Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sonic Sunday: Lost Love

Last week's edition of Sonic Sunday was devoted to the death of summer, and this week is all about the death of relationships. I swear though, I'm not trying to make you people kill yourselves. Maybe just cut yourselves a little.

If you're not a cutter, you might just want to have some Kleenex and/or chocolate nearby before listening to these 13 unlucky-in-love tunes. (Songs are posted in order of their placement on the teardrop scale.)

1. "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," Elton John - Wait on me girl/Cry in the night if it helps/But more than ever I simply love you/More than I love life itself

We'll start off on the lighter side with a song not about a relationship that's over, but one that's on hold. It's hard to get too depressed while listening to this one because the music is fairly upbeat. I'm sure anyone in a long-distance relationship would probably disagree with that, but this isn't your list, is it? And you still have someone who loves you, don't you?

2. "You Used to Love to Dance," Melissa Etheridge - Do you sit and talk over coffee cups?/Do headline mornings satisfy and fill you up?

I've always found this to be a pretty sad song. The only reason it's so high up on the list is that, well, Melissa's lyrics don't always age well. Lines like "clutching your sin," and "Ecstasy ain't free but compromise is chance" kind of make me snicker now. They're so "I'm a very deep and important '80s songwriter" and, therefore, a bit hard to take seriously. But her voice is still amazing and the story she tells is timeless. It's all about that shock (and jealousy) you feel when you find out one of your "party time" loves actually settled down.

3. "Television Light," Marshall Crenshaw - Oh, what I didn't wish for nearly came true/To throw your love away was what I didn't wanna do

This is a simple song about regret. A guy spends an evening walking around town, where everything reminds him of the girl he dumped. The weeping fiddles really bring across that melancholy feeling.

4. "All I Could Do Was Cry," Etta James - I heard them promise 'Til death do us part'/Each word was a pain in my heart

Oh, Etta. She does heartbreak so well. I probably could've chosen any number of the songs she performed ("Fool That I Am," "I'd Rather Go Blind," etc.) but this was the first one that popped into my head. I mean, who goes and spies on her ex-boyfriend's wedding to another woman?? You've gotta be something of a masochist to do that. The song isn't really that much of a weeper though, because Etta seems like a tough chick who will get over it soon enough. But man, she was pissed when they threw that rice!

5. "The Song Remembers When," Trisha Yearwood - After driving out the memory of the way things might have been/After I'd forgotten all about us, the song remembers when

This wouldn't be much of a list without at least one country song. Those bumpkins sure do know how to convey heartbreak, and I'm not just talking about the pain of having their trucks repossessed. I love songs about the power of music, and this one is a perfect example. It's about how you can get over someone and be perfectly fine until, one day, "that one song" comes on the radio and stops you in your tracks as all the old memories come flooding back.

6. "Almost Lover," A Fine Frenzy - I cannot wake up in the morning without you on my mind/So you're gone and I'm haunted/And I bet you are just fine

Ah yes, the "almost" guys. Or, more to the point, soul-sucking scumbags who like to toy with people's feelings. Uh, maybe we should let Alison Sudol take over from here. Her take on this topic is much more poetic.

7. "Pale Moon," Shannon McNally - I know we'll meet again someday and we'll be very far away/And I'll know you and you'll know me, and we're gonna both agree/That we belong together

I've interpreted this tune to be about that moment that everyone either wishes for or dreads - randomly running into the ex-love who you're not completely over. It's hard to tell if Shannon has actually bumped into the guy or if she's just thinking about it, but either way this is a beautiful song.

8. "Silver Springs," Fleetwood Mac - Time casts a spell on you, but you wont forget me/I know I could have loved you, but you would not let me

This is the live version because the studio version is much too light. Neither the music nor Stevie Nicks' vocal delivery match the powerful lyrics. In the live version though, man, Stevie is FIRED UP. In The Dance concert, she stares Lindsey Buckingham down as if to say, "So, I can go my own way? Well, my voice will haunt you for the rest of your life. And you made this song a B-side to your kiss-off song? And then wouldn't even let me put it on my solo album? Well, I'm singing the shit out of it now and the people LOVE it. And they all know it's about you. I will NOT blink first! How you like me now, bitch?" Well, I really don't know if all of that was going on in her head, but it's probably pretty close.

9. "La Cienega Just Smiled," Ryan Adams - And I hold you close in the back of my mind/Raise my glass 'cause either way I'm dead

When I first discovered this song, I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what "La Cienega" meant in Spanish. Turned out it's just La Cienega Blvd. in Hollywood. I read somewhere online that this song is about a prostitute, but despite the reference to a street in a scummy town, I hardly think so. It seems pretty straightforwardly about a guy going through the motions of life, getting wasted (and maybe visiting prostitutes), and basically not doing a very good job of getting over his lost love.

