SONGS ABOUT SUICIDE
Dec 2, 2004 (Updated Dec 7, 2004)
Popular Products in MusicThe Bottom Line Warning: The subject matter you read may be offensive. Please understand it is not intended to hurt, offend or upset anyone. It is my view only.
There are the ones you know such as "Suicide Solution" by Ozzy Osbourne. Probably the most well known heavy metal suicide song ever. It's more of an instruction sheet than a song about why. Every really good song about suicide has to tell the listener why, in my opinion. In order to share the pain of the person in the song we need to know why.
Suicide Solution is as well known as it is because it was named in a lawsuit. A parent who's child committed suicide while listening to the song wanted the people involved with making the song held responsible. Ozzy was not found liable, thank goodness. We may have never had "The Osbournes" tv show if he had! Moving on.
Then there is another one you probably know, that we probably all know. Yet most people have no real clue that it is about something so sinister. Did you know the theme song to the much loved television show M.A.S.H. is named "Suicide is Painless"?
Then there are the popular punk songs which mourn suicide,
"Adam's Song" by popular punks Blink 182
"Hold On" by Good Charlotte.
The not so popular (i.e. not mainstream) punk songs about suicide,
"R.I.P." by Bikini Kill
"Country Death Song" by the Violent Femmes (i.e. Blister in the Sun, for all those not in the know)
"Come out Fighting" by Pennywise. One of their members actually committed suicide.
"Next Life" or "Stay Together" by Suede
There are the heavy metal versions,
"Nutshell" by Alice in Chains
"Fade to Black" by Metallica, a song about an angst filled teenage life. Is there such thing as a teenage life that is not angst filled?
"Suicidal Dreams" by Silverchair, pretty self explanatory.
"Suicide" by Soundgarden another straight up killer.
"Suicide Note Pt 1 and 2" by Pantera, sad and heavy.
"Jeremy" by Pearl Jam. Super popular in the early 90's. Probably put them on the map. Some people seemed to think this one is about Jeremy killing his classmates, it isn't.
"Eraser" by NIN. About the act itself. The album that this track is on "The Downward Spiral". It is actually an entire CD devoted to suicide. Before, during and the aftermath.
Even a new one by someone else who actually committed suicide,
"You Know You're Right" by Kurt Cobain
There are even some "new metal" songs that are quite good like,
"Pain" by Jimmy Eat World
"Numb" by Linkin Park
"Last Resort" by Papa Roach
"Red" by Chevelle
"Wait and Bleed" by Slipknot (very heavy)
"Bother" by Seether
There are the twisted ones,
"Hey Man, Nice Shot" by Filter and
"Stan" by Eminem.
"Hold Your Head Up High ( and Blow Your Brains Out)" by the Bloodhound Gang
Then there are the downright depressing, as if a song about suicide could or should be anything else. Take for example the recent
"Whiskey Lullabye" by country stars Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss. The song garnered many awards this year at the annual Country Music Awards. It is about drinking yourself to death.
There are even the obscure which no one seems to have heard of. Such as,
"The Night Will Only Know" by Garth Brooks
"Sick Sad Little World" by Incubus
"Camera One" by Josh Joplin Group
"Enigma" by Eric Bogle
"The Ocean Doesn't Want me Today" by Tom Waits
"Suicide Won't Satisfy" by Johnny Winter
"Easy Tonight" and "The Last Great American" by Five for Fighting
There are the beautiful and haunting,
"Suicide Note" by Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde.
"Exercise One" by Joy Division. Ian Curtis himself committed suicide.
"Hurt" originally by NIN. Excellent song, one way or the other. However I suggest the newer version by Johnny Cash. I dare you to listen to it and not cry, his voice is so painful. I would suggest you watch the video but I think that might put anyone over the edge. Rest in Peace Johnny.
Then there is the Granddaddy of all suicide songs,
It was originally written by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezso Seress in 1933. It has reportedly inspired so many people to suicide that it was renamed the "Hungarian Suicide Song". Hungary even had the highest suicide rate for some time.
The song has been covered dozens of times over the years, most noteably by such popular acts as Billie Holliday, Genesis, Sarah Brightman, Sinead O'Connor, Bjork, Ray Charles, Marianne Faithful, The Smithereens and even Ricky Nelson. The song is still fairly well known today.
On a side note the Billie Holliday version is by far the most popular. The song itself was banned from airplay by the BBC as it was deemed too depressing for public consumption. The original composer Rezso Seress himself, met his own death by jumping from the balcony of his apartment in 1968.
There are the classics,
"A Most Peculiar Man" or "Richard Cory"* by Simon and Garfunkel
"The Pass" by Rush
"The End" by The Doors
"Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan
"Jump They Say" by David Bowie
"Shivers" by Nick Cave
"Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, this one is debated. Some think it is about drugs, I have always associated it with suicide. Especially suicide by overdose. Which means we all win in the end.
UPDATED: Just discovered this one,
"Vincent" by Don McLean of "American Pie" fame. The song not the movie! This one got me, my son is named Vincent. He is 11 and he is just becoming a young man, struggling with the changes that adolescence brings.
*Richard Cory is actually a poem written by Edward Arlington Robinson that S&G turned into a song.
For those who need to know; An explanation of why.
In honor of another gloomy day here on the southern tip of the U.S. (Florida) I decided to write something unusual. Just this little article dealing with songs about suicide, if such a thing can exist. I personally have never seriously contemplated the act.
However, I am very close with someone who has not only contemplated but attempted it, my older sister Jamie. She is my best friend, my gift from God, my touchstone. Many times over the years starting when she was very young she felt hopeless. Suicide in her eyes and the eyes of many others is the only end to a miserable existence.
I know what you're probably thinking. This woman is sick! Me, not her. Well her too but I may be worse. I know, I know! Think about this though, I have been living and dealing with this for most of my life. I have learned to use honesty and humor to overcome it. What is better than to learn to be able to laugh at yourself?
I always find a way to look deeper. I think that these songs can help anyone do just that. There are many days when my sister still calls me just so I can make her laugh and help her feel better. You can't truly understand "it" until you have lived with it, that's the most important thing I have learned.
Over the years suicide has become almost a member of our family. It is something that isn't going to go away; we have to face it. We have to deal with it, no matter how ugly it is or how uncomfortable it makes us.
Thankfully my sister and I have healed. We are learning to deal with it in ways that most people wouldn't be able to understand. One of those ways is through comedy, what's better than to learn to laugh at yourself?
Another way is music. I compiled this list a while ago for her and created CD's using the materials discussed in it. Today I am turning it into an article to share with all of you. Maybe you or someone you love can find some use in it.
Somehow for her ( and for many other people who are suicidal) it helps to hear other peoples feelings and thoughts about suicide. Somehow it has helped her to deal with her own feelings. These songs also helped me to understand how she feels and why. She is still here, I am grateful everyday for her. I submit this article for your enjoyment and use.
Thank you for reading.