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Turn on Those Sad Songs

April 30, 2012

UPDATE: Tess returned at 5 a.m. Monday morning. Thanks for all your prayers and positive thoughts!

I’m feeling sad tonight.

I am sitting at the computer, reading blogs and starring out the window to see if my cat, Tess, will appear. She’s been gone for more than a day (including all last night). While she’s always been an outdoor/indoor cat, it’s rare she does not come back at night. So today has been a melancholy Sunday as I felt her presence missing in the house. I’m trying to brace myself for the reality she may not be back.

I clicked over to YouTube to listen to songs that reflect my blue mood. As I listed to them, I thought I would share these beautiful and heartbreaking songs with you. It’s obvious why some of these tunes are pensive; others not so much. Some of the lyrics are not sad per se, but depressing because of the stories and singers behind them. Here are seven songs that always make me stop, think, and more often than not, shed a tear.

Sand and Water, Beth Nielsen Chapman — Chapman wrote this song after the death of her husband. It’s a beautifully-written tribute to the emotions she felt as a widow left behind to raise a son. Sand and Water also appeared at the end of an episode of ER many years ago (the episode was aptly titled “Sand and Water”). It was the perfect accompaniment to the episode.

We’ve Got Tonight, Bob Seger — I will always associate We’ve Got Tonight with an episode of The Wonder Years where Winnie was pulling herself away from Kevin, and he was so confused as to why his childhood friend would behave this way. The sorrow in Kevin’s face made me cry.

Mr. Tanner, Harry Chapin — Those of you Harry Chapin fans will recall this story about a dry cleaner who sang baritone as he hung clothes. Signing was Mr. Tanner’s life passion. After getting the nerve to sing publicly, Mr. Tanner was criticized by reviewers who said he shouldn’t quit his day job. I always feel so bad for Mr. Tanner who had the courage to go after his dream but was shut down. I think anyone who has pursued her life purpose can relate to Mr. Tanner.

Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton — How can you not cry your eyes out when you know Clapton wrote this song for his 4-year-old son who died tragically in an accident? It’s haunting and beautiful at the same time. And as a parent, the song breaks my heart even more as I listen to it today.

Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley — Here’s a song that I don’t think is necessarily sad with lyrics. But the music is haunting and I cannot hear the song without thinking of Buckley’s untimely death. Hallelujah was originally penned by Leonard Cohen. But Buckley made it his own and it is his version we hear when it’s played in so many television shows and movies.

In My Life, James Taylor — Yes, I know this is written by The Beatles. But it’s not the Beatles version I find sad. It’s Taylor’s rendition that he sang during the 2010 Academy Awards tribute to those that passed away. That part of the Oscars always heart-breaking. And adding Taylor’s incredible voice and the single acoustic guitar makes it even more powerful a song.

Father and Son, Cat Stevens — My “baby” sister reminded me of this one. Father and Son brought me to tears when I heard it for the first time as a freshman in college (20 years ago!). But what truly breaks my heart as I listen to it now is that I relate so much more to the parent’s perspective of which Stevens sings. Father and Son (could also be Mother and Daughter, Parent and Child) is the perfect tribute to youth and aging and how we change so much over the years, and how sad that can sometimes be.

I hope I didn’t totally depress you all with this post. But like writing, music help me cope with not-so-happy situations in life. The sad songs make me feel a little less alone in the world. It’s amazing what words and music can do to heal one’s soul.

What about you — what are the songs that have meant something in your life? What’s the saddest song you can think of?

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2012 3:26 am

    Nice assortment; can’t say I’ve heard of them all. I could create a long list of songs – mostly Beatles- that bring back high school. Harry Chapin- college, and more.

  2. April 30, 2012 4:26 am

    I sure hope Miss Tess makes her way back to you.

    …. great song list; the one that makes me cry every time is Eva Cassidy’s “Fields of Gold.” Haunting.


  3. April 30, 2012 4:41 am

    Having a daughter, one song that gets me is “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride. My mom gave me the song as a gift once and it made me cry when I thought of it in the perspective of the daughter and now it has double the meaning since I have daughters of my own and can listen to it from both perspectives. Hope your cat comes back. This happened to my cat once and we found her under our car. She’s now currently back to driving us nuts on a regular basis. Hope that is the case for you as well!

