Songs about Anxiety
July 14, 2020 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Looking for song recommendations about anxiety.

I rediscovered "I Got You" by the Split Enz this morning. I did some googling to try and find some play lists of songs about anxiety or different anxiety disorders. All I could find was lists of songs to help ease anxiety. This is not what I'm looking for. I don't want to sooth; I do want to dwell.

My read on "I Got You", which may be wrong, is that it is about someone with agoraphobia. Do you know of other songs with similar themes of anxiety or anxiety adjacent conditions? Love synthy pop, electronica, and hip hop, but would take any type of music.
posted by creiszhanson to Grab Bag (48 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Anxiety by Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
posted by icy_latte at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2020 [7 favorites]

I read Once in a Lifetime by The Talking Heads to be sung from the point of view of someone suffering from Anxiety.

If fact a lot of their songs can be read this way.
posted by bondcliff at 9:00 AM on July 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

War on Drugs by the Barenaked Ladies is about mental health issues and could definitely be about anxiety.
posted by mekily at 9:06 AM on July 14, 2020

Pat Benatar's "Anxiety (Get Nervous)".
posted by Melismata at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

City and Colour: The Death of Me.
posted by acridrabbit at 9:16 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

"I'm So Anxious," Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
posted by bricoleur at 9:16 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Who Can it Be Now? by Men at Work
Fill in the Blank by Car Seat Headrest
I Just Wanna Know Where You've Been - Old 97s (lots of other songs too by them)
I Wanna Be Sedated - Ramones
All of the older Belle & Sebastian albums, like If You're Feeling Sinister (the main singer suffered some medical condition, and wrote a lot of song about being stuck at home and anxious about it).

I can't think of any specific songs (because I tired of his music and can't listen much anymore) but early Kanye West was about mental issues - think College Dropout and earlier. And this was pretty rare overall in hiphop.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:18 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sparks and Cyriak recently released a song/video that seems to fit the bill: Existential Threat
posted by subocoyne at 9:43 AM on July 14, 2020

High Anxiety
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:55 AM on July 14, 2020

Pressure by Billy Joel
How to Disappear Completely by Radiohead
Time Bomb by Dismemberment Plan
Paranoid by Grand Funk Railroad
Mind Playin Tricks on Me by The Geto Boys

Stress by Justice doesn't have any lyrics but it sure feels anxious.

Wandering a little further afield but Cuts Like Drugs by Hoover is maybe still in the ballpark.
posted by saladin at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Blood Makes Noise by Suzanne Vega

Er, Under Pressure? by that bloke and that other bloke?
posted by runincircles at 10:25 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Anxiety by Selena Gomez and Julia Michaels
posted by bookworm4125 at 10:30 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Day N Nite Kid Cudi
Everybody here hates you Courtney Barnett
Dinosaurs Ruby Fields
posted by chrisulonic at 10:33 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety" by Leonard Bernstein
posted by jquinby at 10:34 AM on July 14, 2020

The National, "Afraid of Everyone"
James, "Out to Get You"
posted by babelfish at 10:45 AM on July 14, 2020

Jeffrey Lewis pretty much nails it, as he pretty much always does.
posted by multics at 10:46 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Help I'm Alive by Metric is either about zombies or stage fright. Or both.
posted by athenasbanquet at 10:48 AM on July 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

posted by namewithoutwords at 10:52 AM on July 14, 2020

OK (Anxiety Anthem) - by Mabel
posted by heyforfour at 10:53 AM on July 14, 2020

Everybody Hates Me by The Chainsmokers
posted by derogatorysphinx at 10:59 AM on July 14, 2020

Anxiety by Electric Eels
posted by Chenko at 11:10 AM on July 14, 2020

Panic Attack by Dream Theater.
posted by dbx at 11:10 AM on July 14, 2020

Laura Stevenson has at least a couple dealing with dermatillomania: "Dermatillomania," "Value Inn"

I always read Lady Lamb's "Billions of Eyes" as being partly about anxiety as well.

