Why Sad Songs Make Us Happy

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

(Thai Soriano/Shutterstock)

“Sad songs say so much,” Elton John once sang.

But what do they really say, and why do they speak to us?

Is it because they allow us to wallow and cry? Is it because they bring to life the inner hurt in us all? Or is something else going on?

In a recent study published in the journal “Frontiers of Psychology” researchers tried to find out. They played music in minor keys to participants. And what they found was that while participants could perceive music as sad or gloomy or tragic, what they really felt listening to the music were emotions they described as “romantic,” “fascinated” or even “animated.”

According to the authors, there may be a few reasons for this.

One, we might be experiencing the joy of “vicarious emotions” through sad music. In other words, sad music brings up feelings that are real, but also free us of the unpleasantness that would cause those feelings in real life.

Second, we might be experiencing sweet anticipation and delivery on that anticipation. In other words, we hear something sad, and expect it to make us feel a bit sad, and the satisfaction of our expectations being met makes us happy.

Jeff Spurgeon hears a lot of sad music—and happy music as well—as the morning host for WQXR. He shares his thoughts on this study and on sad music more generally. We also check in with listeners who share their favorite sad songs and the stories behind them.

Guests:

Jeff Spurgeon

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [90]

Bernd Willimek from Germany

Why do Minor Keys sound sad?
If you want to answer the question, why minor chords sound sad, there is the problem, that some minor chords don't sound sad. The solution is the Theory of Musical Equilibration. It says, that music is not able to transmit emotions directly. Music can just convey processes of will, but the music listener fills this processes of will with emotions. Similar, when you watch a dramatic movie in television, the movie cannot transmit emotions directly, but processes of will. The spectator perceives the processes of will dyed with emotions - identifying with the protagonist. When you listen music you identify too, but with an anonymous will now.
If you perceive a major chord, you normally identify with the will "Yes, I want to...". If you perceive a minor chord, you identify normally with the will "I don't want any more...". If you play the minor chord softly, you connect the will "I don't want any more..." with a feeling of sadness. If you play the minor chord loudly, you connect the same will with a feeling of rage. You distinguish in the same way as you would distinguish, if someone would say the words "I don't want anymore..." the first time softly and the second time loudly.
This operations of will in the music were unknown until the Theory of Musical Equilibration discovered them. And therefore many previous researches in psychology of music failed. If you want more information about music and emotions and get the answer, why music touches us emotionally, you can download the essay "Music and Emotions - Research on the Theory of Musical Equilibration" for free. You can get it on the link:
www.willimekmusic.de/music-and-emotions.pdf
Enjoy reading
Bernd Willimek

Dec. 01 2013 10:40 AM
mr tom from Detroit, Michigan

for "peggy in seattle" my favorite sad song has always been "COUNTRY ROADS" by, of course, john denver. i'm kinda surprised no one else mentioned it. in any case, one time that song played on the radio right when my father was driving me to the airport when i was living 2000 miles away from him and family. i will always remember both of our eyes welled-up during this song. no words were exchanged but the song conjured up how sad we both felt that we were not going to see each other again for a long time after he dropped me off. our hearts were in the same place.

Sep. 30 2013 11:09 PM
Joanne Theodorou from NYC

"My Funny Valentine" gets me every time, no matter who covers it.. a great Rogers & Hart collaboration. The slow tempo of the half tones in this piece create a melancholy haunting melodic line. The lyrics then remind us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and ultimately we feel that everyone is beautiful to someone...so don't despair, for every pot there is a lid!

Sep. 26 2013 04:53 PM
CK from Seattle

I had to turn this show off, which is rare if not a first. The comment that drove me up the wall was when the "expert" said "we think these songs are sad because the TV tells us we should think that" This is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Adagio for Strings has been around much longer than the TV, and it was sad back in the day too! Please think about getting an actual music expert instead of someone who lives through an iPad. This is clear evidence we are getting dumber thanks to all our smart gadgets.

