Why These 7 Songs Make Me Anxious & Cry

written by: elijah bennete

Only Living Boy in New York - Simon & Garfunkel

My friends mean everything to me. I have three of them and I see them everyday. I wouldn't know what to do with out them and this song perfectly describes myself—undirected and manic without their influence. Instead of weather, I'll wake up and look at my phone waiting for them to come back. I'm truly lucky to say that they're as down to hang as I am, but this song shows me how my life would be if anyone of them decided to up and leave.

Happy Birthday Johnny - St. Vincent

"I love you" from someone you adore is a phrase that is life changing. It provides a family, a base, and a partner. Alternatively, finding their drug needles conveys the same level of emotion in the completely opposite way. It destroys any future you wanted and chips away at whatever love you had because they'll always love the needle more than you. It's their prerogative, and personal prerogative is indelible. St. Vincent ends John's trilogy with both a detail and emotionally exhaustive account of their relationship, John's importance to Annie, and scenes from John's descent into addiction.

 St. Vincent performing

St. Vincent performing

Painfully, a scene by scene verbal flip-book carefully phrased as memories reminiscing Annie and John's relationship is underpinned by the penultimate line "when you get free Johnny". It's either freedom or death that awaits. Listening to the song, I play back my own picture-book featuring a girl who I adored, who even confessed that she loved me our first night. A relationship that ended as intense as it began when I found track marks on her arm. She was quick to express an unwillingness to quit. The demise of Johnny is something that I fear will happen to her everyday, and whatever freedom she finds I do hope it is in some form alive.

Your Graduation - Modern Baseball

Post college there is no guidance. No classes to sign up for. Instantly, it 's you vs. the world, which is tough on it's own, but dealing with this maturation process parallels the intrapersonal traumas of growing up. Your graduation—in a way that I consider extremely surreal—deals with these growing pains. Finding yourself, how to communicate, and knowing how to be an interpersonally-connected-adult is all covered as it would be in real life. Following my own graduation, neither I nor my then-girlfriend were blessed enough to avoid these issues. The process of dealing with them seems insurmountable, but it will soon pass. 

High & Dry - Radiohead

Maybe I'm too codependent, IDK, but I don't mind regardless. Mirroring Only Living Boy in New York, the song describes the emotions of missing someone you care about, but here it is a romantic partner. Breakups are inevitable; you'd be an insane person if you thought otherwise, but yet we can all understand the fear of facing one. Even more so, losing someone you care so deeply for is devastating. The title, a reference to beached ships, describes the feeling of being left to your own devices with no help or aid; a fate no one wants.

Runaway - Kanye West

Nothing makes me more anxious than Runaway. Vulnerable and honest, Pusha-T & Kanye shed their protective auras and nakedly face the highs & lows of their lives. The story is befitting for a Greek Tragedy. While I most certainly exist in a different dimension than Kanye, it's quite easy to get lost in yourself and face the reality shock of realizing that you've gone too far and lost what you love. Detailing the mania of self-gaslighting, stemming an iota of self involvement, Runaway has anxiety-inducing parallels for everyone. It's too real not to make one nervous. Too real to not make you second guess yourself. Too real to be too distant to yourself and avoid worrying about these pitfalls. Swipe right, sort out the girls later. Work hard and get success at any expense. Suppress yourself instead of dealing with gripping issues. It's all so easy to get in your own way, leaving yourself alone.

Bored in the USA // Holy Shit - Father John Misty

Back to back tracks on I Love you HoneybearBored in the USA & Holy Shit, start with wading through what mundanity our existence has become due to our own social constructs. Illustrated through observations, Josh challenges and reframes everyday American conventions in horrifying ways that make you want to destroy society as well as smash your life. Listening to his droning voice—defeated but vibrant—you hear pain. It causes pain and anxiety. It leaves me wanting to never participate in any structure again, gaslighting my own existence. The ending verse encapsulates the song's ethos. Placing a laugh track over life's summary is a horrifying juxtaposition on what society has planned out for us. 

 Father John Misty

Father John Misty

Moving forward, it doesn't get much better, but at least it's musically presented in a brighter tone. Listing through historical horrors, the emptiness of genetic determinism, and ill-fated ideals, Holy Shit pairs well with the cultural rebuke of Bored in the USA.

Two songs that bathe in a bleak depression only known to those hoping to avoid getting eaten by bears, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Written on the eve of Josh's wedding, Holy Shit is a love letter to his wife Emma. The closing lines:

Oh, and love is just an institution based on human frailty. 
What's your paradise gotta do with Adam and Eve?
Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity.
What I fail to see is what that's gotta do with you and me.

put away any worries poised in the previous ~7 minutes. It lets you off Fr. John Misty's wild ride with the warm embrace of a loving partner letting you know—regardless of the insanity we live in—there's someone there for us.  

A Letter to Elise - The Cure

Effectively communicating feelings is a constant struggle. It's a relativist world where words have different meanings and interpretations change from person to person. Exposing yourself is another hurdle. Being bare and being effective is something we generally leave to the few of us who can artfully balance the two. Here, we have an essay on the summation of a relationship post breakup. 

It was written long ago, but it's message never faded. No song would ever make me as sad. It's so eloquently worded—loving but harsh—it's exactly what I wish I could have said to a particular someone. It's a song that can have a place in most hearts as a relatable experience; something we've all been through, but nobody wants.