I’ve been browsing through Stacia Kane’s blog, reading back through old posts. I ran across this one that lists five sad songs. (I now have plans to buy the download of Gloomy Sunday by Billie Holiday because of it.) So of course reading her list made me think of what kind of list I’d make.
I came up with not exactly a sad song list. It’s mood music for when sad, broken-hearted, wallowing in misery, or other things of a similar nature. It’s for when absolutely the last thing you want is to listen to is some perky, happy shit.
Here is my list in no particular order, except the first one, which is hands down the best depression song ever:
1. “Trouble“ by Cat Stevens. If you ever need a song that feels your pain, this one is it.
“Trouble” has seen me through a lot of hard times. The one I remember most vividly (that I’m willing to share) is from when I was 20 and I had my hopes set on getting a specific summer job. The job which would get me out of Idaho, where I’d been working for five months because I couldn’t find any work in Spokane, and back to Washington State.
The job fell through and I was devastated, feeling stuck in my Idaho exile with no options for escape. After I got the news on the phone I went to my room and put the cassette tape in my player and played “Trouble” over and over again as I curled up and cried copious tears on my bed. (It’s a little funny to look back on that now, because as devastated as I was at that time, it turned out that I ended up having a good summer there and I have very fond memories of my year and a half spent in Idaho. Just goes to show, I guess.)
Choice lyric: “I’m beat, I’m torn, shattered and tossed and worn, too shocking to see, too shocking to see.”
2. “The Prison“ by Melissa Etheridge. This is technically a lost love song, but it also works very well for those times you’re feeling trapped.
Choice lyric: “I tried to leave it all behind me. I drove all night, I drove all day. But the walls of this prison still surround me, and I can’t break away.”
3. “Cry to Me“ by Heart. If you’re feeling miserable and alone, what better way to find comfort than Ann Wilson inviting you to cry on her shoulder? I mean seriously. This song is incredibly beautiful and highlights just one of the reasons why Ann is my Rock ‘n Roll idol.
Choice lyric: “The glass is empty and the wine is bitter on your tongue.”
4. “Falling Star“ by Karla Bonoff. This one has an aching loneliness to it that appeals to me.
Choice lyric: “I can’t sleep, I hear my heart beat, oh I can’t stand the monotone.”
5. “I Can’t Make You Love Me“ by Bonnie Raitt. This has to be one of the best unrequited love songs ever. But it also works for a variety of other love-gone-wrong situations.
When I was in the middle of trying to survive the agonizing heartbreak of my partner of six years leaving me I went to Bumbershoot (annual outdoor music festival in Seattle) with a friend, who was also enduring a break-up. Bonnie Raitt was one of the acts playing at the outdoor stadium that year and of course we went. As usual, Bonnie put on a great show. But when she played this song I thought it was going to kill me right then and there.
Choice lyric: “I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see, the love you don’t feel when you’re holding me.”
6. “Rhythm of the Blues“ by Mary Chapin Carpenter. A good relationship ending song, could work for troubled friendships too. It’s also a good song for quiet and gray rainy days.
Choice lyric: “I can’t seem to fix what’s broken, like this record, baby, in my head.”
7. “Red, Red Wine“ by Neil Diamond. A break-up song, of course. But good for any night when wine, or your booze of choice, is your best companion. The cover by UB40 is more famous, but reggae style is much too upbeat for this song. Go with Neil.
Choice lyric: “Red, red wine, stay close to me, don’t let me be alone.”
8. “Something to Believe In“ by Clannad. This is good for those times you’re a little beat down, doing some soul searching, or feeling like you’re missing something important in life.
Choice lyric: “All the things they promised, they’re always lies.”
9. “Dust in the Wind“ by Kansas. Okay, so this one is rather cliché. But it’s pretty good for those moments of adolescent nihilistic angst. Should I admit it was one of my favorite songs as a teen in the 70s?
Choice lyric: “Don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”
10. “Breathe No More“ by Evanescence. This is kind of an obvious choice. But then that’s why it made my list. A perfect song for those times of intense pain.
Choice lyric: “Shards of me too sharp to put back together, too small to matter, but big enough to cut me into so many little pieces.”
11. “Hurting Time” by Annie Lennox. A general, all purpose hurting song. I really love this one. Lennox sings it beautifully and the music has a great kinda slow groove thing going on. [No Mp3 available.]
Choice lyric: “Tears that you’ve been living with running down your face, running down your face.”
12. “Me“ by Paula Cole. For when you’re your own worst enemy. (Though this one is a cheat because it also includes an upbeat, I can do it message. Pfft!)
Choice lyric: “I am walking on the bridge, I am over the water, and I’m scared as hell.”
13. “It Hurt So Bad“ by Susan Tedeschi. This list would not be complete without a true blues song, and this is my pick. Tedeschi wails convincingly about missing a lost lover.
Choice lyric: “Oh what a fool I was, darlin’,yes. And oh you were a fool to let, let me go. Why did you let me go?”
14. “I’m About to Come Alive“ by Train. For when life isn’t what you expected, you’ve messed things up, and you’re pleading for another chance to get it together.
Choice lyric: “No one thought I was good enough for you, except for you. Don’t let them be right after all that we’ve been through.”
15. “Bobby“ by Reba McEntire. This song is an oddball on the list. First of all, I’m not really into country music. But for no reason I can explain I’ve always loved listening to Reba talk. So on a lark one day I bought one of her CDs. Second of all, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the list because it’s not a woe-is-me, wallowing song.
I first heard this song shortly after I’d bought the CD and was playing it in my car. I was driving across the 520 bridge to the Eastside and ended up having a hard time seeing the road because of tears. This is a song that tells a sad story. I dare you to listen to it and not blubber, at least a little bit.
Choice lyric: Nope, not for this one since it’s a story.