The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Before his untimely death on Sept. 7, 2018, Mac Miller (born Malcolm James McCormick) was in the process of writing two albums: “Circles” and” Swimming.” These albums were meant to be “sister albums,” the concept behind them being “swimming in circles.” Miller passed before this idea fully came to fruition, with “Swimming” being released in August 2018 before his passing, and Circles coming out 2 years later in January 2020. He began working on the album in September 2018 but was unfortunately unable to complete the album.
From his album Circles, there is one song that stands out from the rest: “Good News.” This song beautifully and tragically gives listeners a glimpse into Miller’s mental state at the time he wrote the song. While paired with a slower, more upbeat instrumental, Miller’s lyrics are heartbreaking when you realize that this was how he was feeling when he lost his battle to drug addiction.
Miller begins with the lyrics, “I spent the whole day in my head. Do a little spring cleaning, I’m always too busy dreaming.” This can be symbolic of one’s head being “cluttered” with depressing or over-consuming thoughts. The line “Why can’t it just be easy? Why does everybody need me to stay?” in verse one is among the most heartbreaking lyrics, especially because of the listeners’ foresight that Miller will, unfortunately, die before the song’s release. It is truly disheartening to listeners to hear their favorite artist doubting their importance to others.
Miller uses several metaphors for his addiction and depression within the lyrics: “When you’re high, but you’re underneath the ceilin’.” This is a clear metaphor for Miller’s drug abuse. This is paired with the lyrics, “Got the cards in my hand, I hate dealin’,” in which Miller relates his struggles with depression to a game, or more specifically gambling, which could be symbolic of his fear of losing his battle to depression— or, the metaphorical “game.” When you put the two verses together it really demonstrates Miller’s dependency on drugs as a means to cope with his depression. This is sadly a very common coping mechanism for those struggling.
Drugs and depression, according to Psycom, have a “bi-directional relationship, meaning that people who abuse substances are more likely to suffer from depression, and vice versa.” According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Roughly 50 percent of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse.” It is possible that Miller’s addiction and mental illnesses fueled each other making his ability to rehabilitate that much harder.
“I’m runnin’ out of gas, hardly anything left. Hope I make it home from work. Well, so tired of bein’ so tired. Why I gotta build somethin’ beautiful just to go set it on fire?”
Perhaps Millers most poetic line of the song, it encapsulates the destruction, bitterness and exhaustion fighting depression can cause individuals and those around them. The “runnin’ out of gas” line, while pretty straightforward, is a perfect interpretation of the draining feeling that fighting mental turmoil can have. Miller then follows it up with, “Why I gotta build somethin’ beautiful just to go set it on fire?” This is one of the most beautiful portrayals of how people with depression tend to push others away or do self-destructive behaviors to fill a void within themselves because they may feel they are not worthy of happiness.
In his last verse Miller starts with the lyrics, “There’s a whole lot more for me waitin’ on the other side. I’m always wonderin’ if it feels like summer.” These lyrics are symbolic of Miller’s thoughts on the afterlife. He knows there is something on the other side of life, but he does not know what exactly it is or if it is good or bad. He just hopes it feels like summer.