Apr 5, 2006

Mournful Music

(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.

And chilling.

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.


Stephanie said...

I prefer things with at least a bit of hope in them myself. Like "Cat's in the Craddle." There's hope there that the cycle can be broken. But for me, a song that can make me laugh or cry or hope is the song that I'll go for.

McCaskey said...

Just My Imagination - The Temptations
Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by.
I say to myself, you're such a lucky guy.
To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true.
Out of all the fellas in the world, she belongs to me.

But it was just my 'magination, running away with me.
It was just my 'magination, running away with me.

(Soon) Soon we'll be married and raise a family. (Oh, yeah)
A cozy little home out in the country with two children, maybe three.
I tell you, I can visualize it all. This couldn't be a dream, for too real it all seems.

But it was just my 'magination, once again.
Running away with me.
Tell you it was just my 'magination,
Running away with me.

Paul: Every night on my knees I pray.

Dear Lord, hear my plea.
Don't ever let another take her love from me.
Or I will surely die. Hmm

(Her love is) heavenly.
When her arms enfold me.
I hear a tender rhapsody.
But in reality, she doesn't even know me.

Just my 'magination, once again.
Running away with me.
Oh, tell you it was just my 'magination,
Running away with me.

I never met her but I can't forget her.
Just my 'magination,
Ooo yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Running away with me.

Ooo, just my 'magination running away with me.
She's in my mind and hard to find.
Just my 'magination...

Michael said...

Stephanie took my favorite sad, melancholy song, Ray Stevens' "Cats in the Craddle." Though, I don't see it as a hopeful song. But, I do think of it whenever my kids ask me to play with them.


Lisa Renee said...

I have many songs in that genre that I enjoy, however a personal favorite by Sarah McLachlan:

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin’ in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so tired but I can’t sleep
Standin’ on the edge of something much too deep
It’s funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can’t be heard

But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

I’m so afraid to love you, but more afraid to loose
Clinging to a past that doesn’t let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Weep not for the memories

Dariush said...

For me the title of the post brought to mind not a rock song but Albinoni's Adagio for Strings and Organ in G Minor.

I mean that piece pretty much defines "mournful music" doesn't it?

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

In the "switching moods halfway through to become dark" category, you can chart the unexpectedly mournful ending of Eddie from Ohio's "Observation," which begins with a few whimsical lines about a person with mental illness, but ends:

Mama, can't you hear me?
Don't you love me anymore?
I can't put out my cigarette.
I can't make it to the door.
I feel weightless, and angelic,
And the view up here is nice.
You can tell them to come over
And unhook their device.

historymike said...

Great suggestions, all.