Sep. 26 2013 03:33 PM
Julia from Oakland, CA

So many beautiful sad songs!

Ones with particular poignancy for me:

"First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" "Killing Me Softly""Jesse" all sung by the incomparable Roberta Flack
"Old Friends/Bookends" or "America" Simon and Garfunkel
"Father's Song" by Judy Collins

I have to stop now--to listen to these (and tear up, very much to the embarrassment of my younger son here:) and because I could go on and on...

Sep. 26 2013 01:58 PM
xina from NYC

"Ne me quitte pas" by Jacques Brel
Can never get through listening to this version (sung by the amazing Nina Simone) without choking up.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q7w7gk1JhQ

And another version by Nina Simone - her facial expressions are so heartfelt, it's as if she is speaking to you directly
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rJ_sgv645o

Jacques Brel - with translation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za_6A0XnMyw

Sep. 26 2013 11:46 AM
Chris

"Eleanor Rigby," Beatles
"Downbound Train," Bruce

Sep. 26 2013 11:27 AM
Kimmarie from Hell's Kitchen

I Miss the Mountains, He's Not Here or Light from "Next To Normal". I can't even think about those songs without becoming overwhelmed.
Angel From Montgomery by John Prine sung with Bonnie Raitt and This Woman's Work, by Kate Bush, but it's the Maxwell version that really gets me.

Sep. 26 2013 11:13 AM
Carmen from Charlotte

Beautiful & Sad - Bruno Mars "When I Was Your Man"

Sep. 26 2013 10:23 AM
Carmen from Charlotte

Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle" because he died tragically not long after recording the song.

Sep. 26 2013 09:50 AM
Lisa Kahn from Brooklyn, NY

Although I've since moved past this particular musical genre, I still think that "Electrical Storm" by U2 is an achingly beautiful song.

Sep. 26 2013 08:52 AM
Lynn Huff from Mountain View, CA

Tom Waits: " A Soldier's Things". Hard to imagine anything more hauntingly sad or beautiful. Hemingway would approve.

Sep. 26 2013 06:16 AM
Travis Simpson from San Francisco

Hard to believe nobody mentioned this one, but the masterpiece of melancholy incarnated as music is Miles Davis' Blue in Green from Kind of Blue. Kind of Blue was for me, as I imagine it is for many, an indoctrination to the power and seduction of the genre. And this piece may be one of the single greatest recordings ever made. Truthfully an experience of the beauty in sadness.

Sep. 26 2013 02:56 AM
Scott Lahti from North Berwick, Maine

"Up the Junction" by Squeeze:

Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there's something missing
I'd beg for some forgiveness
But begging's not my business
And she won't write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it's my assumption
I'm really up the junction ...

Sep. 26 2013 01:15 AM
Bert Bond from Portland, Oregon

After 9/11, so many church musicians (I among them) played and/or sang Gabriel Faure's "Pie Jesu" from the "Requiem" for the September 18th Sunday service. The piece is in a major key & is rather slow. Although very short, it is exquisitely beautiful. We musicians hoped that it would bring some measure of hope and comfort to the people after that horrible tragedy.

Sep. 26 2013 12:05 AM
JohnH from San Francisco Bay Area

One factor not mentioned was that the sad songs
all had a slow tempo. Discussion of this factor,
especially from a psychological viewpoint, would
have been of interest. I.e., are all sad songs
slow? Are all (or almost all) slow songs sad?

Sep. 25 2013 10:44 PM
Barry Bolinger from Los Gaots

I understand Long May You Run is Actually about a car that meant a lot to Neil Young....

Sep. 25 2013 09:47 PM
Scott from San Francisco

Great point about sadness + music = beauty and ultimately an uplift. Couldn't help but list several tunes - "Already Dead" Beck • "Holocene" Bon Iver • "How Insensitive" Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim version • "All Your Gold" Bat For Lashes • "Helicopter" Deerhunter • "Gymnopédies 1" Erik Satie

Sep. 25 2013 09:46 PM
Russ from Bowling Green, KY

My sad song is "Black Muddy River" by the Grateful Dead. It is possibly the darkest song ever written in the history of Rock and Roll. It is based on a recurring dream that Robert Hunter had about death without any possibility of redemption. There is no hellfire in this world, but an eternity of loneliness and despair walking alone and singing a song that nobody hears. With Jerry Garcia's voice and guitar, it is haunting.

