Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crushingly sad quote and photo. (And a fun poll!!)

"For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow."

Here's one answer:
"there is nothing.
more than this--tell me one thing.
more than this--there is nothing" --Roxy Music


Which reminds me that it's time for a poll!!! Hey, let's turn that frown upside down!!! Because a good poll trumps the abyss any day of the week!! One might even say that a good poll can even "stare down" the abyss. (Whew boy, I just slay me.)

Question: What is/are the saddest song(s)? (No ironic/smarty pants answers. We can have a "worst/lamest/bathetic" song poll for another post.")

Now get to the weeping and responding. And weeping. (Did I mention the weeping?)

(But don't forget the responding. Through the weeping, of course.)


Anonymous said...

Where do I check "none" in the poll? Please.

justcurious said...

alright, this post is certified to be 100% smarty pants free. let's see what that's like...

kind sir, my favorite sad songs are the older ballads that speak not to life's clear tragedies, but to the less overt, yet chest-hollowing sadness that comes from life simply not playing out as expected.

may i offer as examples "that's the way i've always heard it should be" (there are no happy marriages, turns out) and "cats in the cradle" (you plan on doing right by the kids soon, but then they're grown).

at least those felt the most poignant as i sang them into my hairbrush.

Steven Taylor said...

Mahler--especially when their are Nietzsche quote on the liner notes.

Steven Taylor said...

Ok, a more serious response.

I was seriously trying to think of a song that I truly think of as sad (it was either this or do actual work).

More specifically, I have been trying to think of a song that make me feel sad, and I can't think of one, although I know that certain songs will make me feel melancholy, but mainly because they conjure some memory or such from the past associated with the song, not because of the song itself, per se.

It isn't that I don't listen to songs that lack sad lyrics. Indeed, ever since I read the post, the following has been going through my head, from a song that is on my MP3 player:

Now you're no longer talking
And I'm no longer hearing
There's nothing left to say
Said it anyway
Said it anyway
And I want you not
I need you not
I'm dying
Cos this is the saddest song I've got
The saddest song I've got

-Annie Lennox

I guess part of the issue becomes one of whether a song is objectively sad (if there is such a thing) or if it makes you sad personally.

Michael B said...

mr./ms. anonymous: the music poll? or the obama poll?

Michael B said...

you know what? i was actually going to make a distinction between "objectively" sad songs, and those that just make you personally sad? because there a number of songs that are sad for me but for personal reasons; others might find them contemplative but not exactly sad.

mahler, btw, is objectively sad. at least a good portion of his music.

Michael B said...

cats in the cradle made me sad when i first heard it--i was about seven or eight years old, and i heard it in montana. i felt so sorry for that young boy. now as a father, i definitely think of it from a different perspective.

the sad songs to me are also those of dreams unrealized. and just the shortness and ephemeral nature of it all. i'm going to wait before i give specifics.

Anonymous said...

The Thrill is Gone (the B.B. King and Tracy Chapman version).

Some of the Corelli's works are very sad and dark.

Michael B said...

i like thrill is gone, and it is sad. but it doesn't move me as genuinely sad. i haven't heard the tracy chapman version.

Anonymous said...

So sorry. The "none of the above" is for the Obama poll.

As for the music: Strong agreement with "Cat's in the Cradle."

formerstudent said...

Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is song I always found sad, or at least haunting. There just something about a "cold and broken hallelujah" that hits me pretty deep.

I should also point out that I don't actually like Leonard Cohen's version but I wanted to give credit to the original writer. I much prefer the versions of Jeff Buckley, Brandi Carlile, John Cale or Rufus Wainright.

Anonymous said...

Fake Plastic Trees.

Michael B said...


1. excellent song selection. several songs by radiohead kill me.
2. once a poll is established you can't edit it. sorry.

jonbon said...

Why didn't I see this post earlier? I hope this poll/thread hasn't transpired. Please allow the preeminent self-loather to weigh in on this.

"The River" Bruce Springsteen
"Tiny Vessels" Death Cab
"No Surprises" Radiohead (you better know this one, big cat)
"Creep" Radiohead
"Naked as We Came" Iron & Wine
"Brick" Ben Folds Five
"Hurt" Johnny Cash
"Strange Fruit" Billie Holiday (brings tears to my eyes everytime)
"Eleanor Rigby" Beatles

I agree w/formerstudent.. "Hallelujah" is a fantastic one. I do prefer Jeff Buckley's version.

I'll stop there. Too many good ones out there.

Steven Taylor said...

I'm sad because I have a Ph.D. and yet typed "their" for "there" in my first post above.


Steven Taylor said...

The mention of Leonard Cohen made me think of his song "Democracy" (lyrics here, song/video here).

While I suppose one could argue it is about hope for the future, it really does unscore the US's shortcoming as well.

These lyrics from the last verse strike me as sad:

I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.

timekeeper said...

Any song my dh is playing at any time.

That's not smarty pants. It's the darn truth. I never learn the titles. I just change them when he leaves the room (I hope he never reads this blog and finds out!)

timekeeper said...

How about "Nothing Compares 2U?" Sinead O'Connor version only. That is definitely on the verge of a life ending in a postal kind of way.

And in a really sappy way, I love the lost love of "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins (I know...he is not usually thought of as sad, or deep, or especially talented...)

Okay, I'm on a roll. What is the name of the Willie Nelson song..."Getting Over You?"

And, let's go way back to "Time" by Alan Parsons. " flowing like a the sea." Thanks for reminding me.

I hope my children don't mind not eating dinner tonight because I am too busy thinking up song titles.

Michael B said...

formerstudent--leonard cohen's song is achingly sad, yes. true. i like all the versions including l.c.'s. but here's where i know i'm a philistine. all those with good taste point to buckley's as the best. but...i don't know. it doesn't reach me the way one might think it should--me having a decidedly non-pod soul.

Michael B said...


my dearest jonbon. yes, a man after my own musical sensibilities. you and i can't throw a stick without hitting a sad song, so to speak. okay, that was the worst mangling of an idiomatic metaphor in the history of language, but you see my point. we are, how shall we say, sad song receptive.

great picks, jonbon. i don't remember off the top of my head how the iron & wine song goes. but i'll check it out (and probably already have it on my ipod.)

Michael B said...

yo steve, i'll give democracy a listen. the lyrics are powerful, if nothing else.

Michael B said...


i like three of the songs you mention (as you know), though they moved me more when i was....umm....not forty years of age. not that there's anything wrong with still being moved by them. there's a lot to say for loyalty. oh, and i'm slowly coming around to "against all odds."

Steven Taylor said...

I just thought of a song that I think is objectively sad and makes me sad: Sting's They Dance Alone.

Steven Taylor said...

I agree that APP's Time is melancholy, but to me it has never struck me as sad.

Of course, lyrics like "goodbye my love, maybe for forever/goodbye my love, the tide waits for me?/Who knows if we shall meet again, if ever?" aren't exactly happy, now are they? :)

I am sensing a personal deficiency in my ability to assess sadness of songs...

Michael B said...


I am begining to suspect that in fact you are sad song insensitive, but I think there are far worse things. Like being joyful song insensitivie. And at least you're trying, you know. And keep doing so. I'm going to download one of the songs you've mentioned.

Michael B said...

i finally heard the b.b. king and tracy version. it's fabulous.