30 songs in 30 days: #20 – “Down With the Sickness” (Disturbed)

Day 20: A song that you listen to when you’re angry

When I’m mad, I want to listen to music that reflects my mood. I want to know that someone has at least felt the same rage that I’m feeling, even if they can’t empathize with the specific cause or even the general source of that anger. When considering a song for this category, I first thought of a personal anecdote tied to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of.” But I quickly realized that the boiling fury of their radio debut is born of societal strife far more worthy of rage than any of my problems. I’m not going to insult Mr. de la Rocha and crew’s protestations of a pervasive social injustice, one that continues to plague this country nearly twenty-five years later, by tying it to my middle-class suburbanite frustrations.

Instead, let’s talk about Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness.” Rather than speaking (or screaming) out against a particular cause for a foul mood, this song stares into the beast of the emotion itself. It embraces anger, welcomes rage, accepts madness, and tells you exactly what you’re getting yourself into if you choose to listen to the rest of the album The Sickness. There’s no subtlety here: it’s twisted and sinister, ugly and raw to the point of animalistic, it’s unbridled anger itself—with two important side notes. First, it blatantly describes anger as a sickness, which can be very true. It’s fine to be angry sometimes, as long as you don’t let it consume you like a disease, festering in your brain and veins until you forget how to be happy again. Second, the song is a bit over the top, at least to me, especially in the disturbing (no pun intended), obscenity-drenched interlude absent from the version below. (You can find it for yourself if you want.) It’s just exaggerated enough that by the end of the song, I can’t help but realize that the usually little things that set me off aren’t really worth the time and energy required to maintain my ire. So as much as I may revel in its insanity when I’m feeling ragey, “Down With the Sickness” actually does temper my mood a little, giving me the sympathetic hurricane of anger I want, along with the get-over-it-and-move-on kick in the pants I need.

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