Sep. 25 2013 09:03 PM
Dan

One of the saddest songs to me is Joey Ramone's version of "What A Wonderful World". He was literally in his deathbed when he recorded it, and it's sung with total earnestness. It seems to really reflect that Joey had come to terms with his impending death and wanted everyone to know he's ok with it.

Sep. 25 2013 07:13 PM
Patrick Kane from Boston MA

REM, The Wrong Child
This has to be one of the most chilling and heart-wrenching songs out there. It doesn't make me feel a connection to an event. It makes me feel like I'm wasting my life. I *can* go outside and play games. I'm not "like this." Try to listed to Stipe with his raspy, constrained cry when he says "It's OK" and not cry.

Sep. 25 2013 06:23 PM
G. Lange from MANHATTAN

Well...this was always a tearjerker from the time it came out, from the last day of summer camp, from breaking up from relationships friendship or serious relationship. . . . . . . . . general good bye....

Leaving on a Jetplane (Peter Paul Mary & John Denver)

Sep. 25 2013 06:18 PM
James O'Barr from Cold Spring, NY

I was driving, and John began talking about the upcoming Sad Songs segment. The song that immediately came to mind for me was Bruce Springsteen's "Matamoros Banks," a lover's lament, in the voice of a migrant having drowned in the Rio Grande, after crossing the desert heading for the border to find work. As that thought occurred, the music playing under John's voice was Springsteen singing another sad song, "The River." Perfect harmony.

I first heard "Matamoros Banks" as I was pulling into a hospital parking lot, on my way to visit a friend who was in a coma, dying, in the last stages of cancer. Springsteen's lyric is a cry of the one gone, and a call to his lover to meet again, not in "heaven" or in "glory," but on the banks of the river, where it flows through Matamoros into the Gulf. Since I live by the Hudson River, and since my friend loved to spend time on the river, the song inspired me to think that, if I saw her again, that's where it would be, in my mind's eye, on the river, her heaven. While the song is truly mournful, it's also truly a love song, and I suppose that's where the joy lies. The singer says, "For your love I give God thanks/Meet me on the Matamoros banks." We die, but not love.

Sep. 25 2013 05:38 PM
Patrick from San Francisco

"Into the West" by Annie Lennox from the Return of the King movie.

Sep. 25 2013 05:03 PM
Jen from Seattle, WA

The saddest song I can think of is "Dead man's will" by Calexico/Iron & Wine. It makes me think of the time when my sister list her second baby to late term miscarriage. I can't listen to it without crying...and yet I love the song deeply.

Sep. 25 2013 04:50 PM
Ben Madden from Seattle, WA

Styx? Apologies Kansas fans. Both of you.

Sep. 25 2013 04:48 PM
Ben Madden from Seattle, WA

I was looking out over the ocean this morning and the first words that popped into my head were Lou Reed's "the cold black sea waits for me, me, me). Why so sad? Why not Kansas' "Come sail away"? ... though I guess that question answers itself.

Sep. 25 2013 04:44 PM
sharon valentine from Fairfax CA

"He Was A Friend Of Mine" by Willie Nelson on the Brokeback Mt soundrack....came out right after my Dad died......
Also "If This Is Goodbye" by Emmylou Harris & Mark Knopfler on All The Roadrunning.
Either one make me cry every time.

Sep. 25 2013 04:32 PM

"Fields of Gold." Eva Cassidy and Sting both do an amazing version of this song about fulfillment, loss, and longing.

Sep. 25 2013 04:16 PM
Bill Garrott

The Statler Brothers album "Innerview" was a new acquisition when my father was lost following cardiac bypass surgery in 1972. The song "Daddy" from that album can bring a serious lump to my throat, but I always feel better after listening.

