The saddest songs in the world

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yovargas
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The saddest songs in the world

Post by yovargas »

My favoritest band in the world, Radiohead, has a reputation for writing a lot of sad, depressing music. Recently, I was reading a hilariously geeky, semi-tongue in cheek article where somebody tried to algorithmically measure and quantify (using surprisingly complex calculations regarding "valence" and lyrical content) which is truly Radiohead's saddest song. I found the whole goofy exercise very amusing, basically trying to get a computer to recognize sadness, and even more so because the song the algorithm chose as the saddest song is indeed pretty darn sad (though not the song I would have picked). (You can see the whole intensely geeky thing here if you are curious: https://www.rcharlie.com/post/fitter-happier/)

Anyway! That whole thing got me thinking about what my human brain algorithms would calculate as the saddest songs out there and made me want to hear what songs you fellow humans would pick. So in this thread I'm asking you to share, what songs come to mind when I ask you - What is the saddest song you have ever heard?

I have a few songs that come to mind but I am interested in hearing y'alls pics first. For now, I'll just post the Radiohead song the computer picked as the saddest. Fun with sadness! :)

I wanna love somebody but I don't know how
I wanna throw my body in the river and drown
-The Decemberists


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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Sunsilver »

There are two songs that will forever be the saddest to me, because of their association with my husband.

The first one is 'Moon River', as sung (and played) by the legendary Satchmo (Louie Armstrong), which was our final dance on our wedding night. It was just SO darn romantic: 'Two drifters, off to see the world, there's such a lot of world to see...'



The second is 'You Are My Sunshine'.

Roger and I had gone away for a long weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I just COULD NOT think of an appropriate gift for him. I left him in the motel room and wandered the streets of the town we were staying in, hoping to find something.

In a convenience store, I came across a little gift-wrapped box with a bow on it. It was yellow, and only about 2 1/2 inches square. When you pressed it, it played 'You Are My Sunshine'.

I decided to buy it, and give it to him as my anniversary gift, along with a nice card. The card probably cost about as much as the little box!

I had no idea how much that little gift would mean to him. He kept it in his Dopp bag when he was in hospital. I found it there when I took his personal effects home after he'd died.

Unfortunately, the battery was dead, and there was no way to replace it. Yes, I did try... :cry:
Last edited by Sunsilver on Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Alatar »

Right now this is the one that breaks me up every time. Its from the Musical I'm directing "In the Heights". Yeah, I know a lot of musicals have sad songs, its part of the territory. This is powerful because although its mournful its also celebratory of the life lived. The harmonies are simple but beautiful and the countermelody of "Paciencia y Fe" just lifts it further.

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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Maria »

Since we are going through "Buffy" once again, and just finished the "Once More With Feeling" episode last night..... I have to vote for "Under Your Spell" . It makes me cry every time. it's a combination of how sad the situation is and how beautiful their voices are.

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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Nobody did sad like my doppelbanger, the late great Jerry Garcia. Here's a version of the haunting song China Doll that I got to see soon after I moved to California.



ETA: I could post six or seven other songs, but I don't want to take over yov's thread.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by yovargas »

Interesting that most of the choices so far have an extra bit of context that makes them extra sad for you. That makes the choices more personal then I was expecting, but that's okay!

Sunny - I'd never heard that Moon River song. I quite liked it! :) It's an interesting one because it shouldn't feel sad, it's more sweetly romantic, but somehow there's a longing to it that does feel quite sad.

"Sunnyshine" is a really interesting choice because I think most people just know that famous chorus which seems, well, sunny. I only know the full song because it's on the O Brother soundtrack (which I love) and only then realized how crushingly sad the song's true sentiment is.

Al - hard for a song like that to hit without the context of the story. Nonetheless, (and maybe this is a bit of Hispanic bias on my part) the moment when the women starts singing "Alabanza, doña" is quite beautiful. :) The ending gets a good bit too rousing though to fully read as sad (again, without the context presumably).

Maria - the saddest part of that song is that it reminds me Buffy is no longer streaming online which means I can't watch it whenever I want. :( :(
;) (Unless I buy it of course, which I really should do....)

V-man - is there some extra context to that one to make it your first pick? Hearing it makes me think it's about something that is not readily obvious to give it that extra sad umph.
Last edited by yovargas on Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I wanna love somebody but I don't know how
I wanna throw my body in the river and drown
-The Decemberists


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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Dave_LF »

Most of the songs that spring to mind when I try to think of sad ones come from musicals, but a song like that is usually sad because of the role it plays in the story and/or the narrative and thematic weight it carries, and you lose most of that if you just listen to it on youtube in isolation. One I'd offer as a candidate in that category though is "The Next Ten Minutes" from The Last Five Years.

I agree about "You are my Sunshine," though, Sunny, even without the extra significance your personal history gives it.
Last edited by Dave_LF on Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Alatar »

Ok, here's one that's a self contained chunk of sadness, without being a maudlin "Ebony eyes" type song. Based on letters found in an attic in Maryland.


