Having woken up this morning with that bloody Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ song in my head I tried to think of some downbeat songs that would counter the incessant bloody happiness of that room without a roof. There are a million sad songs out there. Some real obvious ones and others that when you delve into them are as sad and downbeat as fuck…
Others like ‘Into My Arms’ are actually uplifting. Cave’s masterpiece is life-affirming but the melancholy that surrounds it makes it sound sad.
‘Eleanor Rigby’ meanwhile is soul-destroying in its bleakness and loneliness. Yet it’s wrapped up in a gorgeous tune and is beautifully sung.
The Clash’s ‘Stay Free’ is Mick Jones at his reflective best: “If you’re in The Crown tonight then have a drink on me,” is genius and so sad in the context of the song… Elvis’s ‘In The Ghetto’ is known by all. It’s a standard but those words…
“As a crowd gathers round an angry young man
Face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto”
That and the whole of the song could have come straight out of The Wire.
Of course I could have listed 300 songs but here are ten well-known tunes that for me are sad and melancholic. Others might not see them that way but most must agree they are utterly magnificent songs.
Into My Arms by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Patches by Clarence Carter
In The Ghetto by Elvis Presley
Shipbuilding by Robert Wyatt
Stay Free by The Clash
Pale Blue Eyes by The Velvet Underground
Carmelita by Warren Zevon
Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles
Papa Was A Rolling Stones by The Temptations
Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross