Vintage engraving of miserable man

Songstories #20 – Failure

Vintage engraving of miserable manLast month I wrote about Bruce Springsteen and noted how honestly he talks about his depression in his book.

I don’t suffer from  depression. I have friends who do and I can see the difference between what they go through and what I experience as ‘feeling down’.  What I do have is a recurrent and regular sense of failure, particularly at the end of the day. I close down my PC, put various bits and pieces in order on my desk and in the house, and a lump rises in my throat, usually followed by a cold sweat and a deep unease that I haven’t managed everything I ‘should’ – whatever that means. It’s old and familiar and I’m surprised on nights when it doesn’t appear. It’s gone by morning. I don’t worry too much about it, it’s just the way it is.

It only had a bigger impact at the end of my first six months as a freelancer, when it kept me up all night. It’s never been that intense again, perhaps because I meet it half way and say ‘Oh, hello, you again?’  It’s not an illness, it’s not depression, just a habitual emotional response to putting myself out there in the world and not getting the response I’d hoped for.

One way I exorcised it last year was by attacking it with humour. I thought it worked as a song although I’ve never made it public till now. Here it is.

Failure in the dating game
Failure in High School
Failure to be different enough
Failure to be cool

I failed to use my talent
I failed to use my brain
I had those big ideas, you know
But I failed and I failed again

I tried positivity
I learned to smile a lot
I failed to do anything with it
Now a smile is all I’ve got

A failure in the marketplace
A failure in the bed
A failure in the eyes of the world
A failure in my own head

Looking back across my life
Here in the line for Hell
Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time
Is the one thing I did well

I failed to get my sail up
When the wind began to blow
I failed with all the plans I made
The ones you’ll never know

I failed as a father
I failed as a son
I’ve played so many roles in life
I’ve failed at every one

Bitter – do I sound bitter?
I’m not bitter at all

I failed to set the world on fire
I failed to light a spark
I failed to let my wisdom shine
Like a beacon in the dark

I failed to be a hero
I failed to be a star
Where things were before I came along
Is pretty much where they still are

Looking back across my life
Here in the line for Hell
Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time
Is the one thing I did well

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Free to download - Stories My Killer Told Me: Five surreal story-songs from my Edinburgh Fringe show.



  • I Am Not The One For You
  • The Ever Open Door
  • New Eyes
  • A Forest Trail in Autumn
  • The Portobello Slam

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