A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day is Over. Time for the Antidote.

http://www.zwani.com/graphics/antivalentines_day/ By the way, this site has tons of most excellent anti-Valentine’s Day cards. February 15th is the perfect day for checking it out.
As an antidote to Valentine’s Day this blog posting is meant to clear away any VD hangover symptoms you may be experiencing. Such symptoms may include but are definitely not limited to the following:
  • ·         Although you got in the spirit of the thing yesterday by hauling out your one pink or red sweater, black is the only color that seems appropriate for February 15.
  • ·         You’re suffering delusions of winged, hot pink hearts dive-bombing you and sucking your blood.
  • ·         You’re sure Cupid’s arrow either missed you altogether (sob!) or sank a little too deeply into a vital organ and you’re feeling like you’re down a pint. Or maybe it was just those pesky vampire hearts.
  • ·         The thought of chocolate and bubbly makes you nauseous and gassy—as if you were expecting anything else.
  • ·         You dreamt your colored candy hearts had mean messages on them like “Give it up already” and “There’s someone for everyone—EXCEPT you” and “Good Christ. Are you still here?” and “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”
  • ·         You can’t stop thinking of that Willie Nelson quote, “Ninety-nine percent of the world’s lovers are not with their first choice. That’s what makes the jukebox play.” You think he was really on to something.  
The remedy I’m suggesting is this: Just go with it. Dive down, go deep, and inhale fully. Let your lungs fill with melancholy and allow despair to course through your veins. Let your arteries stiffen as they clog with gloom and heartache. Envision your blood going blue from lack of oxygen and your broken heart pausing, wondering if you’re planning to live or die. For one day, immerse yourself in the pain because, let’s face it, there is beauty in misery. Don’t be so afraid of it that you miss the sad splendor altogether.
And how do I get there? — you ask. How do I achieve such a level of wretched depression?
It’s easy. In fact, it’s super simple. I suggest listening to sad songs. 
I adore sad songs. They’re beautiful and gloomy at the same time. Most of us do like them—and please, you Pollyanna’s out there, don’t bother denying it. It’s evident every day at any time if you tune in the radio. If we didn’t love sad songs, those bluesy, wrist-slitting lyrics wouldn’t be sliding down the radio waves the way they always, always do. 
In fact, the most recent piece of evidence of love for sad songs just transpired this past weekend after I had the idea to write on this topic. Lady Antebellum won the Grammy in the best song and best record categories for their heartache song, “Need You Now.” It’s all about that person who’s not there anymore: “And I wonder if I ever cross your mind. For me it happens all the time. It’s a quarter after one, I’m a little drunk and I need you now.” The guy sings, the girl sings. On they go—yearning, bleeding out and not getting what they want—each other.  Classic heartbreak. What’s not to love?
To help you in this post-Valentine’s quest of morose inundation, I’ve compiled a list of sad songs. It is not exhaustive, in fact, it’s grossly incomplete. I am not putting myself forward as an expert. This is my personal list with help and add-ins from the Huzby who is also a big fan of sad songs.
And I’m asking for your help. Yes, audience participation is what I’m hoping for. After looking at this list, see what I’ve missed and add it into the ranks. Let’s see if we can shake the Valentine’s saccharine-sickness and get our big bad blues on.  I challenge you: How low can we go?
  • In no particular order I give you:
  • ·         Crazy—Willie Nelson
  • ·         Wichita Lineman—Jimmy Webb
  • ·         By the Time I Get to Phoenix—Jimmy Webb
  • ·         Bobby McGee—Kris Kristofferson
  • ·         Hot Burrito #1—Gram Parsons
  • ·         Love Will Come to You–Indigo Girls
  • ·         River—Joni Mitchell
  • ·         Little Green—Joni Mitchell (Very sad once you find out it’s about the daughter she gave up for adoption—get’s me every time.)
  • ·         Blue Bayou—Roy Orbison
  • ·         Love Has No Pride—Libby Titus and Eric Katz
  • ·         Someone to Lay Down Beside Me—Karla Bonoff
  • ·         Suzanne—Leonard Cohen
  • ·         So Long Marianne—Leonard Cohen (Apparently Marianne really put a big hurt on LC.)
  • ·         That’s No Way to Say Goodbye—Leonard Cohen
  • ·         Diamonds and Rust—Joan Baez
  • ·         Romeo and Juliet—Mark Knopfler
  • ·         Another Grey Morning— James Taylor
  • ·         Fire and Rain—James Taylor
  • ·         Goodnight Elizabeth—Counting Crows
  • ·         A Long December—Counting Crows
  • ·         White Flag—Dido (Apparently she wrote this based on letters she found in her father’s stash after he died. Until then she’d never known there was a threat to her parents’ marriage.)
  • ·         I Can’t Make You Love Me—Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin
  • ·         Dimming of the Day—Richard Thompson
  • ·         Angel From Montgomery—John Prine (The line about how a man can go to work all day then come home and have nothing to say reminds me of my first marriage. Nothing lonelier than a bad marriage.)
  • ·         Candy’s Room—Bruce Springsteen
  • ·         A whole slew of songs by Lucinda Williams (But I like ‘em better when someone else sings ‘em.)
  • ·         Last Kiss—Everly Brothers
  • ·         You don’t Know Me—Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold
  • ·         Do I Ever Cross Your Mind—Dolly Parton (Yes. I think of you and the twins every time I’m near the cantaloupe bin, Dolly.)
  • ·         Killing Me Softly—Roberta Flack
  • ·         Jagged Little Pill—Alannis Morrisette (True, she’s pissed but she’s also bleeding out.)
  • ·         Blowin’ In the Wind—Bob Dylan
  • ·         Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright—Bob Dylan(“You kinda wasted all my precious time…” I know just what you mean, Bob.)
  • ·         Cat’s In the Cradle—Harry Chapin
  • ·         Taxi—Harry Chapin
  • ·         If You Could Read My Mind—Gordon Lightfoot
  • ·         Leavin’ On a Jet Plane—Peter, Paul and Mary (I used to play this on guitar until my son, at seven, begged me to stop. It got him misty every time. I assume it was the lyrics and not my performance of them but I could be wrong on that.)
  • ·         If We Meet in Heaven—Eric Clapton (This song about his dead son is wrenching.)
  • ·         I Can’t Tell You Why--Eagles
  • ·         Desperado—Eagles
  • ·         Best of My Love—Eagles
  • ·         Please Come Home for Christmas—Eagles
  • ·         It’s Too Late—Carole King
  • ·         Father and Son—Cat Stevens
  • ·         Wild World –Cat Stevens
  • ·         I Am A Rock—Simon and Garfunkle (And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.)
  • ·         The Boxer—Simon and Garfunkle
  • ·         Wild Horses—Rolling Stones (Huzby informs me this is about Keith Richards’ son.)
  • ·         She’s Leaving Home—The Beatles
  • ·         Cowboys and Angels—George Michael
  • ·         The Sound of White—Missy Higgins
  • ·         Red Dirt Girl—Emmylou Harris (Poor Lillian!)
  • ·         My Antonia—Emmylou Harris and Dave Matthews (Died of a fever, wouldn’t you know?)
  • ·         Just about every song by David Gates from Bread—Diary et. al. (Please pass the tissues.)
  • ·         Hello It’s Me—Todd Rundgren
  • ·         Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference—Todd Rundgren
  • ·         Need You Now—Lady Antebellum

