Category Archives: Musicians and Mental Health

Psalms and the Blues

Psalms and the Blues

by Angie Mack Reilly (c) 2019

For some of us, you see,
music is the only friend
that we have.
Or at least the only friend
that we can trust.

Others of us?
Couple that with faith.
Without that, we are doomed
to die from the sorrow
that consumes our lives.

But the blues, you see.
The blues is emotion.
And sometimes our instrument
is the only one who will listen.
We can’t flaunt our money.
We can’t boast of piety.
Our homes are broken.
Our relationships once soared
and then crashed.
We are disadvantaged.
In some way.
Disadvantaged.
Opportunities have not been
equal for us.

Perhaps we are laden
with grief and sickness
so great that getting ahead
requires more energy
than we have.

People who have the blues
have somehow lost respect
with society.
But are we worthy of respect?
Absolutely.

Yet there seems to be an oppressor.
Or multiple oppressors
in the blues musician’s life.
Evil and oppressive controllers
who want nothing more than
to see the musician tied down.

Yes.
We are tired.
We know that fighting probably
won’t make a difference.

And so we retreat to song.
The song is where we are free.
Free to express whatever feeling
it is that we might have.

King David had feelings.

Son House had feelings.
Both had many feelings.
Authentic feelings.
Sometimes wrong feelings.
But feelings.
To be human is to have feelings.
The similarity between the Blues
and the Psalms is quite astounding.

DISCLAIMER:  Remember that the purpose of the true artist is, sometimes, to get others to think.  Writing is an art form that can be just as minimalistic or abstract as any painting or dance can be.  Most of my work is to get others to think.   Poetry is an artform.  So as you read my work, imagine sitting in a museum and listening.  Not everything needs to be literal in life.  

Mistakes by Angie Mack Reilly

(c) August 10, 2008

Mistakes happen….it’s OK

Mistakes are a part of the creative process as well as the human condition. The first artistic mistake that I remember making was when I was in grade school. I was doing a paint by number of the cartoon character, “Underdog”. I was working on the nose and went outside of the lines with my black paint on accident. So I tried to smooth out my error and messed it up even more. I remember being so angry with myself for not being able to “paint by number” perfectly and stay in the lines. The more I tried to fix it, the worse it got.

Artistic types often have perfectionist personalities. I know I do. I always tried so hard to be the straight “A” student, the “star” athlete, the “favored” employee, the “perfect mother”, the “most beautiful wife”, the “best” Christian.

I have failed at some time or another in all areas and the person I disappointed the most was myself. After 37 years, I am trying to learn to lighten up on myself. It’s impossible for anyone to be perfect.

In art, I have found that mistakes are a good thing. They seem to speak, “take this project in a different direction”. “Don’t force it. Don’t try to fix it.” As I have learned to embrace mistakes and admit that they are there, I have found greater peace. Some of the mistakes in my artistic en devours have actually turned the piece into something much better and different from my original plan.

I must remember that I, as a human being, am a work of art. Could it be that the mistakes that I make in life will somehow turn me into something better? I do know that with the more mistakes I have made, I have learned to be more humble and more merciful, loving and forgiving toward those who have failed.

Mistakes happen. It’s OK.

Why Musicians Overdose: A #poem for #prince by Angie Mack Reilly

Angie Mack Reilly has been working closely with musicians for the past two decades and is a musician herself.  She wrote this poem after Prince died of an accidental overdose.  After observing and listening to the hearts of so many musicians over the years, it is her lifelong passion to advocate for musicians and artists whose mental health needs are grossly overlooked.  Angie doesn’t consider herself a huge Prince fan nor does this blog post necessarily reflect Prince’s personal situation.  Yet after seeing another celebrity musician die, she decided to write about it to raise awareness about the unique mental health and emotional needs of those in the entertainment industry.

Angie wants to raise awareness that those who are creative are, first and foremost, PEOPLE.   Not just entertainers.  Not just people that we can make money off of.  Not just people who can make us feel good and boost our self-esteem.  Not just people who can boost us up the ladder of success if we schmooze them enough.  People.  Many have had traumatic experiences.  Many suffer from depression. Anxiety. Addiction. PTSD.

“The difficult part about being talented is that so many people either want to monopolize on the talent or be made to feel good from it.  And there are many excellent artists ‘who deliver’.  Giving 110%.  But when the artist has a need, such as an emotional issue to work through or a financial setback, they are often abandoned and left to their own devices to heal.   And it can be too much.

Laugh.  And the world laughs with you.  Cry.  And you cry alone.  – unknown

Due to the nature of the entertainment industry, many performers don’t have the time to form lasting relationships.  Many come from broken homes.  Entertainers face unique challenges of loneliness.   And because they are more sensitive, the feelings of rejection or abandonment can be even more devastating.”

Angie is also a published poet whose poetry is etched into some of the sidewalks in Grafton, WI including the poem pictured,  “Traveling Minstrels”.

A #poem for #prince by Angie Mack Reilly

by (c) Angie Mack Reilly 4/23/16

Everybody loves a performer while they are performing.

“Traveling Minstrels” I call them.

Going from place to place like gypsies,

trying to make a living pleasing crowds.

Until addiction.

Until sadness.

Until struggle.

Then they are left alone to their own devices and sorrow.

They are left to die alone

in mental anguish and unmarked graves.

Where are those who loved them

when their pockets were running full,

their faces were full of smiles

and their hearts were full of song?

Why, cheering on the next traveling minstrel

who makes them feel good!

For they had sucked the life out of the first!

He gave everything he had and then some,

with all of his sensitivities and musical genius.

He thought they would reciprocate

and it devastated him when they did not.

onmilwaukee logo 3

One of Angie’s “claims to fame” is finding the unmarked and unknown grave of long ago blues legend, Blind Blake.  #musicianadvocate

Angie spearheaded a movement to get “Blind Blake” a much deserved headstone.  Blake is buried in Glendale, WI.

blind blake grave