Rainy Days and Mondays

Rainy days and Mondays don’t always get me down, but sometimes they do.  Sometimes I just need to wallow in the sadness.  When I’m in a wallowing mood, I have a “Rainy Days and Mondays” playlist full of Songs That Make Me Sad.  This is the only time I listen to most of these songs since they send me straight to my unhappy place.  Listening to them is the biggest benefit of rainy, wallowing days.

Number one on the list?  “Visions of Johanna,” by Bob Dylan.  What makes it a perfect wallowing in sadness song?  For one thing, the weariness in Dylan’s voice, as if he’s lived through it all and knows all is lost.  The weariness matches the overriding sense of futility in the lyrics:  “We sit here stranded, though we’re all doing our best to deny it.”  Of course, in this song there’s a specific cause for this existential dread–he’s lost Johanna.  The visions and memories of her affect everything he does and sees now.  The singer knows he had his chance and lost it, and nothing will ever be as clear and bright and good as it once was.  By the end, the “visions of Johanna are now all that remain.”

Second on my list is Bonnie Raitt’s version of “Too Long at the Fair.”  Her interpretation of the lyrics is a killer, especially the opening when she sings “Jesus cried, wept and died, I guess he went off to heaven.”  If life even wore Jesus down, what chance do any of us have?  Bonnie’s voice sounds tired, too, letting us know, even without words, “Lord, I just can’t stand it anymore.”

Nothing in the details of”Backstreets,” by Bruce Springsteen, has anything to do with the details of my life, but the emotions still hit home.  “Remember all the movies, Terry, we’d go see/Trying to learn how to walk like the heroes we thought we had to be/And after all this time to find we’re just like all the rest.”  Perfect description of that moment of sadness when we realize that not all of our childhood dreams will come true, that there may not be a happily ever after.

“Nothing Ever Happens,” by Del Amitri, is a three-minute rock song illustration of Henry David Thoreau’s quote that most men lead lives of quiet desperation.  The song reminds me of “Eleanor Rigby” (also on the playlist) as it describes the lives of all the lonely people before concluding “we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow.”

Nobody sings sad better than Otis Redding, and “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is maybe the saddest of all.  The singer left his home in  Georgia (“I had nothing to live for, and look like nothing gonna come my way”) only to find himself 2000 miles away, but in the same place.  The pessimism of “Look like nothing gonna change/Everything still remains the same” is  . . . well, sad.

Some of the others on my Rainy Days and Mondays playlist:

  1. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry–Hank Williams
  2. In the Ghetto–Elvis Presley
  3. Alison–Elvis Costello
  4. Eleanor Rigby–The Beatles
  5. It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go–Nanci Griffith
  6. Hurt–Johnny Cash
  7. Mary–Patty Griffin
  8. Prayer in Open D–Emmylou Harris
  9. I Wish I Was the Moon–Neko Case
  10. Wild Horses–The Rolling Stones
  11. I’m Amazed–My Morning Jacket
  12. Sound of Settling–Death Cab for Cutie
  13. Rainy Night in Georgia–Brook Benton
  14. Sweet Old World–Lucinda Williams
  15. Bad–U2

What songs are your sad song playlist?  I’m always looking for new titles to add to mine.

And now I’m off to spend this rainy Sunday listening to music.


About notthatCindyCrawford

I like books, music, movies, television, sports, food, travel, learning, laughing and sitting around thinking. This blog is a place for me to have fun writing about the things I love. Let me know how I'm doing.
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13 Responses to Rainy Days and Mondays

  1. jane says:

    I was at a bar many, many years ago and the happy hour band was playing mostly country songs. I am not a huge fan or very knowledgeable about country music. My firends asked me ‘what’s the saddest country song?’ not having a clue I ventured the guess ‘You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille.’ they didn’t even laugh at me!
    And then pointed out that the next song the band would sing is the saddest country song. ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’. Oh my – yes. Very sad. You might consider adding it to your playlist.

  2. Carla Balen says:

    I have many of the same ones, an addition from my list is Cannonball by Damien RIce. Johnny Cash doing Hurt, so haunting and emotional.

  3. Jess says:

    Totally agree with your Bonnie Raitt choice…I’d add her version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Heartbreaking, even when I’m in a happy place. I’d also add Damein Rice’s “Blower’s Daughter.”

  4. Jeff McKown says:

    My list of sad songs is dauntingly long. Is there a way I can just link my entire iTunes library? Seriously, I am a true connoisseur of morose music. I am not allowed to pick party music, and people who road trip with me are often left hoping I will drive into a tree before we reach our destination. I go all in, my sad songs usually have the whole package – haunting, hopeless, and distressed vocals, lyrics that utterly devastate me, and of course, lots of minor keys. And there are just so many from which to choose. Alas, I will give it the old college try and see if I can assemble a list of a few favorites. I’ll even add a sad “teaser” lyric for each song. I would suggest this – buy any of these songs you don’t already own, make a playlist, open a bottle of wine, and then have the time of your life feeling shitty (in a good way) and quite moved by the dark, stirring, and honest emotion of it all. Okay, in no particular order…

    If I Were Brave (Shawn Colvin)
    “And no one talks about when one might stop and need to rest
    Or how long you sit alone before you stop looking back
    It’s like you’re waiting for Godot
    And then you pick your sorry ass up off the street and

    Equally Skilled (Jon Foreman)
    “How miserable I am
    I feel like a fruitpicker who arrived here
    after the harvest
    There’s nothing here at all
    There’s nothin at all here that could placate my hunger”

    Vincent (Don McLean)
    “For they could not love you
    But still your love was true
    And when no hope was left in sight
    On that starry, starry night
    You took your life as lovers often do”

    Lullaby Requiem (Neil Finn)
    “Its real life, its all true
    You know how I’ll miss you
    In quiet moments I’ll come undone
    And the building blocks sometimes have to crash
    Not meant to last like a mother’s love”

    Here Comes the Flood (Peter Gabriel, from Hits Disc 1 – the sad piano destroys me)
    “Lord, here comes the flood
    We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood
    If again the seas are silent
    In any still alive
    It’ll be those who gave their island to survive
    Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry.”

    PS: I made myself cry putting this list together (warning: the Neil Finn song is about the death of his mother). On a positive note, Paul really wanted me to add Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke to this list – I rejected it outright of course (it really should be on your happy list though!).

    • My actual playlist is longer than the list here! “Vincent” is on that extended list, as is “Heaven Help Us All” by Stevie Wonder. And “Sir Duke” can definitely go on the happy list–tell Paul thanks.

      If I going to want you to crash into a tree, I need to rethink having you drive me down the PCH!

  5. Anne K says:

    Rainy Day playlist for me includes many of the above. and…

    Mad World from Donnie Darko…
    I Was Watching You – Rosanne Cash
    Breath of Heaven – Vince Gill
    Count to Ten – Mike Errico
    Bulletproof (cover by Ariel Sabaj) – check out her version. it’s beautiful. Maybe on Facebook?
    Language by Suzanne Vega
    North Dakota – Lyle Lovett
    This Traveling Around – ditto
    Not California – Hem

    Also, how about the Trinity Sessions by the Cowboy Junkies- the whole album practically. The Blue Nile. David Sylvian. These folks were made for rainy days…
    I could go on…but it hasn’t rained once since I got here, so fewer chances to play my faves!

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