When I am feeling depressed the one thing I can usually count on to keep me going has always been music. Music is perfect for those lonely sad times. We hear the words and melody of a perfect sad song and we feel that we are not alone. Musicians must be a moody lot because so many songs reflect a state of sadness. And of course a whole genre is devoted to singing the blues. Hearing the words and even singing along is nothing short of cathartic.
About the only good thing resulting from my depressed times is that this is when I usually discover new music. This is when I need music the most. During one of my most recent episodes I found the music of Ingrid Michaelson. As I heard her words I could relate to so much. Life is going on all around us but I don't see it. My desire to make a difference fades to nothingness because I do not have the energy to do anything but sleep. Can you see yourself in her song, Keep Breathing? The first time I heard it, I sobbed through the lyrics. Michaelson reminds us despite it all to keep breathing. It is all any of us can do.
"The storm is coming but I don't mind
People are dying, I close my blinds
All that I know is I'm breathing now
I want to change the world...instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me
But all that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing "
How about the loss of romantic love? Music more than adequately covers this depressive theme. Who can forget Billie Holiday's Stormy Weather lyrics:
"Dont know why there's no sun up in the sky
Since my man and I aint together,
Keeps rainin all the time"
Here a blue mood is personified by stormy weather. Rain is like the tears that fall when we feel we have lost love.
Have you ever felt down and out with no money and no friends? Bessie Smith would understand with her blues song, Nobody Knows When You are Down and Out:
"Mmmmmmmm.... when you're down and out
Mmmmmmmm... not one penny
And my friends I haven't any
Mmmmmmmm... Well I felt so low
Nobody wants me round their door
Mmmmmmmm... Without a doubt,
No man can use you when you down and out
I mean when you down and out"
There is a reason why I love Nine Inch Nails. The lyrics of their songs are emotionally raw and guttural. All the nuances of depression are covered from rage to apathy to self loathing. The quintessential song which will rip your soul from its hinges has to be Hurt. Trent Reznor wrote it to describe his addiction to heroin but the words go deeper than his personal experience. The lyrics will touch anyone who is dealing with emotional numbness and despair. We feel every word he sings like a needle going through our body.
"I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real"
There is a version by the late Johnny Cash who sang Hurt as only he could. It is a slower, more mournful rendition. It seems even all the more poignant now that he is gone.