Songs about depression can be the best place to turn when the black dog comes around. Depression's a subject that crops up in music of all kinds and from all eras – from The Rolling Stones to Kanye West. We asked the whole NME team for their top picks of what to listen to when the going gets tough, and this is what we came up with: 50 of the best songs about depression, old and new. The common thread of them all, though, is that they all help put dark thoughts into perspective.

50‘I Feel Like Dying’ - Lil Wayne

Drugs are the mentally debilitating antagonist in this cut from 2007 compilation ‘The Drought Is Over 2’.
Key lyrics: “I am a prisoner, locked up behind Xanax bars / I have just boarded a plane without a pilot

49‘Adam’s Song’ – Blink 182

These dark lyrics were written while the band were on tour, after they heard about a teen who left a suicide note for his parents. Guitarist Tom DeLonge said, “It's one of those things, a story of a kid not being happy in his life, crossed with us being really lonely on tour. At the end of it there's a better way out, there are better things to do than kill yourself."
Key lyrics: “Another six months, I'll be unknown / give all my things to all my friends / you'll never step foot in my room again / you'll close it off, board it up

48‘Paint It, Black’ – The Rolling Stones

This sitar-backed, up-tempo track was originally released as a single in 1966 before being added to the US version of fourth album ‘Aftermath’. Its lyrics are intermittently angry and melancholy, wanting to cover up all the brightness in the world.
Key lyrics: “I look inside myself and see my heart is black / I see my red door and must have it painted black / maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts / it's not easy facing up when your whole world is black

47‘Everybody Hurts’ – R.E.M.

This much-beloved anti-suicide anthem uses an understated drum machine to place all the emphasis on Michael Stipe’s voice and the song’s lyrics. “I don't remember singing it," he once said, "but I still kind of can't believe my voice is on this recording. It's very pure. This song instantly belonged to everyone except us, and that honestly means the world to me.”
Key lyrics: “Take comfort in your friends / Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand… If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone

46‘Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies’ – Biffy Clyro

The opening track to fourth album ‘Puzzle’ is “about hitting a low point and not giving a fuck," says singer Simon Neil. "It was classic depression, I suppose. I think it has the attention and release that all good songs should have."
Key lyrics: “Everywhere I look someone dies / wonder when it's my turn

45‘Hurt’ – Nine inch Nails

Johnny Cash famously covered Trent Reznor’s favourite song. "I'm not proud to say I hate myself and don't like what I am,” he’s explained, “but maybe there is real human communication that ends up positive even though everything being said is negative."
Key lyrics: “What have I become, my sweetest friend / everyone I know goes away in the end

44‘Turn Blue’ – The Black Keys

Dan Auerbach drew on his painful divorce for these morose lyrics; he struggles to "stay on track just like Pops told me to."
Key lyrics: “When the music is done and all the lights are low / I will remember the times when love would really glow

43‘Black Eyed Dog’ – Nick Drake

There’s little to this that doesn’t sound forlorn and listless, although Drake’s keening guitar work is as deft and precise as ever. He died from an overdose less than a year after this song was recorded.
Key lyric: "I'm growing old/ And I don't wanna know/ I'm growing old/ And I wanna go home."

42‘Solitude Is Bliss’ – Tame Impala

‘Solitude Is Bliss’ was described by Parker as "the most sassy, confident-sounding song” he’d created for Tame Impala. It’s an anthem for introverts, depressed or otherwise.
Key lyric: “All the kids that I can't compare to / making friends like they're all supposed to / you will never come close to how I feel

41'Basket Case' – Green Day

"The only way I could know what the hell was going on,” says Billie Joe Armstrong of his panic disorder, “was to write a song about it." This is the frenetic result.
Key lyrics: “Sometimes I give myself the creeps / sometimes my mind plays tricks on me / it all keeps adding up I think I'm cracking up / am I just paranoid or am I just stoned?

Share This

Connect With Us
This Week's Magazine