I thought I'd write about some sad songs today. I actually wrote 85% of this post last week and then somehow backed out of it and lost it all, so it seems all the more appropriate that I'm writing about songs that make you wanna bawl. And since I'm prone to list let's call it:


1. Leonard Cohen- "Famous Blue Raincoat" (from Songs)
I adore Leonard Cohen's early albums before he had to go and start using synths in the 80's. I consider him to be just as brutally morose as Ian Curtis, though I don't think people perceive him in the same way. This song has it all- faint wind chimes, a gently finger-picked acoustic guitar, the creepy Stepford Wives-esque backup vocals, some sparse strings near the end, and in the middle of it all is Leonard's booming voice awash in reverb. The lyrics are written in the form of a letter from Leonard to his estranged friend who apparently hooked up with Leonard's wife. Ouch. And then it ends with one of the coolest last lines ever- "Sincerely, L. Cohen"

2. Joseph Arthur- "The Real You" (from Come To Where I'm From)
This could be not only one of the saddest songs ever, but also one of the heaviest. With lines like "I feel like taking a razor blade, and on my wrist write an invitation" there's no question as to how bad Joseph Arthur is taking the breakup that surely spawned this song. Though this track is hidden close to the end of his album, the title Come To Where I'm From is a line from this song, perhaps indicating that this track is the heart of this collection of songs. I love his voice, love the guitar, and even love the rickety and poorly recorded drums.

3. Morrissey- "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" (from Your Arsenal)
Having a list of sad songs without Morrissey on it would be like having a list of best dance songs without James Brown, so with that I chose one of many possible contenders from his solo albums. Though many of you could laugh at lines like "I am a poor freezingly cold soul...", I eat that shit right up. Throw some cool washed out atmospheric guitar in there and I'm hooked. Worth mentioning is the underrated production on the first few Morriseey albums. In fact, that's why I always preferred his solo albums over The Smiths. Yes, I said it.

4. Yo La Tengo- "Tears Are In Your Eyes" (from And Then Nothing Turned...)
One of my favorite albums of all time became that because it got me through the worst breakup of my life, and oh yeah, it's fucking brilliant. I used to stay up all night staring at the ceiling listening to this album over and over again until I would eventually fall asleep. Georgia sings this one and her voice always sounds like honey oozing out of my speakers.

5. Prince- "Sometimes It Snows In April" (from Parade)
I know what you're thinking- "What the hell is Prince doing on this list?" Well, that's why Prince is the MAN. Just when you have him pegged as a funk rock madman who just makes you wanna do dirty things with your pelvic region, he goes and writes this achingly beautiful song about a good friend dying. Though most of the Parade album is hard for me to get into, this song and it's placid simplicity kills me. With just piano, acoustic guitar(yet another song on this list with acoustic guitar!) and the pristine harmonies of Wendy & Lisa, Prince brings all the funksters to tears. You get extra bonus points for playing this song when it actually does snow in April.

Ok, so there they are. I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting that you wanna tell me about in the comments, so let's all be sensitive and share. Yech, did I really write that?

Lastly, I wanted to mention THE GREAT COVER BAND PROJECT. As some of you may remember from my post about cover songs my band(EL JEZEL) would never do, I mentioned forming a supergroup cover band that would comprise of a rotating cast of all the super talented people I know. Well, I'm getting the ball rolling on it and if you think it sounds cool you can check out all the details right HERE. So far the response has been promising and I hope to start putting it all together soon!

Be good, kids.
-george jezel


Blogger d said...

that's crazy! "sometimes it snows..." was on my potential covers list!

12:10 PM, May 16, 2005  
Blogger d said...

ok...sad songs list: the aforementioned "sometimes it snows", pavement's "fin" (possibly the only break-up song to feature lyrics as complicatedly non-sensical as "amateur sea-salt gatherers colonize", richard & linda thompson's "never again", a song written in response to the car accident which took several fairport convention associates' lives, the smiths' "I know it's over" because it's the freakin' smiths, the cure's "disintegration" see: "I never said I would stay till the end", nick drake's "things behind the sun", well explained expression of helpless paranoia, john martyn's "solid air" the response song to the former, elliott smith's "between the bars", resignation so true, it hurts.

12:29 PM, May 16, 2005  
Blogger Pete Galub said...

Oh, totally with you on "Famous Blue Raincoat." But, isn't Cohen writing to his brother "my brother, my killer" line, or do you think he's just being metaphorical?
My vote for a song about just plain helplessnes and sadneess goes to "The End of the Rainbow" by Richard Thompson. Lyrics below-
don't let your infant around this guy...

I feel for you, you little horror
Safe at your mother’s breast
No lucky break for you around the corner
‘Cos your father is a bully
And he thinks that you’re a pest
And your sister, she’s no better than a whore

Life seems so rosy in the cradle
but I’ll be a friend, I’ll tell you what’s in store
There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow
There’s nothing to grow up for anymore

Tycoons and barrow boys will rob you
And throw you on the side
And all because they love themselves sincerely
And the man holds a bread-knife
Up to your throat, is four feet wide
And he’s anxious just to show you what it’s for

Your mother works so hard to make you happy
But take a look outside the nursery door
There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow
There’s nothing to grow up for anymore

All the sad and empty faces
That pass you on the street
All running in their sleep, all in a dream
Every loving handshake
Is just another man to beat
How your heart aches just to cut him to the core

Life seems so rosy in the cradle
but I’ll be a friend, I’ll tell you what’s in store
There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow
There’s nothing to grow up for anymore

1:31 PM, May 16, 2005  
Blogger d said...

quite cheery, our richard. I've been working on a long thompson piece...coming soon! (portentious music)

1:41 PM, May 16, 2005  
Blogger george said...

yeah, i always thought the brother line was a metaphorical thing. damn, now i really hope it was or that song has reached another level of sad!

3:04 PM, May 16, 2005  
Blogger jess said...


8:46 PM, May 17, 2005  

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