Top 10 Male Singers (of all time..sort of.)

I frequently have internal battles with myself about my favourite songs and records of all time. I place them into categories to make it easier, such as Favourite Debut Record of All Time to BEST SONG EVER PART 1 OF 100. Stuff like that you know? But earlier, I managed to come up with a solid list of my favourite male singers of all time. I basically narrowed it down to singers that were around before I was born because if I did recent ones, I’d firmly place Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles as my number 1. Maybe I’ll do a list for that.

So, I’m going to attempt to list my favourite male singers of all time (that existed before I was born..I was born in ’86. The golden era of Hip Hop.) Of course I may change my mind at some point, but hopefully I won’t fret and lose sleep over this. I’m a born worrier; but I keep it well hidden. Obviously I’ve just admitted to it, so it’s not a secret. Oh well.

10. David Johansen (New York Dolls.) I hate that I’ve had to put this in order because I want to jumble it all around. However, the love I have for David Johansen goes beyond him being my number 10. What I love about him is his flamboyant style and distinctive drawl. I remember my mum playing their first record round the house when I was younger. I didn’t know it was the Dolls but I was hooked on Jet Boy. I probably used to sing it, and get the words mixed up. Nothing has changed. Into my teenage years, I saw a copy of their debut record at my uncle’s. I was drawn to the cover, and I always stand by it being my favourite album cover ever. The sheer beauty of it just drew me in straight away. Utterly gorgeous. So, what is it about David Johansen that makes me adore him? I think he’s one of the best front-men of all time. His charisma and charm just leaves you in awe. The way he moves makes you want to emulate him in a dramatic fashion. He’s one of a kind, and undoubtedly inspired so many to express themselves in a way no one else dared to do so.

9. Townes Van Zandt. My love for Townes started only a few years ago, and it wasn’t his voice that got me hooked. Before I even heard his voice, I read his lyrics. His lyrics were that of a troubled soul. You couldn’t help but connect with him, yet at the same time feel uncomfortable that you connected with his words. Then when you heard his voice, you TRULY got all the pain. Some singers become actors and don’t believe in what they do. Some just want the money. With the likes of Townes, you could tell that music was everything to him. His life was dependant on making music. It didn’t really matter how the listener felt; he just needed to get it all out. We all need an outlet, music is one of the most powerful ones. Townes possessed a unique voice that no matter what, just sounded so vulnerable. He didn’t have to put on an act; everything about him was truthful. At times some of his songs became too painful to listen to, but at best- you just knew someone else understood some of the perils of every day life.

8. Nick Cave. Some singers you remember falling in love with, because it just stays with you for the rest of time. Nick Cave is a prime example of that. My gran used to look after me when I was younger, before I went to primary school. Before chewed up and spat out my soul. Or you know, before I ate paint and sobbed before swimming lessons. My uncle used to live with her in this house, and I always remembered going to his room when he was at work and staring at a poster of Nick Cave on one of the walls in his room. I’d stare at it in utter awe. I don’t know what my toddler mind was thinking, but it was fixated on this person. I felt like I was looking at something untouchable. I guess I knew of Nick Cave’s genius before I even heard his voice or read his lyrics. Fast forward to about 10 years old and I’m hearing Into My Arms and Henry Lee on MTV. Something was happening in my mind. I knew exactly what it was. I knew what I wanted to be. A writer. I wanted to write words like this; but the thing is, no one can write like Nick Cave. The man is a genius. Sure enough his vocals may not be to everyone’s taste, but his lyrics…I fail to find a song that anyone couldn’t relate to. Everything about him just makes you want to expand your mind and explore other worlds.

7. Leonard Cohen. One of the greatest writers of all time regardless of genre. Leonard Cohen and Morrissey were the two song-writers that truly made me care about words. Poets such as Poe and Rimbaud got me hooked on words too. But these two singers just made me see everything in the world in a different way. The darkness and love and romance of everything around us was made clearer by them. Leonard Cohen for me just creates a different world. A world that is free of everything but full of questions. I think that’s a good way to live. It’s hard to live that way, but it gets you through. I always place Leonard Cohen as a poet before anything else, but his voice is so powerful. Some may seek singers that hit high notes and have a stupid range. I don’t want that. I want you to sing in a way that makes me feel like you are telling a story to my soul. Leonard Cohen does this, and so much more. I’ve many reasons as to why I adore him, that’s just one of them. I don’t think I could put the rest into words to be honest.

