Friday, January 8, 2010

What is the most depressing song ever?

I am a big fan of depressing music, especially on long winter nights. While other people might crave Christmas music come early December, I long for sad songs.

Why? Maybe because feeling depressed in a concentrated way, for three or four minutes, makes me feel better afterwards. It's not catharsis, exactly, more like a lifting of spirits similar to taking a painful and accidental weight off one's foot or pouring alcohol into a cut and then washing it off.

I listen to depressing music until the days start to get noticeably longer, usually around the end of February. Right now, my two favorite depressing songs are "Gethsemane" by Richard Thompson and "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell (sung not by the golden young woman who wrote the song, but the world-weary, too-many-cigarettes-throated singer she destined herself to become).

Sure, there are probably bleaker songs, but bleak isn't the same thing as depressing. [For example, see the lyrics to "End of the Rainbow" by Richard Thompson, or listen to it on YouTube.] There's no hope at the end of bleak, just more bleakness.

I'd like to extend my current playlist beyond these two songs, so let me know what your favorite depressing music is.

[Note: To view my current list of depressing songs, as well as my vote for the most depressing video ever, see the post: Sad songs, angsty albums, a twilight tune and an antidote of absurdity; to view my criteria for depressing songs, see the next post: Perhaps a better word for it is "melancholy".]


(FYI, Joni Mitchell doesn't start singing in this video until 44 seconds in).

4 comments:

Queen Bee said...

Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". You can find MANY cover versions of this song, some bad, some good. Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, and Allison Crowe to name a few. My favorite cover of this song is by Rufus Wainwright-it is the version in the movie Shrek. I also think it sounds the most melancholy.

Eric Kelderman said...

Great post, Beth. I think, instead of depressing though, I would call these songs enjoyably sad. Maybe it's a sort of shadenfreude.

I think my favorite of these would have to be Chet Baker, singing Funny Valentine or I Fall in Love Too Easily...

jared said...

Here's a few that come to mind: Bob Dylan's "Seven Curses" still stings everytime..."The Gunner's Dream" off Pink Floyd's last real album, The Final Cut. how bout "Down in a Hole" by Alice in Chains; "Black" by Pearl Jam; under the bridge, the chilis...also, any plaintive native american chant conjours up so much

Chandra Garsson said...

I remember the first song that reduced me to a puddle of tearful mush, and it's been minor key downhill ever since. I was watching an old black and white on an old black and white at the tender age of...three? four? The movie was 'The Joker is Wild' with Frank Sinatra. The song was 'When Somebody Loves you.' Next time I remember was age seven or so. I was laying on my back on the floor of my friend Johnny marcelletti's room His mother had just put on the single of Peter Paul and Mary singing "Puff the Magic Dragon," and at that tender age I felt my childhood slipping away.