Friday, November 05, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special In Everyone's Life There's a Bummer of 2010 Edition)

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental secondary stimulus soubrette Fah Lo Suee and I are so upset about the election results that we're heading to beautiful downtown Monclova Township, Ohio, home of recently failed Congressional Republican candidate Rich Iott. Rich is a little down in the dumps right now, as you can imagine, so we're going to take his S.S. uniform to the dry cleaners for him while he gets over it. Seems like the right thing to do.

But seriously folks, I remember having a relevant discussion two years ago with a regular commenter here whose politics are way to the right of mine but who is a lovely, humane guy despite that grievous failing (heh). Anyway, he was extremely depressed after election day in '08, and I told him that I knew the feeling -- when the Republicans took over Congress in '94, I couldn't even leave the house for two weeks, and I was convinced there was going to be blood in the streets, blah blah blah.

In other words, take a deep breath, get some perspective, and get on with your life because it's not as bad as you think. It never is. Or at least it hasn't been so far.

My point being that after the results the other night I was surprised to discover that I wasn't actually all that upset. For a number of reasons that I won't bore you with (the name of this blog being, as I point out from time to time, PowerPop rather than PissedOffLeftie).

But I thought -- what if I had been?

Which of course leads us to the theme of today's Listomania.

Post-Elvis Song or Album That Either Reliably Helps You Get Over a Depression or If You Are Depressed Then You Absolutely Under No Circumstances Should Even Consider Listening to It Lest You Just Go Ahead and Slash Your Fricking Wrists!!!

Yes, I know we've probably done something similar in the past. I call statute of limitations, however.

And no arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much.

And my totally Top of My Head Top Five is:

5. The Nairobi Trio -- Solfeggio

I'm sorry -- if you're still mopey after watching this, seek medical help.

4. Lou Reed -- Metal Machine Music

The one and only. Thankfully.

3. Phil Seymour -- Let Her Dance

I was re-reading Philip Norman's Buddy Holly bio (Rave On!, 1996) recently and he makes the point -- an accurate one, I think -- that when you mention Buddy Holly to anybody, inevitably their reaction is a smile. This is a particularly Holly-esque record, obviously (the song, of course, was originally recorded by Buddy acolyte Bobby Fuller) and I've blogged about it before, but the fact is I've never been so depressed that it didn't occasion the same reaction.

2. Bobby McFerrin -- Don't Worry, Be Happy

Go fuck yourself, McFerrin. Seriously. If for no other reason than that line about how you shouldn't worry if you're homeless. Now excuse me, while I kill myself.

And the Numero Uno song that's a must to avoid if you're in one of those moods quite self-evidently is...

1. Anything by Swans.

Back in the 80s I had a friend who used to listen to these guys obsessively. One night his girlfriend came home to find him sitting between the speakers with this stuff on, and she just looked at him and said "Why?"

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: Best or worst use of voiceover or flashback in a live action feature -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could spare a moment to go leave a snark-filled comment over there, it would solidify my bargaining position with the evil bastards who pay me. (I kid, I kid!). Thanks!]


pete said...

I had never heard Metal Machine Music before, and ya know what? I liked it. I liked it better than any of John Lennon's attempts at abstraction and I liked it better than almost anything Lou Reed has ever done.

I said "almost."

John Fowler said...

Well, in category 1, there's the sublime "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay", by Otis Redding (of course). Clearly a tinge of sadness & frustration, but, when the whistling comes in at the end, you know it'll be alright.

Also, I'd put in Fountains of Wayne - "Hey Julie", off of Welcome Interstate Managers. Some of the same sentiment as in the Otis Redding song, except here there's the romance bit getting him through. And just =insanely= catchy.

Finally, clearly not an obscure choice, but is it possible to listen to side 2 of Abbey Road and not become un-depressed?

In category 2, I'll mention Beck's Sea Change as possibly the most depressing album of all time. Certainly the most depressing one I own. And though I have to be in the mood put it on, as an album, it holds up for me better than any of his others...

NYMary said...

I'm actually not sure if steve even knows that this blog was founded as a response to my tsuris, back in the fall of 2004. At that point, I was in a pretty bad way: in the previous five or so years, I had lost two siblings (a sister to liver disease at 38, a brother to COPD at 48), my mother, a very close friend and mentor, and three pregnancies. Not to mention the shite state of the country: a stupid war, a craven administration, purple-heart bandaids, yellow ribbons, Abu Ghraib... the crap was piling up pretty rapidly, faster than I could cope, and I was feeling it.

