' composition with other titles such as "Brain Damage" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

7) King Crimson - "21st Century Schizoid Man"

8) The Kinks - "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues"
Ray Davies was known to have the odd quirk or two wan't he?

9) Cypress Hill - "Insane In The Brain"
Or kids, don't do drugs...
I recently tracked down a book called "Whispers -  The Voices Of Paranoia" for some research, but was very disappointed that although the case studies were interesting stories, most were prompted by drug abuse which wasn't quite what I was after. The author did that to me deliberately...

10) Coil - "Panic"
Coil were a band who actively pursued the lesser known regions & emotions of the human mind in their music. Partly through drugs and also through the occult, myth and ritual. Big Alastair Crowley fans. Still, I don't hold that against them.

11) Sonic Youth - "Schizophrenia"
Their best ever song was called "Expressway To Yr Skull" which I saw them play live and was blown away by and couldn't wait to own on the forthcoming album. And when the record came out, they'd renamed the track "Madonna, Sean & Me" which doesn't quite carry the same impact somehow...

12) Suicidal Tendencies - "Institutionalized"
I first came across this song on the movie "Repo Man" and what a great song it is. But then the band went all stupid skate rock and that was that.

13) Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers - "She's Cracked"
Trouble with Jonathan Richman is that you can't really take any of his songs too seriously with his droll delivery. Still can't disguise how great some of his songs were though.

14) Breeders - "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
Yeah I know it's a Beatles song but I infinitely prefer this version. So shoot me. Mind you even the Beatles' original is better than U2's version.

15) Nirvana - "Lithium"
The fact that Kurt Cobain put a shotgun to his head probably suggests her knew what he was singing about in songs like this one. My father was prescribed lithium; imagine putting a metal into your bloodstream, well that's what lithium treatment is.

No comments: