Look, I eat well, I’m a healthy guy. OK, maybe I just want to be healthy, considering that I barely exercise, over drink and don’t do much actively to stay healthy. This is why I avoid greasy food as much as I do.
I remembered why on Tuesday morning where after eating a can of chili the night before, I was struck with a brutal bout of heart burn. I couldn’t sit still and I was damn close to wailing in bullet-wound style pain.
I know I’m stretching, but lets find some songs based on minor health conditions. Fuck it, I’m on a roll with consistent posting so we should probably keep that up. Here we go.
Not everyone knows who The 101’ers are but almost everyone knows about The Clash. That was the power of Joe Strummer. After seeing the rise of punk rock in early 1977, he left the pub-rock pioneers to join one of the seminal punk rock groups. That being said, the 101’ers were a great group, a fun bit of pop, reggae and rockability that gave birth to some of my favorite songs of all time. Songs like “Rabies from the Dogs of Love” showed the funky influence that inspired Strummer and that he would bring to The Clash.
Speaking of British punks, The xx released a super tight dose of Buzzcocks and Joy Division inspired post punk, combining heartache and self-loathing that was refreshing, despite the fairly common subject material. On their self titled 2009 debut, one dark bit of love lorn wanting is in “Heart Skipped a Beat,” one of the standouts of the album.
You know, I’ve heard that things can be pretty rough when somebody’s been on a bad trip. I’ve heard that it can be confusing, disorienting and consciousness shifting. These are things I’ve heard. If this is the case, Sonic Youth nailed the idea on “Eric’s Trip” from their landmark record “Daydream Nation,” a true document of American indie rock. It’s a chaotic jumble of the thrashing, caustic, thoroughly sexy garage rock that the band did best and it’s a perfect document of what can go marvelously wrong. I assume.
Really, one of the worst thing that can happen is when everything feels wrong, when nothing in life feels worth while. Richard Hell knew the feeling. Drug addled, unbelievably pissed off and perpetually horny, Hell combined his drug addled poetry with unrelenting punk guitar riffs and feral howling. 1977’s “Blank Generation” feels less like punk rock as it does like performance art. The album is a challenge, although occasionally a harmonic, innovative and incredibly smart record.
Psychedelica has some of the best example of songs about sickness. There’s a focus on corruption of the mind, of the body and of the broken people who have to deal with the brutal journeys into the mind. Modern experimenter Panda Bear was somewhat obsessed with the pain he felt in the late 2000s and he channeled this pain into a hunt for help. On his most well known record, “Person Pitch,” his song “Take Pills” is as great of a comforting listen as it is a look at a man who is suffering.
Really, it all goes back to Joy Division. Ian Curtis deeply understood internal pain, both from his intense epilepsy as well as a variety of other health problems. He wanted help, and the first recorded song listeners were subjected to was the brilliant “Disorder” from one of the best albums of the ’70s, “Unknown Pleasures.” It’s a song that is both brilliantly dissonant as well as shockingly appealing. It is a dark song, unrelentingly so, but there’s a such a harmonious line running through the song and the lyrics suit it well. When Curtis sings, “I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand/ could these pleasures make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?” they are brutal cries for help and the assistance that he desperately needed. There’s such a palpable sense of pain that I feel a little bad that I started this post up with talking about my heart burn.