As morbid as it might be, songs about suicide are almost always universally great. Suicide is just one of the few topics that always fits well into songs, regardless of the genre, from Simon & Garfunkel's "Richard Cory" to that one terrible-but-yet-sorta-good "Jumper" song from Third Eye Blind. While I don't dare to cover them all, here are some of the more choice cuts from my awesome Suicide Mix Tape.
"Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry
This huge number-one hit from 1967 chronicles the tale of poor ol' Billie Joe McAllister, who committed suicide by making the leap from the Tallahatchie Bridge in Choctaw Ridge, Mississippi. After the speculation of whether or not this really happened (it didn't) reached a fever pitch, Gentry's record label commissioned a screenplay and eventual hit film about this (fake) event. The movie Ode to Billy Joe was released in 1976. While the story is fiction, there really is a Tallahatchie Bridge, so next time you're kicking it in Choctaw Ridge and feeling a little down, go follow Billie Joe and make the great leap into the water. Supposedly it's only a 20-foot drop, so you'll probably survive. That is, if you can swim.
"Lookout Mountain" by Drive-By Truckers
It's not the fact that this song's narrator is going to "throw myself off Lookout Mountain" (a real-life mountain in Chattanooga Tennessee) that makes this tune the saddest one here, it's the minutia of his impending suicide that is so soul crushing. Less concerned with the permanence of what he's about to do, the song has the would-be jumper asking, "Who will end up with my records?/who will end up with my tapes?" with a sort of pre-death sadness and confusion that is hard to overlook.
"Jeremy" by Pearl Jam
This song's impact has permanently been skewered by what happened at Columbine, so I am forced to move it from this list and to my Best of School Shooting Mix. There it will join the Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays" and the always hilarious "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" by Julie Brown [EDITOR'S NOTE: Not to be confused with the never hilarious Downtown Julie Brown of '80s MTV fame.]
"Gloomy Sunday" (AKA "The Hungarian Suicide Song") by Reszo Seress
This is sort of the audio equivalent of The Ring; supposedly you listen to this song and then next thing you know, you're hurling yourself off a ledge. Released in 1933, the song was so heartbreakingly sad that it was rumored to have led to the deaths of numerous people who listened to it. Of course this is all a fantastic urban legend that helped hype the song when it was eventually released in the States. I'm here to tell you, I listened to it, the Billie Holiday version, and I am still very much alive. For now...
The Near Misses
No matter how poetic of a note you might have written, sometimes the gun jams or the rope breaks and your attempt at suicide is nothing more than an awkward failure. Here are some good songs about ending it that just didn't make the cut:
"Jean is Dead" by the Descendents, "Straight A's" by Dead Kennedys, "Going Down to Die" by Danzig, and of course, "Beyond the Realms of Death" by Judas Priest.