10. "Bobby Jean," Bruce Springsteen - And I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind/But just to say 'I miss you baby, good luck, goodbye, Bobby Jean'

Including this song on this list was an interesting experience. This was always a favorite of mine when I was younger, and I remember having an immediate emotional response the first time I heard it. But when I was putting this mix together, I started looking at lyrics and thought that "Downbound Train" (also from Born in the U.S.A.) might have fit the theme better, because the lyrics to "Bobby Jean" seemed to suggest more of a friendship than a romantic relationship. But then I realized that even though this Springsteenesque guy and Bobby Jean may not have been a couple, that doesn't mean that he wasn't in love with her. I asked my brother and rabid Boss fan, Dutch, which song he would pick and he chose this one. I still wasn't sure, so I put it on and was amazed to find my eyes all blurry within about 30 seconds. I hadn't heard the song in years, but it still gives me the chills and gets me all choked up.

Now, we come to the Final 3. If you're not curled up in the fetal position yet, you will be soon.

11."Lover, You Should've Come Over," Jeff Buckley - It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder/It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her

I guess it's depressing to listen to Jeff Buckley songs in general, considering that he was taken from us too soon. I was torn between this, "Last Goodbye," and "Forget Her," but quickly chose this one since it's my favorite of all of his songs and it's one of the most heart-wrenching vocal performances from one of the most expressive singers ever. The whole song is so beautifully sad, but that bridge is

12. "Black," Pearl Jam - I know someday you'll have a beautiful life/I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky/But why, why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?

Speaking of expressive voices, no one can rip my heart out quite like Eddie Vedder. And his delivery of the above line is pure perfection. We've all experienced that exact feeling, but only Eddie has been able to word it so beautifully. If this song, and especially that final line, doesn't tear out your heart just a little, you might want to check if you still have one.

13. "No Distance Left to Run," Blur - It's over, I knew it would end this way/And I hope you're with someone who makes you feel that this life is a life/Who settles down, stays around, spends more time with you/I've got no distance left to run

This one just narrowly beat out "Black" as the saddest love song I've ever heard. Damon Albarn wrote this at the end of his 7-year relationship with Justine Frischmann, and it just captures that feeling of having nothing left to give someone and having no choice but to give up and hope that they can find happiness somewhere else.

Okay then, who wants ice cream?


Wings said...

Sad, but good.

And good, but sad.


Doc said...

Judas Priest! Now I just want to get drunk and sob into my pillow! Crap! I thought I felt bad before!

Have you got any Prozac?


McGone said...

Kudos on the PJ and the Buckley, but might I also suggest Fiona Apple's "Love Ridden" off her "When The Pawn..." album? The lyrics to that song really capture the sensation of wanting to lock the doors and sit around in your pajamas for a few weeks after a breakup.

Paticus said...

I always kinda thought "Bobby Jean" was one of the two songs on "Born in the U.S.A"(the other being "no Surrender" that addressed the fact that Little Steven(aka Miami Steve Van Zandt) was leaving the band to pursue a solo career.

CDP said...

"Bobby Jean" was a great choice, and I'm really surprised that "Black" didn't make number 1 on your list. I don't know the other song, though. Great list.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Eddy Vedder does not rip my heart out.

That happened a long time ago. Probably while listening to Black and I'm only happy when it rains by Garbage.

I second McGone's Fiona Apple suggestion.

Scott said...

my first goal when i got a harmonica was to learn the solo to i guess that's why they call it the blues.

Penny said...

what a great list!!
I love, love, love that Elton John song. It is very intense.

When I hear that Etta James song I always cry. It just rips your heart out!!

Also, Black. The acoustic, live version makes me hyperventilate.

You should check out Dizzy by Jimmy Eat World. It's a ball kicker.
Read the lyrics before listening. it's intense.

Mathdude said...

I would have added Mott the Hoople's Foxy Foxy.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hey thanks! Just what I need right now, to have my heart ripped out some more!

Shelly said...

LOVE that song by Jeff Buckley.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Great songs, especially Jeff Buckley and Blur. I'd add "Broken Heart" by Spiritualized and "Are You Still in 2 it?" by Mogwai featuring the beardy man from Arab Strap.

cube said...

I'm still sad about the end of summer and now you bring up this!
Pass the martini pitcher, please.

SkylersDad said...

I am very late to this party, but wanted to give a shout out to Harry Chapin, with A Better Place To Be.

Billy said...

This is a mighty fine weekly thing you're putting together here. Thanks for a few terrific additions to my sonic collection!

Falwless said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Falwless said...

I haven't heard many of these, I appreciate you linking the actual files! Sweet!

I'd have to add Ray Lamontagne's "Burn," a terribly heartbreaking song about still being in love with that someone and seeing them with someone new.

Some lyrics:

And don't pay no mind
To my watering eyes
Must be something in the air
That I'm breathing
Yes'n I try to ignore
All this blood on the floor
It's just this heart on my sleeve
that's bleeding


So kiss him again
Just to prove to me that you can
And I will stand here
And burn in my skin

words...words...words... said...

I'm glad to see "Bobby Jean" here. I once read an interview where Springsteen said that the singer and Bobby Jean were definitely a couple, and a serious one. The song is many years later, they've both moved on, but he was just kind of checking in for some closure because perhaps they had ended their romance immaturely. I think it's more wistful than sad, but it belongs.

My personal choice is "Somebody's Baby" by Jackson Browne. Gets me every time.

Mike said...

buckley hits the spot with me. His music is sad and yet sad in a good way....

Angell said...

Pass the Ben & Jerry's, move over on the couch, and where the hell did we put the tissue?


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