A sad but important truth that we celebrate on this site is the healing power of the nervous breakdown. Some call it “God’s alien work”, some call it the “rock-bottom” moment, we call it the nervous breakdown that precedes new life. The acceptance of defeat that produces soul-deep prayer, opening a person up to the reality of deliverance. Anyway, rock n roll is rife with songs that describe these moments of acquiescence. The Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” is one particularly awesome example. Their use of “19th” may be pejorative (an almost dismissive description of the girl-in-question’s manic tendencies), but to me, it underlines the endlessly cyclical nature of repentance and absolution that marks (the Christian) life. I also happen to believe the song represents the highwater mark of their pre-1968 output, far outstripping “Satisfaction.” Watch them as they catch fire in Australia in 1966:

A second, less misanthropic example is Freedy Johnston’s excellent “Bad Reputation,” also known as the tune that plays over the credits of Noah Baumbach’s hilarious first film Kicking & Screaming. In it, Johnston’s breakdown doubles as a cry for love out of weakness, as these things often do, and the vulnerability is stunning. Death Cab did a note-for-note cover a few years ago, but Johnston’s version remains definitive: