Tuesday, July 14, 2009

50 Songs for Sadness

I don't know what "most people" listen to when they're feeling down. For some, it might be happy music to try to cheer themselves up. I bet there's quite a few (if not most), however, that do what I do: they listen to music that provides a sort of soundtrack for what they're going through. Something that they can tune in to which gives their mind a point of reference and focus, as opposed to the flurry of random thoughts that might otherwise ensue. The lyrics don't necessarily need to be related; it's the feeling you associate with the music that's important.

Tonight I decided to compile a list of 10 songs that I go back to during such times, with no more than one song per artist (which sometimes made for difficult decisions). Well, the list quickly grew to 50, and I could probably get it to 100 without much more effort! I need get to bed soon, though... They are listed below, sorted alphabetically by artist name - not by preference. I will italicize my top ten, however. I am curious to hear your comments on this somewhat eclectic list, as well any additions you might propose.

  1. Air - "All I Need"
  2. Alice In Chains - "Down In A Hole"
  3. Beatles - "Yesterday"
  4. ? - "Black Snake Moan" (acted by Samuel L. Jackson)
  5. Cat Power - "Babydoll"
  6. Chavela Vargas - "La Llorona"
  7. Clint Mansell - "Requiem for a Tower" (from the movies "Requiem for a Dream" and "Sunshine")
  8. Coldplay - "A Rush of Blood to the Head"
  9. Dead Can Dance - "How Fortunate the Man With None"
  10. Empty Grave - "Under My Skin"
  11. Eurythmics - "Here Comes The Rain Again"
  12. Everlast - "What It's Like"
  13. Frou Frou - "Let Go"
  14. Gary Jules - "Mad World" (from the movie "Donnie Darko"; original by Tears for Fears)
  15. Gnarls Barkley - "Who's Gonna Save My Soul" (crazy video)
  16. Gorillaz - "El Mañana"
  17. Gustavo Santaolalla - "The Wings"
  18. Jane's Addiction - "Three Days"
  19. Jeff Buckley - "Halleluja"
  20. Johnny Cash - "Hurt" (original by Nine Inch Nails)
  21. Kansas - "Dust In The Wind"
  22. Led Zeppelin - "The Battle of Evermore"
  23. Lhasa de Sela - "De Cara a la Pared"
  24. Meghan Coffee - "Nightingale"
  25. Metallica - "Unforgiven"
  26. Moby - "Porcelain"
  27. Neil Young - "Old Man"
  28. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - "Do You Love Me"
  29. Nick Drake - "One of These Things"
  30. Nirvana - "Something in the Way"
  31. October Project - "Bury My Lovely"
  32. Peter Murphy - "Keep Me From Harm"
  33. Pink Floyd - "Comfortably Numb" (from the album/movie "The Wall")
  34. Portishead - "Sour Times"
  35. Radiohead - "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"
  36. Sia - "Breathe Me" (Mylo Remix)
  37. Sinéad O'Connor - "Troy" (almost chose "Feel So Different")
  38. Steve Baker & Carmen Daye - "For Whom The Bells Toll" (from the movie "Donnie Darko")
  39. Stevie Nicks / Fleetwood Mac - "Landslide" (Smashing Pumpkins does a great cover)
  40. Sting - "Shape of my Heart" (from the movie "Léon"/"The Professional")
  41. The Cure - "The Same Deep Water As You"
  42. The Doors - "The End"
  43. The Future Sound of London - "Papua New Guinea"
  44. The Mars Volta - "The Widow"
  45. The Smiths - "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
  46. The Verve - "Bitter Sweet Symphony"
  47. Tom Waits - "Dirt in the Ground"
  48. Tool - "Forty Six & 2"
  49. U2 - "Tomorrow"
  50. Zero 7 - "In the Waiting Line"


  1. Dave,
    I'm sorry I never got to know you well enough to feel you in the italics. My thing is, I would rather sing it than listen to it. Like James Tylor says in "Sweet Baby James," "Singing works just fine for me" My #1 song, for the purpose you express in the blog, is on your list, Jeff Buckley "Halleluia" And my #1 artist is in italics, Johnny Cash.

  2. Thanks, "Anonymous". Would love to know who you are, but that's okay if you don't want to say. Peace.

  3. Dave,
    It was me,Benjamin R. I'm just not blog literate. Like, why can't I paste my message in this box after I check the spelling in word?

  4. :) Great to hear from you again, Ben.

  5. Very good selections. As I usually listen to whole albums at a time and not individual tracks, I suppose that I would propose anything from these mellow or semi-melancholic albums: David Gray's New Day at Midnight, Sufjan Stevens's Seven Swans, Elliot Smith's Figure 8, The Smith's Singles, Mazzy Star's She Hangs Brightly, Loreena McKennitt's The Mask and Mirror, and even the Cold Mountain soundtrack. Okay, here are a few individual songs to satisfy: Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life," Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," and The Shins' "New Slang." And I'm just getting into The Decemberists and Iron & Wine, too, though not sure yet which albums or tracks are my favorites.

    To me, these songs/albums/artists *soothe* without dragging me further down. (Very important.) They are even gently uplifting without being obnoxious. Yes, often listening to "happy" music when you're not feeling it can be *really* grating!

  6. Oooooh...and then "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead--right up there with "Street Spirit"!

    Also, perfect for night driving (right along with a side of Nick Drake!): "Concerning the UFO Sighting near Highland, Illinois" by Sufjan Stevens.

    Oh, and Stevens' "They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhhh!" is cool if you want to freak yourself out in a dark house to something just a little funky and quirky. Okay, nevermind. That one's just for laughs. Can't help myself.

  7. Removed Peter Gabriel with Cat Power. "Werewolf" is entrancing.

  8. I can't believe that I didn't think of this classic right away: Cat Stevens' "Trouble." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1tRB7-aBr8
    Elegantly simple but very moving, and good use of apostrophe (i.e. the trope.)

  9. Todd Rundgren - Hello It's Me

  10. Lou Reed - Coney Island Baby

  11. Just had to replace Cat Power's "Werewolf":
    with "Babydoll":
    I'm allowed to do that. ;)