Friday, May 18, 2007

"I was born and raised down in Alabama...."

Last week Heather linked to this article listing "The 25 Most Exquisitely Sad Songs in the Whole Wide World" and I spent most of my drives home this week internally composing a post about what separates a sad song from an "exquisitely" sad one. I was especially interested in the comments to the article and what songs people thought should have been included. Some of them were laughable - "Last Kiss" covered by Pearl Jam. I just can't listen to that song without cracking up - if you are going to include that then you might as well add on "Leader of the Pack" and all the other teen car crash songs from the 60s. A lot of people wanted to see Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again, Naturally" on the list and it took me a while to figure out why I immediately disagreed. I think that you can't really rate the sadness of a song that details a personal tragedy (whether real or fictional) because then you ultimately have to decide who suffered the most and whose experience was "sadder." If you're going to do it that way you might as well put "Patches"* at the top of the list and call it a day.

To me, the saddest songs are those that either (a) invoke an unspecified feeling of sadness (not necessarily depression - it could be more of a happy-sad), partly through lyrics, but especially through music and expression, or (b) remind you of a time or situation that brings back sad memories (again, it could be more nostalgic than depressing). I put together a playlist of songs that, to me, are exquisitely sad. I wouldn't recommend making a cd of these songs unless you enjoy spending your time lying on the floor and crying. You probably won't agree with some on the list so leave your own sad songs in the comments.

1. Fred Jones Part 2 - Ben Folds
2. Lizzy - Ben Kweller
3. This Time of Year - Better Than Ezra
4. Going Away to College - Blink-182
5. Walk Home Alone - Cast Iron Filter
6. Black Metallic - Catherine Wheel (preferably the radio version instead of the somewhat bloated album version)
7. Withering - Cracker (I know this is a Vic Chesnut cover but I don't know the original version)
8. Grace Cathedral Hill - The Decemberists
9. How It Ends - DeVotchka
10. Lover, You Should Have Come Over - Jeff Buckley (a much better pick than the Jeff Buckley song on the other list)
11. Cautioners - Jimmy Eat World
12. The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion - Okkervil River
13. Wonderwall - Ryan Adams (so much better than the Oasis version)
14. Harder Now That It's Over - Ryan Adams (I could really keep going with the Ryan Adams)
15. The Background - Third Eye Blind
16. God of Wine - Third Eye Blind (I know I've lost all cool points with these last two songs but damn if the last three songs on their first cd don't get me every time)
17. Marianne - Tori Amos
18. Blue and Yellow - The Used (my inner 14 year-old paints her nails black and shops at Hot Topic)
19. Getting By - Weekend Excursion

Honorable Mention:
Empty Shell - Cat Power
Graduation Day - Chris Isaak
Raising a Man - Public Affection (this is Live before they changed their name)
As Bad As They Seem - Hayden

*Some of you may think I wrote this post just so I could mention Patches. You would not be entirely incorrect. If you don't know what I'm talking about just ask and if you're lucky I'll show you a little dance.


Ben Birken said...

Oh, Laurel, our friendship was going along so well until you threw two Third Eye Blind songs in there, back to back. Sure, we all have our soft spots...but two in a row???

How about:
I'd Better Be Quiet Now - Elliot Smith

Only You - Yaz

I Do - Jude

Fallen For You - Shiela Nicholls

Say Hello and Wave Goodbye - David Gray

Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead

Having thought about this and typed it all out, I'm now going to go sit quietly in the corner and drink a bottle of whiskey.

Emily said...

So you told your mom about your blog, who told my mom about your blog, who told me about your blog, so I've now read your blog. Good stuff!

I must say I feel very old and very dorky after looking at your top sad songs list. I only know 1/3 of the songs listed, 2 of them being the 3rd Eye Blind songs!! I thought I would have known more considering I was a former DJ on the infamous KY "More Talk, Less Music" station. :)

Hope all is well!