Thursday, February 12, 2009

The 25 Saddest Songs Ever

OK, so the other night I watched Pink Floyd performing Dark Side of the Moon on channel 76, and "Great Gig in the Sky" got me thinking - what are the 25 saddest songs - the songs that are saddest to me personally.

I don't know Country music very well so, sorry for the absence of much of that. And I know the content of many Blues songs is terribly sad, but The Blues makes me happy. I don't know Opera.

So, the criteria is that song has to have a saddening effect on me and it needs to be a sad song inherently (so not mere sadness by association with a memory).

Here is the list..I'll annotate it later...well, except to say that Bill Mallonee's "Locket Full of Moonlight: Casual Reprise" is the most brilliant and profound connection with the deep sadness that springs up from a fallen world that I have ever heard or could want to hear. The harmonica device produces an almost transcendent wail that reminds me of a whale actually, a sad whale cry coming up from the depths...This song is about his marriage dissolving as far as I can tell - I was worried about that at the time - and that made it sadder. But as an artist Bill has delved into the deepest grief of his own failure and alienation and unraveling in away that does not so much leave us there in his situation but takes us on a deep journey of our own soul. Out of his travail he gave us this saddest of brilliance - this song defines the artist's calling and craft to me.

25) Fast Car - Tracy Chapman

24) Walk on By - Dionne Warwick

23) My Life - Iris Dement

22) Honey - Bobby Goldsboro

21) The Circle Game - Joni Mitchell

20) Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright

19) Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Eva Cassidy

18) Mr. Bojangles - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

17) Crying - Roy Orbison

16) Into the West - Annie Lennox

15) Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce

14) When You're Blinded By the Light - The Vigilantes of Love

13) Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson

12) These Days - Jackson Browne

11) So Far Away - Carole King

10) Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

9) Have You Ever Seen the Rain - CCR

8) Calling for You - Iris Dement

7) Blue - Lucinda Williams

6) I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams

5) You're Missing - Bruce Springsteen

4) Hurt - Johnny Cash

3) Great Gig in the sky - Pink Floyd (featuring Clare Torry)

2) Adiago for Strings - Samuel Barber ("Leonard Bernstein" version)

1) Locket Full of Moonlight (Casual Reprise) - Bill Mallonee


Alan Gantt said...

You can add these to your list:

1. I'm Missing You - Diana Ross

2. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt

3. The Coldest Days of My Life- The Chilites

4. Toby - The Chilites

5. The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald

6. It So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday - G.C. Cameron (Much more poignant than the Boys II Men version. Maybe because it's matched up to an extremely sad situation in the "coolie High" movie)

7. Johnnie was a Good Man - Bob Marley [Bunnie Wailer's version is real good, too]

8. Baltimore - Nina Simone

9. Against All Odds - Phil Collins [Another great movie scene match]

10. So Much Trouble in the World - Bob Marley

11. Is It a Crime - Sade

12. You Can't Go Home No More - Lou Rawls

13. I've Been Loving You Too Long to Stop Now - Otis Redding

Joan said...

Cats in the Cradle-Harry Chapin. I never understood the song until I became a parent. What guilt and sadness.

Dr. Mary Johnson said...

The World" Greatest/Saddest (Country) Song EVER:
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" - George Jones

I also nominate:

"I've Done Enough Dying Today" - Larry Gatlin.

"River" - as covered by Robert Downey Junior

"Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?" - Alan Jackson

"Appalachian Memories" - Dolly Parton

"Go Rest High On That Mountain" - Vince Gill

"Where've You Been?" - Kathy Mattea

The Logistician said...

Nice collection. I particularly relate to "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," to which I listened as a kid growing up here in the 1950s. I just loved the cadence. Did not really pick up on the message.

By the way, Smithsonian Magazine did a piece on Hank Williams, Sr. some years ago, and it is a classic article. He died so young of alcohol, relationships, and pills after a super rise in fame, over roughly two years. Has 11, if I remember correctly, of the top 100 country and western songs of all time. That's powerful. Must have been a lot of misery in that man.

One other possibility to the list:, The Temptations, "Since I Lost My Baby," and "I Wish It Would Rain."

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EC said...

Thanks for your list. Some more suggestions:

Steve Earl - Goodbye
Steve Earl - Lonelier Than This
Beck - Guess I'm doing fine
Beck - Golden Age
Beck - Totally Confused
Warren Zevon - Keep Me In Your Heart
Bonny Prince Billy - I see a Darkness
Josh Ritter - Lawrence, KS
Sheryl Crow - I Shall Believe
Gillian Welch - I'm not afraid to die
Elliot Smith - Pretty (Ugly Before)
Elliott Smith - The Biggest Lie
Elliott Smith - A Fond Farewell
Kanye West - Street Lights
Kid Cudi - All Along
Old Crow Medicine Show - My Good Gal
Laura Cantrell - When the Roses Bloom Again
Susan Enan - Monoplain
Lucinda Williams - Lonely Girls
Son House - Death Letter
John Hiatt - Come Home to You

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