Songs that bring you down...

Any particular song you find depressing when comes on the radio?
Mine has to be Harry Chapin’s ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’. So,so sad.

Red Red Wine. It sounds like a hangover.

Roy Clark-Yesterday, When I Was Young

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*Are You Alright[/I - Lucinda Williams

“Please come to Boston” always makes me sad. It is a sad song, and I have some personal history with it and my ex-wife. “Wonderful” and “Father of Mine” both feel like a slight punch in the gut, when I hear them. Not like a mugger’s punch, but like a friend who doesn’t know his own strength. These three songs cut right through my bitter, jaded exterior.

“Alone Again, Naturally” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, the first song I ever heard about suicide. The lyrics that really tear me up though are these:


Shirley Bassey’s version of The Ballad of the Sad Young Men.

“It Was a Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra, and “When October Goes” by Barry Manilow. Both remind me of mortality in a bittersweet way.

Wonderful, Wonderful by Johnny Mathis always made me a bit melancholy. When they used it in the finale of Desperate Housewives, it made me sob uncontrollably and I still tear up when I hear it.

“Dress Rehearsal Rag” by Leonard Cohen. It affects me more as I grow older.

“Kilkelly,” a modern Irish ballad based on letters exchanged from about 1845 to 1895 between family members who moved to America and others who stayed home in Ireland.

Chokes me up every time. The (mostly minor) chords work very well with the lyrics.

“No Man’s Land,” by Eric Bogle (the version I know was sung by Ed Trickett). Sung to a gravestone of a young WW1 soldier.

“Beloved Wife,” by Natalie Merchant. Sung from the perspective of a widower.

Beautiful, sad songs.

I don’t know if it brings me down or just makes me sad, but Where Have You Been? by Kathy Mattea always puts a lump in my throat.

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman comes to mind.

And then the rest of it about waiting for things to get better, and it never does.

“While You Were Sleeping” by Elvis Perkins*. Dunno why. I think I heard it a few times when I was alone and away from the family and I associate it with that. I am once again away from the family and recently heard the song (probably as an NPR bumper) and was depressed. Great song though.

I was once at Jazzfest and had no idea Elvis Perkings was there. I’m walking through the crowd and I hear the song…bam, depressed.

*Trivia-Elvis Perkins is the son of Anthony Perkins, who was an Elvis afficionado. His mother was Berry Berenson, who was killed during the 9/11 attacks.

God, I love this song. Its one of Lucinda’s best… And a totally sweet downer.

Back in the 1990s, Tim Robbins got a bunch of terrific musicians to contribute new songs “inspired” by his soon-to-be-released film “Dead Man Walking”. The resulting album is great, and most of the songs are definitely downers. Steve Earle’s and Mary Chapin Carpenter’s songs come to mind. Also, “The Long Road,” the second of the two collaborations between Eddy Vedder and that Pakistani qawwali singer (their two songs were also in the movie itself).

**Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan **(now why doesn’t stuff like this come up when I play trivia).


Continuing with the songs-associated-with-films theme, I’ll submit one more sad song: “I’ll Fly Away”, the version sung by Allison Krause and Gillian Welch, from O Brother Where Art Thou?