My musical tastes are all over the map! And seeing that I’ve had unipolar depressive illness since birth (yep, really, and that truth begs for an hour of killer jokes at a comedy club), I have a gazillion songs that can answer your question. My question is why did you ask? If you want recommendations for yourself, e-mail me! I’d be happy to answer.
That said, a very random sampling from my iPod — “Some Weird Sin”, Iggy; “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by cool girl singers; Patti Smith “Rock and Roll Nigger”; “I can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” from Elvis Costello; assorted Todd Rundgren (can’t pick right now); assorted Bruce Springsteen (can’t ever pick); “Love Gets You Twisted” Graham Parker; “Beaten to the Punch”, Costello again; “Because”, Dave Clark Five; “Living In America”, James Brown; “I am Only Lonely”, the Divinyls; “Just Another Picture To Burn”, Taylor Swift; “Cherry Bomb”, Joan Jett!; various exteme moments by Adam Glambert; “Christmas In My Soul”, Laura Nyro; “FutureSex/LoveSound”, Justin Timberlake; “Get This Party Started”, Pink; “I Brought Kicks”, the Figgs; many various moments by k.d. lang; “Burning Up” by Madonna; “I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll), Nick Lowe. That’s more than enough and that’s not even the beginning of the start. I didn’t even mention those glorious goofballs the Ting Tings. Enjoy or hate, but enjoy! Miss Laura (who often dances her way out of a slide toward depression)
Mainstream music doesn’t haul me up and out of the blues. To accomplish that I need to crank up some ethnic sounds, maybe some Tejano, Zydeco — something with horns, guitars and squeeze boxes. Give me Wayne Toups, Little Joe Hernandez, or Brave Combo. Oh, and some full-tilt boogie piano, please.
It’s great to see music being used to start a conversation on the often taboo topic of depression. I don’t have any data to support it but I would say that there’s more than one rock critic/writer who struggles with depression. So exploring this topic on Rock Critics is a great thing to do!
What songs do I turn to? Any Jimmy Cliff song usually helps. Of late Saul Williams’ Niggy Tardust and 2005 S/T album; Mos Def’s Ecstatic: some of Kanye West’s more gospel, soul-based or spoken word tracks like “Never Let you Down”, “Jesus Walks,” or “Roses;” Johnny Cash is always a perfect remedy, Black Flag’s “Rise Above;” recently rappers Atmosphere and Brother Ali have been great too. Really any hip hop that reminds me of how important life is is always something I reach for or suggest to others. We should really put together a mix tape on this subject because I have so many other songs to suggest.
As a music writer, I’ve noticed that it also helps to write about depression, so I’ve written a few pieces on how Joy Division and others have helped me deal with the suicides of close friends over the last few years.
Bang Bang Bang – Big Al Anderson, The bigger they Come – Steve Marriott, Arkansas Razorback and Lovebug – Junkyard Men, Broke Down on the Brazos – Gov’t Mule, Runaway Run – Hanson, Candyrapper – Harvey Mandel, When the Angels Cry – Jason and the Scorchers, Gravity – John Mayer, I ain’t Hurtin’ nobody – John Prine, All Tore Down – Johnny Winter.