Digging Underground


Coal Miners Trapped, Ennio Calabria

In the event of something happening to me
there is something I would like you all to see
It’s just a photograph of someone that I knew

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t wake up with a song in my head. The music can range from top 40 to obscure, classical to country. Sometimes the music comes in the middle of the night, occasionally in a dream. I have no idea why, but I’m starting to wonder if someone or something is trying to tell me to pay attention.

The above lyrics are from a now obscure 1967 Bee Gee’s hit, New York Mining Disaster 1941, their first  internationally hit. I defy anyone to say they’ve heard it on the radio in the last forty years.

I took this song, in my head, from brushing my teeth all the way in to work. Does it mean anything?

I think so.

Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it’s like on the outside?
Don’t go talking too loud, you’ll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones

I don’t want to spoon feed my interpretation to the reader. Everyone can relate to songs in different ways, but let me throw a few thoughts out for consideration:


Does it not feel, sometimes, that to have a mental condition or a label, leaves us in a constant state of dread? Do we care very deeply of how we will be treated once out secret ‘gets out?’ Did some of us have a life prior to developing our ‘condition?’ Must we always keep it to ourselves to avoid danger?

I keep straining my ears to hear a sound
Maybe someone is digging underground
or have they given up and all gone home to bed
thinking those who once existed must be dead

There are some of us who have people trying to reach us; there are some of us who have no rescue and must try to dig ourselves out. There is always a chance neither will succeed.

Am I putting too much of my own imagination into this allegory?

All the way to work and even at work, the keep pounding on my consciousness.

Do you know what it’s like on the outside?

I don’t have any real conception of the outside anymore; or of the lives of ‘neuro-normal’ people. The lives of others seem almost alien to me. I’ve tried to imagine leading a life free of mental confusion for decades. Now I just feel more comfortable among those that understand.

The song exists as a curious piece of the Bee Gees’ discography. It’s unlike anything else they ever recorded – it’s discordant, gloomy and damn depressing. According to Wikpedia, the liner notes for their box-set Tales from the Brothers Gibb (1990), indicate the song was inspired by the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster in Wales.



In the event of something happening to me

This lyrical leitmotif must seem crushing familiar to anyone staring into the void: how would we want ourselves remembered? By our final act? Our titanic effort to exist in a world alien to us? Or as a kind and caring person, smothered by forces neither we nor anyone else, could fully understand?

Perhaps the song in my head just wanted me to write this. In that case, it’s done.


This entry was posted in anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, death, depression, existential dread, fear, loneliness, mental health, music, over-analyze, paranoia, society, stigma, suicide and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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