Sunday, May 4, 2008

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #15

To balance out last week's rather happy-go-lucky mix, I decided to swing down into the depths of despair this week. And honestly, the first thing that came to mind when I thought of self-indulgent gloom was...Beetlejuice's Prince Vince of the Neitherworld. For those of you that remember the old Beetlejuice animated television series, you'll probably recall the episode in which Beetlejuice and Lydia meet Prince Vince, a monarch so gloomy that a cloud of rain follows him everywhere he goes. He does a lot of moaning and sighing, hand drawn dramatically across his pointy brow. And I absolutely loved him as a child. There's a reason why I chose to include Black Box Recorder's Child Psychology for this mix.

This mix ranges through a few different genres and styles, including post-punk, goth, folk, and indie rock, but they all revel in misery, most often their own. I'll admit I'm probably a more negative person than most, and I'll also admit that I can very much relish being engulfed by wistful melancholy and solitude - like many, I often create my best art when I'm miserable. And as pathetic or crazy as it sounds, I take comfort in keeping my expectations of life really low to avoid disappointment and keep my life on a relatively even keel. If I'm honest, as a child, I already had signs of an inexplicable melancholia - as a small child, I described it as "homesickness" even when I was usually at home. I probably do have some sort of condition that takes me beyond a predilection for misery - the actor Hugh Laurie once said that he knew he had a depression problem when he waited for the inevitable return of sadness before a happy moment was even over yet, and I completely understand what he meant. I more than likely have a more persistent black dog on my shoulder than others, but music is the one thing that can often get me through it. Not exactly to banish the dog, but at least to soothe it to sleep. Music helps me feel less alone when all I want to be is alone.

No one seems to do self-obsessed melancholy more artfully than Morrissey and The Smiths, but the other artists in the mix are also highly proficient in the moping department. Of course, there are the doomed singer-songwriters of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith; the gothic tones of Depeche Mode and Siouxsie and the Banshees; the more melodramatic whines of Placebo, Muse, and Lorraine; and the drone of post-punk darkness in The Chameleons, The Cure, Joy Division, and The Sound (I particularly love The Sound's I Can't Escape Myself - anyone who's felt depression and a general malaise with being oneself on a regular basis will completely relate to this song from the tragic, but brilliant Adrian Borland - and it actually reminds me of a fantastic piece of dialogue from the film Before Sunrise where Ethan Hawke's character talks about being tired of being with himself all the time, hearing his own boring stories for the rest of his life). I may never get rid of that raincloud that follows me, but with mixes like these, I'll survive, reminding myself that I often actually love the rain. I'm going to call this mix I Naturally Fled. I'd like to think Prince Vince was a Smiths fan. Wallow and enjoy.

"I've been too honest with myself, I should have lied like everybody else." - Richey Edwards

One Hundred Years - The Cure

A Pain That I'm Used To - Depeche Mode

Isolation - Joy Division

NYC - Interpol

Well of Misery - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Soul in Isolation - The Chameleons

I Can't Escape Myself - The Sound

Premature Burial - Siouxsie and the Banshees

Child Psychology - Black Box Recorder

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - The Smiths

A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to Be Free - Elliott Smith

Black Eyed Dog - Nick Drake

Planet Helpless - Puressence

From Despair to Where - Manic Street Preachers

Black-Eyed - Placebo

Twenty Years Under Water - Lorraine

Sing For Absolution - Muse

Sad Eyes - Bat For Lashes

Creep - Radiohead