Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sad Songs

Wherein I can only repeat those famous words uttered by the short order cook at Al's Breakfast (In Dinkytown and home to the best pancakes in the world): Life is fair, get used to it!


This started with my Christmas compilation. As that post says, even my wife thought it was depressing. Fine, whatever. It did have it's moments, so I fiddled with it and ended up with what I thought was a much tighter CD. Santa's Blues is fairly upbeat and probably the most depressing song, Fairytale of New York, is about two proud people in love unwilling to give up. There are a number of quieter selections, but they're not sad and I bracketed them with more upbeat songs. In no way is this depressing. I'd agree to contemplative, with a sprinkling of melancholy. Something appropriate for a midnight walk across a frozen lake.

I'm happy with it. Some of my favorite holiday music, this is good stuff. Hand off a copy to Amy and next thing I hear her husband is calling it the most depressing thing he's ever heard. I'll take that from the person I'm married to, but from someone whose musical taste is already suspect and probably open to ridicule?

No. In fact a challenge has been issued. Here is the most depressing CD I could put together.

  1. Institutionalized, Suicidal Tendencies (Repoman Soundtrack). A bit of a head fake to start off with. Sure, it's a kinda depressing, but in a jokey way. What are you trying to say? I'm Crazy? Well I went to your schools, I went to your churches, I went to your institutional learning facilities, so how can you say I'm crazy?

  2. Dad 2, Kevin Kling (Home and Away). The second song is a sucker punch. Kevin Kling is a superb storyteller. You might have heard him on NPR's All Things Considered. I've seen his play, the Seven Dwarves, and I've seen him perform in the oddity known as Bad Jazz. This story recalls when Kevin's dad told him he had cancer.

  3. Every Little Bit Hurts, Charles Brown (Someone to Love). The pinnacle of love gone wrong songs. Weeping guitar, desperate, self-pitying lyrics, this is a song that begs you to have a bottle of Jack with you...and no cups. I plead with you, do not listen to this song if already in a depressed state. Every night I cried, every night i sighed and wondered why, you treat me cold and you won't let me go

  4. Angel From Montgomery, Bonnie Raitt (Bonnie Raitt Collection). This is the live version with the song's author John Prine. This is the most beautiful, sad song you will ever come across; all hope is gone and all that is left is busted and forgotten dreams. Just give me one thing I can hold on too, to believe in this living is just a hard way to go

  5. Happy Father's Day, Lynda Barry (The Lynda Barry Experience). Another excellent storyteller, she's the author of Ernie Pook's Comick. The Lynda Barry Experience has a couple of great, nonsad stories: "Naked Ladies" and "I Remember Mike." This is about the first father's day after their father left.

  6. My Dad, Paul Westerberg (Folker). Yeah, we're a bit heavy on the dad songs and stories. Are there no bad mom songs? Actually, this isn't about a bad dad. It's a loving ode to his dad, who hasn't had the kindest life. Back story helps on this, as I think Paul said he hoped to get this song published before his dad died. My dad sitting in his chair, Still got hair and pride, Ask him how he's feeling, With an emphysema grin, he's fine

  7. A Year, Loudon Wainwright III (Grown Man). Here's another song about a bad father, but this time it's the father singing about himself. In short, a woman he is not married to has his child and he disappears for a year. True story and about his daughter Martha Wainwright - a fine singer in her own right and her bloody mother fucking asshole was the last song cut from this collection. I didn't pick you up because I'd have to put you down

  8. Beeswing, Richard Thompson (Mirror Blue). A song of lost love. Gotta be one of Richard's finest. Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee's wing, And I miss her more than ever words could say, If I could just taste all of her wildness now, If I could hold her in my arms today, Well I wouldn't want her any other way

  9. Unsatisfied, The Replacements (Let It Be). This works amazingly well with Beeswing: it's a continued frustration of other's expectations.

  10. Drowning, Joe Jackson (Laughter & Lust). Another breakup song. Pair this with Every little bit hurts and you've got a killer duo for the recently dumped (literally). I don't need you, But it's so hard, To be without you

  11. So Fuckin' Perfec', Juliana (The Machines 1990-1993). This is off a compilation from the DC company Simple Machines. I know nothing of Juliana, other than she has two songs (spoken word over music) and both are hypnotic. This is about a drug addict with AIDS.