Sep. 25 2013 04:06 PM
Laurie from New York

Bob Dylan's 'The Water is Wide' -- listened to it in the car on a long drive to Michigan as my Mom was dying. Played it over and over and cried each time. It was also comforting in an odd way and made me feel deeply the sadness and solemnity of what was happening.

Sep. 25 2013 04:03 PM
Rich Kuhns

'The Lark Ascending' by Ralph Vaughn Williams. I held my beloved cat on my lap while it played. She was deathly sick and my wife and I had to put her to sleep the next day. That was 8 years ago and I still can't listen to that music without crying.

Sep. 25 2013 04:02 PM
Allison

"Song for Judith" by Judy Collins. A mile marker for each important moment in my mother's life, she requested it at the end and we gathered together holding her. A beautiful, sad song.

Sep. 25 2013 04:00 PM
Rosie

Sad Song..."If This is Goodbye" by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler...it came out right after my mom and dad died.

Sep. 25 2013 03:59 PM
Kidhack from San Francisco

Nine Inch Nails - A Warm Place off Downward Spiral album.

Sep. 25 2013 03:54 PM
Carolyn Meyer from Stillwater, OK

My favorite sad song that always makes me sob is "Danny Boy." It makes me think of all those I have lost: my father in 1983, my mother in 2002, and all of my beloved dogs over many years, the last being June 5, 2013. I also realize that in the future I may be the one who is dying and saying goodbye to my loved ones. The melody is so beautiful at the same time with the tenderness
and poignant words.

Sep. 25 2013 03:45 PM
Candace from New York

After I had two miscarriages, I listened to "Red, Red, Red" by Fiona Apple a million times for about a year. Then, after I stopped years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, I picked up one of her newer sad songs, "Every Single Night." I think it is somewhat true that sad songs don't exactly make us sad. Instead, they build a camaraderie of two, so you know you're not alone in your grief.

Sep. 25 2013 03:30 PM
James Pollock from East Palo Alto, Calif.

"Jumping at Shadows" by Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac. Originally by Duster Bennett.
http://youtu.be/PVZLUOquq1w

Sep. 25 2013 03:25 PM
Amy Bodnar from Minnesota

Sad song "Once I built a Railroad" sung by Al Jolson, in response to Herbert Hoover's request for a song about the depression.

Sep. 25 2013 03:14 PM
Tuppence Farthing from Miami, FL

I can think of many sad songs - songs guaranteed to put a lump in my throat within 30 seconds (I have a playlist of 48 of them at the moment, 16 top rated). I would have a hard time designating any of them my favorite. They're good, they work, they connect directly to some trauma I've felt or can empathize with, but nowadays I mostly try to avoid listening to them otherwise it's an emotional dive. Almost all reflect loss and loneliness. There are ones that are more effective than others. When I was an angst driven teen, I could use some for cathartic release and rejuvenation of my individuality. Now, my concerns and experience are different. Maybe my favorite could be "Forgive Them Father" by Lauren Hill. But two others that are very powerful for me are Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and "Death Letter" by Cassandra Wilson.

Sep. 25 2013 03:14 PM
Jason Prodinsky from Minnesota

"The Green Fields of France" performed by Dropkick Murphys (originally written by Eric Bogle)is a very sad song that I love.

Sep. 25 2013 03:12 PM
Andrea Knapp

Rainy night in Georgia by Brook Benton and Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen

Sep. 25 2013 03:11 PM
Kaitlyn from Eugene, Oregon

"Ashokan Farewell" by Jay Ungar - beautiful and heartbreaking

Sep. 25 2013 03:06 PM
Sarah from St. Petersburg, FL

Especially as my grandparents age, one of my favorite sad songs is "Silent House" by the Dixie Chicks. The lines "I will try to connect all the pieces you left/I will carry it on and let you forget" remind me that there is some sense of relief as I carry on memories for them and allow them to let go.