  4. April 30, 2012 4:59 am

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful songs Leah! There’s nothing like a sad song to comfort us and sustain us when we are down is there? Certain songs ‘do it’ for me also and have become an intricate part of my life. I once said to my mother that I can do without an awful lot, but music? Forget it!

  5. April 30, 2012 5:57 am

    Oh, Leah… I’m SO sorry about your kitty. My fingers are crossed tightly that she returns to you. I know that feeling too well; happened to me an my furry buddy when I was in college.

    The video – most likely the LYRICS and the STORY behind them, that you so graciously shared – had me misty-eyed as well.

  6. April 30, 2012 6:25 am

    Leah sorry to hear about Tess. I’m hoping she returns soon.

  7. April 30, 2012 6:37 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Tess. Sending prayers her way. I know all the songs except Chapman’s. I remember, back in the day, hearing “Mr. Tanner” live more than once. When the voice of “Big John” (Chapin’s bass player and the voice of Mr. Tanner) rose above the music you truly wanted to weep. As for “Hallelujah,” you must listen to K.D. Lang’s version.

  8. April 30, 2012 7:10 am

    “Hallelujah” by Cohen is one of my fave. songs.
    I heard it when I went to see him in concert. Tess will come back for sure – Peaches is gone 2-3 days at the time and finds his way home always.

  9. April 30, 2012 7:39 am

    The Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Middler makes me cry every time I hear it, because it was the song I chose to play at my mom’s funeral. She was the wind beneath my wings, always. And I’m sorry about Tess, Leah. Please update us.

  10. April 30, 2012 8:05 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about Tess. I hope she finds her way back safely.

    Music is always my go-to when I am feeling down and sad. Strangely, when I am very happy, I still love music for music, but it doesn’t capture my emotion as well. I can totally relate to many of your selections and I like how a couple are tied to TV show episodes. That is where I have come across some of my favorite music. Joshua Radin is a big favorite of mine with I’m blue.

  11. April 30, 2012 8:18 am

    I hope Tess will be home safe soon. Our pets fill our homes with their personalities and it’s just not the same when they’re absent.
    Thanks for sharing your list of sad songs. When I’m sad I usually look for music to cheer me up. In a situation like the one you’re in now, though, I’d need the fellowship of these musicians, too, to make me feel less alone.

  12. jolinapetersheim permalink
    April 30, 2012 9:39 am

    Sending thoughts (and hugs) your way that Tess will return to your arms soon. I hope Sophie’s holding up okay about it all. When I was her age, I used to sob my heart out if my cat so much as hurt her paw. And thank you for the music selection!

  13. April 30, 2012 12:24 pm

    I hope you’re feeling a bit happier today and I really hope your cat came home.

  14. April 30, 2012 5:30 pm

    Ack…that video made me tear up.

    I hope your Tess comes back, Leah. I once had a cat disappear for two weeks, then she turned up, skinny and starving for a plate of her favorite canned food.
    Keep a light burning.

  15. April 30, 2012 6:06 pm

    Oh my Leah, what a wonderfully written post. I was really saddened to read about Tess but am SO happy she’s returned. Where”d the little meow meow come back from!!?? Thanx for the wonderful music you posted, too. I love the “Wind and Sand” song I also like “Hallelujah” and “Wind Beneath My Wings”. Also an Ian & Sylvia oldie “Walker River” and …

  16. May 1, 2012 8:00 am

    Glad Tess is back home <3
    Songs are my favorite way of expressing myself. Every song can be special in a specific circumstance. I realize that most are sad songs. I can't really think of names now. Some songs accompanied my darkest days

  17. May 1, 2012 6:35 pm

    So sorry to hear about your sweet cat. I had the same thing happen when I was young. So feel for you, and can’t wait to listen to the wonderful music you posted!

  18. May 2, 2012 9:18 pm

    Wheeww, I’m so relieved Tess came home. It’s a scary feeling not knowing whether they will return or gone forever. I’ve been so busy moving and have missed blogging and blogging friends. Thank you for dropping by my blog. I love your list of songs. I’ll have to list my sad songs one day on my blog. Malo ‘Aupito.

  19. May 9, 2012 6:18 pm

    I love that song by Jeff Buckley, it never loses it’s calming effects.


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