I've dealt with depression most of my life. By "dealing with it" I mean that I don't shower for weeks on end, sleep 14 hours a day, and never stop listening to upbeat songs that make me sad and sad songs that make me think I'm not alone. I'm not sure what I'm depressed about most of the time; I just know I want to be very mean to nice people and very nice to mean people. I find myself listening to all kinds of different music during those periods, and I can't decide if they help or hurt my mood. Once, for two months, I would only listen to Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In and Billy Idol's Greatest Hits. Somehow it worked: I must have been depressed over sexual identity or an inability to bleach and spike my hair. Another time I drove from Spokane to Seattle at 3am after working my overnight freight crew job. Four hours at 90 MPH with nothing but Nick Cave and the Afghan Whigs playing on your stereo as you pass Moses Lake and Ritzville not only cures depression but seriously changes the way you look at the world. What I can't understand is if I'm not depressed and I'm listening to depressing music, will it draw me back into that desperate world? I think the answer is no. One of the most depressing bands in the world is the Red House Painters. I've listened to a lot of RHP in my time and now find myself checking out their frontman Mark Kozelek's new release, Rock 'n' Roll Singer (Badman). Surprisingly, it doesn't depress me, and it also makes me happy that I'm not Mark Kozelek. He covers a bunch of AC/DC songs and manages to make them sound like desperate ballads of death. If I ever get to the point where I'm humming "Back in Black" and feeling like I can't go on with my life another day, then I really will be depressed.
Listen to John fight off crippling depression every weekday morning from 6-10am on 90.3 KCMU FM or on the Web at www.kcmu.org.