Cathal Smyth of Madness…. you got it miserably, irresponsibly so very very wrong.

Knowing me as you do, one of my favorite bands in the entire history of ever is Madness. The Nutty Boys, the Camden Cowboys, the Magnificent 7 (and for reasons forthwith, fortunately minus one Cathal Smyth, aka Chas Smash, aka Carl Smyth), the patchwork of my youth into the not so youthful is tacked together with a square of Madness here and a worn piece of fabric there.

Back in 2012, Madness released a brand new album entitled “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da”, with the namesake lyric being baffling in its inclusion and inception, really. However……. never has Madness penned lyrics that reek of such blatant ignorance.


MISERY by MADNESS

Word and Music by Cathal Smyth

www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1J47BnR0bU

Misery loves company
That’s what the wise man said
Don’t come to me for sympathy
If you can’t raise your head
Stand up and see
What your life could be
If you wore a smile instead
If you keep misery as your company
Then you might as well be dead

Why don’t you go suck on a silver spoon
Buy a spaceship and fly over the moon
See the colours in the flowers and the tree’s
Take a lesson from the birds and the bee’s
Why don’t you go skipping out in the park
Give yourself a chance to make a new start
Try and focus on your health and your heart
Accept the present and let go of the past

Misery loves company
That’s what the wise man said
The remedy to be happy
Well it’s all inside your head
Shift infinitessimally your perception and see
Your life could be better led
Don’t keep misery as your company
Or you might as well be dead

Why don’t you go suck on a silver spoon
Buy a spaceship and fly over the moon
See the colours in the flowers and the tree’s
Take a lesson from the birds and the bee’s
Why don’t you go skipping out in the park
Give yourself a chance to make a new start
Try and focus on your health and your heart
Accept the present and let go of the past
Don’t come to me for sympathy
If you can’t raise your head
Stand up and see what your life could be
If you wore a smile instead
If you keep misery for company then you
Might as well be dead


I could go through a cornucopia of harmfully specific lyrics word for word. Instead, I am going to laser in on just four of the roughest with brutal peer analysis:

  1. Don’t come to me for sympathy / If you can’t raise your head
  2. Stand up and see / What your life could be / If you wore a smile instead
  3. The remedy to be happy / Well it’s all inside your head
  4. If you keep misery for company / Then you might as well be dead

Now, in better spirits, I would toss this off (ha!) as a mere purged rainbow, but because it is so disgustingly irresponsible, I’m calling this spitting venom.

Why? According to Mr. Smyth, it is a personal choice to suffer from depression, not a malfunctioning brain defined by specific mental health diagnoses. Just raise your head, smile, and accept that the reason you’re not happy is because you willingly stay depressed unaware of an on/off switch in your head. Please refer to my prior article that elegantly explains the true peer experience of debilitating, unavoidable depressive symptoms.

Because, yes, I haven’t tried willing my bipolar symptoms away by just smiling and deciding to be happy, I’ve not thought of this in the past three d3cades living with bipolar depression. I feel foolish and dull minded. Thank you, Chas, the wise man who said. I’ve been dealing with this off and on (the nature of cyclic bipolar) for coming on 30 years. Thank the stars above that you came along to steer the clinically depressed to paradise on earth. Bounce your lyrics off your contemporary Adam Ant (he’s true pals with your mutual friend Boz Boorer, if you need an introduction), see if he’s pleased with your pseudo-erudite take on a medical disease.


If it was as easy as saying “I’m not going to be depressed” there would be no depressed humans walking the globe.


What is hands-down the zenithic MOST IRRESPONSIBLE LYRIC IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF EVER in the realm of behavioral health is his “if/then” statement saying if you CHOOSE to have a mental illness and not CHOOSE to cheer up, then suicide is a valid option, to rid the world of peers who are so intellectually deficient they can’t pull themselves out of a crippling mental health crisis. Lyrical eugenics, courtesy of Mr. Cathal Smyth (formerly of Madness). Rid the world of mental illness through the grandest of uneducated simplicities.

Let me be very clear of my interpretation of Chas’ lyrics:


If you’re too stupid to realize that depression is a personal choice, then suicide is a dictated result..


And let me be very clear of my condemnation of Mr. Cathal Smyth:


Chas, we’ve chatted on several occasions, traded emails, and I’ve stated that your song “Victoria Gardens” is a gem of a song both lyrically and musically. But in this instance, bad boy, Chas. Very bad bad boy, and very very irresponsible.


Back in 1981, guitarist Christopher J. Foreman penned a tune called “Madness (Is All in the Mind)”, a fun ditty that pokes a backwards “V” for “vuck you” to those judgmental of differing behavior. Chris and I have spoken at length about this tune, in part because it is his favorite song from Madness that he authored, and in part because I revealed to him many years ago that I have bipolar disorder (to help him understand why it is that I disappear from the world for a year or two at a time… isolating, you see). Let’s see the comparative lyrics:

MADNESS (IS ALL IN THE MIND)

Words and Music by Christopher J. Foreman

I’ve never had much cause for worry
And I’ve not got a lot to say
You’ll never find me in a hurry
Because I live my life day by day
People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind
Twenty-four hours is all that I care for
I believe that’s the only way
Twenty-four hours is all that is needed
Because I live my life day by day
People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind
I’m happy the way that I do things
Continually feeling okay
I’ve no worries on what tomorrow brings
Because I live my life day by day
People say that I’m crazy
But I’m not that way inclined
I know what I know and I’ll happily show
That madness is all in the mind
Well some men seek answers in bottles
And others in degenerate ways
But I don’t care much for the question
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind
Madness is all in the mind

Cheerful and encouraging lyrics, yes? Yes. Just be yourself. to hell with the critique and concern of others. I’ve always liked this message as a teen and moreso after bipolar symptoms manifested around 1986.

So why am I only commenting on this miserable song now, some four years gone? The reason is tied entirely to a lengthy depressive episode I’ve been contending with off and on (there are manic episodes as well) the last four years.

I didn’t want to listen to a new Madness album and not enjoy it.

That would be a sure sign of how cruddy I was really doing.

That would suck the mighty suck if my bipolar symptoms kept me from enjoying a Madness album. It would most likely trigger worse symptoms (I’ll talk about “Ted” another time), and I couldn’t risk it.

So, heading out to SoCal for Thanksgiving with my Dad, in the Toyota with Razzie, Slater, Bailey and Bennett, cruising through Death Valley, I finally felt the joy necessary to rip the plastic wrap off the CD and delve into a long-delayed jaunt with “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da”. I loved it, I felt joy, I shared my joy with my friends (including Nicky who wrote two songs on the album – Kitchen Floor and Leon – via Skype), and I’m glad I waited. Overjoyed I delayed. There is joy associated with the album. It only took four years to get there, a truly short span of time for someone who lives with the challenges and triumphs of bipolar disorder.

I feel joy… excluding the mirthful anger I feel with the song “Misery.”

Calling Dr. Smyth. Dr. Smyth, learned soul of everything and all psychological, please proceed to the “Ignorance Is Temporary” wing of the hospital. I’ll be waiting there with any number of peers who live with clinical depression by design, not by choice. We are prepared to educate. It’s not an inconvenience. Truly.

And please, Chas, pen a song where you deride people whose arms sponraneously fell off to just pick up their deparated arms, dust off their sleeves, and get on with their day.

Reprinted courtesy of Steve Bringe at Steve’s Thoughtcrimes.

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