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On a site where I blog, we had a feature called the Friday Random Ten. The writer for that week (we'd cycle through several writers) would choose a theme and come up with 10 songs that fit it. One of mine involved a book I'd recently read. I'll reprint (from Feb 2009) the pertinent parts here than you list your most depressing songs (10 is only a guide):



You know those songs that just make you feel like downing a beer in one gulp? The ones that give you the blues for awhile after hearing it? But make you laugh a little, as well? Not necessarily bad songs, but Debbie Downer songs.


I have this book called I Hate Myself and Want To Die by Tom Reynolds, subtitled, The 52 Most Depressing Songs You've Ever Heard. When I first got it, I read it in almost one session. It is hysterically funny. There are a few songs in it that I actually like but I had to admit, they could be real downers (like; In The Air Tonight). Now, it's not my intention to make light of depression - I was myself clinically depressed at one time. But, let's face it, there are songs out there that could bring Pollyana to tears. And, as it is with horror movies, we seek the made-up stuff so that we don't have to deal with the real stuff just then. So let's just have some fun, okay?


An interesting thing that Mr. Reynolds points out is that most depressing songs are written in the Dorian scale or mode. This is E to e on the white keys of the piano. Noodle around with it for ten minutes, he says, and you'll be making nooses in your head. He mentions that Greensleeves (aka What Child Is This) was written in this scale. Now I know why that one always makes me cry.


I've chosen ten of the songs from the book for my Random Ten this week with descriptions cribbed from Mr. Reynolds but re-worked in my own inimitable style...


Last Kiss; J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers - (Pearl Jam did a remake in 1998) One of the teenage car crash songs. In it, a pair of teenage lovers are involved in a horrific car crash and she dies in his arms. You will be pleasantly depressed while listening to it and then wonder why these kinds of songs were popular at all.

My Immortal; Evanescence - To quote Mr. Reynolds: "Any song that rhymes tears, fears and years already has one foot in the pathos pit."

One; Metallica - This song is based on the book "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo, which is about a soldier who has lost his face, all his limbs and all his senses. That's not a promising start. The video uses scenes from the film... yes they made a film of this story! But inquiring minds want to know; how does James Hetfield sing with his teeth clenched like that?

In The Year 2525; Zager and Evans - This depressing ditty caught the national zeitgeist when it was released in 1968. It went to the top of the charts and hung there like a malfunctioning crystal ball for six weeks. The song has an annoyingly trite gimmick of modulating upward a half step every verse - there is no chorus. Between the droning vocals, the horrible predictions and the irritating key changes, this is one gloomy song.

Let Her Cry; Hootie and the Blowfish - When a song has the word "cry" in the title, I put my guard up instinctively because I know the writer wants me to do that. Cry, that is. Everybody cries in this song, their tears falling like (yep, you guessed it) rain. Not enough Xanax in the world to offset the cloud of despair this song creates. Addiction songs are tricky and "less is more" is the rule to write a good one. The Blowfish blew this one.

Without You; Mariah Carey - The history of this song is depressing enough... the writers (Peter Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger) both committed suicide after being accused of stealing money that turned out to be a record company accounting error. Harry Nilsson recorded (IMHO) the definitive version in 1972. But then Mariah Carey got ahold of it and threw her exasperating faux-Gospel singing style at it. You know, when the singer adds an extra 20-odd notes to the one the writer put there. Please, let's leave this song as a tribute to the two men who wrote it. No more remakes of Without You, I beg! Oh, and off-limits to American Idol, too. Gah.

The End; The Doors - The Doors' guitarist, Robby Krieger, wrote this song. He gave the few lyrics he'd written to Jim Morrison ("It's called The End, man") and they performed it live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go soon after. They had no idea that the Lizard King would begin babbling halfway through. They were as surprised as the audience. Luckily, it didn't kill their burgeoning career. Why is it depressing? For one thing it sticks pretty much to a D-minor chord throughout the entire song (everybody knows this is the saddest chord). And then there's the imagery... well, the song is like an ink blot. Everyone sees something different in it. I see a song that seems longer than it is and makes me feel like I got slipped some acid.

Alone Again, Naturally; Gilbert O'Sullivan - The story of a shlimazel set to bright, bouncy music. We all know someone like this; they think Trainspotting is too upbeat. They went through life with a "Kick Me" sign on their back. Of course, getting left at the altar is a devastating experience. But you get the feeling this guy wanted it to happen just so he could say, "I knew it!" As much as you'd like to sympathize with the guy, you just can't do it. Naturally.

