heard on the wire

Day 4 — a song that makes me sad

Now this was difficult. However sad a song might be, there’s a quintessential joy in music that no amount of heartache or melancholy can overwhelm. That disqualifies Joy Division, where the deep sadness in Ian Curtis’s lyrics inspired some of the most beautiful music ever written.

The first song that came to mind was Change Your Mind, from Neil Young’s Sleeps With Angels LP. That was quickly usurped by Billy Bragg’s Levi Stubbs Tears and the arguably superior version by The Redskins, which only makes you wonder what that band could have accomplished. Chris Dean is one of music’s great lost voices.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds could easily have provided today’s choice, the Murder Ballads LP alone provides several candidates, though the Kylie Minogue collaboration, Where The Wild Roses Grow, is perhaps its saddest moment. Likewise Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow, from Cave’s “comeback” recording, No More Shall We Part.

I also considered, Elvis Costello’s I Want You and Paul Quinn’s A Passing Thought, both beautiful songs with a deep sense of longing.

But we have to go back almost 50 years to find the song that leaves me saddest of all. I could have chosen either of Roy Orbison’s two finest recordings, but It’s Over has to take second place to the Orbison song played at John Peel’s funeral.

Roy Orbison :: Running Scared

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3 Responses

  1. John Lofthouse says:

    Hmmm, this is a hard one as I don’t tend to listen to melancholic music. But I guess that Martin Simpson’s song about his father – Never Any Good – manages to be heart-breaking and incredibly beautiful at the same time.

    Being annoyingly literal, modern R&B-pop makes me sad – how can anyone care little enough about music to make that rubbish!

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