Sep. 25 2013 03:03 PM
Linda from Minnesota

"Hey, that's no way to say Goodbye" sung by Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen, Roberta Flack, Sarah Brightman.........or ANYBODY!

Sep. 25 2013 03:02 PM
Teri Power

Gloomy is Sunday...a depression song that actually made people commit suicide...as i recall.

Harry Chapin...Flower's are red...makes me cry as an art teacher for 20 years it is about a child who gives up their own vision and assumes the vision of the teacher.

Sep. 25 2013 03:01 PM
Jesse Martus from Duluth, MN

"Summertime" in particular Herbie Mann's recording, Sam Cook's is good as well, and I could go on to name others. It brings about the daily dose of melancholia I so require.

Sep. 25 2013 03:01 PM
Brian Linehan from St. Paul

Anna Begins - Counting Crows

Sep. 25 2013 03:00 PM
Paula Allen from Portland, OR

The Battlefield Band, 'The Last Trip Home'. The lyrics (if you can get past the braid Scots!) are discussing the passing of an era, the demise of farming the land with 'muckle horses' (heavy horses, plough horses) in favor of mechanized work. Not only are the lyrics and the melody bittersweet, it makes me think of the connections we have given up with animals by turning increasingly to technology, and then of the sad reality that we then attempt, as humans, to have empathy with our machines and are striving to make AI to have a connection again with our world. For me it is a comment on what we leave behind by moving forward.

Sep. 25 2013 02:55 PM
Tracy from Charlotte, NC

"The Pretender" by Jackson Browne, "The Last Resort" by The Eagles, "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley.

Sep. 25 2013 02:53 PM
Barbara from Yuma, AZ

For me, it may always be the Libera, Prizeman recording of "Faraway" that brings to mind the anguish and pain of the parents of the Conn. grade school victims.

Sep. 25 2013 02:32 PM

Ottis Redding, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"

I can't even put my finger on the emotion or sentiment this song evokes for me, but I feel that I have met this person, this is the life story of so many people...

Sep. 25 2013 02:30 PM
Joan from San Antonio, Texas

Where Do You Start? by Johnny Mandel with lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman

I've always loved this song, but never understood how sad it was until I got divorced. I can't listen to it without crying.

Sep. 25 2013 01:45 PM
Susan Thorpe MacLeod

Ever since listening to the news report of John Lennon's death on NPR's Morning Edition that was followed by a very thoughtful rendition of "In My Life" by the Beattles, when I hear that song, I am taken back to that day and beyond to remembering others whom I have loved and who also have left my life.

Sep. 25 2013 01:45 PM
Kurt from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Bronte by Gotye. WARNING - if your a dog lover, this one will bring out the tears

Sep. 25 2013 01:29 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

We listen to sad songs for the catharsis;we are all hoping to put our arms around a memory...

Johnny Thunder's "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory"

Feel so restless, I am,
Beat my head against a pole
Try to knock some sense,
down in my bones.
And even though they don't show,
The scars aren't so old
And when they go,
They let you know
You Can't Put Your Around A Memory...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TknY89kECq0

Sep. 25 2013 01:21 PM
Peggy from Seattle

You Fill Up My Senses by John Denver. My father had to sleep sitting up because he couldn't breathe. The night he died he choose to sleep in bed with my mother. The lines Let me drown in your laughter. Let me die in your arms. Let me lay down beside you. Let me always be with you. Come let me love you.Come love me again. Remind me of how much they loved each other.

Sep. 25 2013 01:16 PM
Lillianne Barrett from Vancouver, Washington

"Hurts So Bad", by Linda Ronstadt helped bring my brother and me together at a moment up to which we had led very different lives. I was fairly successful, him less so, and yet there we were back staying at my parents home on a weekend when they were away, me upstairs, him in the basement. I was distraught after a bad break-up and went down to the record player in the living room early in the morning and played that song over and over again. Getting carried away with grief I jacked up the volume forgetting about him sleeping on the floor below. Suddenly he ran up the stairs, half angry, half laughing and grabbed me by the shoulders. "Turn that damn thing down!" "And by the way I get it ... I really do!(Big Hug) I've been there".

