Emotional stages of an essay crisis as told through classic rock songs

Books and desks and rock and roll

24 Hour Musical Cambridge crisis essay Library rock work

10pm – Highway to Hell, AC/DC
This song choice is only as cliche as your essay will turn out to be.

Prepare to embark on a journey of your own inadequacy, yet with enough energy and deluded optimism that the prospect of the night ahead hasn’t really hit you yet.


11pm – Don’t Stop Believing, Journey

It’s starting to feel late and you’ve achieve nothing since 10. Maybe you got lost on the highway. It’s ok though it’s not midnight you’ve got ages yet. This so-called optimism? Yeh, hold on to that feeeeeeling…

12am – Bohemian Rhapsody (1st verse), Queen
Oh dear. It’s midnight. The major milestone for any all-night essay crisis. You’re still planning how you’re going to plan your plan, and the denial of the night ahead is kicking in.

If this opening verse doesn’t sum up your realisation that all is slipping away from you, then nothing else will:
‘Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy.
Because I’m easy come, easy go
A little high, a little low
Anyway the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me.’


1am – Dream On, Aerosmith

You’ve realised Sainsbury’s has just shut. You’ll begin to start your existential crisis about the taste the difference cookies that got away, but there remains a shred of hope. Yesterday was only like an hour ago so it’s not that late.

‘Yeah, I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it’s everybody’s sin
You got to lose to know how to win.’

If that last line is my supervisor’s motto then this essay will go down a treat.


2am – Stairway to Heaven, Led Zepplin

By now your soul is dying a bit and you are longing for inspiration. You’ve nothing interesting to say on the skim-reading you’ve done, and your disgraceful plan is as messy as your life. All you have now is desperation

‘And it’s whispered that soon
If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us
To reason’

3am – Don’t Stop Me Now, Queen
Enter delirium’s cold (or warm. Who can tell?) embrace. You’ll have forgotten about the coffee you had an hour ago so you’ve had three more to remind yourself. The Muse has descended. You’ve solved your degree and discovered you’re an actual genius. Hello starred first…

‘I’m gonna make a super sonic essay outta you!’


4am – Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stones

Imagine a 70s film montage of people achieving loads of cool shit and making a difference and learning and condensing days of effort into two minutes of “feel-good” triumph. As is your essay now. You’re speeding through, approaching the finishing line, and all quality is abandoned for quality – reaching the minimum word count is all you need…

‘It’s just a shot away!’
But oh, wait – the Rolling Stones, were singing about war rape and murder? Have I just mis-read everything? Ah fuck.

5am – Let It Be, The Beatles

Just look at the title I’m too tired to explain.

6am – Silent Night

Not a classic rock song, but by this point I bet you can’t even remember your essay title, let alone stuck to it, so who cares? Now’s the time to wallow in self pity and wanting nothing else but to ‘Sleep in heavenly peace’.

9am – Bohemian Rhapsody (3rd verse), Queen
You slept a bit. You’re walking to hand in the essay (if your 2,000 word stream of consciousness mess can really be called that). All is lost. A cambridge don is going to read this. Pack your bags you’re being sent down.

‘Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body’s aching all the time
Goodbye everybody – I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.’
Me using the same song twice is no more lazy than the conclusion you’ll have handed in just summarising everything you’ve already written.

You’ll tell yourself that you won’t let the same thing happen with next week’s essay, but in 5 days time the very same recordings of hairy men playing electric guitars will return to serenade you in your despair.