Introduction: Paint it Black
“I see a red door
And I want it painted black
No colors anymore
I want them to turn black”
There is, in my opinion, no more apt description of the condition of being depressed than “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones. It captures the social dislocation, emotional dissonance, and disassociation with self of the depressed state. And expresses the paradoxical egocentric capitulation to that terrible contortion of soul that cripples as it consumes you in false comfort.
“Maybe then, I'll fade away
And not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up
When your whole world is black”
Chapter One: Can’t Find the Music
I consider it no coincidence that I didn’t pick up my guitar in the fifteen or so years I was in my deepest depression. Nor do I consider it a coincidence that once effectively medicated, the music simply fell out of me in great lumps of songwriting. Music is a direct line to our deepest emotions, a well shaft dug deep from which we draw our most true emotional self. Is it any wonder, I’d struggle to find the music in me when, “I look inside myself, And see my heart is black.”
And so, throughout my ongoing recovery, music has become the canary in the mindshaft of my emotional state. The harder it is for me to find the music in me, the deeper into my depression I know I have sunk.
Chapter Two: A Perfect Joke
“It’s not easy facing up, when your whole world is black”, but face up, we must. A perfect joke resides at the heart of recovery from depression. The only way to truly recover is to build value into our lives. But in doing so we must, like everyone, risk losing that which we have come to value; and the only way to obtain that value is to invite the possibility of failure, something we are ill-prepared for. The thing that can save us, can also sink us.
Chapter Three: Question the Sanity
I sometimes question the sanity of engaging in a creative act where rejection is so commonplace, it is now entirely normal for music-makers to pay for the opportunity. A creative act where cheaters prosper, while many of the genuine and hardworking will soon fall short of the threshold of reward. Where favorites are played and working will never beat the network, where it is free to those who can afford it and prohibitively expensive to those who can’t.
Did I mention the backstabbers and the cliques? “I see my red door, I must have it painted black”.
Conclusion:The Phony Liberation of Fatalism
“If I look hard enough
Into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me
Before the morning comes”
There is such terrible temptation in the phony liberation of fatalism. The almighty lie, screamed in silence inside our minds, that it would be better if we just quit. We each have our own private Iago’s whispering in the seductive tones of disillusionment. And if we are not wise in our footing, we can so easily slip.
We must take the necessary care to place our feet upon the firm ground of hard earned achievement, and sense of self. From that firm footing, we can recognise our good fortune and be thankful for it. This optimistic vantage point allows us to see our hopes and dreams more clearly and, if we are lucky, the way to reach them.
Do you really want to “..see the sun blotted out from the sky?”
“Paint it Back” by The Rolling Stones
Released on: 1st April, 1966
Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham
Composer Lyricist: Keith Richards
Composer Lyricist: Mick Jagger