10 Albums For Depressed People

3. Elliott Smith, Elliott Smith (1995)

Elliott Smith’s second self-titled album, released in ’95, features mostly songs that express a deep, fully-conscious self-loathing and bitterness toward loved ones and friends; bitterness toward the world at large — ‘giving in’ to addiction, and hating the pressure of expectation. What’s supremely interesting for me about Smith’s lyrics is his use of the second person to refer to himself, those who have wronged him, and those he hardly even knows. This aspect gives the lyrics a biting severity. Some sample lyrics from the premiere track on Elliott Smith, “Needle in the Hay”:

Your hand on his arm
Haystack charm around your neck
Strung out and thin
Calling some friend, trying to cash some check
He’s acting dumb
That’s what you’ve come to expect…

Now on the bus
Nearly touching this dirty retreat
Falling out 6th and Powell, a dead sweat in my teeth
Gonna walk walk walk
Four more blocks, plus the one in my brain
Down downstairs to the man, he’s gonna make it all okay
I can’t beat myself
I can’t beat myself
And I don’t want to talk
I’m taking the cure
So I can be quiet wherever I want
So leave me alone
You ought to be proud that I’m getting good marks

I once tweeted “on another Elliott Smith binge,” and I think it did well representing what state of mind you have to be in to really feel what Smith is trying to express in the album: cold, juvenile, angsty, sadness, like you’ve been wronged, but you deserve it anyways, because you’re a piece of shit.


More From Thought Catalog

  • ZaneEatsWorld

    First wave emo got the shaft. WHERE MY GET UP KIDS/PROMISE RING/CAP'N JAZZ AT, BSG?!?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

    antlers – hospice is my favorite depressed album

  • Oliver Miller

    The Smiths or gtfo.

    • ryan chang

      morrissey is really funny, in a 'fucked-but-totally-ok-with-it' way

    • angelikap

      The Smiths were def conspicuously absent..

  • star colonel kotaire

    yo beeKEEPERS, forgot osasis what's the story (morning glory)

  • ryan chang

    i like that chopin is included. was hoping to see the get up kids or jawbreaker on this list.

  • http://twitter.com/lukebourassa Luke Bourassa

    “Saturdays = Youth” is a gorgeous album and I've never considered along side the word “depressed.” Should have included Beck's “Sea Change”

    • brandypass

      I agree. Sea Change is bar far the most depressing album I own. Well maybe that or City and Colour “Bring Me Your Love” (Which is gorgeous).

  • alexrax

    oh man this is my life. elliott smith was my break up record. st ide's heaven was my (super depressing) jam.

  • scott

    My December by Kelly Clarkson (2007) is a fantastic yet depressing album

    • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

      could this be a troll even greater than the likes of myself? i cannot discern.

      • scott

        no im being serious. it's really underrated and it's really good and different than all of her other albums. it's not as commercial. you should check out some of the songs – some highlights include Irvine, Don't Waste Your Time, and Maybe. To be honest, the whole album is very cohesive and tells a nice story.

  • Ben Leach

    I think its funny that Nico, Elliot Smith, and Nick Drake are all on this list and all have (arguably) the best songs on the Royal Tennenbaums soundtrack. Why did I never think of that movie as super depressing until just now? weird.

  • http://tomhankssuperfan.blogspot.com megan boyle

    nick drake, jesus. i didn't know that's what happened to him, or forgot that happened to him, maybe. i liked reading this article.

  • Julian Williams3

    Pink Floyd – “The Wall” (Too Obvious?)
    Bob Dylan – “Blood on the Tracks”
    Any Damien Rice

    • brandypass

      Love The Wall!

    • RamonaCC

      “Blood on the Tracks” is so good and damn depressing as hell.

  • http://twitter.com/joshliburdi Josh Liburdi

    when I think depressed, I think jason molina. everything he writes is about the blues and depression. and it is all wonderful. (especially Let Me Go x3 and Didn't It Rain.)

  • http://twitter.com/ohfaith Faith Wright

    carissa's wierd- songs about leaving

  • Amy

    Bonnie Prince Billy – “I See a Darkness”

  • Alex0307

    Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago.

  • clint

    really glad “
    Frédéric Chopin’s Preludes and Nocturnes” was on here. was surprised to see that. Good post Brandon!If you make a counter article “ten albums for really happy people”.. N'sync's first album and some blink 182 album HAVE to be on there cause that shit is goofy as hell and makes people so damn happyi love you

  • bollocks

    This list could use more Antlers, Mountain Goats, the National, Walkmen, and Joy Division.

    • brandypass

      The Mountain Goats, yeah.

    • Megan

      the National's Boxer is so goddamn depressing.

  • Tracy

    I second the Mountain Goats.

    Also, I appreciate the inclusion of classical music. For all of y'all depressed people looking for some classical, though, I'd go for Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Mahler, or Stravinsky.

  • brandypass

    I really like this article and it's obvious it took a lot of work to put it together and write so well. Nice.

  • http://valentine-kitchenson.tumblr.com valentine-kitchenson

    Where's the Joy Division? Unknown Pleasures is the ultimate album of self-loathing and pity.

    Good job on the article, though. I enjoyed reading it!

    • Mylum

      I agree with the lack Joy Division, but the album would have to ‘Closer.’

      That album will Make you depressed no matter what mood you’re in.

  • http://valentine-kitchenson.tumblr.com valentine-kitchenson

    Not to mention Beck's Sea Change.

    That album makes me want to start slitting my wrists; in the best way possible, of course.

    • brandypass

      Yeah a few of us mentioned that one.

  • http://twitter.com/buytoiletpaper Meaghan S

    No mention of Neutral Milk Hotel? Two-headed Boy. also, so, so, so many others. Built to Spill oldschool.

    • Asforteri

      oh man. two-headed boy is definitely some fetal-position shit.

  • http://stephentullydierks.blogspot.com stephen

    i like a lot of these albums

    it's sofia coppola, not sophia coppola, btw

    • Brandon

      thanks stephen

      • http://fastfoodies.org Briana Ritz

        don't you mean…steven

  • tim

    neil young- tonight's the night is good for drinking alone and feeling melodramatic

    • Asforteri

      my dad once dramatically said, “sometimes you are alone and drinking and depressed and it's just you… and… neil” thanks dad, now i can't hear him without thinking about you wallowing and making me feel guilty for not calling more.

  • http://twitter.com/rislynsey christopher lynsey

    Dying via anti-depressant overdose. Jesus, depressing.

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