Redemption Songs: Music and Madness


The road was dark and I only half knew where I was going. East. I couldn’t see through the rearview mirror, because the backseat was piled high with boxes. It didn’t matter. There were no other cars on the highway. It was just me, in the middle of the night, driving and crying.

“This is for all the lonely people…”

Hearing that song, a relic on the late-nineties airwaves, was the first time I experienced the sense that the radio had something to say to me. The sadness I had been feeling, over moving again and not knowing what I was doing, changed. Listening, I cried with gratitude for the brief belief that something in the world did not want me to give up.

If you are put into the psychiatric system at age 13, by the time you are old enough to operate a vehicle, you are likely to be confused and heartbroken. In between the ages of 16 and 18, I moved about eight times. I was trying to find my place, leaving home, and then returning. It is entirely possible that I lost my mind at least five times on Interstate 40, always with some song that told me that the world was full of stories like mine – stories full of loss, confusion, beauty and angry dreaming, highways, howling and the low lonesome.  I clung to the lyrics and the space between chords like a rope that linked me to a world in which I was not alone.

I nursed myself through a troubled adolescence with music. I was a sullen 12 year on the paper mill coast, feeling the wind and loathing my hometown and imagining myself  born to be wild. I knew all about moonshadows and I saw a cat’s cradle in my own family’s history.  I was a 14 year old with a knife in her hand that wouldn’t cut butter, knocking on heaven’s door. In parking lots and trapped in the backseat, I was in the jungle and every failed friendship was a rose with a thorn.  There were songs that I relied on, the ones that told me that they would always love me.

Everything had a soundtrack.

In the locked adolescent unit at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, my roommate and I would sing Metallica’s Welcome Home (Sanitarium) while we jumped from her bed to mine, for lack of anything better to do. She taught me the words to The Cure’s Just Like Heaven and said she was going to name her baby after Lemmy, from Motorhead.

Later, The Subhumans‘ Bad Religion and tiny, honest punk bands from New York, Great Britain and California taught me about identity and culture, power and oppression. I learned the word “system.” These ideas helped the world to make sense to me in ways that what I was taught in school did not. I felt like, somewhere, there were people in the world that I could respect, people who told the truth and who were not afraid to piss people off with their haircuts.

Music became a way for me to suss out the world. You can learn a lot about about a person by the way they listen to a song, by what sort of songs they listen to and what sort of songs they write.  For long stretches of time, songs were the only reliable place of shared reality that I could find. If someone understood a certain song, I felt like they understood me. Songs seemed to make sense of something that my family and school and the towns that I lived in refused to even acknowledge, which was that sometimes life was bound to be wrenching and strange. In songs, such troubles were normal, necessary even.

I moved to the opposite corner of the country, enrolled in some classes and swaddled myself with lonely and dissonant guitar sounds, strange poetry sung and screamed under bad lights. I fell in love with organs and with the smell of cheap beer spilled in basements, the feeling of bass mixed with trumpets. I was able to dance in those dark, smelly rooms. I didn’t, for the first time in years, worry about anyone judging me. Those spaces, small venues, seemed comfortable to me. They were full of loners and seekers, the wounded and glib, desperate and defiant.

It didn’t seem remotely strange to me that a song could be about bathyspheres or lemons or vampires. It didn’t seem at all alarming that a lead singer would slash a bottle across his bare chest or that the girl with the guitar would have to leave the stage because she got so upset.

I thought I understood those feelings and the musicmakers became, in my mind, real people. They seemed brave and interesting, assured in themselves in ways that I wished I could be assured in myself.  Those that weren’t quite graceful and polished in their performance were my favorites.  I felt close to them when they’d fall off the stage or fumble their words.  In my mind they were like me, people struggling to get through a song.

It seems like a lot of people died.

There have been times in my life that listening to the radio was the only time I heard someone saying (in ways that didn’t seem like a consolation) that they believed in me, that they loved me.

I still check the songs on the radio in the morning, scanning for what they might have to tell me about what is happening in the world and, perhaps, my life. Clinically, my relationship with radio might be considered to be “mildly referentially delusional.” However, it is really more a game I play with myself. It is an entertainment and a comfort to try to find the synchronicities, the indication of shared theme. Admittedly, I do sometimes indulge in the belief that somehow (through the wonders of satellites, algorithms, and disc jockeys of collective consciousness) something related to radio is looking out for me, telling me what I need to hear.

