A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the office and caught Steve belting out the chorus of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” As surreal and surprisingly awesome as it was, you astute readers out there will know that it was simply practice for his piece “Emotional Rescue,” in which he explains why when we're down in the dumps, we shouldn't listen to Joy Division or Gordon Lightfoot, but clever and emotionally distant bands like Talking Heads and New Pornographers. I know I've never cried to Speaking in Tongues.
But what if you do want to wallow in some month-old memories or self-pity? What if you want to take all that pain, grab a bowl of popcorn and let a few pathetic tears salt those fluffy little bits of Jiffy Pop? Well, you're in luck, then, because I've compiled an entirely non-comprehensive list of some of my favorite sad songs (of indie rock!), all of which will surely stoke the flames of that depressed little fire you've got burning inside.
- Neutral Milk Hotel – “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”: Images of death and overwhelming beauty get me every time. And I have to admit, the second time I heard this song, my eyes welled up like a little baby. Yours probably will too.
- Mirah – “Mt. St. Helens”: Failed love as volcanic explosion? Absolutely. And with Phil Elvrum handling the production, the song quickly turns into a bombastic, quaking tragedy. In a good way.
- Songs:Ohia – “Love Leaves Its Abusers”: Jason Molina probably will never escape the Neil Young comparisons. But I can assure you that Neil isn't this tragic. Molina's bare guitar playing and haunting voice make for one of the most bitter, depressing tracks that I've ever heard. And I love it.
- Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – “I Love Creedence”: Look. At. The. Band's. Name. Does this even need an explanation?
- Xiu Xiu – “Fast Car”: Jamie Stewart's cover of the Tracy Chapman hit is somber and shaky, the hallmarks of any great Xiu Xiu song. Of course, not everyone loves Stewart's overdramatic warble, but this is one of his most delicate and beautiful efforts.
- Interpol – “Take You On A Cruise”: Mild guilty pleasure! Not so much a tear-jerker as a plodding longing for love.
- Swan Lake – “All Fires”: The song's lumbering beat and fuzzed-out guitars are perfect for its story of a tragic, sweeping flood. Somehow entirely depressing but strangely uplifting all at once.
- Björk – “5 Years”: I couldn't resist this one. After all, there's no better way to finish a bitter, depressing list of songs than with a nice, confrontational Björk tune.