Okay, I’ll admit that this subject is completely subjective. Songs can have different meaning for different people depending on the context in which they first heard the song. The same song can hold different meaning for two different people just because of the events that surround a person when that song sticks to the part of the brain that makes us associate songs and smells and emotions with a particular person, place or time in our lives. With that said I have come up with a list of songs that to me will almost guarantee a nice bout of depression. Listen and have a good cry. Don’t be afraid, being sad means you are alive. At least for now.
10. I’ve Got A Name-Jim Croce
This song is one of a couple songs that have a lot more to do with the context of song than with he actual lyrics or music of the song. In the early seventies Jim Croce had a number of hit, which included Time In A Bottle and Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels), which both would be solid candidates for this list, but neither would be released under the same context as I’ve Got A Name. On September 20th 1973 Jim died in a plane crash while out on tour. The very next day I’ve Got A Name was released as the first single of the album of the same name. A song that was about the rise of fame and importance and ultimately a legacy after one dies, the events surrounding the release of the song could not have been more appropriate. The song would be a top ten hit and a lasting legacy for a gifted singer and songwriter who left us way too soon at the age of 30
9. Your Ex- Lover Is Dead- Stars
Just a simple song that perfectly encapsulates how our relationships are often fleeting and the powerful emotions we feel for someone will eventually fade away to the point where we no longer recognize it as something we personally experienced or felt and the person becomes a stranger or a ghost and will eventually also fade from our memories.
8. Honey- Bobby Goldsboro
A simple song about a man who tragically lost his wife. The melancholy lyrics and soothing orchestration convey the sadness of the song’s narrator perfectly. The song was released in 1968 and reached number one on the Billboard singles chart as well as the Country chart.
7. Baby Blue- Badfinger
This song may have not made this list a few months ago, but the finale of the great TV series Breaking Bad used it in the finale scene of the series and it was both the end of the main character of the show and the end of us as viewers having a great show to watch. It also makes the cut because the two main song writers of the band committed suicide in the decade that followed the release of this song. It is one of the saddest stories in Rock N’ Roll and this is one of the saddest songs, which lyrically is once again about the end of a relationship.
6.Blood- The Middle East
A song about life and death and love and everything in between. I once listened to this song on the dreariest of days and it was on my mind for days.
5. Sia- Breath Me
Another song that when put in the context of a show finale is even more powerful. This song was used in the final scene of the HBO show Six Feet Under. It was a show about death and ultimately about life. In what i consider one of the best finales of all time the finale scene takes us on a journey to the end of all of the main characters lives with this song as the background. When I first watched this I was depressed for weeks.
4. Cupid’s Trick- Elliott Smith
I could have put a number of songs by Elliott Smith on this list. One could easily compile a list of the saddest Elliott Smith songs. The guy was probably one of the saddest people to ever live and how his life ended emphasized his tortured soul.
3. Without You- Harry Nillson
This song was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger, who we heard earlier on this list. Both of the talented writers would end their own lives and put a dark cloud over the entire catalogue. They released this song in 1970 on the album No Dice. While it was a great song, Harry Nilsson would take it to another level a year later when he recorded the song for his album Nilsson Schmilsson. Mariah Carey also recorded a version of the song but I believe Harry’s is the best. Even Mariah Carey’s powerful voice could not compete with the raw and emotional pain that can be heard in the Nilsson version.
2. Stay With Me Baby- Lorraine Ellison
As far as raw emotion goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. Released in 1966, Lorraine Ellison belts out one of the most powerful performances in the history of recorded music. You can feel the pain and emotion in her voice with the horn section crying along with her in the background.
1. Day Is Done- Nick Drake
As far as sad singers go, there is probably none sadder than Nick Drake. In 1969 he recorded his first album and by by 1972 he had three completed albums but all were commercial failures, each of them selling around 5000 copies. Nick was a quiet and withdrawn individual who was reluctant to give any press or perform live which didn’t help his initial album sales. He grew more and more depressed as time wore on and would die of a drug overdose at his parents home in 1974 at the age of 26. He never saw any musical success in his life time but in the years since his songwriting and small discography has become very influential. There is said to be no known video footage of an adult Nick Drake. We are only left with still pictures and three fantastic records. The song Day Is Done is a particularly dark song about the changing of the seasons and how all of the moments of our lives are quickly slipping by us. No matter how successful or not you are, when the day (your life) is done, there is not much you ca do about it.