(Toledo, OH) I have always been a sucker for sad songs; even as a child my favorite songs always tended toward the gloomy dirge instead of the uplifting ditty.
Death, broken hearts, and gloomy people are the focus of the despondent songs I love so well. While there have been some downhearted songs that missed the creative mark, there is something universal in suffering that makes these songs so memorable.
I just heard one of my all-time favorite depressing songs, "Alone Again, Naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan. Eight years old, and there I was in 1973 singing along with one of the darkest songs ever recorded:
In a little while from now,
If I'm not feeling any less sour.
I promised myself, to treat myself,
And visit a nearby tower.
And climbing to the top,
Would throw myself off,
In an effort to, make clear to whoever,
What it's like when your shattered,
Left standing in a lurch,
In a church with people saying:
'My God, that's tough, she stood him up,
No point in us remaining.'
I may as well go home,
As I did on my own,
Alone again, naturally.
Then there was "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks; I will always praise this song inspite of the slagging it gets by the perennially happy people of the world:
Goodbye Papa its hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky
Now that the spring is in the air
Little children everywhere
When you see them I'll be there.
The stark teen drama of J. Frank Wilson's "Last Kiss" stands up there as a monument to the morose. Kudos to Pearl Jam for a yeomanlike version of this song:
Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.
More recently the song "Lovefool" by the Cardigans tapped into the same people-on-the-edge theme that I have so often enjoyed. The song is deceptive, though, as the upbeat tempo and sugary production mask a singer desperate to hold on to a love:
So I cry and I beg for you to
Love me, love me, say that you love me,
Lead me, lead me, just say that you need me,
I can't care about anything but you.
I am not sure what this fascination and appreciation for music that expresses heartbreak says about me, but a well-written song of anguish beats almost any other music in my mind.