The United States has recognized Mental Health Awareness Month every May since 1949, promoting discussion and compassion for people and their emotions. It’s been said that music helps improve mental health by reducing stress and alleviating depressive thoughts. Songs may speak the words one needs to hear or offer a sense of empathy. We’ve picked five songs from Dallas artists who touch on the subject of mental health and may help listeners deal with personal troubles.
"Marrow" by St. Vincent
Off St. Vincent's 2009 sophomore album, Actor, “Marrow" illustrates a plea for help from someone who feels broken — perhaps literally. The speaker in the song, who describes the connection of muscle to bone and marrow in a body, wishes to be made of iron so she can improve the parts “that need oiling and fixing.” St. Vincent combines a theme of lacking strength with a catchy melody driven through distorted guitar and bass over a pop beat, creating an atmosphere that sounds both cheery and sad. This might mirror the way looks can deceive, how smiling faces can hide downhearted feelings.
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"On the Way Down" by Ryan Cabrera
The world has plenty of potential to cause depression, and a savior can come in the form of religion, a family member, a friend or a partner. As suggested in the music video, “On the Way Down” sees Ryan Cabrera expressing gratitude toward his then-girlfriend, Ashlee Simpson, for helping him get through rough times. The 2004 debut single from Take It All Away brings hope to the listener that love can bring strength to those who need it.
"Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato has been vocal about her experiences with bipolar and eating disorders in the past. With 2011’s “Skyscraper,” Lovato’s tender voice reflects her fragile self, how it can break like glass or paper. As challenging as it may be, she’s able to overcome her trials and stand tall, like a skyscraper. In the music video, she sings on the verge of tears, walking on a desert plain with glass imagery symbolizing her gentle nature.
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"She’s Falling Apart" by Lisa Loeb
This haunting song tells the tale of a girl who has anorexia and hides the cause from her parents and the listener. Loeb co-wrote the song with Thom Schuyler, who came up with the idea from someone he knew who had anorexia. Released on Loeb’s 2002 album, Cake and Pie, “She’s Falling Apart” creates an atmosphere that seems as mysterious as the secret the girl is hiding in the song. Describing the lack of appetite, the isolation and suppressed feelings, this ballad depicts the difficulty of trying to help a child dealing with anorexia.
"You Wouldn’t Know" by Hellyeah
Drummer Vinnie Paul wrote “You Wouldn’t Know” after a concert shooting resulted in the death of his brother, guitarist Dimebag Darrell. The brothers were performing as part of their band at the time, Damageplan, and a shooter fired onstage, killing Darrell and others. Damageplan disbanded afterward, and Paul joined supergroup Hellyeah after its members persuaded him to continue with music. The song deals with the loss Paul faced from the incident, lyrically depicting a person who must confront and overcome problems no one else can understand.