Ashton is back with Mixtape Monday, Volume 2!
It’s that day again! This past week, I’ve been a little down for one reason or another, so I thought it’d be a good, cathartic activity for me to theme this week’s playlist with 20 beautifully sad songs. Some people like to force feel-good music upon themselves when they’re feeling off, but I prefer to delve right into whatever emotion I’m feeling and let the music reflect my inner being until that emotion is released. So let’s cheers to the relief of catharsis, and let’s have a good cry together. ( Listen while you read!)
*If you missed last week’s post, and are interested in the “Femme Fatale” playlist, check it out here.
Mixtape Monday, 4/3, “Beautiful, Sad Songs”
- “All the Pretty Girls” – Kaleo: This gorgeous song is basically a more delicate, tender imagining of the same feeling expressed in The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside.” Jealousy, hurt, loneliness– you know, the works.
“All alone alone again… / I have waited, I have waited for you to lay me down.”
2. “Video Games” – Lana Del Rey: Apparently, this song was intended to be “sweet” and was written about a positive time in a past relationship. I mean, ok…but, ever since my first listening of this song, it seems utterly heartbreaking. With the dark instrumentation and the melancholic tone of her voice, to me it seems like the singer is completely (and obsessively) in love with the subject to the point of living 100% for this person, with no real life of her own. Fittingly, the subject treats her like an accessory, an object, and doesn’t have the same strong feelings that the singer projects. But…that’s just me I guess? Who knows, listen and let me know what you think.
“It’s you, it’s you / It’s all for you / Everything I do/…They say that the world was built for two / Only worth living if somebody is loving you / Baby now you do.” (DOES HE???)
3. “Almost Lover” – A Fine Frenzy: Realizing that the beautiful blossoming relationship you thought you were having with someone who you were really falling for isn’t going to happen…and will never be anything more than what it is right now…ouch.
“I cannot go to the ocean
I cannot drive the streets at night
I cannot wake up in the morning
Without you on my mind
So you’re gone and I’m haunted
And I bet you are just fine
Did I make it that easy to walk right in and out
Of my life?”
4. “Delicate” – Damien Rice: Let’s be real, I could fill this entire list with Damien Rice songs. It was difficult to pick just one for this, so I chose of the sweeter-sad ones. It contains some of the the most emotionally potent lyrics in this list. There are many interpretations of this song, but I’ve always thought it centered around a secret love and the resulting confusion, lies and false promises the love interest gives the singer.
“Why’ you fill my sorrow with the words you borrowed / from the only place you’ve known?/ Why’d you sing Hallelujah, if it means nothing to ya? / Why’d you sing with me at all?”
5. “Casimir Pulaski Day” – Sufjan Stevens: Perhaps one of the most devastating songs on this list comes from Sufjan Stevens. The song concerns a young man’s memory of the week leading up to the death of a close friend. The artfully simple chord progression beautifully complements the grieving lyrics about coping with the loss of a loved one, and, deeper still, about reconciling that death with the existence of a just and benevolent God.
“On the floor at the great divide
With my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied
I am crying in the bathroom.
In the morning when you finally go
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low
And the cardinal hits the window”
6. “Poison & Wine” – The Civil Wars: Ah, yes. The deeply tormenting lyrics that 99% of the adult population has felt at one time, and probably still do. Whatever front people want to put up, falling in love with someone affects you for the rest of your life, even when you fall out of love with them–or more painfully, when they fall out of love with you.
“Oh, I don’t love you, but I always will.”
7. “All I Want” – Kodaline: One of the most poignant breakup songs I’ve ever heard, Kodaline truly captures the raw emotion felt immediately after a heartbreak. Lead singer Steve Garrigan is able to convey his pain not only through his lyrics, but also through the anguish in his voice and the musical accompaniment. But the deepest tragedy in this song is how the person he lost had brought out the best in him, made him strive to be a better person, but also became the cause of his deepest pain.
“But If you loved me / Why did you leave me? / Take my body”
8. “Top to Toe” – Fenne Lily: Fenne Lily is a young songwriter from Bristol with immense talent and powerful words. She wrote this stunning song at age 15: “I was struggling with the transition from child to adult, which is a tumultuous time for everyone…It’s not a song about heartbreak in the usual sense of the word; it’s more a sense of losing what I held close and not understanding how I felt about people moving on and changing, especially myself.”
“So I’m changing all my days to make your night, it’s just not right
And you tell me I’m a child and take my light to smoke your mind
But I don’t smile like before, and you take him to your bed
It’s all been said, you need this more.
Won’t you take me to your bed, I should have said, I need you more.”
9. “Lua” – Bright Eyes: “Lua” is one of my favorite sad songs of all time, one that I always come back to when need some good old fashioned depressive self-wallowing. “Lua” is a haunting, complex song about drugs, self-destruction, and toxic relationships that still manages to draw out the beauty in those sad and ugly things.
“You’re looking skinny like a model with your eyes all painted black
Just keep going to the bathroom always say you’ll be right back
Well it takes one to know one kid, I think you’ve got it bad
But what’s so easy in the evening by the morning’s such a drag.”
10. “Bad Blood” – Bear’s Dean: This captivating, introspective song cuts deep. Bear’s Den does an excellent job with lyrics that dive far below the surface of typical themes like romance, exploring the intricacies of human experience and the relationships that lie within. “Bad Blood” explores the feeling of being haunted by past issues and hurts that get in the way of your growth– both personal and interpersonal– and the desperate, yet necessary desire to get it all out for good.
“Forgive me for I am not acting myself, but these bees in my breath have to come out.