I did all the things you're supposed to do: found a therapist, got some meds, kept a journal. But you know what really pulled me out of the pit?


At that time, I had an hour commute each way, alone in a car. It was an older vehicle, equipped with a cassette deck (remember those?) and I went into boxes in my basement and dug out tape after tape after tape of the music I had loved when my life was simpler. The Knack and Shoes and 20/20 and The Records and Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. And their precursors too: The Beatles and the Who and the Hollies and the Kinks and The Move and Big Star. And their followers: Weezer and Matthew Sweet and Teenage Fanclub and Red Kross and the Shins and Fountains of Wayne. I sang out loud in my car and could feel myself getting stronger every day.

I believe, to the core of my being, that the music did me more good than the meds or the journal or the talking cure. It just, you know, made me happy.

So I don't have anything for the list, really. But I just wanted to let you know how completely appropriate this is to the history of the blog. Excelsior!

steve simels said...

After Mary's story, I'm...humbled, for want of a better word.

Seriously -- the expression we Red Sea Pedestrians use when we contemplate what you went through isn't just tsuris -- it's "And I think I've got tsuris."

God bless you for emerging on the other side, kiddo. And you're now and forever my role model.

Faze said...

I did all the things you're supposed to do: found a therapist, got some meds, kept a journal. But you know what really pulled me out of the pit?


Amen, sister!

Gummo said...

Mary, thank you so much for sharing that. I'm glad you're with us, stronger & better than ever. And goddess bless the music that brought us all here.

I can't listen to either version of the Beatles' first album, Please Please Me or Meet the Beatles, without feeling happy; same goes for any of the Lovin' Spoonful's hits; or almost any 1970-72 version of the China Cat Sunflower-I Know You Rider medley by the Grateful Dead.

On the other hand, during my first semester of college when I was, shall we say, having a wee bit of trouble adjusting, I thought nothing of turning the lights down low and listening to Dylan's Desolation Row over & over; or the even bleaker Phil Och's Desolation Row knockoff, When In Rome.

But for sheer perversion, in college there was a group of very creepy housemates a friend of mine was living with who, while tripping, no less, spent 12 hours listening to "Sam Stone" over & over again....

They thought it was "funny."

Michael said...

The LPs that can lift me from the pits of depression:
The first Marshall Crenshaw album.
The Beatles: Please, Please Me
James Brown: Live at the Apollo
Nnything by Chuck Berry

The flip side
Lou Reed's Street Hassle (I love it but it's really hard to take if I'm already down).
Springsteen's The Rising (If depressed I can't get to the redemption).

Sal Nunziato said...

I'd like to get on the Mary bandwagon, here. Thanks for sharing that.

I've had some pretty awful days in my life, all of which had do to with "loss," in one capacity or another. It always felt like the end, and yet as horrible as I felt, I always found a way to put some music on. It's pretty much what I look forward to.

Happy stuff:

Any time I hear the soundtrack of my days in Brooklyn--Zeppelin, Sabbath, The Who, Thin Lizzy, Queen---I am immediately transported to the "block," and those simple days and memories. Works every time.

Stuff that kills me:

Blue Period- The Smithereens
Drive All Night- Bruce Springsteen
Torch Song- Todd Rundgren
Reservations- Wilco
Who Knows Where The Time Goes- Sandy Denny

(I think I may have a Weekend Mix" on the horizon.)

DB said...

NYMary -- so true! I commute half an hour each way to work and, because I'm in the news biz, should be listening to the news. I can't do it. I need music to get through the day. It preps my spirit for the day ahead and scrubs me clean when I head home.

I often say that the iPod was one of the greatest inventions of modern times. It has literally saved my soul.

That said, when I need a boost, I fast forward through the power pop, classic rock and assorted musical detritus to pop music that has a strong beat.

Matthew Sweet -- I've Been Waiting
Marshall Crenshaw -- What Do You Dream Of and Whenever You're On My Mind
Rembrandts -- Rolling Down The Hill
Del'Amitri -- Some Other Sucker's Parade
Rob Laufer -- I'm Open (with the cathartic line, "I'm up for the ride/I'm up for the hit/I'm up for someone to take all my shit/Cause I'm open"

And a bunch of others.

There is a subset of soothing music that I turn to when I need to rub out an ache in my soul. These are more spiritual:

England Dan and John Ford Coley -- Love Is The Answer (I'm unapologetic about these guys. Goopy, stringy pop? Sure. But well done and affecting. At least to me. Your mileage may vary.)
Atlanta Rhythm Section -- Do It Or Die and I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight
Robert Randolph and the Family Band -- Love Is The Only Way

And finally, if I just want to tune completely out of the world:

Jools Holland's Big Band -- Tuxedo Junction

mister muleboy said...

