(Hey Lou is taking a break from its 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself series)
Once when I worked in a small production space with only two other people, it was my day to choose the music. We mostly listened to “neutral” music we could all enjoy, but every once in a while we gave each other the chance to pour our hearts out via the songs on our playlists.
By the end of the first hour, one of my coworkers looked up at me and said, “Um… are you okay?” It was a sincere question and I remember laughing it off at the time.
“Of course I’m okay! Why?”
“It’s just this music!! I’m depressed already,” they said. Both coworkers agreed. What was with the melancholy music?
I hadn’t fully realized my shift into the style of music I truly enjoy: SAD.
Now, it’s finally snowing outside and the time of year is upon us which requires – in order to survive – a positive outlook on life, a possible vitamin D supplement, and not allowing the dark and shivering cold winter to bring about random moments of existential crisis.
THEREFORE: I am going to first share why I love sad music, and then share with you my top eleven favorite sad songs. (Because God forbid your loved ones to be stuck listening to Taylor Swift’s Back to December and Cher Lloyd’s I Want U Back when you’re feeling low. No, they deserve much better.)
We’ve ALL felt it. That pain, the kind that feels like it will never cease to exist. The kind that you let yourself wallow in… possibly forever (you think)… and the lower you sink, the less you sleep, the more fretful your daydreams become and the less you tell yourself that maybe you do have a good future in store. And then maybe one day you see a glimmer of hope. And then the next day you realize that you only have yourself to blame for your current pain. And then, weeks later, you realize that you only have yourself to blame for STILL being in your current situation. That will either help you rise up, or slump you down lower.
You might hear a “life is great” themed song on the radio and come way too close to destroying your entire dashboard. The melancholy music will have the opposite effect — you might cry, but you will come to find a sort of peace there, a safe place to be, and you will hear the raw beauty behind all of the lyrics.
But eventually, with time, once all of the extreme highs and low are settled, you can start to simply BE. You can exist again, in a world that now looks different to you. You’ve now experienced PAIN, you are in the club, a member for life. You experience joy differently and you experience a sort of “unbreakable” power that stems from the fact that you’ve survived! You survived all that pain and suffering!
Then you find yourself still listening to all that same music — the music that saw you through the dark days. You’ll remember that it’s beautiful. You’ll start to hear more hopeful songs and you’ll think, “That’s nice, but does that speak to my soul?” Sometimes it will. Occasionally, I mean rarely, do I hear a cheery song and smile along with it. It feels good when that happens, but usually those songs sound so cheesy and fake to me. It’s probably a cliché perspective, but I have experienced in my own life true art and beauty coming out of nooks and corners inside of people that they didn’t know they had until the thing that hurt them. Whether it be a divorce, a death, a loss of some other kind, a medical scare, or any other circumstance… it will change you. And I can bet that you’ll appreciate the songs I’m about to share with you. They’re lovely. They’re a little badass. They range from the most depressing in the world to just a little bit sad. Each one was my anthem at a certain time in life. Now they make up just one small chapter of my life’s story.
The 11 Best Sad Songs
1. Lay Low – Shovels & Rope
“Well I probably should be/drug out to sea/where I can’t hurt no one/and no one can hurt me”
2. Wasted Time/Everything is Okay – The Everybodyfields
The Everybodyfields wrote this entire album, “Nothing is Okay,” while they were filing for divorce. It’s a divorce album — which makes it that much more real.
“I’m all alone and need a friend/I’m so grateful/and you’re so tired of me”
3. Cory Branan – Survivor Blues
“Say it makes you stronger/first you gotta survive”
4. Jeffrey Foucault – Twice I Left Her
“Somewhere my plan unraveled/I was winding my way back home”
5. Gregory Alan Isakov – If I Go, I’m Goin’
“And the photographs/know I’m a liar/they just laugh/as I burn down”
6. Tift Merritt – Drifted Apart
“I watched you go/don’t pretend you don’t know”
7. Conor Oberst – Night At Lake Unknown
“When I lost myself/I lost you by extension…… most anything can be forgiven/with what is left we’ll have to live”
8. Justin Townes Earle – Yuma
“Lookin’ back I’d say/it wasn’t so much the girl”
9. Damien Rice & Melanie Laurent – Everything You’re Not Supposed To Be
“You walk away from me/for the first time sure”
10. Jason Isbell – Songs That She Sang in the Shower
“And in the car/headed home/she asked if I had considered the prospect of living alone”
11. Jill Andrews & Josh Oliver – Ain’t No Ash Will Burn
“And you say this life is not your lot/but I can’t be something that I’m not”
Nowadays, when I listen to these songs, they have shown up randomly off my playlist. They are the background music to utter joy… to the life I have now. I spend fun nights at home with my family. I spend quiet nights at home with my husband. I enjoy this time, I love this time. But without these songs, he wouldn’t know me as well as he does. Without what they once meant to me, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today — and I’m glad to say I’m thankful for ALL of it. God led me where I was supposed to belong, with all of the sad songs to get me here. Can’t wait to see where I’m headed now!
(who got another round of wedding photos this week! fuuuun! and who wore black nail polish at her wedding…because I will always have a dark side ;) …)