Fuck Death, Fuck Pain, I'm Fucking Sad, And Also Fuck You Too.

I am so upset. I’m so sick of being poor. I’m so sick of working three jobs and never having enough money to get ahead. I’m sick to death of the company that I work for being in financial distress and having to scrape payroll together every two weeks and hold my breath until I know that paychecks are going to clear. I’m sick of being judged and talked down to by creditors in my personal life and my professional life. I’m sick of how it feels to have been abandoned by my remaining parent. I’m sick of walking through life without anyone to rely on, without the feeling that anyone will have my back. I’m sick of constantly being blown off by people I care about, unreturned texts, missed calls, blown off plans and then blowing others off because suddenly it’s ok to do that. I’m sick of ghosting. I’m sick of feeling like I just want to cry right now and all the time sometimes. I’m sick of the headaches and back pain and constant debilitating exhaustion. I’m sick of the existential dread that comes with knowing I’ll never be able to retire and relax, that I’ll have to work until the day I die but that nobody would consider hiring me even at the age I am now because I’m already considered too old to be useful in our youth obsessed culture. I’m sick of fucking having baby boomers and members of The Greatest Generation making all of our political decisions for us and right wing extremists, bigots, racists and religious zealots making all of our cultural decisions for us. I need a break. Some kind of a break. I’ve just been getting kicked in the nuts over and over again for a like a really long time now. I have that feeling like I just want to go home, but home burned down a long time ago. It’s nothing but a set of warped, fading memories.   

“It sung like a violent wind
That our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds”

That’s a Death Cab for Cutie lyric from one of rock and roll’s many great albums about death and loss. And I guess that’s one way we use music, right, is to reflect our own emotions and cope with what we’re experiencing in our own lives. Perhaps that’s why I feel so strongly about fostering a music community around me. When someone near to you dies, or you break up with someone you loved, or you experience violence like an assault or rape, or any other acute trauma, nobody really knows what to say to you and you don’t know what to say to them, so communication becomes different. Every conversation becomes stilted and confusing and kind of one sided, like you’re thinking about something and you want to just say it and the other person is doing the same, but instead you’re just like, “oh, did you like Star Wars? Yeah, ha, me too that Kylo Ren is a real emo babe.” But if you said what was truly on your mind, you’d be like, “I fucking HATE YOU because you still have your mother in your life and you get to talk to her and you take her for granted fuck you fuck you fuck you so hard” and the other person would be like, “I want to run away from you so much right now your energy weirds me out and death creeps me out and I never really liked you that much to begin with, we’re kind of just friends because we work together and I thought being friends with you would help my career.” Because that’s how people are, mostly. We’re selfish and shit. And that’s ok. Trauma is insulating, you get a thicker and thicker barrier between you and those with whom you should theoretically be connecting.  

But anyway, you don’t get to express those things IRL, you have to just think them and then say what people expect you to say or you run the risk of losing your job or fucking up your relationship or whatever. So you could be in a room full of everyone you have ever known and be pretty much 100% alone. Loss is a personal thing, whether it takes the form of mourning an old life - an old relationship, recovery from addiction, what you were like and how you looked at the world before you were raped or attacked, a major life change or trauma - or mourning the life of a loved one who crossed over to the next life. Regardless of what happened to you, you need company. You might find comfort in art, and in music in particular. It might be a good friend to turn to. It certainly was and still is for me.

I’d be curious to hear from you what albums you used to cope with loss. Hit me with some comments and let’s talk about it. Until then, here are my favorite albums and songs for coping with loss (not at all any kind of ranking or exhaustive list, so chill the fuck out). It should be said that you could probably say that ANY rock album touches on themes of loss in some way. But some albums and songs really lean into it. These are my favorites that just go all in on loss and are not pussyfooting around (Yeah, I know, Blackstar, give me a minute, for shit sake, ok). Here we go.

Sufjan Stevens Carrie and Lowell - SS wrote this album about his mom’s death. It’s fucking heartbreaking. “John my Beloved.” Are you fucking kidding me with this song? “there’s only a shadow of me, in a manner of speaking I’m dead.” Or how about “The Only Thing,” a song about the only thing keeping him from committing suicide in increasingly creative ways? I have spent an inordinate amount of time alternating between getting crazy baked and taking long runs and listening to this album and turning off all the lights and sobbing uncontrollably on the floor to this album. It works in either arena.

Morphine The Night - If you listen to this album enough, you can hear that Mark Sandman foresaw or was anticipating his own death in a way, and it is incredibly unsettling. This isn’t really an album for crying through, it’s much darker than that. “Souvenier” and “Take Me With You” are these two songs about the nature of memory and being left behind that haunt me and give me the goosies just thinking about them. If you’re a twisted fuck, this is a great album to make love to your old lady or old man by.

Low Things We Lost in the Fire - Jesus fucking christ, are you goddam serious with this album? Want to literally HEAR your loneliness and shattered worldview? How about “Dinosaur Act” then?

Menomena Mines - I suppose the larger imagery of this album is that mourning is like landmines, you just sort of feel like things are fine and you’re just walking through a perfectly normal field, and then all of a sudden you step on something and it blows up in your face. Like, I got yelled at today at the workplace by a customer, and instead of just getting past it and moving on with my day, it totally broke me and all of a sudden I am just this piece of shit who can’t see through the tears or focus through the sadness. So gross. It’s like, for weeks or months I’ll be like, “I’m fine, here I come, world!” and then the world is like “hahahahahah NO.”

Sparklehorse + Dangermouse Dark Night of the Soul - I think this one is another drug album, from a man who first physically deformed and then killed himself with his drug addiction. It’s creepy as fuck and deals with the big explosive ramifications of death and loss - ego, motivations, desire, anger, revenge. Plus it has David Lynch, Wayne Coyne, Susanne Vega, James Mercer, Jason Lytle, Iggy Pop, Black Francis and like a kajillion other guests on it so it’s goddam weird.  

Death Cab for Cutie Plans - There’s a lot of real-ass hospital imagery on this album plus some breakup shit and some shit about FOMO, so there’s really something for everyone. Fuck “Soul Meets Body” though that song can suck my nonexistent dick. That shit’s played, yo.

So anyway, those are some that I like, what are yours? Tell me yours. TELL ME. Seriously, I’m in such a bad mood. Cheer me up, Internet, with your dark albums and songs about grief.