I have chronic anxiety and might be categorized as major depressive. That’s self-diagnosed, and I’ve only lived with depression for about five years, but it’s a very tangible thing. For me, depression fluctuates somewhat predictably, like an incorporeal pendulum swinging my particular brand of sadness to and fro every other day, week, or month. At the crest of it’s left swing, I’m manic, panicky, anxious, so full of nervous energy that I’m practically paralyzed by it. The crest of it’s right swing paralyzes me with unbridled existential sadness and self-loathing, but I always know I’ll swing back the other way eventually. There’s a golden zone in between where I’m capable of feeling pretty good, and I’m looking forward to returning to that sweet, sweet region hopefully sometime soon, if only for a little while.
Strictly speaking in terms of mental health, I don’t have to fight my brain too much to feel alright maybe a third of the time. I can say without a hint of irony that I consider myself extremely lucky for that much, but like many people, I still spend most days feeling pretty bad, sometimes for a legitimate reason, usually for no reason at all.
Making music and the joy it brings me has changed over the years and Used to Feel Good is kind of supposed to be an “I don’t know why I’m doing this anymore” type song. Depression makes finding joy in things a constant battle. The things you normally love become exhausting, and at that point there’s no real respite from it - only sheer force of will keeps you going. Unsurprisingly, making music has been a source of catharsis for me for a long time. But, when I’m really really depressed, like wading neck-deep through a sludge-bog depressed, it’s nearly impossible to do and not something that I can rely on to pull myself out of the muck most of the time.
I was in full left-swing anxiety attack mode when I wrote this song in late 2018. It began as a desperate attempt to quell the maelstrom by trying to capture what I was feeling at the time and it actually helped a lot to get it out. That’s the SICK IRONY of this song about struggling to find pleasure in making music: writing it did, in fact, bring me relief, and this tune was literally the genesis of this project that ultimately became my first album, Living the Pipe Dream.
I see the sunset millions of miles away
I wanna go down, big and bright and aflame
My body feels numb in the cold light of day
I am a traveler, trekking with nowhere to stay
My knees are cracking from walking all through the night
My vision's blurry from all the grit in my eyes
Don't know where I'm going, nostalgia once was my guide
But the road is long and getting narrow, I couldn't keep the dream alive
Turns out we're all slaves to time
My head's on fire
I feel funny
Down to the wire I'm still walking, strung out on the road
It used to feel good, used to feel good
This used to feel good, used to feel good
I smell the smoke soaked up in all my clothes
I'm hearing voices that sound like people I used to know
I start to stagger and dwell on how I'm alone
It's getting dark now, the smoke reminds me of home
Then I laugh 'cause I've got ninety-million miles to go