(Warning: this post is like one of those really depressing movies that you know you won't be able to sit through unless you're in a good mood, because watching it will be like taking an elevator down to the sub-basement of depression.)
I've been wallowing lately--last week mostly; this week not so much. (To get technical: it's the difference between neck-deep and waist-deep.) And in my self-indulgent despair (which is a hundred times more depressing than my usual devil-may-care Cyranoidal despair), I have been repeatedly listening to one song, a song so depressing that I can't even listen to it twice in a row: "Feel Like Going Home," by Charlie Rich.
Not the original, mind you, which you can find here:
Feel Like Going Home - Charlie Rich
Why not the original? It's not despairing enough. Listen to that piano under everything. It's Gospel piano. And Gospel is never despairing. You could write a song whose lyrics consisted of nothing but synonyms for death, and if you arranged it as a Gospel number, it would still sound hopeful and uplifting. And when I'm wallowing, hopeful and uplifting are the last things I want to feel. I don't want to be lifted up; I want to strap a couple of two-ton weights to that fucking elevator so it'll descend twice as fast, and Galileo be damned. I want this version:
Feel Like Going Home - The Knotting Hillbillies
Now that is depression you can wallow in. It's soft and it's soothing and it's totally unrelieved by anything, even a proper fadeout, because to add insult to injury, the damn song stops just as a really beautiful guitar solo begins. How much like real life can you get, huh?
To me, there's nothing else like this version of this song. If it was a TV show, there would be another episode next week. There isn't. If it was a novel, there would be more than one way to interpret it. There isn't. If it was a play, there would be applause at the end. There isn't. If it was a movie, there would be a comforting moral. There isn't. If it was a film noir movie, there would be light against the shadows. There isn't. Except for the guitars at the end, but to me they have a "See what you lost when you left this world" feel to them. They're like individual eulogies.
And for all the beauty of those eulogies, this song is at heart so dark and so true and so unrelieved that you will never--never--hear it at a funeral, because it would be like opening the door and letting Defeat into the room. Which is not what funerals are about. Funerals are about phrases like "better place" and "at peace now," funerals are about the secret victory, not "Life defeated me at every turn," not "I am such a total failure that I give up. And so should you."
This song is as sweet and as pure as depression gets. It's as beautiful as a sunset.
Your last sunset.