6. Otis Redding. I’ve found a pattern in the singers I love; they all basically sing songs about loss and pain. I’m a cheerful soul. Of all the Soul singers in the world that have existed, it was Otis Redding that I truly found a life-long love for. Everything about his voice makes you wish you were around when he was starting out. Imagine being one of the first to have heard his voice all those decades ago. His sad songs could break the hardest of hearts, but his joyful songs could bring tears of happiness to your eyes. He had the power to make you feel every single word he sang. He died far too young, everyone knows that. And I also think most know that Otis, although he had a short career, he was truly one of the best. I’ve got a bit of an issue with the term “Soul” music because all music should come from there and you should feel music right in your soul, but regardless- Otis oozed more soul than most.

5. Joey Ramone. No idea how to get into writing about Joey because let’s face it- he possessed the greatest voice in Punk. The way he towered over the mic stand. Pulling it to and fro like a man under a spell made you want to start something of your own. Easily one of the most distinctive voices of all time. His voice was like no other. His stage presence has obviously been an inspiration to many over the years. From how he stood to how he dressed. He wasn’t just part of a band, he was part of a movement that fuelled the souls of so many lost people. Myself included, and also justifies why I was born in the wrong era. To be in New York in the 70s would have been perfect. What do we have now? Of course we do have wonderful things, but imagine being part of one of the most powerful movements in music (and possibly society.) One of my most prized possession are my Ramones records. I rarely play them as I don’t want to ruin them; but when I do, I can truly hear all they stood for. Joey was the voice for so many, and you know what, he still is.

4. Lou Reed. I’m going to try keep this as short as possible because I truly have no issues with writing a massive essay about my love for Lou Reed. However all I want to say and could say about him has been said before. Again, this is another genius my uncle got me into. He got me into Velvet Underground then after he saw my love for them he told me to listen to Transformer. Is Transformer one of the best records made? Damn right it is. Wagon Wheel is one of my favourites for sure. I just love Lou’s style of writing. He’s a genuine story-teller who takes you into the underworld of all around you. You think all you see is all that exists, then you listen to a Lou Reed song and it’s like you fall into a different world. Something quite dark, wonderful and weird. You never want out of it. I think, once you listen to Lou- that’s it for life. Once you give yourself over to his words, you feel part of something that no one or nothing could tear you from. You even forgive him for that Lulu record because Transformer exists.

3. Scott Walker. I guess like most I have already mentioned, Scott Walker is an acquired taste. His debut record is by far one of the greatest records ever made. My Death is probably my favourite Scott Walker song, you know, with me being a ray of sunshine and all that. But in all seriousness, my love for Scott Walker came from of course, The Walker Brothers. His solo work is just a work of art. Every record is a masterpiece. You really cannot deny that he’s a genius. The way his mind works, the way he writes, the way he sings- he’s just out of this world. He’s an enigma, for sure. I cannot wait for his new record to come out in December. Every record of his sounds entirely different from the last; but they always remain timeless and as important as each other. To have a career that reads like that is rare, and something that should be treasured.

2. Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart.) A strange soul who made even stranger music. Safe As Milk changed a LOT for me. I think it honestly changed how I listened to music, and the ways it affected me. It opened up my mind. What did Trout Mask Replica do? Well, it freaked me out in the most pleasurable way for sure. I think it is one of the weirdest records I’ve ever heard.  I loved the way his mind worked. From his songs to his paintings- everything about him just oozed freedom and creativity. The two go hand in hand, but not many can make them work as perfect as Don Van Vliet did. He was a rare spirit that made you feel so free. When you listen to Safe As Milk, whether the first time around or if you’re a new fan, everything about it just gives you something you are never going to get again. I guess you can only get it from a Beefheart record. Certain musicians give you certain feelings, I think what Beefheart gave you is something that goes beyond words you know. I’ve tried so many times to pick a favourite song by Captain Beefheart, but instead I’ve narrowed it down to a moment. It’s when he says, “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast ‘n bulbous, got me?” at the start of Pachuco Cadaver. No idea what it means, but it’s wonderfully strange.