Special note: I’d like to include Jackson Browne’s songs but beating up your girlfriend gets you an automatic expulsion from my list. Shame on you, JB.

From the wayback machine:
  • ·         Streets of Laredo— Frank H. Maynard
  • ·         Tom Dooley—Frank Warner
  • ·         Red River Valley—Harlan and Nemha
  • ·         My Darlin’ Clementine—Percy Montrose of Barker Bradford

Sad songs that are over the top, pathetic or creepy:
  • ·         MacArthur Park (The Cake in the Rain Song)—Jimmy Webb (Man, and it looked good, too!)
  • ·         Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me—Elton John (It’s gonna be OK, Elton. Just keep taking your Prozac.)
  • ·         Most of Us are Sad—Eagles (The tune is entirely too dreary for my taste which puts it in the over the top category.)
  • ·         Claire—Gilbert O’Sullivan (Yikes! Dude, she’s a little girl and you’re her babysitter. Can you say chemical castration? Won’t hurt a bit.)
That’s all I’ve got at the moment. I know I’ve left out a bunch of really good, really suicide-inspiring songs. That’s why I’m asking you to contribute in the comments section.  I’ll edit the list to reflect your suggestions as they’re made.  Please, don’t be shy. Step right up, and suggest away.
It’s the perfect time of year for sad song day. In fact I propose that February, 15 become an official day of sad songs. Songs to cry with, song to lament over, songs to open up the oven and turn on the gas to. No, no. I’m kidding.  Don’t take it that far.  Just wallow for a while and let the Valentine’s sugar coating dissolve.  Woebegone songs can set you free.


  1. Okay, my VD was quite lovely but I do have a few songs: The Bed's Too Big Without You by The Police; Everybody Hurts by REM. Those are just off the top of my head. Given time I could come up with many more because I have wallowed in the beauty of pain with the best of them.

  2. ok. all the songs from "songs of leonard cohen" make this list. if you had to choose a Top 10, then 8 places are already reserved for lenny. he's a poet for f****s sake. some counting crows stuff missed the cut: adam duritz is a poet too. "goodbye elisabeth", (maybe) "mrs. potter's lullabye", "miami", and "a long december" would make my cut. oh, crap, how could i forget lyle lovett's ode to julia roberts "she's leaving me because she really wants to". that's the second coming of hank williams "i'm so lonesome i could cry". the list goes on and on. and lloyd cole's "why i love country music" lets all of us saps know why we really do love country music:"....we don't talk we don't fight, I'm just tired and she's way past caring, but she says she is fine, she tells lies most of the time....."

  3. the lyle lovett song i meant to cite was "she's already made up her mind"....

  4. Don't get me going about music. Jimmy Webb was a gifted songwriter; but I prefer Glenn Campbell on these songs. There's something about gin that brings out the best in the human voice. Regardless, I'm impressed that those two Webb tunes are so high on your unpasteurized list. Those of us from the country sometimes feel we're all alone with our music. Orbison was a genius; in a class all of his own. "Crying" was his masterpiece. I recommend Jorma Kaukonen's little-known beauty "Genesis"; but beware, there are many versions on the web; most of them subpar. The "Quah" version is best, available on iTunes.