What defines a sad song…

How do you define a sad song – What is it that makes a song sad for you?

Is it because it moves you to tears… is it because it reminds you of a life event that was happening when you first heard the song… is it because the song is part of the soundtrack for a sad movie you saw… does it remind you of a special person or place… is it the lyrics… the tune… the instruments… that it is relatable?

Is it the story of the musician who took his life after writing it… the history of the song that you hear in an interview that makes it sad to you..? Does it remind you of some loss you‘ve experienced – a loved one, a relationship, a time of life, etc? Is it strictly a feeling? Is it indescribable?

Is it sad because it reminds you that life is fleeting and how insignificant we all are on the radar of the universe? What about the sad songs that are great songs and although they contain sad lyrics, the music makes you want to dance or sing out loud…

Or do you know it is a sad song because it affects you so deeply, that when you hear it come on the radio while driving, you have to turn it up and pull your car over… so you can close your eyes and really listen to it… really feel it…

Maybe it is some, none or all of these elements… thus why music is so personal and intimate. It can be the song itself that makes it a sad song… but more likely it is a person’s experience of that song, that really is the determining factor… and that imho (in my humble opinion), is more interesting than reading a list of music. I don’t know what your definition is, but here are my top ten saddest songs…

1) Hallelujah sung by Jeff Buckley – I heard you guys play it but I don’t think that is the saddest version… (written by Leonard Cohen)

2) Hurt sung by Johnny Cash (written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails)

3) Man of the Hour by Pearl Jam

4) Creep by Radiohead

5) Crying sung by KD Lang (written by Roy Orbison)

6) Crazy sung by Patsy Cline (written by Willie Nelson)

7) Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

8) The Great Escape sung by Azure Ray (written by Moby, Maria Taylor, Orinda Fink)

9) Turn Out the Lights by Stephen Fearing

10) Concerto No. 1 in E Major, RV 269 Spring: II. Largo – Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Some other sad songs that may not sound as sad imho, yet are good songs with sad lyrics and/or that feel sad are…

Almost any Joy Division song

How Soon Is Now by the Smiths

Joey by Concrete Blonde

Blue Monday by New Order

Luka by Suzanne Vega

Dead Can Dance – The Host of Seraphim

About to Leap by Burnt Project 1

Comeback by Pearl Jam

Sleep Alone and Everloving by Moby


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