Just like passing by a car accident with a fixed gaze of disturbed enlightenment, depressing songs are almost impossible to avoid. Whether we’re in the midst of our own personal turmoil, or just feeling sadistic enough to torture our ears with someone else’s pain, sad songs are a staple in all types music. Given the amount of emotion I try to inject into my own songs, somber sounds play an important role in helping create a convincing atmosphere. Songs like this will always help inspire the more depressing side of my songwriting.
All the Wild Horses
I first heard this song on a horribly depressing episode of Rescue Me, and it struck a chord in my heart ever since. I usually don’t opt for breathy/whispery vocals like this, but the string section is so beautifully somber I just cant help drowning within this track every time it comes on.
The Lost Song Part 2
This one is a doozy. My wife and I were going to choose it for our wedding song, but opted not to given how much we would end up blubbering in front of everyone. It’s funny to think of how much Anathema changed over the years. It still seems like yesterday when I was obsessing with how brutal their doom inspired growls were.
On Melancholy Hill
There are few instances where I’ll actually refrain from spilling all the beans in a story, but this is one time where I choose to keep my mouth shut. The reasons behind this song having such a huge impact on me are quite personal. Needless to say there were some horribly awful circumstances going on at the time I first heard it. Years have since gone by, and the song now gives me a hopeful perspective from where things used to be.
Shame In You
Alice In Chains
Many Alice In Chains songs can sum up what it feels like to be living with immense agony, but this song in particular captures that somber spirit better than any other. It has a sense of failure to the melody that reminds me of the same failure life can draw out of you any time things seem to be at their worst.
I could almost list her entire catalogue here, but Flatlands hits close to home for me. It reflects a vision of life with simplicity in sight, and letting go of every extraneous thing that tends to weigh heavy on the heart.
A staple when it comes to songs that can really make you feel like shit. I remember hearing this when I was a grunge guitar obsessed teen in the 90s, and wondering how the fuck the guitar player got that crazy chugging sound before the chorus. Later on in life, I’d focus less on the production, and more on the devastating blanket of misery the vocals drown me in every time I hear it.
Nine Inch Nails
This might be one of my favorite productions on a song, and I can’t say enough about how deeply poignant the lyrics are to me personally. The use of silence here gives this song space to breathe, and exhale it’s own sorrow deep into your bones. A song is at its greatest when it makes you feel something so deep, that your soul is the only one of your senses that can truly appreciate it.