Well you give me no reason to doubt your word, but I still somehow still have my reasons
I’m sorry I don’t mean to scare you at all, I’m just trying to drain all this bad blood.”
11. “Tilikum” – Benjamin Francis Leftwich: A cascading acoustic guitar that sounds like rain on a window, and a vocal melody that reverberates with hurt, “Tilikum” is nuanced emotional portrait of an outcasted lover in need of comfort. Written in the wake of his father’s death, Leftwich stated he was “broken for a while,” and that music and getting out the words he needed to speak “has helped carry [him] back into the world again.”
“I flew out here to tell you
I couldn’t hold your pain then
Day by day I waited for your heart to melt.”
12. “Youth” – Daughter: One of my absolute favorite songs about failed relationships, “Youth” perfectly conveys the emptiness felt when the person who you had all of your heart and soul is gone, leaving those integral parts of your being in the past. The numbness when you can no longer feel anything after such pain has lessened. That we set “fire to our insides” just to feel something, to distract our minds from the lingering sadness of longing for what was lost.
“And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones
‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs
Setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting names of the lovers that went wrong…”
13. “Crown of Love” – Arcade Fire: The most monumental track off of their album Funeral, lead singer Win Butler perfectly captures the lament of lost love. The character starts of quietly and subtly, discussing the ephemeral nature of love, but as the music builds, the voice falls further into despair, desperate for answers and reuniting with his love. When he wails “your name is the only word that I can say” I get chills every time (and, yes, sometimes tears).
“If you still want me, please forgive me
The crown of love has fallen from me…
You gotta be the one, you gotta be the way,
Your name is the only word that I can say.”
14. “Wolves(Act I and II)- Bon Iver: As most know, Justin Vernon famously wrote For Emma, Forever Ago during a 3-month stint alone in his dad’s secluded Wisconsin cabin after a rough breakup. While “Skinny Love” discusses much of the wrongs on the part of the lover, “Wolves” encompasses more of the singer’s regrets. The repetition towards the end of the song with the powerful vocal build– he tries to stop himself from dwelling on what might have been lost in their relationship…but he can’t.
“Solace my game, it stars you
Swing wide your crane, and run me through…”
What might have been lost –
Don’t bother me”
15. “The Wisp Sings” – Winter Aid: To be honest, I’m not super sure of the meaning here. But, as far as downers go, it’s a lovely one. The artful, yet unclear imagery that seem to suggest an imminent death, adds to the haunting “ooohs” and delicate acoustic guitar to draw the listener into a profound despondency.
“Let me sleep
I am tired of my grief
And I would like you
To love me, to love me, to love me.”
16. “Say Something” – A Great Big World (feat. Christina Aguilera): One of the more commercial songs on this list, as well as one of the most heartbreaking, “Say Something” revolves around that difficult experience of having to be the one to end things, even when it’s the last thing you want to do. You know it’s the end, and it’s too late for words. But that doesn’t stop the speaker from offering that one last chance, however fleeting and futile, and implores their soon to be ex-partner to say something. It’s devastating to feel like you have tried everything you can to fix the relationship, but the other person hasn’t.
“And I will swallow my pride
You’re the one that I love, and I’m saying goodbye.
Say something I’m giving up on you.
I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.
And anywhere I would have followed you…” Ouch.
17. “Liability” – Lorde: A newly released song from Lorde that I’ve had on repeat for close to three weeks now, “Liability” was written when the singer had a “realization that because of [her] lifestyle” and career “there’s going to be a point with every single person” around her will realize being with her is taxing. “It was just this moment of sadness, and I remember it so vividly.” Even those of us that don’t live rockstar lifestyles can deeply empathize with this feeling, however. As for me, it resonated with me more strongly than any song I’ve come across in quite some time.
“They say, “You’re a little much for me
You’re a liability
You’re a little much for me”
So they pull back, make other plans
I understand, I’m a liability
Get you wild, make you leave
I’m a little much for everyone.”
18. “Swans” – Unkle Bob: I left (arguably) the three most devastating songs for end of the playlist. This one is just an utter breakdown of someone who had their heart completely shattered, and doesn’t really understand why. You do everything you can think of to get them back, but it’s futile. They’ll never be by your side again.
“By my side, you’ll never be…
I wanted to tell you I’d changed,
I wanted to tell you that things would be different this time.
I see you, you see me, differently.
You tell me that you love me, but you never wanna see me again.”
19. “The Scientist” – Coldplay: The most well-known song on this list is still one of the most heart-wrenching and melancholy. It’s about trying to analyze a broken relationship by “going back to the start.” The singer is determined to find the answers–trying to look at the problems and progressions logically, rather than emotionally, trying to prevent an absolute break down. He implores his lover that relationships aren’t easy, they take work, so let’s figure out what went wrong and try it again. But he also muses to himself “no one ever said it would be so hard”– anxious and desperate to hold fast to what he’s losing.
“Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
Oh, take me back to the start.”
20. “To Build a Home” – The Cinematic Orchestra: Some of the most poignant lyrics to one of the most beautiful songs that I’ve ever heard, “To Build a Home” is built upon the ephemerality of love, and of life in general. No matter how solid or stable or satisfying something is (whether it be a house, your hopes, a friendship, a lover), nothing is permanent. No matter how tightly we hold onto things or people, often they disappear, anyway. The ultimately message though, isn’t to focus on the tragedy of what is fleeting, but rather on the beauty of living in the moment, appreciating what you have when you have it, and knowing that this too will pass.
“And, I built a home for you, for me
Until it disappeared from me, from you
And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust.”
*Phew* I hope you had a good cry and are now ready to start your week refreshed and emotionally cleansed!