The Blackest of Dogs

by Chris Harris

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    - Three bonus tracks not on the album, including two brand-new recordings
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This album contains the most deeply personal and emotional music I've ever recorded, and I've been doing this sort of thing for more than three decades. The "Black Dog" of the title is an expression used by people from Dr Samuel Johnson to Sir Winston Churchill to refer to their bouts of depression. It's a disease with which I'm very familiar.

The songs here were recorded between July 2015 and March 2016 as I made my way out of the deepest and longest bout of depression I've ever experienced. Writing and performing them was an attempt to understand what had happened to me, to identify the sorts of things that would make the condition worse and, more importantly, the things I could do to help make things better. It was an intense journey of self discovery; you may well hear echoes of the struggle I was having in some of the vocals.

It's been a very interesting ride and, ultimately, very therapeutic. As a result I'm in a much better place now than I was when I started. I'm not going to lie: if you buy a copy of the album, that will make me feel good. But I'm profoundly aware that other people with depression aren't doing as well. Even if you don't buy the album, if you listen - and something resonates with you - please consider making a donation to MIND, the UK's mental health charity.


released May 3, 2016



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Chris Harris Bristol, UK

I've been making music since I was a kid, when my parents acquired an acoustic guitar from my cousin. Then I discovered synthesisers. And electric guitars. And the Chapman Stick. And this is where I've ended up...

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Track Name: I Hide It Well
Bright and sunny disposition
Won't admit that something's wrong
Always take the same position:
There's no problem, move along

Gonna keep it sweet and light
Might be down, but you'd never tell
Hold the darkness out of sight
I've learned to hide it well

On the outside: blithe and blissful
On the inside: screaming
Inner voice is dark and dismal
Hard to keep on dreaming

Gonna keep it sweet and light
Might be down, but you'd never tell
Hold the darkness out of sight
I've learned to hide it well

Got to keep things ticking over
Got to keep it real
Never, ever own up to the way things make me feel

Blundering from day to day
Always feeling ill
Try to keep the blues away
Through sheer force of will

Gonna keep it sweet and light
Might be down, but you'd never tell
Hold the darkness out of sight
I've learned to hide it well
Track Name: Thinking Is Bad For You
When I'm on the road
And I'm safe inside my car
That's when I start to think about
What makes us who we are

It's all "black and white"
It's all "us and them"
Everything is personal;
Going way back when
Every day's catastrophe
Tomorrow's harder still
This unhelpful thinking
Is what has made me ill

Why do I do this to myself?
I know that it's hazardous to health

When I'm in my bed
And I wait in vain for sleep
My thoughts have found a rabbit hole
And I've fallen in too deep

Jumping to conclusions
Obsessing on the past
"I must be" and "Should have done"
Are coming thick and fast
Focus on the bad times
Ignoring all that's good
Don't want to make things better
Even though I know I could

Shut the door
Sit down and breathe
And that's the first step taken
What I believe
Is actually mistaken

Breathe in
Feeling my heart slow
Breathe out
And start to let it go
Track Name: Dreary Days
The days spent grinding at the coalface
The rain is pounding down outside
Our gaze is blinding in the workplace
All fun resoundingly denied

Alcohol the common answer
Pass the hours in a haze
Boredom creeping like a cancer
Through the dreariest of days

No inspiration here worth finding
Imaginations fail to spark
Memories not worth reminding
The briefest flicker going dark

We long for any brief distraction
Joining in each mindless cause
But our thoughts can't find the traction
To escape these dreary days

Sleep provides its futile soothing
The rain outside is falling still
Tomorrow sets about removing
Any last remaining thrill

One day we'll manage to remember
When life would set our minds ablaze
We'll light a fire in deep December
And we'll cast off those dreary days
Track Name: Monochrome
I'm living life in monochrome
My world is drab and grey
Let me disconnect the phone
I'm staying in today

No meaning in the things I do
No joy in food or drink
No willingness to see things through
No energy to think
Track Name: Half A Song
Don't feel like getting through the day
Everything I do is wrong
And when I sit down here to play
All I have is half a song
Track Name: Rumination Nation
We each have our own inner self
And mine is introverted
Time has left him on the shelf
But he's not disconcerted