“You’ve got to get up and try and try and try.”

I’ve been doing micro/macro content analysis of radio playlists for a long time and I know that I am not alone in noticing that there are some distinct similarities between the lyrical content of popular and subpopular songs and what is thought of as “the madness process.”

In alternative approaches to psychosis, there is a great deal of discussion about the nature of this process that is thought to be occurring when people experience a disorienting rift in their reality. Typically, these disruptions in the normative experiences of one’s life are thought to originate in some deep internal conflict. Madness, from a humanistic perspective, is considered a means of becoming our most true selves, a way by which some people become a part of something bigger than they are, something like the universe as it is explained by songs.

Transformation and grandiose hope against all odds are among the most prominent themes in popular music today. I can barely turn on the radio lately without hearing the word actual word “madness.” After years of informal research and reflection, it seems reasonable to conclude that musicmakers understand something about madness. It’s no big secret that many artists and musicians have dealt with “mental health” issues in their lives. There is a rich and well-known cultural history surrounding madness and music, the arts and sciences in general.

Why then, don’t more musicians talk about whatever it was that they went through? Why don’t they discuss their views of madness? What do they mean when they use that word?

More importantly, why don’t more musicians and artists say anything about the fact that thousands of young people, the ones who buy their albums, are being quieted and hurt when they express whatever song (anger, loneliness, frustration, love, hope, defiance) rises in their hearts and sets them apart from what is expected?

I know that people do tell their stories, and that they tell them as sacred and personal, which they are. I want to know, though, what it was precisely that helped them through whatever it was that set their songs in motion. What helped them to survive? What was it that they survived?

In the western world, there are thousands upon thousands of visionary and heartfelt people affected by diminishing and distorting mental health treatment. Many of these people are trapped in brutally banal lives enforced by compulsory neuroleptics and random assorted polypharmacy that dulls their minds and shuts down their hearts. The conditions of their lives leave them flaccid and uncaring. They resign their dreams for lack of any real hope of actually pursuing them, trapped as they are in the misery of a tranquilized isolation.

What if the people that wrote some of our most legendary songs did not have such kind and interesting friends, or if they’d had a different family? What if they hadn’t been given a guitar when they were young or if they had not lived in a home with a piano?

What if they hadn’t figured out how to run away?

What would have become of them?

I’m so glad that they survived to sing the songs they sing. Some of those songs are my still my best friends. I wonder, though, about all the songs I’ll never get to hear, the songs that are sleeping in the haze of words like schizophrenia and depression. I think about all the songs that are locked on 4th floors, being written down  in notebooks that will later be lost or discarded.

A lot of songs have died and, quietly, every day I mourn a moment for them.

Is there madness is that?

Maybe someone should write a song about it.


Miscellaneous References and Inspirations:

In the meantime, here are some songs that feature themes about madness. For fun, I posted on my facebook wall an invitation for folks to share their favorite songs about madness.  In addition to this great link the Hearing Voices Movement’s “Music and songs about hearing voices” resource, here are just a few from the mix, including a couple of personal favorites I always keep in mind to remind myself that it’s not just me…we’re all crazy.  Fortunately, according to Seal, that makes it more likely that we’ll survive.

If you don’t find your favorite song about madness within these links, please feel free to leave it in the comments!

Gnarls Barkley, Crazy


 “I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind

                            There was something so pleasant about that place.

             Even your emotions had an echo

                                                              In so much space

             And when you’re out there

             Without care,

                                Yeah, I was out of touch

                                                But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough

                                               I just knew too much

                                                                                        Does that make me crazy?”


This next one is from the archives, I’d never even heard it. I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same.

Be forewarned. Napoleon XV, They’re Coming to Take Me Away


From Outside the Airwaves:

Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of Madman –

The Kills, Cheap and Cheerful

“I want you to be crazy because you’re boring, baby, when you’re straight. I want you to be crazy ‘cause you’re stupid, baby, when you’re sane.” Rudimentary Peni, radioschizo

Alan Ginsberg, HOWL Culture Shock, Catching Flies Public Image Limited, Rise WereWyatt, I Am A Hospital

Here’s one that cannot be forgotten:

Prince, Let’s Go Crazy, as performed by Amanda Palmer:

In the meantime, on the radio right this very minute, all over North America and the Western World: Coldplay, Charlie Brown

“All the boys, all the girls,

                          All that matters in the world

                                                All the boys, all the girls,

                                                                  All the madness that occurs.

