Saturday, October 01, 2005


I’ve only ever suffered one serious depression in my life: one severe enough to have me fearing for my sanity, and wondering whether life was worth living.

It resulted from the break up of a relationship. When you lose someone you love, the consequent pain is akin to that following bereavement in its intensity and longevity. Perhaps it is even worse, as you have to live with the knowledge of the existence of a happy, smiling individual who now regards you with utter indifference.

I tried the usual booze induced oblivion as a panacea. It wasn’t particularly effective, resulting more in vomit than resolution. What really helped me sort myself out was the album ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell. It sounds a bit pathetic I know; a booze soaked loser lying on a sofa, trying to cheer himself up by listening to the keening of a singer-songwriter, and knocking back neat Scotch from the bottle.

‘Blue’ is a truly magnificent collection of songs. As an expression of emotional pain and loss it is probably without peer. Joni Mitchell uses her voice as an instrument, and the whole album has a haunting, melancholy quality.

I don’t know why music about pain has a healing quality for the listener. Whether it’s blues or Leonard Cohen (in his less lachrymose moments), it just seems to do the trick.

I won’t go as far as to say that Joni Mitchell saved my life; but she helped me through a very dark time, and I am eternally grateful.


Sniffy said...

Ah Blue. For a split second, I thought you were referring the boy band.

Yes, love is a monster. Falling in love often has a theme song, a song that brings nothing but pain once realisation dawns that you can never become a "we" with the object of your desire.

For me, it's David Gray's "Please forgive me" from White ladder. Fate decreed that I purchased that album and listened to it almost constantly at a time when my emotions got hit for six. It was an unfortunate situation where a successful relationship was never on the cards and the end of that summer brought the end to any dim hope that I'd be harbouring for a miracle. My love turned to despair and poor old David got consigned to the "cannot listen to" pile.

But it's true that time is a great healer. The years have tought me to realise that what I did enjoy in the summer of 2000 was fantastic and I am grateful for that time and for David's accompaniment. And it's once again nice to be reminded of what it's like to fall in love, to have that lightning running through my veins.

Can't fucking stand Steps though.

garfer said...

This is my 100th post. Thought I'd do something doom, booze, and torch song orientated. Should produce fuck all comments.
I'm not a great fan of Gray. Probably over exposure to White Ladder. Might give his new one a go.
I like 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' by Soft Cell. Top torch song.
Yeah, Steps = shite. I nurture a shameful love for the blonde one out of S Club 7 though.

S.I.D. said...

I,m convinced that the Police song "So lonely", much listened to in my moments of gloom, contained the words "She hates the fucking sight of you" when played backwards.

Play it to my kids now all the time.

garfer said...

'I'll be Watching You' by the Police is the most mean minded, self indulgent piece of crap ever recorded.
I hate Sting.

Sniffy said...

Sting is a pretentious wanker.

100 posts already Garfer? It seems like only yesterday that you were posting semi-anonymous comments defending my right to call Paul McCartney an embarrassment.

I raise my can of pop you, sir.

S.I.D. said...

Hey Christmas has arrived in the supermarket here. Tunnocks Teacakes in LARGE boxes on the shelves. Hooray

Sniffy said...

Oh, and I LOVE Marc Almond and Soft Cell's memorabilia, particularly Say hello, wave goodbye.

garfer said...

There has been a definite lack of Macca whacking in the blogging community of late.
Tunnocks should produce a teacake Easter egg. they would clean up.

S.I.D. said...

Now the silver wrapper on that would make an excellent ball weapon for throwing at my kin. The teacakes wrapper only gets so far across a room.

MHN for short said...

i often use music as a personal salve. It seems sometimes to be the only thing that will get through this thick head of mine.

garfer said...

Less of the thick head. You are a liberator of tetra fishy thingies and should feel proud of yourself.

suburban wonder said...

Can't stand Joni Mitchell. She sounds so shrill & whiny. Glad she works for you, though.

Enya - the first album - works for me when I'm blue. It usually just sucks me under until I sleep off the blues. Antidepressants are good, too.

Congratulations on 100!

pissoff said...

Alas... another Canadian.

garfer said...

Shrill and whiny can only be appreciated in a properly maudlin, slightly shoe gazing, half pissed kind of way.
Canada has a problem. Sublime or shite. There's no middle ground. 'Oh, Canada!'.

Alex M said...

David Gray should live permanently in the "cannot listen to" pile if you ask me. Cannae stand him.

As for the healing power of music, maybe it's just the reminder that you're not the only one feeling like shit at that moment that helps. That everyone's been through that wringer, and that you can come out the other side older and wiser. Intellectually, you already know this, but having it hammered home in such a poetic fashion makes it feel like the truth.

We've bought our cat all sorts of toys over the years, but nothing keeps her entertained like a rolled-up Tunnock's Teacake wrapper. She'll be right by your side as soon as you take your first bite, begging for it.

becca said...

God I love Joni Mitchell. A mate of mine went through a similar head fuck routine with a girl I like to call "haterface". I remember clearly asking him what he'd been listening to lately, and he said Joni Mitchell. I said damn sweetie, either you just got your first period or somebody stamped on your heart. I think its medicine for the soul personally. I've always found reassurance in that her songs were about different kinds of men, not just one. Proving there are..plenty of other fish in the sea.

"will you take me as I am strung out on another man?"

Betty said...

When you're going through an emotional trauma, you're at your most responsive towards music, I think, and like to hear that someone else has been through the wringer (as Alex M said). The last thing you want to hear is some middle aged rock star gloating about how they have "found happiness" (as they say in the tabloids) with an 18 year old lapdancer. Misery is the order of the day.

MHN for short said...

Awww, thank you Garfer! you're such a sweetheart!

garfer said...

I wouldn't mind finding happiness with an 18 year old lap dancer. Fat chance of that happening though.

Rowan said...

I like that album, but Patsy Cline's greatest hits saved me in the same situation.

MHN for short said...

Are you sure you'd want an 18 year old lap dancer? Everything may be pointing to the sky, but the slightly older lap dancer will really know what she's doing... ;-)