Jim Adams is the unshakeable host of Mindlovemisery Menagerie’s Music Challenges. Jim says:
The challenge today is to focus on [the Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown”] and use it for inspiration in any form of creative expression.
Jim, thanks for giving the breakdown on the breakdown. Never noticed that trilling bass before. The video you chose was excellent, as it shows all of the guys (except Watts on drums) in the thrill of their adoring fans. The Rolling Stones are superstars, and may be the biggest superstars of them all.
OK, on to the song. I’ll pull out some lyrics and comment from there.
You’re the kind of person you meet at certain dismal, dull affairs
Center of a crowd, talking much too loud, running up and down the stairs
The girl/woman has been conditioned to believe that her looks are all that are important. Appearances are everything. With parents who have an unlimited spending account for her, she’s a fashionista and probably spends hours poring over magazines. She must appear as the center of attention because to her that means she is worth something. In my mind I’ve got Paris Hilton.
Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years
And though you’ve tried you just can’t hide your eyes are edged with tears
Her parents are so busy living the lives of important people in their respective circles, the looking after the girl is left to servants or she is left to fend for herself. She learns to manipulate her parents or the servants into going places she shouldn’t go, and doing things she shouldn’t do. It doesn’t take the boys long to figure out if you stroke her ego or threaten to stop liking her she will do anything. She keeps the front up around others, but alone, after everyone is gone, the emptiness she feels inside leads to frustration and self-hatred. Together these two manufacture a flood of tears.
When you were a child you were treated kind
But you were never brought up right
You were always spoiled with a thousand toys but still you cried all night
Reinforcing the idea that the girl was raised by genuinely kind servants and parents who associated materialism with some twisted idea of love. It’s a poor substitute. Again the emptiness inside, leading to rage and self-hatred, and not knowing how to either articulate it or express it in healthy ways. Tears are like a topical salve on a systemic cancer. Temporary relief while one is eaten alive inside.
Your mother who neglected you owes a million dollars tax
So many times those who you think are ultra-rich are really ultra in debt. The rich are notorious for not paying their bills. So even the toys will be repossessed at some point.
And your father’s still perfecting ways of making sealing wax
I have a theory – very well could be wrong – that this line may allude to the father being sexually inappropriate with his daughter and trying his best to figure out how to make sure she never rats him out.
A small digression. When Freud first came out with his theories about neuroses, he presented them to his peers. His theory (me loosely interpreting) was that incest by male members of the family upon female members was what was causing emotional impairment in his patients. Freud was about laughed out of the auditorium and soundly condemned for this outrageous theory. So…………….. Freud revised his theory and came up with the ideas of young girls having sexual thoughts about their fathers and boys having sexual thoughts about their mothers. I’m not sure when the cocaine was introduced into the picture, but with Freud he thought everything boiled down to sex and libido. This is where he and Jung diverged in their professional pathways, as Jung thought it was a much bigger picture than just sex and went on to develop his theories of self, shadow, subconscious, collective unconscious, etc.
Oh, who’s to blame, that girl’s just insane
Well nothing I do don’t seem to work
It only seems to make matters worse, oh please
With this compounding situation of a distant mother who is unable to show genuine love to her daughter and a father who may or may not be sexually abusing her, and an ingrained belief that only her looks and how she pleases makes her worth anything, IS IT ANY WONDER SHE KEEPS HAVING BREAKDOWNS?
You were still in school when you had that fool who really messed your mind
And after that you turned your back on treating people kind
The girl is a real emotional mess at this point. “The fool” she came across may have been a toxic narcissist or a sociopath, or even a male version of her.
On our first trip I tried so hard to rearrange your mind
Jim, you talked about this as a possible acid trip. Can you imagine someone whose mind is already messed up tripping on acid? I think Timothy Leary was experimenting with it to help those with mental disorders. Mick, you should have known not to give this girl LSD!
But after a while I realized you were disarranging mine
Being with an emotional wreck can rub off on the partner. Mick is waking up. Until she wakes up and learns she needs to process a LOT of sh*t, she’ll keep having her nervous breakdowns.
It was fun to go through the song and give comments on it.