                                                                                   All the highs, all the lows,

                                                                                                            As the room is spinning goes.”

Muse, Madness

(Yes, as a matter of fact,“some kind of madness has started to evolve.”)


Please, just keep playing music.








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  1. Midway through reading, without any effort, my mind recalled this song.

    From Telegram, “Headphones”

    Full lyrics, though not all appear in Telegram’s version:

    genius to fall asleep to your tape last night
    sounds go through the muscles
    these abstract wordless movements
    they start off cells that haven’t been
    touched before

    these cells are virgins

    my headphones
    they saved my life
    your tape
    it lulled me to sleep

    nothing will be the same

    i’m fast asleep

    i like this resonance
    it elevates me
    i don’t recognize myself
    this is very interesting

    my headphones
    they saved my life
    your tape
    it lulled me to sleep

    i’m fast asleep now

    i’m fast asleep

    my headphones
    they saved my life
    your tape
    it lulled me to sleep

    Here’s the Post LP version

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  2. Here’s one for the BRIGHT side. I love this song and the video is awesome. It’s totally impossible to not feel good when you hear this one. *smiles*

    Stop me at any time, btw. I can go on forever with the volume of songs I carry in my head. I’ll try not to flood the comments section. lol
    Miike Snow – Black and Blue


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    Sorry for the all caps…it just makes me really happy to have read those lyrics that mjk posted and music is just such a wonderfully human thing to think about.

    (I so needed to read those words today, mjk!)

    I am going to share this post after a couple of typos get corrected. Does it matter if there are typos?

    I really want to know the songs that people think about when they think about madness – whatever that means for them. It’s so amazing to me that some people will go to the general, a la Ozzy and the band Madness, and that some will think of these really beautiful, out of nowhere, specific little bits of lyric.

    This came up on facebook re: madness and music and I just love how it is such a sweet comfort song, not Crazy Train at all:

    The Blow, Parentheses (thanks, you-know-who-you-are!)

    “If something in the deli aisle makes you cry, You know I’ll put my arm around you And I’ll walk you outside, Through the sliding doors, Why would I mind?”

    “All of the babies, they can feel the world. That’s why they cry.”

    (That definitely has something to do with the etiology of madness.)

    To think about all the human story that these little scraps of music and association hold blows my mind in the best sort of way.

    Thanks for reading and, mjk, for posting words and songs.

    Hope you both have a good day!

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  4. I have a couple more good ones. Irresistible.

    I think I once read that Kristen Hersh is “bi-polar”.

    From a wiki page about her, “early publicity at times portrayed her as a tortured artist “channeling” her songs from her psyche” and “Some interviews have described Hersh’s early drive to perform as due to hearing sounds in her mind so that her songs began to “write themselves”, becoming at times their own separate presences in her life, inner voices haunting her. She has stated that hearing these “pieces of songs” clanging together in her mind compelled her to take the pieces apart and craft songs from them. “If I don’t turn ideas into songs, they can get stuck in me and make me sick,” she said in a 1995 interview with AOL’s Critics’ Choice electronic music magazine. …”

    This song (my favorite by Kristen) doesn’t relate much to madness but she looks like a “crazy loon” while singing it. The look on her face is sort of … stunning and amusing.
    Kristin Hersh – Sundrops

    and here’s her crazy loon song.
    Kristin Hersh – A Loon

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  5. Great piece Faith, and a great question about speaking-up rather than covering-up? IMO a more pertinent question would be, “what are we covering-up?” Is the fig leaf in the garden of Eden an existential metaphor for our unique sensitivity and how we habitually-conservatively cover-up, or suppress our sense-ability? Generally speaking, are raised to suppress our sensitive nature, because we fear the overwhelming sensations it can stimulate?

    Do those of us who experience this sensitivity so profoundly fear the back-lash of the moral majority and their desperate “need” of denial? The deep ignorance and fear of things that might go bump in the night? Of coarse its not really scary “things” out there, of which normality is afraid, its internal sensations and their threat to the continuity of the subject state.