Okay so for Number 1 I just couldn’t decide. Bob Dylan or Morrissey. I can’t choose. There’s no way I can do that. So, joint first place are Bobby and Morrissey. So I’m going to keep it brief.

1. Bob Dylan. Where do you begin when attempting to write about your love for someone so inspiring? I have my mum to thank for my obsession with this man. I’m proud of my Dylan tattoo on the back of my neck. It’s of a song that guided me through hell and back. Through hell some more, and back again. His words provide guidance through life- the good and the bad. It is like he is reassuring you every step of the way. My mum used to sing Forever Young to me when I was a baby before I went to sleep. His music is perfect for long train journeys or just walking around on your own. He makes you feel okay with whatever is going on. You stare out to all you see with his words echoing delicately in your ear, and you’re to restart/carry on. I hold Blonde on Blonde very dear to my heart, and I think it is possibly my favourite Dylan record. But with so many, I think it is hard to choose a solid favourite yet it seems to always be the one I go to for various reasons.

1.Morrissey. I’ve always declared Morrissey as being the one true love of my life. Mainly because his words/songs have been there when I thought I had nothing else. Speedway has been the song that sums up my life for the most part, as does Alma Matters. Everyday Is Like Sunday fully describes where I unfortunately live. I could honestly write an essay about every Morrissey song and still feel I had more to say. His words are a safety net and a force of hope to guide you through. He manages to release every unwanted and wanted feeling you have ever had, and will have had. Dismiss him as a moody sod all you want; but maybe you are scared to see yourself in his words. Seeing him live..every single time feels like a healing process. For some reason, every time before I have seen him- something shit has gone on in my life, and I’ve seen him and it all feels okay. His music goes beyond just being music, and I know every Morrissey fan feels like that. He’s not someone you just stick on as background music. He’s the soundtrack to all you do. He’s someone I don’t think I could actually sit and listen to with. It’s a very personal experience, mainly because I relate to a vast majority of his lyrics. I just adore everything about him, he’s the reason as to why lyrics are so important to me. I wear my Morrissey tattoo on my arm with unconditional love and pride. He changed my life and saved my life; that’s why he’s my number 1.

“No longing for the moonlight, no longing for the sun. No longer will I curse the bad I’ve done.”

If you feel like you belong in this world, that you were born at the right time then you are so lucky. If you don’t feel empty when you see what your generation are into, then you are lucky. If you can relate, then do you do it? Reality shows are fake and pointless. Books are being turned into devices. Record stores are closing. And I don’t understand why people use Instagram. Why do people take photos of their food? If I wanted to know what you ate, I probably would’ve asked if you wanted to go for dinner. I don’t get it. I don’t hate everything around me; far from it. I just don’t really hold much hope, love or like even towards modern life. I hate that I was born when I was, and grew up to see cultures turn cold and reliant on things that can break instantly.

Some bands are hell-bent on recreating a sound that was done in the 70s/80s. Some do it really well without making it obvious. However some just look silly. It’s like that time everyone thought neon paint and “bringing back” the 80s was a good idea. I guess current times are so shit, we must stay in the past. Again, I don’t get it.

I don’t really understand people who claim to only listen to music that isn’t current you know? Do you have ANY idea what you’re missing out on? From 2:54 to Crocodiles to King Dude to Warpaint and all in-between. There’s so much good music that you’re missing out on. I know, I know we will never have an album as powerful as Psychocandy or as creepy as Seventeen Seconds or as wonderful as Viva Hate. It’s okay. Trust me, it’s alright.

But modern life (aside from some music) is a drag. It’s a chore to get up and carry on, I know. I fully understand. If I didn’t force myself to go to the gym every morning I’d probably stay in my room and not go out. Not because modern life is toss, but for many other reasons. You have to force yourself to carry on and do what you can. You just have to. The alternative isn’t exactly something that appeals.

