10 Sad Songs

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Let€__s get one thing straight: I€__m a man. A tough-as-nails manly man who lifts weights and watches Sportcenter and kills spiders with my bare hands €__ unless, of course, I€__ve just gotten my nails done. And I am secure enough in my manhood to publicly acknowledge that the following songs can make me sob like a jilted prom queen (but, you know, a manly prom queen). What other songs would you add to this list?

Way to Blue (Nick Drake)

€__Have you seen the land living by the breeze?€_

English acoustic brooder Nick Drake lived the kind of short, sad life that seemed designed to produce tear-jerking anthems, and Way to Blue brings on the waterworks like no other in his tragically slim body of work. With a less gifted singer at the helm, the results would have been a strings-laden sap-fest, tailor-made for early 70€__s am pop; Drake takes us on a deeper journey €__ one that doesn€__t spare us the scenic route of his broken soul.

Mother (John Lennon)

€__I needed you. You didn€__t need me.€_

When the Fab Four parted ways at the close of sixties, the band€__s chief frienemies John Lennon and Paul McCartney both saw their divorce as a liberation, a chance to pursue their true artistic callings. For The Cute Beatle this meant finding a home atop Billboard€__s charts with a fun but forgettable series of silly love songs. Meanwhile The Smart Beatle sought a nobler path and created some of the most earnest, achingly humorless songs ever put to wax. I guess it€__s true that the children (in this case, fans) suffer the most in divorce.

Still Lennon€__s solo library is not without a few gems. Mother is not the feel-good hit of the summer, but good luck keeping the eyes dry during this searing ode to parental abandonment.

Angel of Harlem (U2)

€__Lady Day got diamond eyes; she sees the truth behind the lies.€_

Yes kids, before U2 became a bloated, self-important arena rock machine, they could deliver heartfelt, personal tunes, like this love letter to the legendary Billy Holiday.

Redemption Song (Bob Marley)

€__Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.€_

So powerful is the spell that Marley casts with this song of freedom that even his amusingly Jamaican syntax (€_Old pirates, yes, they rob I; Sold I to the merchant ships€_)
can€__t distract us. Give I a hanky, mon. Me wants to cry.

Autumn in New York (Billie Holiday)

€__So on this gray and melancholy day, I€__ll move to a Manhattan hotel.€_

Penned and recorded a half century prior to the nightmarish events of September 11th, Lady Day€__s touching torch song was obviously not intended as an homage to the darkest Autumn day in New York€__s history, but tell that to my (manly) tear ducts.

Card Cheat (The Clash)

With a card up his sleeve, what would he achieve?€_

Is Mick Jones singing about an actual down-on-his-luck gambler or is there a surprisingly sophisticated metaphor at work here? You be the judge, while I get the kleenex€__ uh, yeah, there€__s something in my eye, that€__s all€__

Already Dead (Beck)

€__Days turn to sand, losing strength in every hand.€_

This obscure cut from Sea Change (aka The €__Beck Gets Sad€__ album) best embodies its author€__s efforts to escape the world of irony-driven dance pop. The broken-hearted Beck doesn€__t just confront the grim reaper€__s sullen stare; he€__s already surrendered to it.

She Wanted to Leave (Ween)

€__I couldn€__t believe€__ she wanted to leave.€_

This unapologetically dorky novelty band €__ best known for such cannabis-fueled tunes as €__Touch my Tooter€__ and €__Push th€__ little Daisies€__ €__ are fairly unlikely candidates to contribute to this list of tear duct openers. Add to that the awkward fact that €__She wanted to leave€__ is about a pirate having his long-time captive stolen from him and you€__d be right to question my sanity for including it. But who knows, maybe this tale of kidnapping on the high seas is really just a metaphor for the enslavement of the human spirit and the unleashing of €__

Oh, who am I kidding? It€__s just a sad song about pirates.

Everyone Says Hi (David Bowie)

€__Don€__t stay in a sad place where they don€__t care how you are.€_

What could be more truly heartrending than a cordially phrased open letter to a recently relocated friend, complete with obligatory greetings from all those left behind €__especially when the letter€__s unspoken subtext is something closer to please, please come back.

Big John Shaft (Belle and Sebastian)

€__I won€__t play another heavyweight; I won€__t play another big John Shaft.€_

Yes, it€__s a song about that Shaft €__ the black private dick who€__s a sex machine all the chicks. Well, kind of. It€__s really a tale of a burned out actor fed up with being typecast as €__ among other things €__ a cat who won€__t cop out when there€__s danger all about (right on!).

I€__ll never watch Superfly the same way again.

Written by Copper Smith

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