    What is music’s unique ability to “invoke” shifts in our internal energy states, and what is this creative, organic process beneath our limits of everyday, ritual language? As you suggest, music makers understand something about this process;

    “Transformation and grandiose hope against all odds are among the most prominent themes in popular music today. I can barely turn on the radio lately without hearing the word actual word “madness.” After years of informal research and reflection, it seems reasonable to conclude that musicmakers understand something about madness. It’s no big secret that many artists and musicians have dealt with “mental health” issues in their lives. There is a rich and well-known cultural history surrounding madness and music, the arts and sciences in general.”

    In my own efforts to unravel and articulate my “organic” psychotic processes music has always played its part in the self-stimulation process that seeks to re-orient a fearful withdrawal from life. A positive self-stimulation of my brain-nervous systems, and the invoking of positive energy states. States I now understand on a physiological level, of which there is inadequate language for articulation in our normal need to deny the power of the body and its sensations.

    An exploration of the power to invoke energy may interest you and readers, and a song voted one of the most mystical in history, “Stairway to Heaven.”

    “Music & Metaphor – Invoking Ascension?
    A biography of Led Zeppelin;

    Chapter 10. All That Glitters:
    “The track everybody still remembers from the fourth Zeppelin album, is “Stairway to Heaven” – ‘the long one.’ Jimmy Page had been tinkering away at for nearly a year. As for the lyrics, written entirely by Robert Plant, ‘Jimmy and I just sat by the fire, it was a remarkable setting,’ he recalled years later. ‘I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, “There’s a Lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold/And she’s buying a stairway to heaven . . .” I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat.’ The lyrics, he explained, ‘Were a cynical thing about a woman getting everything she wanted without getting anything back.’

    Jimmy Page was pleased, that there was ‘a lot of ambiguity implied in that number that wasn’t present before.’ Because he already knew the song was special? ‘”Stairway . . ” was something that had been really crafted, The lyrics were fantastic. The wonderful thing is that even with the lyrics in front of you – you know how you listen to something and you might not quiet get what the words are but you get your own impression? With this, the lyrics were there but still got your own impression of what the song was about. And that was really important.’

    Aleister Crowley’s influence?

    The Curse of King Midas

    ‘Nay! For I am of the Serpent’s party;
    Knowledge is good, be the price what it may.’

    -Aleister Crowley, The Psychology of Hashish.

    “Chapter 9. So Mote It Be:
    The thing that dominated the room [was] a vast double circle on the floor in what appeared to be whitewash. Between the concentric circles were written innumerable words. Farthest away from all this, about two feet outside the circle and three feet over to the north, was a circle enclosed by a triangle, also much lettered inside and out. [The magician] entered the circle and closed it with the point of his sword and proceeded to the center where he laid the sword across the toes of his white shoes; then he drew a wand from his belt and unwrapped it, laying the red silk cloth across his shoulders. ’From now on,’ he said, in a normal, even voice, ’no one is to move.’

    From somewhere inside his vestments he produced a small crucible which he set at his feet before the sword. Small blue flames promptly began to rise to rise from the bowl and he cast incense into it. ’We are to call upon Marchosias, a great marquis of the Descending Hierarchy,’ he said. ’Before he fell, he belonged to the Order of Dominations among the angels. His virtue is that he gives true answers, Stand fast all . . .’

    With a sudden motion [the magician] thrust the end of his rod into the surging flames . . .at once the air of the hall rang with a long, frightful chain of woeful howls. Above the bestial clamour [the magician] shouted: ’I adjure thee, great Morchosias, by the power of the pact . . .’ The noise rose higher and a green steam began to come of the brazier. But there was no other answer. His face white and cruel, [the magician] rasped over the tulmut: ’I adjure thee Marchosias, by the pact and by the names, appear instanter.’ He plunged the rod a second time into the flames. The room screamed . . . But still there was no apparition.

    The rod went back into the fire. Instantly the place rocked as though the earth moved under it. ‘Stand fast,’ [the magician] said hoarsely. Something else said, ‘Hush, I am here. What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose?’ The building shuddered again . . . Then from the middle of the triange to the northwest, a slow cloud of yellow fumes went up towards the ceiling, making them all cough, even [the magician]. As it spread and thined [they] could see a shape forming under it . . . It was something like a she-wolf, gey and immense, with green glistening eyes. A wave of coldness was coming from it . . . The cloud continued to dissipate. The she-wolf glared at them, slowly speading her griffin’s wings. Her serpent’s tail lashed gently, scalily . . .

