I’m looking for suggestions for songs that actually make you sad, examples of songs you love, but find rather heart-breaking, almost too hard to hear, but you’re drawn to them. They are, in fact, songs by artists you like. I’m not looking for jokes about the song that makes you saddest being something by Manic Street Preachers or anything by Muse or Tool – much as I’d like to agree with you on that. Those are simple, silly jokes.
Instead I’m asking you to think about artists you love that may have recorded a very sad song.
It’s almost a case of take your pick on Sun Kil Moon’s Benji, a wonderful album – but how can you stand to hear lines like “Carissa was thirty-five/You don’t just raise two kids and take out your trash and die” or “My uncle died in a fire on his birthday”. It’s tough to take – but there’s something so compelling about the album, a masterpiece. And now, really, the only masterpiece that Sun Kil Moon aka Mark Kozelek will make.
There are songs that I love that make me sad – Wilco’s She’s A Jar, that final line, “you know she begs me/not to hit her” – and a while ago I might have told you that Lambchop’s Soaky In The Pooper was the most nearly-unbearable (but also lovely) sad, sad song. In fact I have mentioned it on a couple of the sad-song posts.
Just as I find Walking On A Wire by Richard and Linda Thompson to be pretty hard to take – but also glorious (much like most of the music they made together).
But if I’m really going to wallow down deep into a sad, sad song it’s going to be Lou Reed’s spoken-word piece, Harry’s Circumcision.
I love his Magic & Loss album, the last Lou Reed album I really cared about. The last that meant anything much to me. The whole thing is very sad, full of sad, lovely songs, but Harry’s Circumcision used to be the almost-light relief of the album. I always thought it was quite funny. Not now that much. I heard it again recently – and remembered that I once played the song to my parents, read them out the words, told them it was my favourite song. They appeared in my room shortly after to make sure I was okay, to see if I wanted to talk through anything. I laughed them off.
But I hear the song differently now. Profoundly sad. And even if that sly humour of Lou’s still peeks through it’s only just.
I was always putting my foot in it with my folks with music talk. One time I told my dad I liked a particular Cat Stevens song and that created ‘a situation’.
A wee while ago my mum asked me “when’s this music fad going to end for you? When are you going to get over it?” That’s not a song. But some nights when I’m up late wondering what the hell I can write – just so it can get a bite, and a bunch of people I’ll never meet will have the chance to misinterpret it, call me out for not trying at all or tell me I can’t write because, you know, that’s the best insult to a writer – I think of that as the saddest song I’ll ever hear.
But then that’s just me. I’m always thinking about this silly music stuff.
Anyway, how about you.