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Sad Songs (Say So Much)

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  • Atypical
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    #403772

    I’m compiling a list of the BEST sad songs ever written, recorded, and performed.

    What are your favorite sad songs? Criteria is whatever you want it to be regardless of genre, era, or duration of song.

    Other factors to consider:

    lyrics, melody, delivery, critical/commercial responses, obscure gems, awards recognition, chart success, instrumentation, production, emotional/sentimental value, Grammys, etc.

    Start submitting your lists here now! Explanations would be nice, but not required.

    Discuss.

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    Final2
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    #403774

    Mine would be “White Horse” By Taylor Swift. She’s got the miserable lyrics of a failed relationship and the overall tone is hurt and sad and its just a fantastically written song and solid delivery. Its literally on the polar opposite of the spectrum than Love Story. Also “Jolene” By Dolly Parton probably one of the best songs ever written. She just sounds so damn desperate.

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    24Emmy
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    #403775

    “Because of You” — Kelly Clarkson

    “Breathe Again” — Sara Bareilles

    Concrete Angel” — Martina McBride

    “Everybody Hurts” — R.E.M.

    “Hallelujah” —  Jeff Buckley

    “Imagine” — John Lennon

    “Into the Light” — In This Moment

    “I Will Remember You” — Sarah McLachlan

    “Mad World” — Gary Jules

    “Slipped Away” — Avril Lavigne

    “Song to Say Goodbye” — Placebo

    “Tears in Heaven” — Eric Clapton

    “Unwell” — Matchbox Twenty

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    Tom
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    #403776

    I agree with so many of your choices 24Emmy. I would add:

    Alan Jackson – “Sissy’s Song”

    Alan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”

    Sarah McLachlan – “I Will Remember You” 

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    Troy
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    #403777

    “One Sweet Day” Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men

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    ETPhoneHome
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    #403778

    For me, it’s all about lyrics, and the emotional power of the performance. I find songs that dramatically rise and fall much more effective than ones that stay quiet. I recognize that some of mine are more obscure, so I apologize for that.

    “At My Most Beautiful” – REM
    “Miracle Drug” – U2
    “American Pie” – Don Maclean
    “For Crying Out Loud” – Meatloaf
    “Carry On” – Fun
    “Me me Quitte Pas” – Jacques Brel
    “Already Home” – A Great Big World
    “How to Save a Life” – The Fray
    “Miss Atomic Bomb” – The Killers
    “Spend My Life With You” – The Monkees
    “in my Life” – The Beatles
    “Never Comes the Day” – The Moody Blues
    “The Green Fields of France (No Man’s Land)” – The Dropkick Murphys
    “The River”, “Thunder Road”, “Nothing Man”, “Racing in the Street”, “Into the Fire” and “No Surrender” – Bruce Springsteen

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    BamaEd
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    #403779

    My favorite sad song of all time is “Goodbye To Love” by The Carpenters. It’s a song about not being able to find love so Karen (in full on superior sad song mode with her exquisite voice) becomes resigned to being alone. A few sample lines:

    “I’ll say goodbye to love. No one ever cared if I should live or die, time and time again the chance for love has passed me by”

    “So I’ve made my mind up I must live my life alone, and though it’s not the easy way I guess I’ve always known I’d say goodbye to love.” 

    “All the years of useless search have finally reached an end. Lonliness and empty days will be my only friends. From this day love is forgotten I’ll go on as best I can.” 

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    vinny
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    #403780

    “Welcome to My Life” by Simple Plan. Those lyrics are kinda heartbreaking and personify almost my entire life up until recently.

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    adamunc
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    #403781

    Three songs about loss that always make me mist up:

    “I’ll Be Seeing You”: The subtext of soldiers lost in WWII, leaving behind wives and sweethearts, gives it extra punch

    “For Good”, from Wicked: What if you knew you were never going to see your best friend again? What would you say?