    What levels of reality, are expressed as intuitive metaphors?
    The above passage comes from “Black Easter,” written by James Blish. Everyone who has read it since the book was first published in the late Sixties has been immediately divided into two camps; those who believe Blish had actually witnessed a genuine High Magick ritual, and those who dismissed it as science-fiction. It’s a debate that continues to this day. For in the end it comes down to belief, something you either do or do not posses – or are busy, perhaps, trying to suppress.

    What can’t be denied is that such rituals do exist and are performed on a regular basis – the essence of the Abra-merlin ritual, one of the most significant and difficult to achieve (unless it happens spontaneously?) is to ‘Invoke Often’ – and not just in a few pock marked villages in remote parts of the world. In fact, there are hardly any major towns or cities in the UK that aren’t home to at least one secret society, whose purpose is the study, practice and performance of precisely such rituals. The people involved are not simple minded peasants or social outcasts but some of the brightest, most questioning minds most often drawn from the upper echelons of society.

    We are not talking about simple witchcraft of the type depicted in a make-you-jump Stephen King novel or the broomstick abracadabra of a Harry Potter movie. According to the nineteenth century writer and magician Eliphas Levi, occult knowledge – that is, the hidden knowledge of the ages, going back to pre-Christian times, all the way to the Serpent and the Garden of Eden – is a product of philosophical and religious equations as exact as any science. As an earlier proponent of the magician’s art, Paracelsus, wrote in the sixteenth century: “The magical is a great hidden wisdom . . . No armour can shield against it because it strikes at the inward spirit of life. Of this we may rest assured.”

    The idea that rock music might also be related to occult practices hardly began, or indeed ends with the long held view that Jimmy Page – and, ergo, Led Zeppelin – were dabblers in black magic. That is not to say that Page has never been involved in occult practices, rather, the opposite – that Page’s interest in occult ritual is so serious and longstanding it would be facile to suggest anything as feeble-minded as a pact with the Devil.”

    ( Wall, explains in this biography that Jimmy Page was interested in “invoking” an energy which is impossible to explain by our everyday objective reason. During the live performances for which the band were famous, something atmospheric happened between musicians and audience – a fifth element. Page‘s notion of “invoking” is equated with notions of human “ascension, of transcendence, and of a personal metamorphosis?” Ideas Page agrees with.)

    “So who is Aleister Crowley and what is it about him that Jimmy Page – and millions of others around the world – still finds so compelling? And how much did the guitarist’s interest in Crowley’s occult teachings influence his own life and work? Crowley was not a Satanist, nor did he practice black magic, his main message, as he wrote in “The Book of The Law,” condensed as follows;

    ‘There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt . . .
    It is a lie, this folly against self . . .
    I am alone: there is no God where I am . . .
    Every man and every woman is a Star . . .
    The word of Sin is restriction . . .
    Remember all ye that existance is pure joy;
    that all the sorrows are but shadows; they pass
    and are done; but there is that which remains . . .
    Love is the law, love under will . . .’

    “Chapter 10. All That Glitters:
    Jimmy Page: I suggested, “Lets have four symbols, and everyone can choose their own.” And with the four symbols, that also made it “Zeppelin IV”, so it was a completely organic process. ‘My symbol was about invoking and being invocative. And thats all I’m going to say about it.’ “Invoking” and “being invocative.” But to invoke what? Power? Well-being? Success? As Dave Dickson says: ” The only reason people get interested in magick is beacuse they are interested in power.” (Or Truth, Love and Ascension?)

    (Page’s symbol was “ZoSo”) Its important to remember that ZoSo is not a word or a name, but a magickal sign, a symbol, made up of constituent parts. Therefore we can be faurly certain that ‘Z’ is a stylized representation of the Capricorn astrological symbol; while the o-S-o, is likely a reference to Crowley’s work. Its believed by occult followers to have some relation to an obscure Crowley work entitled “Red Dragon,” another occult term for Kundalini energy. (The Red Dragon, also being a metaphor, like The Lion, for the organism’s blood transported metabolic energies, powered by the heart?)

