Friday, August 22, 2008


First off, let's get that one thing straight. Despite the photo above of Hollie, Dom, Caspar and yours truly (madly, deeply...mad) having way too much fun last Friday night, today I've got sad songs--which, as Elton John once sang, say so much--on my mind. Don't worry, I'm in great spirits. But I don't feel like dwelling on odes to joy. Once in a while, there's perverse pleasure to be found in wallowing in other people's gloom. So without further ado (or is it "adieu," which makes as much sense as Paris Hilton's hairstyle during her recent inexplicable publicity trip to Denmark), here are 10 of my favorite five-hankie tunes. Save up all your tears--you'll need them.

  1. Brenda Lee "My Colouring Book": Melancholy that transcends genre. Not even my girl Dusty Springfield could top Brenda with her version, and here's why: Dusty, as usual, gives us soulful. Brenda gives us plain old sad. Sometimes, that's all you need.
  2. Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach "God Give Me Strength": What becomes of the brokenhearted when they hold nothing back. Devastating.
  3. George Jones "Still Doin' Time": Lovesick blues (punctuated by country's most piercing guitar riff) without a hint of the melodrama that slightly mars George's signature hit, "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
  4. Mariah Carey "We Belong Together": The best bleeding-love blockbuster of the '00s. Runner up: Alicia Keys' "No One." Pack it up, Leona Lewis. You've been outdone and outsung.
  5. Maria McKee "If Love's A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags)": What's sadder than this standout among standouts on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack? That Maria has never enjoyed the U.S. breakthrough she so deserves.
  6. R.E.M. "Why Not Smile": Some of the best sad songs are not necessarily about romantic love. A far more persuasive antidote to suicidal depression than their huge hit "Everybody Hurts."
  7. Reba McEntire "You Lie": Scenes from a marriage in tatters. Country queen Reba's finest moment.
  8. Sade "Fear": Sade at her most misty blue. "Azul es el color del rojo cielo. ¿Volverá volverá a mi esta noche?" She gets me every time.
  9. The Smiths "Never Had No One Ever": Morrissey, King of Pain, at his most pathetic. And I mean that in the best possible way.
  10. Tracey Thorn "I Sat Down By Picadilly Station And Wept" The Queen of Pain? "Do you ever wonder where love goes? Out there in the ether, I suppose." Oh, Tracey, if only I knew.
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