There’s no one more self-aware than a rock musician (except maybe a rock journalist). It’s fucking exposing, to write about all of your one-night stands, destructive habits, mistakes, and heartbreaks in a three-minute song that could end up on pop radio or tattooed on some girl’s ribcage. Everyone says that when you’re a drug addict, you won’t admit that you have a problem, or that when you’re really mentally ill (I’m looking at you, Syd Barrett), you won’t ever actually realize that you’re crazy. Unless you’re a musician.
In The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” and “I’m Waiting For The Man”, Lou Reed knows exactly what he’s doing. And so do we. And he’s incredibly blunt about it all (it’s arguable that the lyrical content of “Heroin” doesn’t necessarily endorse nor condemn the drug, but who are you kidding?). From beginning to end of Elliott Smith’s posthumous, sixth full length, From A Basement On The Hill, you can literally listen to his life deteriorating in a sickeningly honest way, eventually ending in his suicide during recording the album. The Doors’ “People Are Strange” is essentially a manifestation of Jim Morrison’s sociopathic, paranoid tendencies. His vulnerability and loneliness. And on Are You Experienced?, Jimi Hendrix sings “Manic Depression is touching my soul”. Continue reading