    After the fourth album was released, the main focus on attempting to unravel the album’s occult connections was “Stairway to Heaven,” with the claim popular – that if you spun the record backwards it would reveal a Satanic message. American writer Thomas W. Friend, whose 2004 book, “Fallen Angel,” goes to inordinate length to “prove” – Jimmy Page was obbsessed with the occult and he had joined in a special pact with the other members of Led Zepellin to bring down Christianity and “convert” the world’s rock-buying audience to a devil-worshipping belief in Satan.

    Yet “Stairway to Heaven,” is a song which resonates beyond its time and place. As Jimmy himself has told me: “There’s lots of subliminal stuff there. [All the albums] were put together organically, there’s a lot on them – a lot of little areas that you don’t catch first off, sometimes not for a long time. But the more attention you pay to them, the more you get out of them. And they were meant to be that way, and that’s good.”

    (The Creative Process?) In “Fallen Angel,” Friend picked up on Page’s comment to “Guitar World” in January 2002 that, “if something really magickal is coming through, then you follow it . . .we tried to take advantage of everything that was being offered to us,” with Friend adding that Robert Plant’s “chanelling” of the lyrics put him in touch with malignant spirits, possibly Lucifer himself, and that Lucifer has a female consort in the form of light, hence the line in the song, “There walks a Lady we all know, who shines white light and wants to show.” It causes one to step back and think again?

    Further references to Lucifer follow, says friend, in the verse that goes: “And its whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the Piper will lead us to Reason/And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forests will echo with laughter . . .” arguing that Pan the Piper, aka the Greek God of the forests, was also characterized by Aleister Crowley as “Lucifer the Piper, the maker of music,” also citing the verse in Ezekiel chapter 28:13 that describes God creating Lucifer “as the celestial composer of music, with celestial pipes.”

    According to Friend, “Stairway to Heaven” is nothing less than a song about “spiritual regeneration,” or as he puts it: “born again Satanism,” adding that the “reason” the piper leads us to in this song, is nothing less than “a worship of Lucifer.” At which point one fears he doth protest too much. Certainly, the lyrics seem to be concerned with a quest for spiritual rebirth. While its unambiguously pagen imagery of Pipers, May Queens, shadows that stand taller than our soul, whispering winds, crying for leaving, for anyone who knows anything about occult beliefs, suggest a desire to get back to an older, lost world governed by older, more plentiful gods who can be directly appealed to and where personal transformation is still a tangible, and achievable goal.

    As Dave Dickson says; “Reading too much into Zep’s music is too easy, like misreading the Bible, whatever belief system you want to throw up, you can find it.” Charlie Manson believed the Beatles were talking to him personally. Were they? No, he was actually insane. “Stairway to Heaven” is a great song, but I would be surprised if Robert Plant could put his hand on his heart and tell you what the lyrics are all about.
    Robert Plant: ‘Stairway to Heaven was important and it was something I was immensely proud of. You can’t find anything if you play that song backwards. I’ve tried it, there’s nothing there. . .Its all crap, that devil stuff, but the less you said to people, the more they’d speculate.

    Could it be possible that Page had planted the lyrical seeds in the singers mind? Had Jimmy ever discussed the occult with the rest of band? “I may well have had discussions with Robert about mysticism,” he told Nick Kent in 2003. Kent said that Plant seemed more focused on hippy ideals of peace and love, while Page’s was the much darker presence in the band. “Whether I was attracted to the dark, or it was attracted to me, I don’t know,” Jimmy replied.

    Chapter 12. The Golden Gods:

    In 1975, William S. Burroughs interviewed Jimmy Page for a lengthy cover story in “ Crawdaddy.”
    Burroughs wrote of seeing one of the bands three shows at Madison Square Garden in Febuary, describing the audience as “a river of youth looking curiously like a single organism: one well-behaved clean-looking middle class kid, and compared the show itself to a bullfight. “There was a palpable exchange of energy between the performers and the audience,” He noted. “Leaving the concert hall was like getting off a jet plane.

    The article also discussed how “a rock concert is in fact a rite involving the evocation and transmutation of energy. Rock stars may be compared to priests.” And how the Zeppelin show “bears some resemblance to the trance music found in Morocco, which is magical in origin and purpose, – that is, concerned with the evocation and control of spiritual forces.” Adding: “ It is to be remembered that the origin of all the arts – music, painting and writing – is magical and evocative, and that magic is always used to obtain some definite result.”

