Content Warning: This article discusses drug addiction and contains graphic descriptions.
I’ve been thinking a lot about endings: a side effect of the fall, of graduation, of being a thing that’s alive that won’t be at some point. I’m watching friends from high school get married. I’m watching friends from this place get jobs, make plans, generally prepare to step into some new wild thing which necessitates the stepping out of this one. I’ve lost friends this year. I’ve made new ones, knowing they will live their time in this place without me. I’m a floating blip on the radar screen of so many shifting lives, just as countless others have been for me. I’m happier than I’ve been in some time, healthier too, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t overwhelm me. I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.
Anyway, here are some songs we think Greg Heffley from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series might like:
1. “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground
I thought it was a particularly bold choice to begin Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules with a 56-page, grossly in-depth, Hunter S. Thompsonesque detailing of Greg’s crippling heroin addiction. The scene where Greg tried to use MomBucks to buy another gram of smack, only to find out he had already spent them all the week before and forgotten about it, tears me apart every time I settle in for my monthly re-read of the entire series. He’d love this 7-minute long Velvet Underground classic for obvious reasons.
2. “My First Time” by Dylan Brady
I remember the opening lines of Diary of Wimpy Kid 8: Hard Luck like I just read them 14 hours ago: “Do you know what it’s like to kill a man, Rowley? Have you ever sucked in someone else’s dying breath to add their power to your own? I have, Rowley. I’ve killed before. And with God as my witness, I will kill again.” I think Greg would really like the drop in this song, when the whole thing turns into a shuddering incoherent mess of screams and wails, because it closely approximates the shrieks of his past and future victims.
3. “Real Death” by Mount Eerie
At the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, one of the two dogs that I grew to love over the course of the book dies. It is gory, and gruesome, and when young Billy Colman desperately tries to push the innards of his dog back inside its chest, only to find they have snagged on brambles, I had to choose whether to cry or vomit. I was 9 years old, and I did both. But that’s the tame part. After the first dog dies, the second dog completely loses its will to live. They have to force feed it, but it doesn’t work, and Billy and I had to watch another of his dogs die, not spectacularly, not with a bang, but slowly, brutally, painfully. The other dog wasted away in front of my eyes, and I was in no way emotionally equipped to deal with it. The last act of the second dog is to crawl to the grave of the first before dying itself so that they could be together one last time. That book broke the mind of a 9-year-old Jake Sanford, just like this song broke the heart of a 21-year-old Jake Sanford. To Greg Heffley, they are both comedies.
4. “Creep” by Scala & Kolacny Brothers
This eerie, German children’s choir’s reimagining of the Radiohead classic, prominently featured in the trailer for that pretentious Sorkin movie about Facebook, was my Spring Awakening, and is perfect for Greg’s twisted sensibility and self-esteem. He’s a creep, he’s a weirdo, he has a blood lust, and he’s out for revenge.
5. “Gun to My Head” by Corporate Hearts
This is a song about hating yourself. Greg Heffley would like this song in the same way that other people enjoy reading sci-fi or watching fantasy movies—Greg Heffley is psychologically incapable of feeling remorse for his actions, and thus the concept of self-criticism is so wholly alien to him that it may as well be a work of fiction. We choose to escape into the fiction Middle-Earth, or Hogwarts, or Australia in our fantasies. Greg Heffley entertains the ludicrous concept that there could be consequences for his actions.
6. “Add It Up” by Violent Femmes
Greg Heffley is an incel. That’s it. That’s the tweet. (That could honestly do real numbers. Someone please use that.) Yeah, this song has big incel energy. Unfortunately, it’s also very good.
7. “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
It is cool that it is now cool to like MCR. With that reunion right around the corner, nothing could make a better cap for this playlist than this rich, roiling, emo epic about death and grief. Nothing screams Diary of a Wimpy Kid clearer than “Welcome to the Black Parade.”