Prayers For Rain; The Cure - One wonders if front-man Robert Smith sleeps in a coffin. Putting a Cure song on the list is a cop-out to a degree because their entire oeuvre is depressing. But this is probably the bleakest of the bleak. The intro is soooooooooooooooooooooo long but eventually Robert starts throwing words at us; shatter, dull, rain, desolate, drab, stale, tired.... add "I" and "You" to those and other dreary words and you have the lyrics. No story, just a litany of things someone does to him and what he does in response. There's some interesting musical passages but they get overshadowed by lyrics like "I suffocate, I breathe dirt." Okay Robert, we get it! Lighten up, son.

Please Don't Ask; Genesis - It was hard to choose a depressing song from my favorite band because even the sad songs are enjoyable for me. But this one... man, you can hear Phil's heart breaking as he sings it. It's a tough song to listen to knowing what Phil was going through when he wrote it (the break-up of his first marriage). The stark instrumentation, the hurt in the man's voice and the poignant words (Please don't ask me how I feel/I feel fine/Oh I cry a bit/don't sleep too good/but I'm fine) combine to make this a real heart-wrenching tune. But, as Phil himself has said; "Sometimes it's good to put on a sad record and have a wonderfully depressing time." Which pretty much sums up this week's list...


By the way, Tom Reynolds has a book of the 52 creepiest love songs called Touch Me, I'm Sick. I recommend it highly.


So, what songs do you find comically depressing. Or even not-so-comically. Remember, they needn't be bad or even mediocre. You can even like the song.... but depressing is the criteria. Have at it!

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'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd


May not be depressing to some, but every time I listen to it, I always think about the first two or three months of my last relationship. Good days, but nothing lasts forever. I hardly listen to the song anymore, too many feelings associated with it.

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Interesting story on 'Last Kiss'. Not long after Pearl Jam's version came out, I was working at an HH Gregg (Best Buy/Circuit City type store), where we had two audio rooms. One night at closing time me and a co-worker were turning the stereos off throughout the store. We went into one room and the Pearl Jam version was on. When we went into the second audio room the original version was on. Apparently, one room had the modern rock station on while the other room had the oldies station on. We just looked at each other and said, 'That was weird.'



Ok back on topic


Genesis - 'Taking it All Too Hard'

Alan Parsons Project - 'Time'

Metallica - 'Fade to Black'

Rush - 'Losing It' or 'The Pass'

Earl Thomas Conley - 'Holding Her and Loving You'

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by Carrie Underwood. It's kind of a silly/morbid connection I have to this song, actually. My friend had just read a short story I wrote about a young woman who'd lost her fiance in a war and had just received word of his passing. This song immediately had me breaking down into tears. Still gets me.

(I have issues getting too close to my fictional characters.)



Celine Dion. Whatever my thoughts on Titanic, this song breaks my heart. It's so beautiful, but at the same time somewhere between optimistic and tragic.



by Owl City (Adam Young). Maybe Young's not the most popular artist.. for a number of reasons.. but "Vanilla Twilight" is just packed with emotions. It's the more-upbeat key change that gets me, ironically.


-Polyushka Polye, performed by Origa (I believe). It's more significant if you know the lyrics (translated down below in the comment) but it's a beautifully haunting song.


(...Wow, looking at this list, I sure have a thing for tragic love stories, don't I?)

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Tchaikovsky's final symphony premiered nine days before his death. speculators say the final movement is effectively his suicide note to the world. The beginning of the movement is a cry for help, and the end is the final breaths before death.

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Here's a few:


Yer Blues by the Beatles. John's ode to depression. "I'm lonely. Want to die," over and over. And there's no respite from the suicidal feelings, even in something he normally takes joy in, because "I even hate my rock n' roll."


Fade Into You by Mazzy Star. I can't really quote any lyrics, but the sound of the music coupled with the vocal style is wicked depressing. A song to open your wrists to.


Goodbye Cruel World by Pink Floyd. The last song on side two; it ends abruptly into silence, as if the narrator has done it. It's short, so I can quote the full lyrics: "Goodbye, cruel world. I'm leaving you today. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. Goodbye, all you people. There's nothing you can say to make me change my mind. Goodbye. [sudden, empty silence]"


Anything by Elliott Smith, the young indie folkster who died at the age of 34 after a brief life of depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction. This is a guy who was openly suicidal almost all the time, and it came out in his music. I confess to liking the melancholy sound of his songs; none of them are what anybody would call "peppy."


On the more comically depressing side, there's Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks, with lyrics written by mass-market poet Rod McKuen, adapted from a French poem. A dying man's farewell to his family and friends. "Goodbye, Papa, please pray for me. I was the black sheep of the family. You tried to teach me right from wrong. Goodbye, Papa, it's hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky." There were happy moments in the narrator's life, but tempered with reality: "We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. But the stars that we reached were just starfish on the beach." Sad, but almost funny in its mawkish tug on our emotions.

