Daryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels of pioneering rap duo Run D.M.C. struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts in the late ’90s, and he opens up about his mental health in a new memoir entitled Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide. McDaniels had been sober for years after struggling with alcohol addiction. But he lost his voice due to the throat condition spasmodic dysphonia, and was having a tough time without a creative outlet. In an excerpt from the book via People, McDaniels reveals that he had a go-to song when he was most at risk of taking his own life. Though you may think it would be a rock ballad since he nicknamed himself the “King of Rock” and is rarely seen without a classic rock T-shirt on, it was a tender Sarah McLachlan song:
I was probably at my suicidal worst in 1997 during a two-week-long tour in Japan. The only song I listened to then was a soft-pop ballad by Sarah McLachlan called “Angel.” I cannot overemphasize how important that song was to me in the midst of my depression. “Angel” kept me serene even when every fiber of my person was screaming for me to lose it [and] made me believe that I could soldier through.
I thought long and hard about killing myself every day in Japan. I tricked myself into thinking that my family might be better off without me. I considered jumping out of a window. I thought about going to a hardware store to buy poison to ingest. I thought about putting a gun to my temple. Whenever I’d listen to “Angel” though, I always managed to make my way back from the brink.
It would be too simple to say that song got rid of all my negative feelings. it couldn’t rid me of the wounds. [But] “Angel” was like a life preserver tossed to me during a storm. It didn’t pull me out of the water, but it did help me stay afloat until other help came along.
In 1997, the rapper had the opportunity to meet McLachlan and express his gratitude at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammys party:
I went over to her and was like, “Ms. McLachlan, you sing like an angel; you’re a god to me. I listen to that record every day of my life. That record takes all of the suicidal thoughts out of my life.” And she said, “Thank you for telling me that, Darryl. That’s what music is supposed to do,” and shakes my hand.
Listen to “Angel” below: