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Justin Furstenfeld: When the Music Strikes a Chord

By Kimberly Read

Updated December 13, 2010

Believe it or not, my teenagers and I actually have similar taste in music, so I was excited when my daughter blew a wad of money – her own money – on a whole bunch of new CDs. Among her acquisitions was Foiled by Blue October. Excellent! I knew two of their songs from the radio and I liked them both, so I snagged the CD.

Actually, “liked” isn’t quite the right word. When I first heard Hate Me, Justin Furstenfeld’s velvet voice caught my attention, but the words entranced me. When he sings, you believe him. The chorus begs you to “Hate me today. Hate me tomorrow. Hate me for all the things I didn't do for you.” I want that! I want to have the strength to tell people that I am ok with whatever they think of me if that is what works for them. How did Justin do it? So I cranked up the speakers and dove into the CD. After I listened to Hate Me about five times, I move on to the other songs.

I only got to have the CD for a few hours before my daughter demanded it back, but it was long enough for me to discover “X Amount of Words”, song #9.

    Relapse
    Prevent trigger intent
    Now drown
    High strung
    Say X amount of words

    You're solar, bipolar
    Panic disorder
    Seems harder and harder and harder
    Still you try to control it

So does Justin Furstenfeld, the lead singer and song writer, have bipolar disorder? His music certainly indicates he has an understanding of mental illness.
  • “Its proof to show that I bleed for this/and I'd cut myself the shame/to get to know this masochist/who has stolen my first name.” (“Drilled a Wire Through My Cheek”).

  • “It's the guilt of what reality has given me. Making sense of all mistakes and my stupidity and when you're sick you seem to think you've failed eternally.” (“Overweight”).
As it turns out, Justin does struggle with mental illness. The very name of the band was born during a stint Justin had in a psychiatric hospital. In a review of this CD, Dan Kisielewski of the website "sputnikmusic " addresses the theme of mental illness, which is a common thread throughout. “One night in 1997, Furstenfeld, an established singer/songwriter, awoke from a nightmare in which he had witnessed the very last drops of his sanity pour out of his mind. Once awake, he realized, much to his own horror, that his ghoulish nightmare had come true. ‘My brain melted that night,’ Furstenfeld stated in an interview with Guitar World magazine, ‘I didn't know what planet I was on.’”

When I first wrote this article in 2007, I noted that Justin openly discussed his struggles with mental illness and his experiences, but I couldn’t find that he had named the disorder. He has now stated in interviews that he has bipolar disorder. Regardless, it has always been clear that Justin understands the battle those with bipolar disorder fight. His music touches; it strikes a chord that we understand, that we feel.

References

Alexander, Kiki. (2006, March 17). Blue October: Yielding mortality.

Dan Kisielewski, Dan. (2006, July 31). Blue October – "Foiled" - review.

Jonboy. (2006, June 14). An interview with CB Hudson of Blue October.

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