    “Brothers on a Hotel Bed”, Death Cab for Cutie: Incredibly melancholy metaphor about the shattering of a marriage 

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    BamaEd
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    #403782

    Another one by Simple Plan that could fit is Untitled (How Could This Happen To Me)

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    Tyler The Awesome Guy
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    #403783

    “Say Something” by A Great Big World, ft. Christina Aguilera.

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    smurty11
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    #403784

    I think it can be said that Yesterday by the Beatles is the saddest song ever made.

    I would say that Irvine, Sober and Because of You by Kelly Clarkson are some very sad songs worth checking out.
    Also: Gravity by Sara Bareilles, My Immortal by Evanescence, Untitled by Simple Plan, Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, and I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie. 

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    24Emmy
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    #403785

    Here’s some more:

    “Bad Day” — Daniel Powter

    “Borrowed Angels” — Kristin Chenoweth

    “Chasing Cars” — Snow Patrol

    “Fallen Angel” — Frankie Valli

    “Fall For You” — Secondhand Serenade

    “Hurting Each Other” — The Carpenters

    “If You Leave Me Now” — Chicago

    “Rainy Days and Mondays” — The Carpenters

    “Shine Your Light” — Robbie Robertson

    “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” — Jimmy Ruffin

    “What Hurts the Most” — Rascal Flatts

    “When You’re Gone” — Avril Lavigne

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    Final2
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    #403786

    Tears In Heaven is incredibly sad.

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    Pieman1994
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    #403787

    LOVE sad songs. I have no set criteria, because songs are sad for different reasons, and are effective for how they say those things. If there was only one right way of making a sad song, there would only be one great sad song. Luckily, there are many ways of expressing sorrow and misery. So, here are a few that I love best. Here we go…

    “Skinny Love” Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
    -This is a song that is so personal, so real, and so driven by heartbreak, that it only ever works if coming from Justin Vernon. The production and arrangement are messy, but the delivery is as sharp as one could hope. “Skinny Love” is a devastating song about the most fragile moments after losing someone romantically. Vernon’s pain and vulnerability are not worn with any bit of irony. Rather, they’re projected with so much soul that it’s hard for the song not truly mean something to anyone else.

    “About Today” The National – Cherry Tree EP 
    -To me, this song is all about the unspoken moments of separation between people who, or at least at some point had loved each other. Matt Berninger’s lyrics are vague, but still perfect enough to work, and delievered so earnestly. “How close am I to losing you?” is one of the most haunting refrains that Berninger has written, this over a steady beat, plucking guitars, and the most sobering string section this side of chamber pop. The song never explodes, but the atmosphere becomes slowly more consuming, as the sound grows and grows, before it all comes to a head by the end, where it dissolves almost immediately, leaving the rest to hang ambiguously. 

    “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” Death Cab for Cutie – Plans
    -First off, thank you @adamunc for mentioning this. I might have forgotten it otherwise. Death Cab for Cutie is my absolute favorite band, but all one really needs to understand Death Cab for Cutie is a cursory knowledge that their songs are typically somber affairs. “Transatlanticism,” “No Joy in Mudville,” “Line of Best Fit,” “Steadier Footing,” “Company Calls Epilogue,” “The Ice Is Getting Thinner,” “Summer Skin,” “A Lack of Color,” and “Title and Registration” are all sufficiently melancholic. Yet, I can’t remember a song breaking my heart quite as immediately and bleakly as “Brothers on a Hotel Bed.” Taking a detour from songs about ending/ended relationships, “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” shows Ben Gibbard pondering his looming fears of aging and lost youth. Piece by piece, Gibbard is watching his life chip away, as he’s forced to resign himself to contentedness. For a moment, somewhere around the coda, Gibbard is almost okay with all of this. Yet, at no point does he forget his fears–this, evident by ending the song on the same dejected lyric as it began. 

