I have asked my French friend, Yves, who has been sad more than a few times (he's French), what are his favorite songs of despair, isolation, and love gone horribly wrong.
Here's his list with some sad lyrics included:
1. Hank Williams -- Alone & Forsaken
"She promised to honor, to love and obey
Each vow was a plaything that she threw away.
The darkness is falling, the sky has turned gray
A hound in the distance is starting to bey
I wonder, I wonder - what she's thinking of
Forsaken, forgotten - without any love"
2. Bright Eyes - "messenger bird song"
"so you made me come_then you sent me away_like a messenger bird_and i circled the earth_blown away in the wind_but i always returned_with some new little song_some sad story to tell_of a brief love affair_with a girl I compared to you and she failed"
3. Buck Owens - "Cryin' Time"
"I can see that far away look in your eyes
I can tell by the way you hold me, darlin'
That it won't be long before it's cryin' time"
4. Leonard Cohen - "Famous Blue Raincoat"
"Ah, the last time we saw you, you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You'd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without lili marlene
And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife"
5.Beach Boys - "In My Room"
"Now it's dark and I'm alone
But I won't be afraid
In my room, in my room"
6. Billy Bragg - "The Saturday Boy"
"She never came to the phone
She was always in the bath
In the end, it took me a dictionary
To find out the meaning of unrequited
While she was giving herself for free
At a party to which I was never invited
I never understood my failings then
And I hide my humble hopes now
Thinking back she made us want her
A girl not old enough to shave her legs"
7. Patsy Cline - "Walking After Midnight"
"I'm out walking after midnight
Out in the moonlight
Just hoping maybe
You're somewhere walking
After midnight, searching for me"
8. Loudon Wainwright III - "Motel Blues"
"I'll buy you breakfast,
They'll think you're my wife
Come up to my motel room
Save my life"
9. Billie Holiday - "I'll Be Seeing You"
"I'll find you
In the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon,
But I'll be seeing you"
10. Tom Waits - "9th & Hennpin"
"And the girl behind the counter has three tattooed tears 'One for every year he's away,' she says. There's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix. She has that razor sadness that only gets worse. With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by"
11. Bob Dylan - "North Country Blues"
"The summer is gone,
The ground's turning cold,
The stores one by one
My children will go
As soon as they grow.
Well, there ain't nothing here
now to hold them"
12. Sam Cooke - "Lost & Looking"
"Crying for my baby, crying all alone
I'm lost and calling for my baby
Baby won't you please come home
I'm lost and calling for my baby
I need you 'cause I'm so alone"
And let's not forget Oscar Wilde's timeless words -
"...in the whole of celtic myth and legend where the loveliness of the world is shown through a veil of tears..."
Thank you Yves. Well, here's a semi-list of mine (in no particular order).
1.John Prine - "Hello in There"
"Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger,
And old rivers grow wilder ev'ry day.
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, 'Hello in there, hello.'"
2. Ricki Lee Jones - "Skeletons"
"Some kids like watching Saturday cartoons
Some girls listen to records all day in their rooms
But what do birds leave behind, of the wings that they came with
If a son's in a tree building model planes?
(I'm not sure what that all means, but it bums me out)
3. The 5th Dimension - "One Last Bell to Answer"
"One less bell to answer
One less egg to fry
One less man to pick up after
I should be happy
But all I do is cry"
(It's corny, pre-feminist, but that "one less egg" gets me everytime)
4. Radiohead - "No Surprises"
"I'll take a quiet life/A handshake, some carbon monoxide."
5. Ben Folds - "Fred Jones, part 2"
"there's an awkward young shadow who waits in the hall.
Yeah, he's cleared all his things and he's put them in boxes;
things that remind him that life has been good.
Twenty-five years, he's worked at the paper,
the man's here to take him downstairs;
and "I'm sorry, Mr. Jones, it's time"
6. George Jones - "He stopped Loving Her Today"
"He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today"
7. Danny O'Keefe - "Outlaw"
"You can try to beat the odds
By never keeping score
You can meet the Stranger's stare
You can always face the door
But you can't be an Outlaw
If you ain't wanted anymore"
8. Peggy Lee - "Is That All There Is"
"I know what you must be saying to yourselves,
'if that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?'
Oh, no, not me. I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment,
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
When that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath,
I'll be saying to myself,
'Is that all there is?'"
9. Joni Mitchell - "Down To You"
"Love is Gone"
10. Flight of the Conchords - "I'm Not Crying"
"These aren't tears of sadness because you're leaving me
I've just been cutting onions.
I'm making a lasagna for one
Oh, I'm not crying. No.
I could include anything sung by Mark Eitzel, Elliot Smith and Karen Carpenter. There are so many more. I could go on all day.
How about your favorite sad songs?