I’ve noticed I’m listening to a lot of pretty sad songs recently and thinking “Damn…these are spiffy.” …not really, I only write old-time colloquialisms. I’ve actually been thinking “…these are sad…and pretty.”
So I decided to go over my brain-collection and try to identify the best sad songs I know. There were some battles: Sparklehorse COULD have been here a half dozen times. But accepting that each band gets ONE song, this is what I came up with, linked to YouTube for ease of listening:
Sparklehorse – Homecoming Queen: Damn…half of ‘Vivadixie…’ and a quarter of ‘Good Morning, Spider’ could be here…I chose this one because of its haunting melody, simple guitar, and Mr. Linkous’ amazing vocals. It’s also the first Sparklehorse song I ever heard…yup yup! I started listening from Album 1, Track 1 and never looked back!
Aimee Mann – It’s Not: The only song GUARANTEED to make me cry. The thing I noticed recently…the melody, it’s actually almost juxtaposed to the lyrics and the chord progression. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but please: listen to the melody and picture it as jig, or children’s song. It’s almost hopeful…whereas the lyrics are pretty damning. Best to listen to as it sits on the album: dead last of ‘Lost In Space.’ It has it’s most power closing off the album which is really more of a story.
The Middle East – Blood: SOOO pretty. I only feel anger because they’re hitting Montreal and Vancouver, but skipping Toronto on their current tour, and who the hell knows when an Australian folk act will come back this way. For subject matter…probably the saddest of the five selected songs. Like Aimee, though, there’s this…sense of hope, especially near the end, where the song becomes a bit more upbeat.
Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche: A wall of pretty instruments doing pretty things with each other. I’m not the best when it comes to interpreting lyrics…I kinda get this feeling that it’s about failing, or making a mistake…or at least being swept up in something not so pleasant. Proper use of banjo is acknowledged and appreciated.
Kathleen Edwards – Buffalo: Kathleen’s wonderful ear for tones, a pretty song that just makes me feel how I’ve felt many times in my life: stranded. I learned what ‘Jennys’ are ’cause of this song (Generators!) Amazing strings, well-crafted, very Kathleen. (Sound quality isn’t that great…and the video is of nature art, but it’s the song!)