Anarachy in the UK -- odd choice, but always right for me. I think I enjoyed the youthful anger, and exuberance, and innocence (I was youthful, but found it charmingly naive).

Now -- all of those reasons, and the nectar of the aged -- nostalgia.

And when I put on With The Beatles, I'm transported to la-la land. Never fails. "You Really Got a Hold on Me" doesn't, as subject matter, change my mood. But for execution, it does indeed. . . .

Gummo said...

Oh, and one of my favorite "it's Friday, the weekend, I'm home from work, let's dance around the living room!" songs is the Dead's "Hell In a Bucket" from Without A Net.

And these chorus lines grow more true every day: "I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe/But at least I'm enjoying the ride!"

Edward said...

This is turning into a Roscharch test of music;>

There's happy, and then there is getting out of depression. Anger was always the best thing to get me out of depression, so Elvis Costello's This Year's Model lp (British version because it has I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea) played at full volume burned away many layers of depression, if only for a half an hour or so.

Springteen's Born To Run (the song), again at full volume, is always good for ginning up some wasted youth.

Wrist slashing is the perfect accompaniment with Phil Ochs' Doesn't Lenny Live Here Anymore, with a chaser of No More Songs.

T-Bone Burnett's Trap Door is a wonderful theme song for when you are going in either direction.

And his version of Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend is cheerfully evil.

When you need just some stupid cheering up, Jonathan Richman does the trick

I've made enough depressing mix tapes/CD's in my life to go on, and on. But let's not;>

TMink said...

Wow Mary. Thank God you pushed on through to the other side. We all appreciate your strength.

I was interested in a lovely lady that would listen to depressing music and use it like a drug. She was quite fond of The Swans and Mazzy Star. I enjoy Mazzy Star on occasion, but the Swans????? I passed on that possibility.

When I am down, some killer ska can really help! The Specials, The English Beat, maybe even some Selector. Something about that bouncy beat just lifts me. I also find a lot of joy in The Apples In Stereo, a band that you fine people turned me on to.

Music is a powerful emotional hack, and I think we all share an appreciation of that. And of each other, God bless and keep us all.


Anonymous said...

saw Allen Toussaint last night in Houston. remember thinking halfway thru, "This would pick anybody up." Yes we can can.

under no circumstances - Lou Reed's Berlin (only good if in a suitably ironic Warholian mood)

Shriner said...

"Hot Fun In The Summertime" by Sly & The Family Stone always picks me up from the Winter blahs (or any blahs, for that matter!)

And any time I put on "Get The Knack", I have to break out the Strat to play along and that always cheers me up.

And Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" never fails to depress me -- even if I'm in a good mood -- because it always flashes me back to December 1980

steve simels said...

Lee Dorsey.

Allen Toussaint famously said "If a smile had a sound, it would be Lee Dorsey's singing."

Anonymous said...

A song to make you feel glad:
White Sandy Beach - by Izzy

A song to rip your effing heart out:
Jennie - by Richard Thompson

Anonymous said...

in college some friends and I took a road trip listening to a tape of Joy Division on one side and Desmond Dekker's "Israelites" LP on the other. With Joy Division playing the car drove slower, scenery was bleaker, beer (oops!) flatter. Someone said F this, flipped on Desmond and the sun came out in every possible manner.

What was Joy Division doing there in the first place, I've wondered.

Bloody Frida said...

Hey Steve - so glad Kaptur got re-elected - I love her as my rep! So I'm happy these days

Brooklyn Girl said...

Thanks, Mary. Glad you made it through, and that as a result, we all have this place to come to.

The first one that came to mind for me is a slight variation on the theme ... every time I watch the clip of Jimmy Page listening and air-guitaring to Link Wray's "Rumble", with that look of sheer bliss on his face, I can't help but smile.

I'm with many of you on many of these ... "Born to Run", a lot of live Dead, all the early Beatles ... "My Sharona" would also make me want to jump on the furniture. An entire album by Leonard Cohen, otoh, would make me want to jump out the window.

Billy B said...


"Let It Bleed". Yeah the subject matter for most of the album is depressing, but the music ain't.

Brooklyn Girl said...

One more, again a video, rather than a song. The whistling! How you could not laugh out loud watching this is beyond me.

res ipsa loquitur said...

