Lyrics Mean So Much

Through the month of February, I’ve been taking part in a mental health writing challenge. Every day, we have a different question to answer or topic to discuss. I thought I would share today’s with you because it relates to some of my favourite music.

Write about a favourite book quote, movie quote, or lyric that relates to mental illness.

Just one? Nope. Can’t do it. Too many song lyrics come to mind, and then Holly Golightly saying, “The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible … Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s.”

The mean reds. Depression. This part of the movie always makes the hairs on the back of my arm stand up. This point, where we really see how vulnerable this young woman is, mesmerises me every time I see it. She knows something about how it feels to be in my head. I know this sounds over-dramatic (bearing in mind I was a teenager the first time I saw ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’), but I felt like life had shifted over the course of the film. Something changed, and it’s never been the same since.

So, that’s my movie quote. I’ll move over to song lyrics. As I said above, lots of them are flooding my thoughts. The first is the entire song ‘Checkout Blues’ by Eels. These are the full lyrics. I want to share them all with you.

I’ve got something
Maybe I should tell you
I may check out
At any given time
Things won’t get better
Until they get much worse
Is the curse stronger than me
Or am I stronger than the curse
Everyone is scared of me
And I’m scared of me too
Never know just what I’m gonna do
Heads up, kittens
Everything is bad
The sky is dark now
But it’s the best dark I ever had
Hang on to a little thing
And let it guide the way
Bring it with you to
Another day
I’ve got something
Maybe I should tell you
I’m hanging on here
And I’m really gonna try
Things won’t get better
Until they get much worse
Am I stronger than the curse

I love how the song deals with suicidal ideations which are such a huge part of depression for many people. I remember hearing the lines, “Is the curse stronger than me, or am I stronger than the curse?” and thinking, yeah. I thought about that question over and over, and if I’m honest, I still don’t know the answer. Who knows what could happen in the wrong circumstances at the wrong time. The lines, “Everyone is scared of me, and I’m scared of me too,” resonate big time with me. I mean, people aren’t scared of me because I’m scary, but when I’m really ill, they’re scared of what I might do. As am I. So, yeah. This song. Just . . . this song.

Another song that pretty much breaks my heart every time I hear it is ‘Irvine’ by Kelly Clarkson. She says she wrote it on a bathroom floor at a gig in Irvine, CA. She had reached the limit of what she could take and wrote this as a kind of prayer to God, feeling he was the only person who could help her. Here are the lyrics:

Are you there?
Are you watching me?
As I lie here on this floor
They say you feel what I do
They say you’re here every moment
Will you stay?
Stay ’till the darkness leaves
Stay here with me
I know you’re busy, I know I’m just one
But you might be the only one who sees me
The only one to save me

Why is it so hard?
Why can’t you just take me?
I don’t have much to go
Before I fade completely

Can you feel how cold I am?
Do you cry as I do?
Are you lonely up there all by yourself?
Like I have felt all my life
The only one to save mine

How are you so strong?
What’s it like to feel so free?
Your heart is really something
Your love, a complete mystery to me

Are you there watching me?
As I lie here on this floor
Do you cry, do you cry with me?
Cry with me tonight

Are you there?
Are you watching me?

When I first heard this song, it was not long after Dad died. So, although, the song is clearly about God, I always thought about Dad when I heard it. I pictured him looking down and begged him to come and take me, over and over. He never answered. I can really relate to the feeling of being slumped on the floor, with nothing around you feeling real, but everything feeling painful. It’s a wonderful description of the despair we feel when depressed. The lines, “I don’t have much to go before I fade completely,” bring a lump to my throat. That point where you no longer care what happens to you as caring takes too much energy. It’s so sad. Also, the lines, “Are you lonely up there all by yourself, like I have felt all my life.” Yep. I totally get that. The whole song is haunting. Her voice sounds like she’s pleading for help. It’s just beautiful.

One more song that deals with the subject of depression. ‘Weather Channel’ by Sheryl Crow. There are actually a few of Sheryl’s songs I could have linked. She has suffered depression previously, and she has managed to focus her experiences into a lot of songs. I chose this one because it’s another that I listened to and knew straight away we shared some of the same feelings. I listened to the album this song comes from a lot at a very dark time in my life. I love the image of the black dog growling at her to “get to running.” She knows depression is coming for her again. The way she pleads, “Can you make it better for me, Can you make me see the light of day?” is heartbreaking. I remember listening to this in my car, tears streaking my cheeks, and thinking, Please, make it better for me. I couldn’t listen to this song without crying for a long time.

Sunny morning
You can hear it
Siren’s warning
There is weather on both sides
And I know it’s coming
Just like before
There’s a black dog
That scratches my door
He’s been growling my name saying
You better get to running
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got no one
Who will bring me a
Big umbrella
So I’m watching the weather channel
And waiting for the storm
It’s just sugar
Just a pill to make me happy
I know it may not fix the hinges
But at least the door has stopped it’s creaking
I got friends
They’re waiting for me to comb out my hair
Come outside and join the human race
But I don’t feel so human
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got lab coats
Who will bring me a panacea
While I’m watching the weather channel
Waiting for the storm
You won’t want me
Hanging around the birthday pony
Even though it’s just a game
You know we are the same
But you’re the better faker



There are (probably) hundreds more songs I could mention on this topic. I’m definitely drawn to songs with lyrics I can relate to. But, for now, these will have to do.


Author: chocotales

I am a writer who is passionate about words. I find them magical and seductive. I write short stories, poetry, and non fiction. I'm currently working on my first novel.

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