Sometimes when I sit downstairs and play my guitar, I just want to play sad songs. Even if I’m in a good mood…a GREAT mood…a sad song can pop into my head and I can’t help but play it. Maybe it’s because I can sing a sad song and think to myself, “Wow, I didn’t have a really great day, but at least I’m better off than THIS poor soul.” Or maybe it’s because sad songs don’t require a lot of energy to play or sing.
Whatever the reason, the mood struck me last night. Every song that popped into my head while I was playing was a sad song, complete with minor chords (according to Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap, D minor is the saddest key…it can make you weep instantly). So with another tip of the hat to my favorite movie, “High Fidelity,” I decided to list my
Top Five Depressing Songs
5 – In The Ghetto – Elvis Presley: This was as close as Elvis came to recording a message song. Written by Mac Davis, it talks about the problems in the inner city, and how some kids who are born into poverty just don’t stand a chance. Through the course of the song, the child is born, plays in the street with a runny nose while his hunger burns, and ends up buying a gun and stealing a car…only to wind up face-down in the street. A far cry from “Viva Las Vegas”.
4 – Alone Again, Naturally – Gilbert O’Sullivan: This chipper little tune talks about a guy who was left standing alone at the alter by his girlfriend, so he’s contemplating suicide (gee, you think maybe she couldn’t handle his mood swings?). He even talks about crying all day when his mother died…when his mother died! It doesn’t get any more depressing than that. Through the years, O’Sullivan, who is still very much alive, has repeatedly gone on record to say that the song was not autobiographical. Wouldn’t you?
3 – D.O.A. – Bloodrock: This could be one of the sickest songs to barely make it into the Top 40 (#36). Released in 1971 by the Ft. Worth, Texas natives, it is sung by a guy who was just in a plane crash with his girlfriend. He describes the ambulance ride and what he sees around him… “I try to move my arms but there’s no feeling, and when I look I see there’s nothing there…the face beside me stopped, it totally bleeding, the girl I knew has such a distant stare.” Finally, at the end, he hears the attendant say there is no hope for him, and he screams “God in heaven, teach me how to die!” It gives me the creeps just thinking about it.
2 – I’m Through With Love – Eric Carmen: This one came well after Eric has lost his “Raspberries” fire (you can’t argue the fact that “Go All The Way” is one of the best power-pop songs of all time). Carmen released one album for Geffen Records in the mid-80’s, a couple of years before he landed a huge hit from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. As you can guess, this tune is about some chick dumping him for good, and he’s just sitting in a dark room thinking about what he’s lost. (heavy sigh) He put all of her stuff away so he can forget about her, and swears that he’s through with love. I’ve felt exactly the same way on many a Saturday or Sunday morning, only my version is more like “I’m through with drinking”.
1 – Sam Stone – John Prine: The most depressing thing about this song is that it probably tells a pretty accurate story. Sam Stone came home to his wife and family after serving in the conflict overseas. Unfortunately, Sam came home with an addiction to morphine because of a little shrapnel in his knee. After he gets home, he loses everything to support his addiction, then finally OD’s at the end. You can’t get any more depressing than the first line in the chorus: “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes”. One listen to this tune and you’ll be starting the car with the garage door closed. “Sam Stone was alone when he popped his last balloon, climbing walls while sitting in a chair.” Oh MAN!
Please feel free to submit some of your own downers. Seasons in the Sun? Anyone?