Sep. 25 2013 01:14 PM
Joanna

You picked my favorite to start the segment - Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings". I listened to it many times after my husband left. Had never heard it before then, but at that time it seemed deeply romantic to me. I pictured a couple who were very deeply in love. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

Sep. 25 2013 01:09 PM
Tom Blair

Not to mention Ralph McTell's "Street of London."

Sep. 25 2013 01:08 PM
Tom Blair

"Cavatina" the beautiful solo classical guitar piece played by John Williams in the movie "The Deer Hunter."

Sep. 25 2013 01:06 PM
Kathy Maloney Johnson from Ormond Beach, FL

Grandmother Waits for You by The Handsome Family. When my mother was dying it made me think of her and my kids who were grown and far away from home. Mama used to always buy their shoes. It's a beautiful, lyrical song about death and the idylic dream of being restored to health, made whole and meeting our loved ones in the great beyond.

Sep. 25 2013 01:05 PM
Mary R.

"Your Long Journey" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Sums up so many of my feelings about slowly losing my husband to Alzheimer's Disease.

Sep. 25 2013 01:05 PM
cathy beauchesne from Bend, Oregon

Cat Stephens- Father & Son

My first boyfriend (1973) had some real issues with his dad and this song always made me sad and reminded me of their struggles and differences.

Sep. 25 2013 01:04 PM
Mary Austin from Seattle

"Time to Say Goodbye" by Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman. It was played at a memorial for the mother of my youngest son's best friend (he was very, very close to the mom). He was 19 years old and he sobbed. I'd never seen him cry like that. Just sobbed.
A side note: I love going to Vegas. This song is one of the big numbers at the Bellagio fountain, and I'm always torn when I watch it. As breathtakingly beautiful as it is, I still see my son weeping whenever I hear it.

Sep. 25 2013 01:04 PM
Becky Hatlee from Gillespie, IL

"He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones. One of the saddest songs ever! I remember being a little kid and thinking that the lyrics were: "He stopped loving her today. They placed a ring upon his dog." It wasn't until I was a little older (13 or so) when I realized that the lyrics "They placed a wreath upon his door." meant the black wreath that they used to hang on the deceased's front door. Good Lord, the feelings that I felt at that very moment of realization knocked me down and has stayed with me ever since.

Sep. 25 2013 01:04 PM
Myra from Oregon

The simple song that always gets me: "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin. The lyric is basically "don't be sad,honey" but the music is all "be sad, oh be very, very sad!"

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky
you'll get by.

If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through
For you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying.
You'll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.

Sep. 25 2013 01:03 PM
Jessica Wheatley from Waterford, MI

Saddest song is "Mad World" by Michael Andrews. Heard it on the way home from a mission trip in Haiti and could not stop picturing all the suffering I'd seen there when I heard it. Brings tears every time I hear it.

Sep. 25 2013 01:02 PM
Dennis Novak from Fort Worth, TX

"My Old Man" by Steve Goodman - it addresses the missed chances and the guilt when you lose a parent.

Oh -and "Long May You Run" is just about an old Volkswagon.

Sep. 25 2013 01:02 PM
Cy Hill from Dallas, OR

The song that I think is very sad is: "Cat's In The Cradle"

It makes me wish that I was a better dad. I think I was a pretty good dad, but the influence that I had on my children just make me think.

Just remember that they are only little once!

Sep. 25 2013 01:01 PM
Paul from Orlando, FL

"Blue Spanish Sky" is the saddest song ever.

Sep. 25 2013 01:01 PM
mike from Austin TX.

River by Joni Mitchell.

Sep. 25 2013 01:00 PM
Sherleen from Dallas

Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"

Sep. 25 2013 12:59 PM
Hilary Fox from Avondale, PA

"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John

Sep. 25 2013 12:59 PM
Mike Kohut from St. Louis

"Sadie" by Joanna Newsom is my favorite sad song. It's about mortality, and the need to express your love to those around you before they are gone.

