Sad Songs x 10

If someone else is suffering enough to write it down
When every single word makes sense
Then it’s easier to have those songs around
The kick inside is in the line that finally gets to you
and it feels so good to hurt so bad
And suffer just enough to sing the blues

-Elton John

Elton is right, as usual.  Sad songs do say so much.  I’m somewhat of a sad song addict.  I have no explanation or neat story to explain why I like them, but I wish I did- I have always found them oddly comforting.  Forced to come up with some explanation, I’d likely say that the very best sad songs draw out emotion and emotion makes one feel real, alive, and excited and the feeling of being real, alive, and excited doesn’t happen as  much as I wish.

To summarize: sad songs = emotion = real/alive/exciting = rare.

Sad is a broad word, though.  To narrow it a bit, I should say that I do not consider sad a synonym of depressing.  I do not like depressing songs.   Depressing songs (of the Jeff Buckly, Kurt Cobain, The Smiths variety) seem pessemistic, and have less value to me.   I don’t need a song to say, “Life is terrible.  It has always been terrible.  Suffer and then die.”  

Instead, I like sad songs.  Sad songs are optimistic, becase they are about loss.  And to lose something you must have had something; the potential of having something is optimistic.  A sad song embraces the pain of not having something you once did, and that is always better than not having ever had anything.

All of that to say that I love sad songs and will now countdown my 10 favorite sad songs.  It’s entirely subjective and the ranking is a complex product of feelings entirely personal.  But I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and your own sad songs.


Yesterday, The Beatles

Calling All Angels, Jane Sibbery

Hear You Me, Jimmy Eat World

Dance with My Father, Luther Vandross

Missin’ You, Sister Hazel

TEN: My Dear Old Friend, Mary Chapin Carpenter

NINE: Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap

EIGHT: Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler

SEVEN: Losing You, Randy Newman

SIX: Man of the Hour, Pearl Jam

FIVE: Walk Away, Ben Harper

And once again that rising sun is droppin’ on down 
And once again, you my friend, are nowhere to be found.

FOUR: Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please…begging please

THREE: And So It Goes, Billy Joel

And this is why my eyes are closed 
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen 
And so it goes, and so it goes 
And you’re the only one who knows


TWOMy Sundown, Jimmy Eat World

Good goodbye lovely time
Good goodbye tinsel shine
Good goodbye
I’ll be fine


ONE: I Shall Not Walk Alone, Blind Boys of Alabama


Beauty that we left behind
How shall we tomorrow find 
Set aside our weight in sin 
So that we shall live again

There are a thousand similar lists  if you want to peruse.  Start here…

Eric Zorn’s recent post on the topic

Aggregated top 100 list

One thought on “Sad Songs x 10

  1. My favourite from this list is the Ben Harper song. Good choice.

    I like your reasoning for why people like sad songs, it makes sense and it has something I have often wondered about myself and my tastes. There is a fine line, though, between what you would call a sad song and a depressing song, and I guess it is down to personal taste.

    For the record, my favourite sad song is “Casimir Pulakski Day” by Sufjan Stevens. I don’t think it would come under your ‘depressing song’ description because the melody is bright and beautiful, in spite of the song being about a loved one dying of cancer. You should check it out.

    There are also a lot of unsigned artists writing incredibly sad songs. One such that I recently got into is a guy called Barnaby Griffin, his songs are about relationships and love, and his song “Sad Eyes” has a wonderful narrative. You can here it here, along with his other sad songs.

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