Anaïs Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” So, face your fears.
Shivaree’s Ambrosia Parsley is scared. She lives in fear: “And there's glass on the lawn. Tacks on the floor. I always sleep with my guns when you're gone.” She wants the sun to come up so she can say, “Goodnight Moon”.
Most of us don’t fear stalkers. Fear of rejection and of our fantasies coming flailing around are far more common. It’s what Losing my Religion by R.E.M. is about, for me.
The fear of not belonging and of being alone is crippling. Being afraid can mean life passes you by. It’s expressed in Doves’ There Goes the Fear.
But when that fear is upon you it seems that there is no end to it – that you’re going mad. The undercurrents in Luke Vibert’s I Hope So But I Fear utter that terror.
Our fears make and unmake us. But what do we fear? Jazmine Sullivan lists her many fears, confessing that they’re “silly but true”. But adds that “we’re not human without fear”.
How true. John Cale knows. Fear keeps us alive. It’s our best friend – without fear we wouldn’t recognise danger and the human species would be extinct. But it makes us cautious.
Kate Bush would agree as fear of The Hounds of Love has kept her “afraid of what might be”. By the end of the song Kate may be about to overcome her philophobia.
But The Fear (I’m guessing philophobia) has such a strong hold over µ Ziq you’ll not surprised to hear “I’ll be happy on my own” being sung over clustering percussion. No risks. No pain.
In such situations we need to show empathy because although some fears may be irrational, we all have phobias. That’s why everyone connects with the Split Enz line “I don’t know why sometimes I get frightened”.
Gynophobia may seem to be the most ridiculous phobia. But when you look at the world it seems to be amongst the most prevalent. Sonic Youth’s Kool Thing thrashes out that fear and the accompanying misogyny.
Kool Thing owes a debt to Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy, which asks, who would be scared of a little colour in their family tree? Scared of someone with a different skin colour? Ha! Ridiculous. Don’t be daft, grow up.
But certain people do fill me with dread and so do certain beasts and situations. John Williams Theme from Jaws conjures up my real and imagined terrors without fail. Minor chords, a stalking rhythm, dissonance, crescendo!
The above tunes only imagine fear: Real terror is found in Lisa Germano’s A Psychopath. It’s not Goodnight Moon:
"I was wondering where you got the 911 call that you used in 'Psychopath'."
"Well, it was something my friend had. He runs a public access TV station and he had just seen it on a documentary. It was a documentary on violence. I was writing that song, and it was so scary to me. The reason I wanted to put [the 911 call] on it was because a lot of people, when you're being stalked or you're being harassed by a man, they don't take it seriously. You know, they say, "Oh, you're just being paranoid". It's like they don't know what it feels like to try to go to sleep every night with that fear, and the 911 call is the exact fear that you have when you're going to sleep. You're not scared that he's just going to hang around your house; you're afraid that he's going to get in your house and you're going to get raped, like she got raped at the end of that call. In this 911 documentary, it stops and they go to the narrator and he says, "Karen did get raped that night, the police didn't get there quite in time". Her voice is so hysterical, and I want people to know: that's what the fear is."
After such intensity we need a Spiritual. Soulsavers communicate a final fear: “I don’t want to die alone”.
Full interview with Germano is here:
Both of this week's playlists are so frightened that that they're clinging together:
Very anxious A-list:
Shivaree - Goodnight Moon
R.E.M. - Losing My Religion
Doves - There Goes the Fear
Luke Vibert - I Hope So but I Fear
Jazmine Sullivan - Fear
John Cale - Fear Is a Man's Best Friend
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
µ Ziq - The Fear
Split Enz - I Got You
Sonic Youth - Kool Thing
Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
John Williams - Jaws Theme
Lisa Germano - A Psychopath
Soulsavers - Spiritual
(some of these and many other songs should really be on the A-list).
Linton Kwesi Johnson - Di Eagle An' Di Bear (Nuclear war? Some people’s lives are already a living nightmare of fear)
Tom Robinson – War Baby (Fear of conflict: military and personal)
The Originals - Suspicion (She has a fear of him and the love he’s offering)
David Bowie - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
Thomas Dolby - I Scare Myself
Drive-By Truckers - What It Means (Fear leading to prejudice! Prejudice leading to fear)
Anthony and the Johnsons - You Are My Sister (Afraid of the dark and certain places)
Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark
Zounds - Fear (Fear as the one thing that keeps us all apart)
Ultravox - Fear in the Western World (Cold War fears. But they’re over now… Eh?)
Artie Shaw - Nightmare
Apoptygma Berzerk - Faceless Fear (“The feeling I dread is in charge and then I relive the nightmare again.”)
Rotterdam Terror Corps - Terror Feelings
White Lies - Death (I picture my own grave 'cause fear's got a hold on me.”)
The Fall – Frightened (“I'm in a trance. And I sweat.”)
Boo Radleys - Best Lose the Fear (“And I know you'd like to disappear.”)
The Flaming Lips - Look... The Sun Is Rising (“When you really listen. Fear is all you hear.”)
The Bodines - Therese: I'm shakin'n'rattlin'n'evrythin'. It scares the health out of me.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic Shears of a clown: songs about fear. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.