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QUOTE (VarianStar @ Jan 13 2011, 09:03 AM)
Kate Bush ~ This Woman's Work

I love that song, but I always saw it as ultimately hopeful. At least the subject of the story realizes his shortcomings and seems willing to change for the better.


The use of the song at the end of "She's Having a Baby" makes the movie, in my opinion. Tear-inducing.


Porcupine Tree - Heartattack In A Layby

Sparse, brooding, and chilling. The final vocal harmony section is unreal


Second best song on the CD, after "Blackest Eyes"! It is rather moody, isn't it?

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QUOTE (GeddyRulz @ Jan 13 2011, 10:36 AM)
love that song, but I always saw it as ultimately hopeful. At least the subject of the story realizes his shortcomings and seems willing to change for the better.

The use of the song at the end of "She's Having a Baby" makes the movie, in my opinion. Tear-inducing.

I always associate that scene with the song, so I think that's why it makes me so sad.

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QUOTE (Presto-digitation @ Jan 13 2011, 10:01 AM)
I love depressing songs. They don't bring me down. I just like a sense of melancholy in song sometimes. Sadness is often beautiful.

I agree. You should check out Elliott Smith, if you're not already familiar with his work. Great melancholy stuff, if you're in the right mood for it.

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Think of painting or sculptures or architecture where shadows are rendered or cast. It makes what you see that much more interesting.


For happiness or sadness, you need a little bit of both.


In layman's terms, we crave drama.


Some fave sad songs:


Stevie Nicks - "Beauty and the Beast", "Has anyone ever written anything for you?"


Toni Childs - "Dreamer", "Three Days".


Rush - "Tears", "Between the Wheels"


Dream Academy - "Girl in a Million (for Edie Sedgewick)"


Paul McCartney - "Tug of War"


Kate Bush - "The Coral Room", "And Dream of Sheep"

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Mad World (Gary Jules).



I know .01% of the people on this board are country fans (I'm included) but Whiskey Lullaby is wicked depressing! By Brad Paisley and Allison Kraus:


She put him out like the burnin' end of a midnight cigarette

She broke his heart he spent his whole life tryin' to forget

We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time

But he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind

Until the night


He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger

And finally drank away her memory

Life is short but this time it was bigger

Than the strength he had to get up off his knees

We found him with his face down in the pillow

With a note that said I'll love her till I die

And when we buried him beneath the willow

The angels sang a whiskey lullaby


The rumors flew but nobody know how much she blamed herself

For years and years she tried to hide the whiskey on her breath

She finally drank her pain away a little at a time

But she never could get drunk enough to get him off her mind

Until the night


She put that bottle to her head and pulled the trigger

And finally drank away his memory

Life is short but this time it was bigger

Than the strength she had to get up off her knees

We found her with her face down in the pillow

Clinging to his picture for dear life

We laid her next to him beneath the willow

While the angels sang a whiskey lullaby




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QUOTE (In A Tidewater Surge @ Jan 13 2011, 03:36 AM)
Sussodio - Phil Collins

This song is AWFUL. It makes me want to cry.

I love Sussudio!!! Makes me 653.gif !


Listening to a lot of German electronic music at the moment, some of it's real Debbie Downer stuff, and all the better for it. Stuff like Popol Vuh's Aguirre is very elegiac, very atmospheric, but strangely uplifting.

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Captain Jack by Billy Joel, as mentioned already.


Vapor Trail, Losing It, and Bravado by Rush.


Pretty much anything by PT. ESPECIALLY My Ashes.


Hurt by Johnny Cash.


3 Libras and Weak And Powerless by A perfect Circle. 3 Libras is one of my favorite songs...but I can relate to it...yeah, so I guess it's kinda depressing for me...as a matter of fact, the most depressing song I've ever heard.

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Lets see, the ones that stand out for me...


Nine Inch Nails : The Persistance Of Loss/Leaving Hope

Alice In Chains - Nutshell

Joy Division -

Pink Floyd - Dogs

Jeff Buckley - Lover, You Should've Come Over

The Cure - Distintigration, From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea

Peter Gabriel - I Grieve

The Smiths - Asleep

The Smashing Pumpkins - Blank Page (and pretty much all of Adore)

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Boy, there are a lot of songs that didn't make it into the book! sad.gif


Captain Jack and Whiskey Lullaby are in the book, though. The write-ups are hysterical, too. laugh.gif

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