Hopeless: Songs for the Deeply Depressed

These songs ought to brighten up your day...if not, do NOT ask for anything special.
These songs ought to brighten up your day…if not, do NOT ask for anything special.

By Peter Gerstenzang

If you listen to the radio these days, you’re bound to experience some terrible feelings of guilt. But no worse than if you, say, burned down an orphanage. I think it’s because all they play are happy songs now. New ones by Taylor Swift, old ones by Boston. If you’re an upbeat sort, it’s fine. But if you’re a depressive, you hope the Evangelicals are right. Because the only thing that can stop this cheery crap is The Apocalypse. In the meantime, here are some hymns for those of us who know what it’s like to feel truly hopeless and deeply depressed.

“Things Done Changed” Notorious B.I.G
This cinematic story about life in the ‘hood, sports so many guns and F-bombs, it makes Scarface seem like March Of The Penguins. Still, if you’re looking for the truth about Inner City life, it’s all here. Set to a sinuous beat, Biggie raps. “It make  me wanna grab the nine and the shottie/But I gotta go identify the body.” One problem. You have to play this loud enough for your neighbors to hear. Which will result in a big tradeoff. You’ll feel better. But those dinner invitations will trail off dramatically.

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” George Jones
Country was once the music of hard times, bad lives and guys coping with it by drinking themselves into medically-induced comas. Now (helped, I think, by an Act of Congress), they’ve changed positions. And Country says life is great and drinking isn’t necessary. George Jones knew better. In this song, a man can only get over the gal who broke up with him by dying. Totally true. Unless the girl who just broke up with you is Miley Cyrus. In which case, you will want to  drink. But in celebration.

“Who By Fire” Leonard Cohen
Cohen’s songs are usually so bleak, he can make George Jones look like Curly Howard. This song, a litany of how people die, is a great one to listen to, alone in your room. Please just listen, though. I’m not recommending this tune as an  instructional manual. At least until I settle the lawsuit from my last piece.


“Everyday Is Like Sunday” Morrissey
All depressives know that Sunday is the worst day of a bad week. In TV terms, it’s like a marathon of Will and Grace followed by an episode of Friends. Morrissey understands. And uncorks this ballad about the Hell that is Sunday. And  living in a town that could only be improved by a nuclear attack. Morrissey is talking about Manchester. But the sentiment can also be applied to Trenton. In fact, when you’re really down, on Sunday, every town looks like Trenton.

“Tonight’s The Night” Neil Young 
This song details the drug overdose of Neil’s roadie. The song starts slowly. But soon rocks so hard, it makes death sound positively cool. Which means Neil is brilliant. And also, why he’s never been offered a job at a suicide hotline.