    Burroughs also wrote: “There are no accidents in the world of magic,” Page he concluded, was “equally aware of handling the fissionable material of the mass unconscious.” “I pointed out that the moment when the stairway to heaven becomes something actually possible for the audience, would be the moment of greatest danger. Jimmy expressed himself as well aware of the power in mass concentration, aware of the dangers involved, and the skill and balance needed to avoid them . . .rather like driving a load of nitroglycerine.” “There is a responsibility to the audience,” Page agreed. “We don’t want to release anything we can’t handle.” He added, “Music, which involves riffs anyway, will have a trance like effect, and it’s really like a mantra.” (see Music – Mood & Trance Like Mania?)”

    Selected excerpts from, “A BIOGRAPHY OF LED ZEPPELIN When Giants Walked the Earth,” by Mick Wall. (In brackets mine)

    Best wishes to all,

    David Bates.

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  6. My dear Faith,

    It dismays me that most of the country does not realize the lost vitality collectively robbed from us with shoving millions of citizens into the category of “severe mentall ilness” and all the tranquilizers that follow as “treatment” for that. “In the western world, there are thousands upon thousands of visionary and heartfelt people affected by diminishing and distorting mental health treatment.” It is a shame for us all.

    Still, what a friend we have in music!

    I’m inspired to leave a song that doesn’t remind me of madness, but reminds me a bit of your writing style.

    the lips, the heart
    the heart, the soul…
    big crescendo at 2:34– which is an onslaught of delight for the senses!

    Cocteau Twins “Treasure Hiding”

    Keeping the faith,

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  7. Oh, I so appreciate you folks.

    You know, all day, I have been nagged…because while it is wonderfulwonderful to post words to a community and have them read and understood and appreciated…I didn’t, in all honesty, write this for the Mad In America community…but for the people who are still in the process of surviving…and for those who really, truly *get* what I mean about music and the radio. So, I’m glad a few people found it.

    I think I want more friends/community who navigate the objective/subjective/possible in ways that make all sorts of far-fetched stories bloom real and reasonable in mind.

    I had a great little talk today with someone who, in response to me saying, “You know, this whole ‘recovery’ business is not about me not having this stuff going on, but about me relating to it differently…” I didn’t even finish my thought, because the person cut in and said, “It’s not ‘stuff’ – it’s just life, it’s how I experience the world. I pick up information from a lot of different sources.”

    That was really affirming to hear and it reminded me of what a shame it is that we (just as people in general) tend to shine-down the aspects of experience – no matter how awesome or how sacred or how special it may be to us – that are “weird” or “crazy” in order to fit in or make sense to people who orient themselves to the world in ways that are more typical.

    (Though, really, there is no “typical.”)

    This is where I think “recovery” is just as dangerous as “mental illness” – because it can draw so many lines that sever the wholeness of our experience, casting some elements of our mode of being as good, while others are bad, symptomatic, “stuff”…

    That is such a diminishing tendency, an insult to mad brilliance and a lot of strange beauty and story.

    Thank you, Emily and mjk, for posting songs…that is so super rad of you.

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  8. Sorry, there are some 1/2 finished thoughts up there…some confusing sentences as I was trying to figure out how to say what I wanted to say…

    …which is mostly just thanks…

    I learn/grow a lot through spending time ’round here, sharing thoughts and then re-thinking them.

    Sometimes, most days actually, I am very aware that outthereoutthereoutthere are thousands of people who are…well, probably people I’d get along well with, probably people who are amazing…and they are being psychiatrized into oblivion.

    That makes me sad, because it’s like knowing that I have a lot of potential friends who are getting hurt…beautiful hearts and fine minds, dying.

    That’s who I wrote this for.

    Mad Love.

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  9. Music today is, at best, a moribund artform, less an artform than a species of perpetual annoyance, pseudo-euphoric, mass audio-prozac (I mean prozac not in the sense of a drug that makes you feel better, but in the sense that it drives you nuts!). Every song crystallizes around the same three or four themes. If it isn’t about love, it’s about the frickin sunshine, and anyone who tries to write a song about death or the absurdity of the cosmos, is medicalized. I blame psychiatry for this cultural degeneracy.

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    • Just because you used the word moribund, here’s Moribund The Burgermeister. Thanks, I haven’t heard this one in a while. While other people my age were listening to whatever was pop, I was hard rockin’ to The Master (even went so far as to name one of my kids after him).

