Tuneful Tuesday: Unsuccessful

As far as songs about depression go, I might as well just rename these Tuesday posts “Another Song Written by Bill Mallonee,” because I can’t think of any songwriter who has written more songs on the subject that I can identify with. Of course, Mallonee never directly identifies depression is any of his songs, and when I first became a fan of his work with Vigilantes of Love (which was basically just him and a revolving cast of musicians) I didn’t even really know what it was. I just knew the words he was singing were connecting with something in my soul that I knew wasn’t quite right.

In an interview with Communiqué, Mallonee describes having what he calls “cyclical depression” when he was younger. This would explain a lot of his lyrics later on, like the ones featured in the song “Unsuccessful” from my favorite VoL album, Blister Soul. The first verse, in particular, always strikes a chord with me:

I’ve been swallowing lots of things
Trying to take care of my mental health
I’ve been trying all the twentieth century
Trying to make friends with myself

Each verse of the song is followed by Mallonee wailing the words “Oh, unsuccessful” in his trademark Georgia twang. It’s a refrain I could have wailed quite a few times myself. You try and you try and you try, and nothing seems to work. Today was pretty much one of those days for me, so, without further explanation, I give you “Unsuccessful,” by Vigilantes of Love.


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