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October 22, 2003


Suicidal Tendencies in Music

figure 8niagara
The suicide of Elliott Smith and the near-suicide of the Niagara Falls jumper prove yet again that a human's fabled "will to survive" isn't really quite as powerful as we're often led to believe. We don't know, but it doesn't seem like one final incident did Elliott in. He just seems to have lost satisfaction with his life, and felt overwhelmed by the burden of living. Meanwhile, the Niagara jumper, Kirk Jones, has remarked that since surviving his plunge into the Falls, "life is worth living" again. Jones, like Smith, had been through some pain lately. Again, it doesn't seem like there was a final incident that sent him over the falls, but rather the simple burdens of living had sent him in search of something that, in its own way, had meaning. It's too bad that Elliott wasn't able to find a similar meaning in his own life. Apparently, his music, which had sustained him for so long, just wasn't enough anymore.

Interestingly, Smith isn't the only one of the two who has connections to music about despair. Semi-underground hip-hop fans may remember that the rapper Sticky Fingaz (formerly of Onyx) released an almost-brilliant concept album a few years ago called "Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones" that tells the story of a thug caught up in a cycle of violence and despair beyond his ability to control. Like his Niagara-jumping namesake, Jones spends most of the album on a collision course with death, trying to live a full life but ultimately succumbing to a whirlpool of blood and vengeance.

In honor of Kirk Jones and Elliott Smith, here's two songs that capture the sadness of their respective lives.

  • Elliott Smith's "Everything Means Nothing to Me" (mp3 | lyrics). The song appears on Figure 8, placed right after a a song titled "Everything Reminds Me of Her," a gesture as evocative as the lyrics themselves.
  • Sticky Fingaz's amazing "The State vs. Kirk Jones," in which a variety of MCs give voice to the courtroom figures in Kirk's murder trial. (mp3 | lyrics)
These tracks are presented for educational purposes, of course.

PS: Chrissy wanted me to remind everyone about that great article in the NYer last week or so about jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

categories: Music
posted by adm at 10:30 PM | #


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