Everybody Hurts: Music and Mental Health

It’s getting more challenging to post every day as part of the WordCount 2011 Blogathon (where we must blog every day in May) but I’m still committed to doing it even if it means including short posts every few days.

Today features one of those short posts…

One of millions

There are substantial references to mental health issues (depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, bullying, etc.) within popular music. A facet of this may be the connection between creativity + emotional highs and lows.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. is told from the point of view of someone comforting a friend who is suicidal. Here are the lyrics:


When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go, ’cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go, (hold on)
When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on

‘Cause everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts. Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no. Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

If you’re on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
When you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on

Well, everybody hurts sometimes,
Everybody cries. And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes. So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on
Everybody hurts. You are not alone.

This is one of my favourite songs; R.E.M is able to capture all that is mystical and soulful. What do these lyrics mean to you? What songs can you think of that touch on aspects of mental health?

4 responses to “Everybody Hurts: Music and Mental Health

  1. I can’t think of a specific song that addresses mental health, but you made me think about how powerful music can be in so many kinds of healing: music groups for physically challenged individuals are tremendously helpful; my Mom is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s with no mental of physical capacities left but she still taps her toes when music is on; music calms or uplifts when we’re particularly harried or blue. Just amazing.

  2. Nine Inch Nails “I hurt myself today.” (by Trent Reznor, who just won the oscar for the music to Social Network) But I learned of the song through Johnny Cash’s version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVAWKfJ4Go) which absolutely rips my heart out of me.

    Nine Inch Nails Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvJKVKglIRs&feature=related

  3. susanna wolfe

    Hi. Every time I hear the song “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam it makes me so sad. A true story(?) about a boy who killed himself in class. They lyrics express that his parents did not care and that he was picked on in class!
    On another note..on the way to school today my daughter (age 7) and her friend were singing along to Miley Cyrus’ The Climb. I asked them if they understood the meaning behind the song and they did not so I explained it to them and then came home and printed out the lyrics so we can discuss and sing them together when she got home from school. That song is such a POSITIVE, girl-power song. I JUST LOVE IT!

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