Home > Music > Meloncholy Monday: sad songs

Meloncholy Monday: sad songs

I love music … all kinds of music. I listen to it every day while I work, always sing along to it playing on the car radio or CD player, and usually have something playing while I write. While I’m working I like upbeat songs that keep me energized and focused. Same thing while I’m driving. At night while I’m writing, though, I typically listen to ambient music to help set my mood for what I’m trying to get down on paper. But there’s another time I listen to music, a special time when I listen for moments of reflection and emotional catharsis.

For reasons I don’t understand, some of my favorite songs are those which, through melody, lyrics, or a perfect blend of the two, bypass the conscious mind, the logical part of who I am, and reach deep into my soul, the place where emotions are stirred and tears are drawn to the surface. It’s a place so sad that all I can do is sit and listen and feel … heartbreak, loss, grief, and sometimes even a sense of hopelessness. For a few minutes I’m transported to another world where all that seems trapped inside from day to day and month to month is allowed to flow freely, with no worry about keeping things bottled up, or having to feel strong, to keep up appearances, to feign strength when all you really want to do is let go.

Here’s a song I’ve been listening to recently that I first heard during the last season of The Voice. It’s a duet sung by one of the writers (who at the time the song was written was going through a breakup of his own, which makes it that much more poignant) and Christina Aguilera. It’s an absolutely beautiful collaboration. While the song by itself is amazing, watching the video brings meanings to the lyrics that might not have been obvious from just listening.

Anyone else like sad, sometimes depressing songs? Anyone have their own favorite(s)? Or am I alone in enjoying the emotions these songs evoke?


  1. Ash
    January 27, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    This song really moves me as well. It makes me think of that one last chance you give someone before you have to walk away for your own health and sanity. Another song you might want to check out is called Light by The Album Leaf. Best wishes to you 🙂

    • January 29, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Hi Ash – good to hear from you. Checked out the song you suggested. Great stuff … wonderful blend of piano and electronics to create a melancholy mood just as I like it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. January 28, 2014 at 10:06 am

    It’s amazing how much emotion music can invoke. It can also instantly transport you back in time to a place where you first heard the music. I can’t write to it, but I love it in the background for most everything else.

    • January 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      That is so true, Carrie. I love that feeling, when a song comes on the radio and you’re in another time and place, complete with all the feelings. Happy, sad … whatever. It can take you there. Thanks for commenting, Carrie.

  3. January 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I tend to love either depressing songs or completely empowering songs, so I understand! Sometimes the lyrics and melody of a depressing song so perfectly capture the mood in a way the lyrics alone can’t.

    As song I recommend that has the rare trait of being both somewhat sad and uplifting is Cold War by Janelle Monae: http://youtu.be/lqmORiHNtN4 (I recommend watching the video with the song)

    And one that I mostly just find sad is And So It Goes by Billy Joel: http://youtu.be/FHO6a2H-pqY (the video doesn’t add much to the song here)

    I’m a sucker for a good vocal/piano/string combination, so the song you posted here is definitely working over my emotions.

    • January 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      I watched the Janelle Monae video. Wow. You’re right … a song with both feelings intermixed. That strong beat mixed with those lyrics … and then the tears. Very effective. I’d never heard the Billy Joel song, which is surprising. What a sad, sad song … loved it. Thanks for sharing, Nicole.

      • January 30, 2014 at 11:36 am

        If you ever need more depressing song suggestions, you know where to find me. 😉 After making my earlier comment I thought of a bunch more, but I’ll spare you.

      • January 30, 2014 at 8:16 pm

        Hey … please share any you have that you really like. I’m always on the look out for depressing songs, so pass them along 🙂

  4. Jenn Pagan
    January 29, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Beautiful song. I think sad music can be really helpful in taking the leap when you want to acknowledge some profound, maybe uncomfortable feeling (like sadness), but you’re not quite ready to acknowledge that feeling in silence. Feeling in silence can be so healing, but I think it’s much, much more difficult. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a song to help you navigate your emotions. I think sometimes the best way to translate an emotion is through music:)

    • January 29, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      Yeah … exactly what you said, Jenn. Thanks for listening and letting me know what you think.

  5. January 30, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I like songs/music that moves me to tears as well. I’ve listened (over and over) to Natalie Merchant’s Beloved Wife, Pavarotti’s Pagliacci. Sometimes I think I’m masochistic, but I know it’s just because I want to be in touch with those feelings. They remind me of losses I’ve experienced and never want to forget; they remind that someday I’ll lose someone again and at least the feelings will be familiar and, thus, maybe (just maybe) a little easier to bear.

    • January 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      Always good to hear that others are like me. I hadn’t thought about it, but I suppose there must be some sort of masochism involved since we do, in a sense, voluntarily torture ourselves. And you’re right, I think, about how they remind us of losses and that loss is inevitable … let’s hope they make things just a little easier in the future.

  6. kirbyp
    February 1, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Beautiful song. The old couple in the film clip really got me 😦

    • February 1, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Glad you liked it. Yep, to me the old couple was definitely the saddest part of the video. The words at the time you see them in the video fit the moment perfectly.

  7. February 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Music’s a huge influence for me. And plays an enormous role in my life. For melancholy/emotive I have to go with Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work. However I just recently discover a cover version by Greg Laswell that is my current fav. http://youtu.be/uNSK7D7VOvg.

    I even invented my own game (played on road trips) Radio Roulette. Press the scan button on the radio and let it flip though the channels until you hear something interesting. Stop. Repeat this till the next musical creation catches your fancy. Can also be played on iPhone or any other digital music device.

    I wrote about the soundtrack of my life awhile back.Read for more details on my musical influences. http://dctdesigns.com/2013/04/25/the-soundtrack-of-my-life/

    • February 6, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and for following! Glad you liked my post about music … I love all kinds, but as you can tell, I love those sad, sad, songs. Listened to Greg Laswell’s “This Woman’s Work”. Loved it. Even better then Kate Bush! Lot of great songs on your soundtrack of life. I like the idea. Maybe I’ll come up with a similar post of my own 🙂

  8. February 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I love melancholic music, and have quite a few playlists that hit at that chord…so many that I could list, but currently a few of my favorites are Ryan Adams – La Cienega Smiled – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ8gjtMYEA4, Stronger Than Me from the TV show Nashville – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRbCSZJcfr8, Keaton Henson Flesh and Bone – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAqp9MtRFNo and Ryan Bingham’s Never Far Behind – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PU67T8uX40

    So many more…

    Great choice of songs, by the way….I have loved that duet ever since they performed this past season on The Voice…brings tears, that song.

    • February 17, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks for passing along the song suggestions. I’ll check them out … please pass along more if you think about it. If you have a list of particular favorites, just email them to me. Thanks for stopping by, commenting, and leaving some tunes for me to listen to.

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