Play me a sad song

Music is worthless unless it can make a complete stranger break down and cry. — “The Dumbing Down of Love,” Frou Frou

Everyone has those surefire sad songs — the tunes you put on when you’ve had a really, really rough day and no, you don’t want to be comforted or cuddled or uplifted. You just want to be sad, all right?! You just want to lay down on your bed, shove your little iPod earbuds in your ears or flip on the radio and be . . . upset.

Though I’m happy to say I don’t have many days like that, I do have my go-to sad songs for those moments I just want to feel sorry for myself. So I present a random assortment of my very own Pity Party Soundtrack.

My top choice? “Tiny Vessels,” by Death Cab for Cutie. I won’t even explain it — I’ll let their lyrics do the work for me. It would help if you could hear the haunting melody playing behind it, but I’ll leave that part ot your imagination for now:

This is the moment that you know that you told her that you love her, but you don’t. You touch her skin, and then you think — she is beautiful, but she don’t mean a thing to me. Yeah, she is beautiful, but you don’t mean a thing to me . . . I wanted to believe in all those words that we were speaking as we moved together in the dark . . .  All I see are dark gray clouds in the distance, moving closer with every hour. So when you ask, Is something wrong? I’ll think, You’re damn right there is, but we can’t talk about it now. No, we can’t talk about it now . . .

Next up? “Hearts In Pain,” by Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Never heard of them? That’s okay — they’re pretty, uh, underground? I can’t describe someone as “underground” without feeling like a tool, so strike that from the record. But you catch my drift. I’ll give you a taste of my saltwater tears on this one:

You know when a heart’s in pain, there’s nobody you can blame. The only light under the doctor’s knife is that we’re the same — hearts in, hearts in, hearts in pain . . . Who’s to say the muscle’s dead? I gave it up to her when we got married. There were things I never said . . . But I’m an idiot, and marriage is scary. And what you would say if I told you so true that I love her more now that the marriage is through?



Ouch! And moving right along to Ray LaMontagne’s “Empty.” Yeah, I felt sad just typing that little title! It’s haunting, sparse, melancholy. Perfect for crying your eyes out.

I never learned to count my blessings; I choose instead to dwell in my disasters . . . I walk on down the hill through grass grown tall and brown, and still it’s hard somehow to let go of my pain . . . Will I always feel this way? So empty, so estranged . . . Well, I looked my demons in the eye; Laid bare my chest, said ‘Do your best, destroy me.’ See I’ve been to hell and back so many times, I must admit you kinda bore me . . .

Poor Ray. He generally seems to need a hug and a cuddle — but that’s why I love listening to him!

And my final sad song choice of the moment? I’m going to have to go with John Mayer’s “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.” I was in love with the tune the first time I heard it — which happened to be live at a show in September 2006. I know I’m a nerd to know that, but I love JM! Even when he makes me depressed (like with the whole Jennifer thing, but we won’t go into that now!).

It’s not a silly little moment; it’s not the storm before the calm. This is the deep and dying breath of this love that we’ve been working on. Can’t seem to hold you like I want to, so I can feel you in my arms. Nobody’s gonna come to save you; we’ve pulled to many false alarms . . . We’re going down, and you can see it too. We’re going down, and you know that we’re doomed. My dear, we’re slow dancing in a burning room . . . Go cry about, why don’t you.

Fine, John — I just might!

3 thoughts on “Play me a sad song

  1. Counting Crows are my go-to for “life is just so hard” music. Okay, really, they’re my go-to for everything. I especially love “Perfect Blue Buildings,” and “Black and Blue.” “Holiday in Spain” is perfect for the let’s-just-get-away-from-it-all moments.

    And when I want to relive my angsty teenage days, I turn off all the lights, lie on the floor in the dark, and listen to Marcy Playground. Oh yeah.


  2. lol…i also have a ‘sad music’ playlist–lots of counting crows…and marcy playground–especially opium. hey, is rebecca stealing my playlist or what? i also like ‘under the milky way tonight’ by the church…and a few others that slay me.


  3. I’ve got a loooooooong list of sad songs for the occasion. To name a few:
    “Wise Up” by Aimee Mann
    “Samba é Amor” by Bebel Gilberto
    “So Far Away” by Carole King
    “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths

    My only problem with the last one is that it’s less than two minutes long, so I have to set the iPod on repeat.


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