In the late 1970s or early 1980s Peter Jones discovered a collection of century-old letters in his parents' attic in Bethesda, Maryland.[1][2] The letters had been sent by his great-great-great grandfather, Byran Hunt, to his son, Jones' great-great grandfather, John Hunt,[a] who had emigrated from Kilkelly, County Mayo, to the United States in 1855 and worked on the railroad.[1][4] As Byran was illiterate, the letters were dictated to the local schoolmaster, Pat McNamara (d. 1902), who often wrote letters on behalf of his neighbors who were unable to read and write.[3]

Covering the years 1858 to 1893, the Hunt letters shared family news of births, deaths, and marriages, and reports of the annual harvest.[1][2][5] The last letter, dated February 1893, was written by John Hunt's brother, D. Hunt, informing him of the death of their father.[6] Peter Jones decided to compose a ballad based on the contents of the letters.[3][7][8]
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by yovargas »

Oh, that was lovely, Al. Truly heartbreaking. And I love the premise behind it. :love: :)

I had a few songs in mind for my choices when I started this thread, but Sunny reminded me that "Sunny side" deserves a mention, and you reminded me of another Irish folk song which is one of the saddest things I've ever heard. His voice alone could bring a tear to your eye.

I wanna love somebody but I don't know how
I wanna throw my body in the river and drown
-The Decemberists


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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

yovargas wrote:V-man - is there some extra context to that one to make it your first pick? Hearing it makes me think it's about something that is not readily obvious to give it that extra sad umph.
It is about a suicide.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Frelga »

I already told my son that if he plays Sunrise, Sunset at his wedding, I will disown him.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Inanna »

Frelga wrote:I already told my son that if he plays Sunrise, Sunset at his wedding, I will disown him.
How old is he again?
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Frelga »

Nineteen. The wedding is hypothetical.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Inanna »

I know. I was being funny/sarcastic/whatever the right word is.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Frelga »

Inanna wrote:I know. I was being funny/sarcastic/whatever the right word is.
Oh. I thought you were just asking for information. Do you want to repeat that in a more sarcastic tone so I get it this time? :D

To be fair, I have warned him about the song years ago.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by yovargas »

I had to Google to see what song you were talking about and find that it's from a wedding scene in Fiddler on the Roof. As I'm watching it on YouTube I'm thinking, "the song is beautiful and poignant but I don't understand why Frelga would make a point to say not to play it at her son's wedding when surely nobody would play something so damn depressing at a wedding". And then I scroll through the comments to see a bunch of people saying they played it at their weddings! Madness! LOL
I wanna love somebody but I don't know how
I wanna throw my body in the river and drown
-The Decemberists


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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Frelga »

yovargas wrote:I had to Google to see what song you were talking about and find that it's from a wedding scene in Fiddler on the Roof. As I'm watching it on YouTube I'm thinking, "the song is beautiful and poignant but I don't understand why Frelga would make a point to say not to play it at her son's wedding when surely nobody would play something so damn depressing at a wedding". And then I scroll through the comments to see a bunch of people saying they played it at their weddings! Madness! LOL
Some people think it's a good idea to play it as a parents' dance. :nono:
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by narya »

https://youtu.be/Z6h_WbxkHZg
"Something Wonderful" from The King and I. The favorite of someone I knew who was in an abusive relationship, yet still madly in love.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Sunsilver »

yovargas wrote:Oh, that was lovely, Al. Truly heartbreaking. And I love the premise behind it. :love: :)

I had a few songs in mind for my choices when I started this thread, but Sunny reminded me that "Sunny side" deserves a mention, and you reminded me of another Irish folk song which is one of the saddest things I've ever heard. His voice alone could bring a tear to your eye.

Yov, that was part of Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest TV show. As well as Tommy Makem, it features folksinger Tom Paxton.

Here is a link to the full episode! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0UtCVz6mEo

(Sorry, as a hard-core Pete Seeger fan, I HAD to look it up!)

One of Pete's songs that makes me sad (without any personal baggage) is Hobo's Lullaby. It makes me think of all the poor men who rode the rails during the Depression, searching for work:

My father was (briefly) one of them. He and his good friend, Ed Dunn hitched a ride on a train to northern Ontario, during the 1930's, after they both graduated from teacher's college, and were unable to find work. [edited to add - okay, I guess it DOES have a personal connection after all... :roll: But my father wasn't starving to death the way many families were...]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsfcZgnXapE

Another Seeger song that makes me cry happy/sad tears is "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" (Thoughts are Free) It was sung at the close of the movie, 'The Birdmen' as the glider soared free from Coldlitz Castle, carrying two of the prisoners to safety:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Gedanken_sind_frei

I know it from Pete's 'Dangerous Song' album. After all, what is so dangerous a concept as FREEDOM?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbwQXVcbkU0

The movie isn't avaliable online, but there is a DVD. I remember it as a pretty darn good movie! https://www.amazon.ca/Colditz-Escape-Bi ... ug+mcclure
Last edited by Sunsilver on Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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Re: The saddest songs in the world

Post by Sunsilver »

Yov, 'Keep on the Sunny Side' is an entirely different song from 'You Are My Sunshine'.

Both were recorded by Johnny Cash*, and of the two, 'You Are My Sunshine' is definitely the saddest. He includes a verse that isn't often in the original, but which was relevant to my situation, rather than the rest of the song, which is about an unfaithful lover:

"You Are My Sunshine"

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I bowed my head and I cried :bawl:

I think all sad songs have to have a personal connection to really hit us where it triggers the waterworks. :help:

*And I'm sure you all know by now what a huge Cash fan I am... :oops:
Last edited by Sunsilver on Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.
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