Courtney Barnett's "Crippling Self-Doubt and a General Lack of Self-Confidence might count.
posted by music for skeletons at 11:18 AM on July 14, 2020

Little Dawn by Ted Leo and The Pharmacists
posted by katra at 11:20 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so far everyone! This has made a very good day of listening while I work from home. I'm pulling together quite a great playlist with all of the great suggestions.
posted by creiszhanson at 11:47 AM on July 14, 2020

I'm So Tired - Beatles (White Album)
Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown, Mother's Little Helper - Rolling Stones
posted by JonJacky at 11:51 AM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Neurotic by Bouncing Souls
posted by slidell at 11:52 AM on July 14, 2020

Got the Jitters, Don Redman and his orchestra (ca 1930)
posted by JonJacky at 11:58 AM on July 14, 2020

More paranoia than anxiety, but Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me.
posted by jabes at 12:13 PM on July 14, 2020

BC/BC is generally pop/punk, this one is a little mellower:

I'm Alright by Bad Cop/Bad Cop

I'm not sure anymore just which of these voices
Are mine
Inside my head
But I'm fighting for my life in my dreams
When I sleep every night
But I'm pretty sure I'm alright

If I said "fuck it"
Is this a mental health crisis?
If I'm angry all the time
Is that fine?
If I'm going crazy
Is that your problem or mine?
Well I'm pretty sure I'm alright
posted by Gorgik at 12:19 PM on July 14, 2020

"Paranoid" by Post Malone. One of my favorites by him, actually.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 12:55 PM on July 14, 2020

Anxiety - Black Eyed Peas and Papa Roach
posted by mogget at 1:05 PM on July 14, 2020

The Muppet version of The Windmills of Your Mind?
posted by LizardBreath at 1:05 PM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Anxiety by the Preoccupations - one of my favorites!
Also High Pressure Days by 80's synthpunk band The Units.
posted by whir at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Bruce McCullouch (of The Kids in the Hall) has an amazing album dealing heavily with anxiety, called Shame-Based Man.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:48 PM on July 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm So Worried - Monty Python
posted by mefireader at 3:41 PM on July 14, 2020

Overkill by Men at Work
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:42 PM on July 14, 2020

Andrew Bird, A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left

They Might Be Giants, Till My Head Falls Off

The Police, Too Much Information

And this one might not quite work lyric-wise but the music is pure anxiety (and sorta therefore anxiety-quelling?) - Soul Coughing, Rolling
posted by sencha at 4:11 PM on July 14, 2020

For varying degrees of literalism:

Marina - Obsessions
People are staring, time ticker-quicking, skin is on fire/Just choose something, something, something/Pressure overwhelming/Next minute, I am turning out of the door/Facing one week without food

Of Montreal - Gronlandic Edit
I am satisfied hiding in our friend's apartment/Only leaving once a day to buy some groceries/Daylight, I'm so absent minded/Nighttime, meeting new anxieties/So am I erasing myself?/Hope I'm not erasing myself...I guess it would be nice/Show me that things can be nice/You've got my back in the city/You've got my back 'cause I don't want to panic

Regina Spektor - Tornadoland
It’s so much easier than you think/You try so hard/And every time you get it wrong/You get it right...Everybody’s time has come/It’s everybody’s moment, except yours...And all the monsters in your mind/Just wanna be nice
posted by eponym at 4:50 PM on July 14, 2020

I hang on to my Vertigo - Rupert Hine (added depressing note, he just died recently, RIP) The most Anxiety-ish song that I know, ask me how I know.

The Electrician - Scott Walker (according to commentary the theme is political torture, so it's grim)

(re: Split Enz, take a look at their early albums, like Mental Notes, sunny moments spun with despair)
posted by ovvl at 5:13 PM on July 14, 2020

Dream Police by Cheap Trick. Could be any problem that involves brainweasels really.
posted by inexorably_forward at 10:42 PM on July 14, 2020

Heavenly - Me and My Madness
...which has one of the all-time great opening lines: "I hear strings in songs when they're not there"
posted by equalpants at 11:46 PM on July 14, 2020

Su Lee - I'll Just Dance
posted by WeekendJen at 5:44 AM on July 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Everything is Alright by Motion City Soundtrack* was on heavy rotation chez moi as a teenager (and I still think of the part about "theme parks and airplanes" at least once a month).

*ETA: despite a general aversion to emo/post punk, so clearly the message really spoke to anxious teenage peakes.
posted by peakes at 6:06 AM on July 15, 2020

Abba's "The Visitors" is said to be about Russian dissidents, but the lyrics still work.
posted by Melismata at 9:13 AM on July 15, 2020

Details in the Fabric by Jason Mraz
posted by yawper at 8:00 AM on July 16, 2020

Songs: Ohia - Blue Chicago Moon
Robert Johnson - Hellhound On My Trail
Abner Jay - I'm So Depressed
posted by dobbs at 4:25 PM on July 16, 2020

The Trews - Paranoid Freak
posted by DEiBnL13 at 9:21 PM on July 16, 2020

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