“Positioning Suicidal Discourse as the Last Stand of Lyrical Ingenuousness”

Being around people who are obstinately traditional and “by-the-book” can sometimes offer a strange sort of appeal. What I’m talking about here, in particular, is certain members of management where I work, who are very hierarchical, and whose music walks this almost stupefyingly absurd line of “normal.” 

One thing that this staunch adherence to genuine convention and popularity can do involves the ability to illustrate trends in society. Most telling, and even shocking, of these trends might be related to this modern rock station my boss puts on which played “Loser” by Three Doors Down and “One Last Breath” by Creed, two songs with explicitly suicidal rhetoric in their lyrics. At other times, I’ve come across Kidrock’s “Only God Knows Why,” a tune you could certainly slot in that same category, if you were to prefer. 

One interesting common thread is that each one of these songs came out between 1998 and 2001, or the culminating epochs preceding 9/11, if you will. After that terrorist attack tragedy, we will observe, generally, in popular rock, what I’d like to call a move toward the “absurd,” with Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” and Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” two expeditions which basically function to debase the earnestness of discourse in rock music, making a mockery out of people, more or less. And the cultural idea here might have pointed to some constructed malady in “taking yourself too seriously,” as if this were to amount to selfishly putting one’s own interests ahead of our country, which was, allegedly, in danger of terrorist attacks. 

There’s something curiously sovereign, and even soothing, though, about these earnest rock songs from 2001 and before, songs which unearth feelings of hopelessness, desperation, and, probably, severe depression. The popularity of them, I would think, would obviate their value and purpose in existence. But having been snuffed out by a culture of nationalism and anti-self-preservation, they’re rendered relics of a by-gone era. And it’s a sad world, indeed, when even the discursive embrace of suicide as a viable recourse in one’s life is even seen as an act of excessive indulgence and self-catering. 


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