May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and especially as the world continues to weather a global pandemic, some music artists have been open about their experiences struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Some artists address these topics not only in interviews or on social media, but through music.
Here, CMT highlights a few songs that tackle different aspects of caring for mental health, from focusing on a positive outlook, to pulling back the curtain on the effects of anxiety and depression.
Brett Eldredge, “Good Day”
One of Eldredge’s most recent releases from his album Sunday Drive, “Good Day” features an up-tempo beat, accompanied by a message that centers on choosing to focus on the positive elements—big or small—that come with any given day. The song also sparked the idea for Eldredge’s Good Day Movement, aimed at helping communities in need.
Eldredge recently told Good Morning America about his own mental health journey, and shared one tip that helps him through hard times.
“When I pick up the phone and call somebody, even if it is so much easier to watch another TV show, I learned that if I connect with someone, that’s a huge help for me.”
David Nail, “Oh, Mother”
Hitmaker Nail has previously been open about his struggles with depression, a journey that informs this title track from his 2019 EP.
“I think the ’storm’ in the song represents a lot of things,” Nail told CMT in 2019. And as we recorded it, I began seeing it in many ways. I felt like it was almost like a soldier going off to war. Saying, ’If I don’t make it back, mother, I love you!’ For me personally,” he added about the lyric ’if I don’t make it out this storm,’ “the storm is the daily battle. So for me, it was, ’Mother, if I don’t ever return to the son you knew me as, before this battle mentally began, it’s not your fault.”
Maren Morris, “GIRL”
From the first line on the title track to Morris’ CMA Album of the Year-winning project, she takes on the topic of women being pitted against each other, and the anxieties that constant scrutiny can fuel.
Man, this sh**’s unflatterin’, all up in my head again/I don’t feel myself right now, Morris sings, later adding, Draw your comparisons, tryin’ to find who’s lesser than/I don’t wanna wear your crown, there’s enough to go around, Morris sings, before offering a soaring and assuring chorus. The song was inspired by animosity between Morris and an industry friend.
“I don’t know if it’s, like, each other or society that makes us competitive with each other, but I started this song as almost, like, a plea to this other woman. Like, ’Can we please just get our s**together and be cool?’…I was just talking freely about how ugly I was being,” Morris has said of the song. “You know, you get so in your head. Like, if someone wins something, it’s taking something away from you, which is just complete and utter bulls**t. I just really hated the way that I was reacting to things that other people were succeeding at. It really just was unflattering and, it’s like, owning up to that is such a powerful thing once you realize it.”
Jason Isbell, “Anxiety”
One of Americana’s most impactful artists and songwriters sings frankly and eloquently about how anxious thoughts can creep in, disturbing even peaceful, sweet moments with lines such as Lying here in silence/Wife and child still sleeping deep enough to dream/And oh, I’m a lucky man today/But so afraid that time will take it all from me. He co-wrote the song with his wife and The 400 Unit bandmate, Amanda Shires.
“I don’t have a clinically diagnosed anxiety issue or these sort of crippling attacks where I can’t function,” Isbell told The Entertainer Magazine. “But I did want to cover that and represent that aspect of things in the song. So I went to my wife, who has more experience with that kind of stuff, and we co-wrote that song. I wanted to be specific and describe people’s experiences when they have these sort of moments where they’re disconnected from reality and things get overwhelming. So I went to her about that.”
Morgan Wade, “The Night”
Critically-acclaimed newcomer Morgan Wade’s track “The Night” is starkly open about struggling with depression, from trying to avoid alcohol as a coping mechanism, to working with doctors to find help through prescription medication.
By summer’s end I predict that I’ll have finally lost my mind/the doctor said that these new pills they might help me this time/and I hope that’s the case because I feel I am wasting the one life that I have/the chances they come and the chances they go but the time you don’t get that back, she sings.