Sep. 25 2013 12:50 PM
Judd from Bellingham, Wa

"Eye Pennies," by Sparklehorse. One of the saddest songs ever made.

Sep. 25 2013 12:50 PM
Katy from St. Louis

My all time favorite sad song is "Sunday Morning Coming down" by Kris Kristopherson. Back in the 1970s in the San Francisco Chronicle asked a bunch of famous people what there fav country song was and Kurt Vonnegut's was "Sunday Morning Coming Down". Many singers have covered it but Kris still sings it the best... and the saddest.

Sep. 25 2013 12:27 PM
Rob from oregon

"Bang Bang"by Nancy Sinatra on repeat for hours after my divorce.

Sep. 25 2013 12:25 PM
stuart clift from lake stevens, wa.

My sad song would be 'Whipping Post' by Allman Brothers, my high school and collage roommate and best friend who died after a 2 plus year battle with cancer, requested we play this at his funeral. We were 22 at the time and it always brings me back to the struggle he went through and how he felt. When I'm struggling I listen to it and it helps me keep a perspective.

Sep. 25 2013 12:17 PM
Joe St.G from Boston

The song "My Weakness" by Moby is a sad song.
It reminds me of the people (and special pets) that we have lost that are waiting for us on the other side. It also reminds me of the fragility of life in general and the desire for us to be more than human animals...

Sep. 25 2013 12:03 PM
Paul Lamarre from Rhode Island

"Pardon My Heart" by Neil Young. I was a senior in college and my girlfriend had just broken up with me. I was 22 and I thought my life was over. Neil's song really summed up the way I felt:

...It's a fallen situation
When all eyes are turned in
And a love isn't flowing
The way it could have been...

By the way, next month my wife and I will celebrate 30 years of marriage.

Sep. 25 2013 11:54 AM
Rich Snow from Boston

"Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chilly Peppers.
It isn't so sad, but it expresses sense of loneliness - in our automated homeless society.

Sep. 25 2013 11:51 AM
Teresa from Portland, ME

I love "Making Pies" by Patty Griffin. So sad, but you can't help being drawn in.

Sep. 25 2013 11:04 AM
Rick from Rochester Hills, MI

One of the sadder songs around - 'Romulus' by Sufjan Stevens from his 'Greetings From Michigan' CD - about a mother who just doesn't get it when it comes to her kids. Unbelievably poignant song.

Sep. 25 2013 10:16 AM
elizabeth frazey from quicksburg, va

I Tend to Lose Things - Steff Mahan
all about loss, of things large and small

Sep. 25 2013 10:06 AM
Dawn from San Francisco

The songs on the CD "A Woman's Heart", particularly "Only a Woman's Heart", eased the pain I felt after the death of my husband. The music somehow soothed my grief and gave me strength as I sang along.

Sep. 25 2013 10:06 AM
Claire from Charlottesville VA

When I want to listen to a sad song I play Loreena McKennitt's "Bonny Portmore" or Lady of Shalott." Her plaintive voice and the lyrics are real tearjerkers. Very cathartic.

Sep. 25 2013 10:01 AM
BK from Hoboken

Brick by Ben Folds Five. Song about a young couple who must seek an abortion in secret, with later complications. No personal connection, but always stuck as one of the saddest songs I have heard.

Sep. 25 2013 09:58 AM
Christian Boswell from Ohio

The saddest song I know and yet the most redeeming is "Flake" by Jack Johnson. When I was 16, my best friend at the times mom had just passed away suddenly. A performer at the funeral played this song, leaving a lasting memory in my mind of my first real confrontation with death and the way it brings together family and friends in the celebration of life.

Sep. 25 2013 09:55 AM
Deanne Simpson from Michigan

The best sad song I know is, "Baby I" by Amy Milan. So perfectly wistful.

Sep. 25 2013 09:26 AM

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