This doesn't belong on the list, but the lyric that keeps coming to mind after Tuesday (actually, since August 2009) is, "Oh I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused..."


Billy B: Did steve let you in on this: exile on exile.

TMink said...

Some Girls really works for me too. Strangely, Shattered and When The Whip Comes Down. Go figure!

Loud, obnoxious music helps me chill when I am angry. Earth Blues and Dolly Dagger by Hendrix really help, as do long, distorted Neil Young guitar solos. Than angrier Elvis Costello works as well, you can hear the venom in his voice on those.


Anonymous said...

There's a great episode of Father Ted in which a suicidal young priest is brought back from the brink by hearing "Shaft" on the radio.

Unfortunately, the next song is Radiohead.


steve simels said...

Paul Williams -- the first generation rock critic who created CRAWDADDY, not the singer/actor who replaced Michael Dunne as Dr. Loveless on THE WILD WILD WEST -- once famously observed that only side two of "Pet Sounds" could really calm his nerves.

Anonymous said...

Steve, what a great and necessary idea for a posting, truly. And what great suggestions and really moving personal statements from everybody. Here's one more vote for NYMary's account of her blogging beginnings, but all this is quite moving, and there'll be lots of reason to check out these tunes after the next legislative session starts.

Personal upper: this song got me through my worst college year and still does it for me, Greg Kihn's version of Rendezvous. An immediate lift.

Downer that's also an upper (and I know it's not pop, per se): Mighty Dark To Travel, by Bill Monroe. Really depressing, fatalistic tune until you sing along with it at the top of your lungs, forming notes way up above your sinuses almost to your scalp, and then somehow you're saved. It helps if there's no one home to hear you . . .


Dave said...

I listened to side two of Pet Sounds more than any other album when I've been down. Musically, it is calming, but lyrically it's about as sad as pop music gets. The trip from "Wouldn't It Be Nice" to "Caroline No" couldn't be more depressing. Once you've heard "Caroline No," you can never recapture the innocence of the first listen to "Wouldn't It Be Nice."

"Eli & the 13th Confession" is the only other album besides Pet Sounds, to me, that captures the ups and downs of love with as much emotional range. It helped get me through college semi-intact.

Billy B said...

hey res - I'm on it!!!

Great to read you girlfriend!!!

Billy B said...

I also get a kick out of simels telling Bobby McF to fuck off in a post about getting over depression...


Disclaimer: I do not give a rat's ass about McFerrin.

dSmith said...

Of all the depressing albums Lou Reed has put out the one most likely to push me over the edge was "The Bells" They should have packaged it with some razor blades.

cthulhu said...

Live at Leeds - especially the extended version that came out several years ago - never fails to transform me into a delirious fist-pumping rock-and-roll maniac. The cover of "Shakin' All Over", and the rave-up at the end of "Magic Bus", in particular always put a big smile on my face - especially when played at ear-bleed levels.

A couple of Warren Zevon songs that reliably transform "woe is me" into "what the fuck, bring it on!": Detox Mansion and My Shit's Fucked Up.

Cut-your-wrists despair reinforcement, however, comes no better than Richard Thompson's The End of the Rainbow. Many years ago, I saw Thompson end an all-acoustic show with this song, and the existential nausea among the crowd as we walked out of the club was palpable...

befuggled said...

I used to play the Swans when I did my taxes. Thank you, tax software.

I admittedly may be a little perverse. One of my favorite uplifting songs is Eight Miles High (the Husker Du version).

Noam Sane said...

Wasn't sure what to say for this one, since all the music I love makes me happy. Hard to narrow it down.

Tonight when I walked my dog I started listening to this boot of a Springsteen show from last year, from Detroit, where he plays Born To Run straight through. Seems to be a soundboard.

Anybody who knows me, knows that I have my issues with Mr. Boss, but the joy that comes through in the music, and from a crowd that is truly pumped to hear this album played in its entirety, is palpable and impossible to resist.

*Keep in mind as you listen that, as this is a bootleg, there's no overdubbing or fixing-in-the-mix going on - that's the way this band sounds live; fucking amazing.

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, if not a shiver in your spine.

ssspune said...

Instant Happy: A riot of XTC..."The Loving," "The Mayor of Simpleton," "Ballet for a Rainy Day" Also: "Kooks, David Bowie, Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" and The Replacements' "I Will Dare"

When's the next bus to Oswego? said...

Bruce - Thunder Road

Little Feat - Trouble

Can't go wrong with either of those.