If you leave him all alone
He'll never feel rejected
For countless problems close to home
demand to be inspected

The greatest thinker in his field, he gets no compensation
For all the flaws that he's revealed in Rumination Nation

My mind is sitting in between
A hard place and a rock
Can't figure out just what it means
And too afraid to stop

Got worries by the thousand
Forebodings by the score
And if I clear up one of them
I've soon got fifty more

You'd be surprised what pointless things demand my contemplation
I know just what tomorrow brings in Rumination Nation

I've really reached the point at which
No longer want to think
Concentrate on breathing
'til I pull back from the brink

Calm the mind and slow the thoughts
Until the tumult's passed
Escape the trap in which I'm caught
And peace arrives at last

My thoughts are deeper than it takes to write a dissertation
Mind games that will make or break our Rumination Nation
Track Name: Hard Landing
I'm glad that this appointment was the one you chose to keep
My patience is renowned for wearing thin
Let me introduce you to the bottom of the heap
I can tell at once you're gonna fit right in

You look like you're a stranger to a sense of joie de vivre
Things like hope are crutches for the weak
You'll wallow in such misery you'll never want to leave
"What kills you makes you stronger," so to speak

Is this really what I want?
Is this really who I am?
Is there anybody out there
who even slightly gives a damn?

Just take that final step and you'll be one of us for good
Don't stop to think about the consequences
I really want to help you and I'd do more if I could
You simply have to lower your defences

Keep on holding on to all those things already lost
Their weight is what has dragged you down this deep
The price you paid was high but here we never count the cost
Just think of it as drifting off to sleep

Is this really what I want?
Is this really who I am?
Is there anybody out there
who even slightly gives a damn?

Is this really what I want?
Is this really who I am?
Is there anybody out there
who even slightly gives a damn?
Track Name: Intervention
I like it here
I'm on my own
And I can cast off my disguises
Ignore the world
Outside my home
No longer troubled by surprises

You there?
Pick up.
You need to talk to somebody.”

What should I do?
What should I do?
What should I do?
What should I do?
Track Name: The Doctor Is In
“Let's take this one step at a time."

"Now then - what seems to be the trouble?”
Track Name: Medication
Just take these tablets once a day
You'll find your racing thoughts will slow
Anxiety has gone away
They tell me peace of mind will come
I'm not too comfortable being numb
But at least I'm in control

I've reached the shallows from the deep
Can feel the ground beneath my shoes
Don't spend the daytime fast asleep
They say recovery takes time
The blackest dog inside my mind
Is one thing I'm glad to lose
Track Name: Out Of It
Open up the windows
Take the padlock off the door
The way I think I'm feeling
Feels better than I thought I felt before

I'm getting back an appetite
I've lost that urge to quit
I think that something's happened
Am I coming out of it?

I might still wobble sometimes
I'm not out of the woods
But I'm noticing things changing
And today it feels like I am feeling good

The fog is dissipating
I'm healing, bit by bit
The darkness left behind at last
I'm coming out of it
Track Name: Mindfulness
Find your inner peace
Staying on the rails is what we do
Pause and then release
Emotions that you feel have something true

Recognise, move on
Recognise, move on

Examine how you feel
Learn to use a type of thought control
Try to keep things real
Doing this will help to heal your soul

Recognise, move on
Recognise, move on

Your mind's a busy room
Impossible to empty out your thoughts
So when they all resume
Recognise the fact and don't get caught.

Recognise, move on
Recognise, move on
Track Name: Hold Fast
This might not be my finest hour
Feels like there's nothing I can do
But way down deep I've got the power
I'm going to make my dreams come true

I've got to hold fast to the centre
I've got to stay true to myself

Don't feel the need to follow fashion
The herd have rarely got a clue
I've found the focus of my passion
And all the rest will follow through

I've got to hold fast to the centre
I've got to stay true to myself

I've got to hold fast to the centre
I've got to stay true to myself

We spend our whole lives under pressure
Sometimes it's best not to conform
When all around me is in chaos
I'll be the calm inside the storm