You twist, you turn. You fight with yourself, you fight with anyone who will listen. You declare you’re not good enough. You know why? Because your surroundings make you believe that you’re worth nothing. Thing is, we’re all worth something. Maybe not to ourselves but to one person for sure. I know I should pay attention to what I write; but I just can’t. I don’t think I could ever fully believe in myself and not carry some self-doubt you know. I just think, if I ever thought I was good at something I would never do it again. If I thought I was a decent Music Writer, I’d stop. I’m not looking for a pat on the back or for someone to say I’m any good. Far from it. This is my venting my frustrations at life and how we are becoming more numb to all we see, and all we are. People are caring less and less. My problem is that I probably care too much. I don’t care what people think about me because 1 or 2 people truly know me. As you get older, you realise what matters. You slowly see that people are as cruel as school kids in the playground. They will stab you in the back, and through the heart too. Whilst trying to fuck with your mind. People aren’t as loving as they once were.

Where I live everyone looks the same. I try not to look up when I leave the house. If I look up and around, my self-hate will go through the roof. Eye contact just doesn’t happen. The pavement is my friend. The cracks are the tales of fury. They cracked because they couldn’t take it anymore. I fully understand.

I hate where I am, and the harder I try to get out; the further I am knocked back.

So I play music as loud as I can in my ears. Just to drown out everything, and everyone. It’s working. I’ll get out, even if I have to fucking crawl.

I’m using music to drag me through.

“Round my heart, and runnin’ round my brain.”

I cannot stand songs that go on and on about being in love or how wonderful the world seems. I can’t relate to it, so I don’t really care for it. I love songs and artists that drag out the ugly, and dark feelings we are conditioned to ignore. The feelings we are told to never speak of. I love it when an artist has the guts to sing the songs that reach for your soul and just crush you. It crushes you in a way that leaves you crippled with so many painful feelings; you just don’t know what to do with them. I don’t mean songs about having your heart broken by someone. That isn’t the only bad feeling in the world. There is more to life than being in love and losing love. However, again; we are conditioned to seek love from another so we can justify our existence. Personally, it’s utter bollocks. You validate your existence in your own way. It doesn’t have to mean you have to be in love to do so.

Although I love songs that rake out the harsh and brutal feelings we are meant to push aside, this doesn’t mean I walk around hating life and everyone. I’m an average human being; nothing special. I hate no one, I hate nothing. I don’t have it in me to have that feeling at all. There’s good and bad in everything, and in everyone. I’m not someone who is against being in love; I’m sure it’s a delightful thing when it goes right. I just find the darker side, the things we are told to not go near much more interesting.

There is something romantic and comforting about hearing a song that just oozes pain and despair. Heroin by Velvet Underground is one of the most gut-wrenching and heart breaking songs ever written. It isn’t about a lover. It is fairly obvious what it is about. Every single time I listen to it, it just delves into a part of me; I cannot imagine a cheery song doing this to me. Don’t get me wrong, I do listen to a lot of music that someone could pass as “happy.” However, bands such as Velvet Underground make me happy because of what they mean to me. It doesn’t matter what song I play by them, it just  goes to a part of me that, although the lyrics can be quite sad- it still makes me happy. It makes me happy that I have a band like that in my life, that mean so much to me. The same can be applied to The Jesus And Mary Chain, Spiritualized and Townes Van Zandt.

One of the first songs I remember hearing by Spiritualized was Broken Heart. If anyone was to ever list the songs that could break a person in so many ways- this should be at the top. Jason Pierce has this way of projecting such frailness and vulnerability into his lyrics that make you connect so deeply with what he is saying. He takes you right down to rock bottom with him. Thing is, you don’t want to get back up from it. He was one of the first artists I really remember feeling this way about. Just instantly connecting with every word. Clinging onto it with all I had. Much like The Cure and of course, The Smiths. A band can really make you feel less alone when you think you’ve hit the lowest point. I guess sometimes, you can always go lower. If you’re scared of hitting it- you’ll probably get there quicker than you planned to. If you’re not scared, it’s up to you how you deal with it. Some things you can fight off and avoid. Some things just happened. You cannot plan a thing.

Townes Van Zandt (aside from Morrissey) is my favourite male solo artist of all time. What I loved (and still do) about his music was the honesty and how you could easily feel every single word he sung. You knew he meant every single word when he mentioned feeling so low. Songs such as Waiting Around To Die, Cocaine Blues just really made you feel for him. I will always stand by Waiting Around To Die as being one of my favourite songs of all time. I could listen to it over and over, and not get bored of hearing his breaking, powerful, trembling voice. He was well and truly the most underrated singer/song-writers of all time. If you want pain and aching lyrics- Townes Van Zandt is the one.