    “Clarissa” Sun Kil Moon – Benji
    -Mark Kozelek’s career has no shortage of woe, but “Carissa” seems special. First off, how many albums start off with telling autobiographical stories about one’s second cousin burning to death in a freak accident? Weirder still is how there is another true story about someone else burning to death similarly later in the album. That aside, if one’s accidental suicide isn’t the most tragic part of “Clarissa,” it’s certainly not the only tragic part. Kozelek is more concerned with how he needs to know his cousin now, the eponymous Clarissa, even though she is particularly dead. The song speaks largely to how ephemeral life is, but how absolutely unexpected the end can be. No one sees accidents coming; that’s what makes it an accident. Even more present is how limited our time together is. How limited is it? We can never know. People can be in the middle of their lives, and then one night, their daugther will come to find them eviscerated by an aerisol can explosion. That’s morbid, and frightening, but Kozelek sells it the only way he really can: as a forlorn, slightly-guilty distant relative trying to make it up to someone who was gone too soon. 

    “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It in People
    -For a band so grandiose and expansive, “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” is as intimate a song Broken Social Scene could hope to write. “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” is also a misleading, as it deals with an extremely specific, yet totally universal thing that everyone experiences: Our friends moving on from us. That’s hard when people move on with their lives, or outgrow us. We’re left a little more lonely, and a little less sure of ourselves. They seem to move on just fine, and we’re hung up on these other people. All th while, we’re wishing that, at very least, they don’t forget us completely. “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” repeats the same lyrics “Used to be one of the rotten ones, and I liked you for that/Now you’re all gone, got your makeup on, and you’re not coming back,” “Bleaching your teeth/Smile in a flash/Talking trash/Under your breath,” and “Park that car/Drop that phone/Sleep on the floor/Dream about me.” They’re all very simple refrains that expound upon very huge observations, and it all builds up until it gracefully bursts. This song is as crushing as it gets, and possibly more so than any break-up song. With romantic endeavors, one knowingly runs the risk of being in a relationship where, if it ends, these people might never see each other again. Yet, we always depend on our friends. So, when we can’t, it’s a bit of a betrayal, no matter how much it isn’t intended.

    “Casimir Pulaski Day” Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
    -For a song so gentle, “Casimir Pulaski Day” is as heavy as they come. Sufjan’s gorgeous lyrics, accompanied by a simple guitar progression, tells a story about a girl who is very sick, and eventually dies. Again, that’s pretty difficult on its own, but the song has so much more to offer–by which I mean it has more with which to pummel your heart to bits. “Casimir Pulaski Day” is, more than anything, about loss. The loss of family, the loss of one’s love, and the loss of faith. For someone as openly religious as Sufjan Stevens, this has to be one of the harshest songs against a God this side of Isaac Brock. “Casimir Pulaski Day” reflects the feelings of anxiety, betrayal, and bitterness that comes with doing everything one knows how to do in order to save someone from death, and watching them die anyway. It’s not nightmarish, but it’s the stuff that haunts a person, and really shakes their way of seeing and dealing with things. By the end of “Casimir Pulaski Day,” it’s impossible to know if things ever get better, and maybe that’s how it always is. 

    “Pictures of You” The Cure – Disintegration
    -Since The Cure’s music is made up so much of a Robert Smith-signature cocktail of eyeliner and tears, picking one song to represent The Cure is a bit of a challenge. So, I pick “Pictures of You.” Really though, aren’t the worst fantasies the ones we believe are real, only to be dragged back down to reality? “Pictures of You” has Robert Smith so fixated on all of the most intoxicating highs of being with another person with such specificity. More telling is how nondescript Smith’s reasoning is as to how things supposedly ended. “Pictures of You” is all about using these souvenirs to remember the best parts of a relationship that all of the conflict and turmoil is swept under the rug in favor of something worth missing. Smith wants to leap back inside those photographs, to live in this time where he feels free, rather than in the present, where he’s simply arrested by the past. I have distinct memories of crying, in public, to this song. Getting lost in the idea and experiences of romantic euphoria is eventually self-destructive, and it even hurts in the moemtn, but is still oh-so addicting.

    Anyway, there are dozens of these songs that I love, but I’ll leave it to those few. 

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