In his new memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, McDaniels explains a period of his life when he was battling depression and how that hit ’90s ballad — which he first heard during a cab ride — helped stave off his suicidal thoughts.
“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,'” McDaniels writes in an excerpt first published by People. “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.”
McDaniels was sober at the time after struggling with alcohol addiction but found himself amidst an identity crisis when he lost his voice due to a thread condition and was dealing with inner-band conflicts.
“Whatever my hesitations about suicide, I sometimes think I would have done the deed easily if it weren’t for that record,” McDaniels continues. “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. ‘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.”
McDaniels actually met McLachlan that year at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammys party and introduced himself to the Canadian singer-songwriter, praising her singing and thanking her for helping him battle those suicidal thoughts. Years later, McDaniels met McLachlan again and the two recorded an updated cover of Harry Chapin‘s “Cat’s in the Cradle,” an important step in McDaniels’ recovery process. During that session, they discovered they had something in common as well, that they were both adopted — an issue McDaniels had struggled with for years. The song, “Just Like Me,” was released in 2006 as a tribute to foster children.