  12. Helpless, k.d. lang (Hymns of the 49th Parallel). k.d. lang sings songs of other Canadians. Canada being mostly cold and empty and lonely, many of these songs will kill spring daisies. This is a Neil Young song. Helpless, helpless, helpless, Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless, Baby can you hear me now

  13. The Long, Long Drive, Julia Sweeney (God said Ha!). You know what's funny? Cancer! And really funny? People dying of cancer! This is Julia Sweeney's (yes, she was androgynous Pat on SNL) performance piece of her brother, Mike, dying of cancer and then she comes down with cancer. This track is when Mike finally stops fighting. And you're only halfway through disc two! Seriously, it's quite good and if you've ever been around a similar situation you'll know there's a lot of dark humor involved. She has a new piece about how she became an atheist (Letting Go of God). Should be out on CD soon.

  14. Death of Butterfly (Tu Tu Piccolo), Malcolm McLaren (Fans). The finale of Madame Butterfly where Cio-Cio San kills herself and the rat bastard Pinkerton takes their love child. Don't let the Malcolm McLaren bit fool you that this isn't a serious take on the tragic opera.

  15. Intro to Cara Quinn, Jabbering Trout (Jabbering Trout). "She was walking to school...it was valentine's day...someone drove by and asked her if she wanted a ride to school...she accepted...he took her to another town where he proceeded to rape her and kill her. Her name was Cara Quinn and she was my first girlfriend and this a song I wrote about that."

  16. Cara Quinn, Jabbering Trout (Jabbering Trout). The song about the above. I don't think I'll say anything about this song. I will mention that on the same album is a song about a massacre at a McDonald's.

  17. O Lonely Soul, It's A Hard Road, Mary's Danish. I love this band and I love this song. I listen to it over and over and over. Favorite line: I got an open invitation to nothing. Second favorite: wisdom is the window to the earth and sky

  18. People Ain't No Good, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. People just ain't no good, I think that's well understood, You can see it everywhere you look, People just ain't no good

  19. Country Death Song, Violent Femmes (Hallowed Ground). Man can't feed his family. Takes his youngest daughter, pushes her down a well, overcome with shame and guilt he hangs himself. She was screaming as she fell, but I never heard her hit


There you go. Nineteen songs plumbing the depths of the human soul. I'm sure someone could make a more depressing CD, but do you think you're strong enough to go there?

6 Comments:

Blogger Pooh said...

I have no opinion on your song list, as I recognize so few of them. Just wanted to give props for mentioning Al's Breakfast.

2/27/2006 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger XWL said...

"No mom I'm not on drugs I'm okay, I was just thinking you know, why don't you get me a pepsi."

Ahhh, those were the days, can't say that I'm 100% familiar with everything on this list either (Jabbering Trout?, Juliana?), but worthy no doubt.

The competitor in me wants to try and compete, but then I'd have to plumb the downbeat depths of my own CDs and I'm not currently in the mood, maybe during the expected week of soaking rain upcoming I'll be more inspired.

2/27/2006 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

pooh - what's your connection - UofM?

Winter is the best time to eat at Al's. Standing outside in subzero weather, then once you get in fighting for space with all the parkas. The pancakes rock and the West Side is a killer omelet.

For lunch, I'm finding the scariest looking Vietnamese joint I can find.

For a late afternoon snack/drink, I'm heading for the Dakota (even though I've heard it has since moved to Mpls (I shed a tear)) for the apple-brie soup and french fries with bearnaise; wash it all down with a James Page Wild Rice beer (if still made).

Late night dinner is a Davanni's deep dish pizza. I was there at it's birth, but that's another story.

2/27/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

xwl, I'll try to get around to writing what little I know about Jabbering Trout and Juliana. I've contemplated throwing away the Jabbering Trout CD, but it's so odd I keep it around just to play it about once a year and remind myself how odd it is.

2/27/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Pooh said...

Bill, yeah, lived in Mpls. for a few, then went to law school at the U, perhaps moving back in the fall.

Pizza Luce, dude.

For drinks/snacks, Sally's in dinkytown, but only because the beer is free during Monday Night Football and the waitresses are cute and now me (or used to at least...)

I prefer Thai to vietnamese which begs the eternal question, Chiang Muy Thai or The King and I...

2/27/2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Pizza Luce is after my time (I left in 1992 and have only visited a couple of times since), though it did cause me to check and see that my favorite warehouse district restaurant is still around - Chez Bananas.

I did time in two of the busier pizza kitchens in town - Davanni's by St. Thomas college and Green Mill across from Dudley Riggs. Green Mill pizza sucks ass.

2/27/2006 12:17:00 PM  

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