My two year old is suffering from Fifth Disease. Although it’s very common and relatively mild, it’s disconcerting. Fifth Disease starts like a regular cold, and for a lot of kids, that’s all that happens and you have no idea that they contracted it. It’s caused by the Erythrovirus, leading my husband to refer to our kids as the Erythmics. For some kiddos, the cold stage is followed by an alarming rash. It starts on the cheeks (hence the old name for it, “slapped cheek” disease), and then spreads.
And changes patterns.
And spreads. Sometimes for weeks.
Here are some pics of Holly:
Since these were taken, the monolithic red patches have broken into archipelagos of patchy blotches. Every day, the rash appears in a new place: the ankles, the wrists, the soles of her feet. It’s blazing hot to the touch and while it’s not itchy or suppurating, she’s clearly uncomfortable. But there’s nothing to do but wait and keep the pink goo flowing. (If you’re wondering about Robin, she seems to have had the virus with the cold/flu effects and sore joints, but not the rash.)
In honor of her diseased state, I give you
five four songs* about disease. It’s interesting to think about songs that depict disease but not death: they’re few and far between, and disease is surprisingly metaphorical in music. It’s much more literally about dis-ease, rather than, oh, amputation or surgery or the (non-boogie-woogie) flu.
1. “Acute Shizophrenia Paranoia Blues” by The Kinks
This is the first song that came to mind as I brainstormed songs about disease because of the line “there ain’t no cure for acute schizophrenia disease.” The song is about the psychology of modernity and the “schizophrenia” induced by social unrest and government control. It’s such a British tune, but modern American Tea Partiers might make it an anthem.
Well, the milkman’s a spy
And the grocer keeps on following me
And the woman next door’s an undercover for the KGB
The man from the Social Security
Keeps on invading my privacy
Oh! There ain’t no cure for acute schizophrenia disease.
This song appears on one of the Kinks’ lesser-known and lesser Kinks-ish albums, Muswell Hillbillies. Muswell Hillbillies is The Kink’s experimentation album, but it’s not trippy or dippy; it actually focuses quite a bit on disillusionment, despair, change, and poverty. It’s kind of like The Band in its old-timey feel, use of brass, etc. (What I’m saying is, this isn’t The Village Green Preservation Society or Lola)
I listened to my parents’ vinyl copy of Muswell Hillbillies obsessively at age 7. They actually had to hide it from me because they got so sick of it.
2. “Sick Again” by Led Zeppelin
Sweet lord, this is a kick ass song. Definitely one of the tracks that makes Physical Graffiti the strongest Zeppelin album (maybe not the best, but the strongest. And maybe the best.). Heavy and sexy, the disease in this song is lust for fifteen-year-old groupies. Or, it may be the disease the groupies suffer as they flock like moths to the flame of bands they adore, then get hooked in and drugged up and burned out before they graduate from high school. It’s kinda complex.
Clutching pages from your teenage dream
In the lobby of the Hotel Paradise
Through the circus of the LA queens
How fast you learn the downhill slide
3. “Remedy” by The Black Crowes
One of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite Crowes albums. “I need a remedy, huh, yeah! For what is ailing me!”
4. “Hotel Illness” by The Black Crowes
What can I say, “Southern Harmony and Music Companion” is a fantastic album, and when I tried over and over again to come up with another song about illness, this song kept popping into my head and making me happy.
My Canadian pen-pal and fellow Rustie, Stu, convinced me to buy this CD during my aimless post-high-school-pre-college year when all I did was work in the mall, chat with Rusties on AIM, and buy CDs. I got this through the Columbia Records CD club (remember those??) along with albums by Wilco (I really did like them before they were big), Dan Bern, AC/DC, and of course, Neil Young. I listened to this album on repeat all night one night.
Oh good heavens, baby where’s my medicine?
I must have left it outside with my etiquette
The undertaker’s rule of thumb
It’s hard to talk with a novocaine tongue
This room smells like hotel illness
The scars I hide are now your business
I can’t seem to make hair nor hide of this
No baby love is not a punishment.
Dear WordPress, please fix the fucked up spacing issues that have been plaguing me for over a month.
So, I picked these songs based on a few criteria: I know them well, I like them a lot, and they fit the theme. I could have included others that I didn’t know, or others that I don’t like. But I refuse! ON PRINCIPLE.
What’s happening in your world? Any other illness songs I missed?