All these reasons I’ve mentioned (and more) are probably why I love The Drums so much. I love how they have such sadness surrounding their songs but it is disguised through the electrifying guitars and upbeat drums. Songs such as Book Of Stories, Best Friend, What You Were, I Felt Stupid are so heartbreaking- but so utterly perfect. You know, I don’t think I could look at someone who didn’t enjoy at least one song by The Drums. I remember first hearing them in early 2009 and, I felt how someone must have felt when they first heard The Beach Boys, The Ronnettes, The Smiths- it was so exciting, and so needed at the time. I do believe that if they ever called it quits- I would cry. Just like I did when The Long Blondes split up. When you feel such a strong connection to a band, they become your life. They say everything you cannot say. I love Marina And The Diamonds because she can write songs that make you feel less alone about having bad days and disliking yourself. She makes you feel okay about not being as strong as you think you should be. I love Florence + The Machine because Florence can express such dark feelings in a way that just blows me away and can make you feel less troubled about carrying around certain feelings that probably bug you a Hell of a lot.

You see dear reader, it is quite easy to tell a person something so positive and charming. Yet when you have to attempt to say something quite dark and hurtful about what is whirling on in your head- it can be quite daunting. There’s a song for every occasion. There’s a lyric to describe everything you feel- whether it is joyful or horrendous- someone has already said it for you. Someone has already felt that way and made it more eloquent than you could even try to do. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s bad enough feeling like shit, so when someone else can sum it up in a song for you- it takes the added pressure of expressing yourself off.

Just remember- it is okay to feel like shit. It is okay to be happy. Never feel bad for how you feel, whether it is good or bad. You cannot switch yourself off, but you can always, always-restart.

Death In Music.

Death. A subject most fear and refuse to ever talk about. A subject that no matter how hard you try to avoid, it’s still going to happen. Anything that starts will always end. Friendships, relationships, life. With most things in life we go through with others. We share certain moments with others such as love, laughter, tears, joy, pain- everything. Aside from death.

What fascinates me about death is that nobody can tell you what happens when your body leaves this earth. We all make our own assumptions. Some choose a religious stance, others may take a spiritual approach and some just have no opinion on the matter. Personally, I’m on the spiritual side of things- but this is not the time or place for me to put across my personal views.

With death, it is a one person thing. Just YOU feel it. YOU’RE the one that is aware of what is happening to you. Nobody else can feel that emotion. A person that has died cannot come back and tell you what it is like. Nor can they tell you what happens afterwards. This may be daunting for some, but I just find it entirely fascinating.

I’m not someone who sits and thinks about how I will die or how I wish to die. I’m not that morbid or curious. Nature can deal with it. One thing I find interesting are songs about death. Regardless of genre- death is a subject that is frequently touched on. Some may hide it better than others. Certain genres go more in depth with it. So, I’m going to choose a selection of songs that touch on the subject of death. I’m not going to make it insanely depressing; just focus on the creative side of it and how an artist expresses their views on the subject.

The first song I’m choosing to write about is one that I feel is one of the most heartbreaking songs of all time by one of the greatest bands of all time. Treasure by The Cure is quite simply, breathtaking. The fragility in Robert Smith’s voice here always hurts to listen to. It’s such a sad sad song. It is taken from the album Wild Mood Swings which was the first album I heard by The Cure. I remember finding it amongst my stepdad’s music collection, I was only 10 years old- I took the CD and was just fascinated by what I was hearing. Treasure stood out for me more than the other songs because it just sounded so dark and vulnerable. I was always an odd one, so I guess its no surprise I was fascinated with such a dark song. I suppose you could take it as a breakup song, but I honestly wouldn’t understand why. It’s got such an aura of death and dying surrounding it. The way he sings, “She whispers, “Please remember me. When I am gone from here.” She whispers, “Please remember me. But not with tears.”” It just instantly crushes you. Robert Smith sings it so delicately, like an Angel or something. His voice just sounds so pure and innocent. I love The Cure because they just hit this part of you that no other band could get to. I love The Smiths/Morrissey with all I have, but The Cure hit a part that no one else could reach. They’re a lifeline, a crutch at best. When I listen to Treasure, I can’t help but feel for the person who is telling the loved one not to cry. Knowing you’re about to leave someone forever is just as crushing as being the person left behind. You suddenly find more things you want to say to them, the time you had with them seemed to have been too short- more needs to be said. But what can you say? What can you prove? “Remember I was always true. Remember that I always tried. Remember I loved only you.” Not only is this enough to make you breakdown, it’s just so apt. You want the person to know that you were always theirs; you always tried your best for them. More importantly, they were your everything. You loved them, always. You always will. In life and in death.