      Caught in the chaos in the market square
      I don’t know what, I don’t know why, but something’s wrong down there
      Their bodies twisting and turning in a thousand ways
      The eyes all rolling round and round into a distant gaze
      Ah, look at that crowd!

      Some are jumping up in the air – say “We’re drowning in a torrent of blood!”
      Others going down on their knees, seen a saviour coming out of the mud
      Oh Mother! It’s eating out my soul
      Destroying law and order, I’m gonna lose control

      What can I do to stop this plague, spread by sight alone
      Just a glimpse and then a quiver, then they shiver to the bone
      Ah, look at them go!

      Bunderschaft, you are going daft? Better seal off the castle grounds
      “This is Moribund, the Burgermeister, I’m gonna keep this monster down,
      Somebody sent the subversive element; going to chase it out of down.”
      No-one will tell what all this is about
      But I will find out.
      (I will find out. I will find out.)

      This thing’s really outrageous, I tell you on the level
      It’s really so contagious must be the work of the devil
      You better go now, pick up the pipers, tell them to play
      Seems the music keeps them quiet, there is no other way.
      Ah, close the doors!

      “We’ve tried potions and waxen dolls, but none of us could find any cures,”
      Mother please, is it just a disease, that has them breaking all my laws,
      Check if you can disconnect the effect and I’ll go after the cause
      No-one will tell what this is all about
      But I will find out
      I will.

      Too fitful and suiting for your comment. lol

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    • “I blame psychiatry for this cultural degeneracy.”

      There are actually some pretty good songs cropping up around radio. Even Katy Perry has gone from being a Teenage Dream to being Wide Awake.

      …meh. Yeah, you’re right. A lot of it is just plastic and anesthetizing.

      The human preoccupation with romantic love is a danger to society…because so many people seem to think that if we get a honey and little cozy house to hug in that we don’t need to do anything else in life.

      that sort of snuggle up and drop out love breeds complacency, in my mind. happy valentines day. 😀

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  10. “There’s this dream in my brain that just won’t go away…”

    Pandora just streamed this pretty ragged and beautiful old Bright Eyes song as I was thinking about how much those lyrics up there that you left and that you named your kid after a rocker just really makes me…not exactly happy, but…

    “something vague that we’re not seeing, something more like a feeling…”

    I appreciate you, mjk.

    Tonight, a friend of mine said to me, “I just really don’t know what you’re saying.”

    I said, sarcastically, “Oh, sh*t. That’s a symptom of schizophrenia, if your friends don’t understand what you’re saying. ah well..”

    We laughed, though it’s not funny at all.

    Such rubbish. A person’s lack of understanding really says very little about the integrity of my communication.

    So much of what is pathologized is just communication.

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    • Pathologized communication, people saying they have no idea what you’re talking about. I know what you mean. There’s some abuse in there, sometimes, when another person *pretends* to have no idea what you’re saying. Sometimes they’re just not interested, but refuse to own their own feelings. Eh, they’re just lyin’ through their teeth. Sometimes.

      The Bright Eyes song scared me. Almost too afraid to listen to it again. It sort of “hit me” on a personal level and I don’t know why. Gave me a flashback or two.

      Thanks for appreciating me, ditto. *smiles*

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  11. Great post. For me at my lowest. loneliest ebb it was roots revival reggae music from the 1970s that blessed my ears. An evangelical upbringing in Africa helped me connect with both the biblical themes and the notion of repatriation. At times it seemed that the narrative of black redemption echoed my own journey. For me the wilderness was my own ‘madness’, the exodus my journey out of it. The reggae beat seemed to calm my heart and align my brain waves. the message was upbeat and positive. It is hard to pick one tune that I love more than any other.

    I think Bob Marley is, of course, the most outstanding and his music provides a soundtrack to my life. Interesting you call your post Redemption songs, because his tune Redemption song has a line that I think should be a motto for the survival movement: ’emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can set us free’.

    Culture’s ‘I am alone in the wilderness’ provided comfort and spoke to that huge sense of isolation I felt from my fellow man whilst in the thick of it.

    And I leave you with something by lee scratch perry who had is own manic, psychotic, ganja fuelled breakdown in the 1970s and demonstartes clearly that madness is no barrier to sustained creativity and genius. Here is a track ‘disco devil’ with some rare footage of him at the height of his breakdown.

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