Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: Psychology Songs

And why does this ink blot remind you of your father?

What song isn’t about human behavior?  Has any band not written a song about depression, madness, obsession, addiction, suicide, fear or anxiety?  But psychology is the topic this week, so let’s make this interesting.  Here are some cuts that you might not have explored:

“Jacknife Johnny,” Alice Cooper.  From the Inside was Alice’s last album of the seventies.  His inspiration was the inmates of the asylum he checked into to treat his alcoholism, so the whole album deals with mental health.  “Jacknife Johnny,” was one of my favorite cuts because the story was so vivid.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was what was going inside my World War II veteran grandfather’s head.

Here it is, Alice’s tale of a Vietnam veteran with a nasty case of PTSD:

“Electro-Shock Blues,” Eels. From the album of the same name.  Like From The Inside the whole album deals with mental illness.  It’s a great one, pick it up:

“Mind Playin Tricks On Me,” Geto Boys.  A great story of paranoia and anxiety.  Sure it’s no Rockwell, but that kind of lightning strikes but once in a generation:

“All the Madmen,” David Bowie.  A lot of madness in the Bowie catalog, probably my favorite of which is “The Bewlay Brothers.”  This is a great cut, though, and off of the not so familiar to the casual listener The Man Who Sold The World album:

“Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues,”  The Kinks.  See if you can find the madness in this song.  It’s really subtle, like a one piece jigsaw puzzle:


 “Then She Did,” Jane’s Addiction.  Perry Farrell’s remarkable ode to his troubled artist mother is the best song in the Jane’s catalog.  Put on the headphones and really listen — pure goosebump music:

“Shock Treatment,” Richard O’Brien. Did you know that there was a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show?  Did you know that it sucked?  Regardless, I was a Rocky Horror kid so I bought the Shock Treatment soundtrack long before the movie ever came to my small town.  You’ll recognize Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia in this clip, though they are in new guises.  The guy they are working over is supposed to be Brad Majors (asshole) and the lady in the black hat is supposed to be Janet Weiss (Weissssssssss):

So what songs do you think of when you think of madness?  I’m listening.

6 replies »

  1. Great examples. The Man Who Sold the World is one of my favorite Bowie albums…okay, I kind of like them all…but that is really good!
    What comes to mind for me is that anthem to low self-esteem….Creep by Radiohead. Not a deep cut, but I relate!!!

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    • Yes, yes. “Creep” is a great choice along with Beck’s “Loser.” So the eighties were paranoid and the nineties were all about low self esteem. I guess that happens when the coke dries up.

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  2. All music has a tendency to nick my insanity when I listen. Which is why I own no music playing device. Doesn’t matter though – whatever is playing in my head for however many days or weeks is impossible to shut off. But as far as naming a cut? Pretty much everything off of Pearl Jam’s “Ten” in my opinion.

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