If one song sums up the solitude found in death it has to be Waiting Around To Die by Townes Van Zandt. If I had to list my favourite songs of all time, this would be in my Top 5. I love the pain, frustration and anguish in his voice. A lot of his songs were just riddled with loneliness. Anyone who claims to have never felt lonely is a liar. Being alone and feeling lonely are two very different things, and to deny ever feeling that way just makes you a liar. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, well, there’s still time. Waiting Around To Die for me, just cries out someone waiting for death because means nothing; that ending it would just give it more meaning. It oozes boredom and addiction. Some may say there’s a link between the two; I say it’s all down to strength of character. The last verse ALWAYS cuts deep into my heart. With all his songs, you can hear and feel he means every single word he is singing, but this song just grips you so hard. It’s a painful grip because you can sense his pain, but for some reason you just cannot let go. Do you want to? I doubt you could.  “Now I’m out of prison, I got me a friend at last. He don’t steal or cheat or drink or lie. His name’s Codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen. Together we’re gonna wait around and die.” Everyone has done him wrong, so he turns to a substance, in this case Codeine- it’s all he has, they’ll wait it out and die together. To feel that low and desperate must be such an exhausting feeling. I think it’s something that we all work hard to never ever feel. You cannot control what happens; you cannot control your emotions. Some things you just cannot fight off.

I cannot write an article on death in music and ignore The Smiths can I? It has to be Asleep. Morrissey’s gorgeous voice over the haunting piano is so comforting. It’s comforting in a way you never thought a song like this could be. It’s evidently about suicide, but the way Morrissey has written it is so clever. He regards death in this song as basically just being asleep which makes it a less painful concept. “Don’t feel bad for me. I want you to know, deep in the cell of my heart. I will feel so glad to go.” I think anyone who has felt so alone and has felt that awful feeling of just wanting to leave will truly feel that part of the song more than most. You don’t want any loved ones to feel sorry for you because it is what you want. You just cannot carry on anymore. Some people that have felt this low manage to pull through. Some sadly however, succumb to this horrible feeling and just call it quits. It isn’t right, it isn’t wrong; it is just a shame. As a massive (understatement) fan of The Smiths and Morrissey, this song just shows Morrissey at his most painful, darkest and articulate. The loneliness that pours out of Moz’s music is astounding. He makes you feel lonely even if you don’t feel it. That’s the beauty of music; it can make you feel things you never thought you could feel. Sometimes they are horrible feelings, sometimes they are wonderful feelings. What I take from music is the ability to no longer be scared of having feelings. It’s okay to feel like utter shit, its okay to be happy. There is no right or wrong, ever. Asleep is like a lullaby, an extremely dramatic and aching lullaby. You feel as if you’re floating away from all you hate as you listen to it. When you wake up, well that’s an entirely different feeling altogether.

