Tuesday Ten: 231: Medication

I mentioned the other week that after some time of fighting it, I finally accepted the need for anti-depressants from my doctor. A couple of weeks in, things are at last settling a little with them and some of the side-effects are relenting.

It has inspired this week’s Tuesday Ten, too. In fact, a number of the suggestions this week came from this Facebook thread, where I ended up with no less than sixty-five usable suggestions and faced the task of whittling them down to just ten songs (well, actually eleven, but one is an intro to another). Thanks to everyone who suggested songs, too, there was a hell of a list to sift through!

So, this is a Tuesday Ten about medication and legal drugs – a journey from treatment to cure, I guess. Let’s go.


Cyanotic
med:gen / Dose Responsive
The Medication Generation

Sean Payne’s Cyanotic are unusual in that a large number of their songs detail personal struggles with medication and the various side-effects, as well as the wider issues that result. These matters came to a head on the band’s second album The Medication Generation, which was loosely based around the whole concept of a generation of kids in the US who have been raised to simply medicate any issue away (for UK readers, there was an exceptional Louis Theroux documentary about this a few years back). And once the avalanche of samples of med:gen sets the scene, Dose Responsive unleashes a torrent of fury about the status quo, with the musical backing the heaviest Cyanotic have ever got:

“Take pills to combat stress / Half the dose no more or less / Just flip the switch, turn on, tune out / Fade away and remove all doubt”

I could just as easily have used Beta Blocker (self-explanatory), Dissonant Dissident (anti-depressants) or Order Out of Chaos (panic attacks), among others, too…


Spiritualized
Medication
Pure Phase

Jason Pierce has spent much of his musical career writing about both the benefits and drawbacks of a whole host of drugs, both legal and not, with many songs being hazy on whether they were about life on heroin or prescription drugs. One such song is this one, the opener to Pure Phase that sounds appropriately woozy and dreamy for the most part, only pulling itself from that state for short periods of wall-of-sound guitars, to epic effect. On the following album, the legendary Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, went even further with the only medicine-based packaging for a CD I can think of.


The Dreaming
Painkillers
The Dreaming

The all-but-reunion of Stabbing Westward’s core members on this album resulted in any of the members strongest album in years, as it happens, and Christopher Hall’s lyrical themes were still based around love and loss, particularly loss. This stomping, industrial rock monster of a track sees Hall wanting desperately to numb the pain of loss (of love) with painkillers. Quite whether that is actual painkillers, or something stronger, is never made clear.


Morphine
Cure For Pain
Cure For Pain

The late Mark Sandman’s band Morphine should so have been bigger and better-known than they ever were. The only alt-rock band to make a saxophonist centre-stage (rather than a guitarist), they sounded like no other band and were frequently amazing. Probably best-known for their MTV hit Honey White (a song I’ve long considered to be about heroin, but I may be wrong), on an earlier album Sandman was in a reflective mood for the title track, detailing his wish to not ever have to medicate, by just curing pain instead. Sadly he died of a heart attack in 1999.


Failure
The Nurse Who Loved Me
Fantastic Planet

The thing is, that (often much-needed) medication can do some really strange things. Just ask Failure, who amid the quite wonderful space-rock of Fantastic Planet, found themselves hallucinating about the nurse caring for them in hospital, thinking that so much more was going on than just regular care. Even dreaming that she’ll be heading home with them, complete with her “pharmacy keys” and presumably all the medication they could ever need. (Note: you may know this song better in the form of A Perfect Circle’s lovely cover on Thirteenth Step, that actually isn’t a million miles from the original).


Suede
Sleeping Pills
Suede

A more stark warning over the use of pills comes, of all people, from Brett Anderson of Suede, in the form of probably the best ballad the band ever wrote (and ever will). A gloriously stark sweep of guitar paints the background while Brett implores his love to hand over the pills and “…the time they kill“.


The Wildhearts
Caffeine Bomb
Earth vs the Wildhearts

Ginger, mind, has very different ideas to deal with his sleepy (and hungover) mind. He needs an almighty blast of caffeine to get him going, and judging on just how much he apparently needs, it must have been one hell of a night out. The track itself blasts past, seemingly powered on a similar level of caffeine to that Ginger is seeking, while christ only knows what on earth inspired the video.


Manuskript
Modern Medicine
Devil’s Advocate

Also a less than serious take on the subject comes from the Goth band who frankly, smile and lark about more than just about any other (as they did at Whitby the other week, where their set was a hoot and very, very good). Anyway, here Mike is spreading the joy of healthcare, having a go himself at caring for others after the titular care has “made a new man out me“. That enthusiasm is worrying, you know…


Aphex Twin
Ventolin
Ventolin EP

By far the harshest song to make it to this week’s Ten, here Richard D. James apparently took a side-effect from taking the titular asthma drug (tinnitus) and made it the piercing, central element of what was already a fairly harsh track – the irregular, jagged beats and murky electronics make for a disorientating, fuzzy listen, and I’m sure that was entirely the point. And I thought the side-effects of my own medication were bad…


Eels
The Medication Is Wearing Off
Electro-Shock Blues

Mark Everett had a tough time of it prior to this album – dealing with his sister’s suicide and mother’s death from cancer, you can hardly blame him for baring all emotionally on an album that really should be quite draining. But as the album comes to a close, to a pretty, glockenspiel-led melody, he is emerging from his medicated state, ready to face the world again. Yeah, not everything is perfect, for sure, and there are still painful reminders of the past, but controlling things for a bit medically has done the right thing and allowed him to cope.

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