One of the first Hip Hop records I remember buying was Ready To Die by Notorious B.I.G. His debut record is not for the faint hearted or those who have never possessed a deep thought in their life. It isn’t for those who cannot take pain and honesty. One song in particular, Suicidal Thoughts is one of the most intense and darkest songs I’ve ever heard. Not just from the Hip Hop genre, but in general. Biggie was a poet, you cannot deny that. The greatest Hip Hop artists SHOULD be regarded as poets; it’s just a shame most of them aren’t. A lot of people are always like “BIGGIE OR TUPAC?!” No. It is so easy to see that both artists were as astounding as each other, both fantastic poets who could make you really feel what they were saying. They made you feel part of the stories they were telling. They were so much more than Hip Hop artists, but the media, as ever just labelled them as thugs. The opening line, “When I die, fuck it I wanna go to hell. ‘Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell” The harsh feel of self loathing in this line is painful, the brutal honesty just takes you back. You can’t help but think, “How can someone feel so low?” Quite easily, sadly. This line is nothing compared to the rest of the song. Suicidal Thoughts is just brilliantly dark. It keeps you on edge; if you aren’t left feeling tense after listening to this you probably don’t have a soul. Certain lines make you squirm because the honesty hits you so hard. The whole song is one big dramatic build up. It doesn’t read like a suicide note. If you read the lyrics, you just get a sense of what goes in someone’s mind when they feel so low. He states that the mother of children would be glad he was dead, no one would miss him. It’s horrific that a person could feel like that, but it happens. The song is a phone call between Biggie and a friend. The end of the track ends with the line, “Matter of fact, I’m sick of talkin’” followed by a gunshot. Then his friend calls out for him. I swear, if this doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable then something is up with you. It’s a difficult song to listen to- you could be the happiest person in the Universe, but this song will destroy your happiness for a while after hearing it. It’s so deep, so harsh.

The song I want to finish this on is on a different level of beauty and perfection. The artist is easily one of the greatest artists ever. I remember when I first heard this song, I just cried. I cried because it was so frail, haunting and accurate. I know I said at the start that death should not be feared, but a level of uncertainty should be kept and questioned. We need to question what happens to keep us going, and to ease the fear. The song is of course, Hope There’s Someone by Antony And The Johnsons. This isn’t a song you just casually play in the background whilst cooking your dinner, oh no. This isn’t a song you play whilst getting ready to go out. This is a song you play by yourself when you just feel something that is beyond words. I don’t listen to it often because it just crushes me more than any other song. The whole song is just fear and uncertainty, but there’s one part of the song that just sums up what every single person must feel as they approach death. Whether they know it is going to happen or not, this line must be something similar to what they feel: “Oh I’m scared of the middle place, between light and nowhere. I don’t want to be the one left in there, left in there.” I think that is exactly how someone must feel as the end approaches. The piano build up in this song feels like the person leaving the world in body, becoming free. Flying away from this life and into the next. It is so euphoric. This is the kind of song you listen to with your eyes shut, and as you open them- the tears just fall. Antony’s voice is so beautiful on this song, his voice trembles and you can feel his fear. “Hope there’s someone who’ll take care of me. When I die.” We all want someone to meet us on the other side. I’d love it if John Peel and Lester Bangs greeted me on the other side with records and a cup of tea. The way Antony sings that line just makes you want to cradle him, and tell him that someone will be there; that he has nothing to fear. But can we be so sure? Personally, I believe there is someone.

So there you have it, probably the most morbid thing I will ever write. Thing is, I enjoyed writing this more than previous articles. I know there are so many songs that touch on the subject of death and dying. I just picked the ones that I feel portray the subject in such grand ways; whether it be intense or just heartbreaking. Like I said at the start, it’s something we go through alone. However, music again just proves that we are never alone with how we feel. Remember, it is okay to be scared and unsure; but do not focus on it. Make the most of what you have, for when it is over; it is only over in this lifetime. You can start over again in the next one.

Townes Van Zandt.

Following on from Lightnin’ Hopkins and how pain is portrayed and created by singers, Townes Van Zandt in my mind is one of the greats if not THE greatest.

Songs such as Kathleen and Waitin’ Round To Die are just so painfully beautiful. If I could write anything as hard-hitting and heart-breaking as that, I’d be happy.

“It’s plain to see, the sun won’t shine today. But I ain’t in the mood for sunshine anyway. Maybe I’ll go insane.” The sheer frustration yet lack of faith here is so utterly chilling, you cannot help but wonder what was going on in his mind when he wrote Kathleen.

Townes’ life wasn’t exactly the artists dream. He suffered with alcoholism, drug addiction and was diagnosed with Manic Depression. He was diagnosed with Manic Depression at quite a young age, and a lot of his long-term memory was erased from having insulin shock therapy. A lot of artists suffer for their art, there is no doubt that Townes was one of them.

“Now I’m out of prison, I got me a friend at last. He don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie. His names Codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen. Together we’re gonna wait around and die.” So painful, you cannot help but believe he truly felt every single word here.

There will never ever be anyone quite like Townes Van Zandt.