Saturday, August 22, 2009

Before posting my weekly top 10 list, I wanted to thank everyone who voted for their favorite summer song of the 70’s. This week, I received 10 votes and the winning song last week was a tie between “Afternoon Delight” - by the Starland Vocal Band and “Magic” – by Pilot.

This week, I’m going to get a bit more introspective and share some personal experiences with you. As always, I appreciate your votes.

Ten Great Songs From One Great Year

Songs To Make You Cry

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, my life has a soundtrack. Sometimes, when the mood is right, I can hear a great driving tune playing – especially when I’m on the open highway (among my favorite places to be. Other times, I hear the music of America, the Eagles or even Billy Joel, as I go through my day..

But there are those times when the situation calls for songs that make me cry. Whether it be over the loss of a loved one, a bad breakup or simply when things seem to be their bleakest, I always commiserate with the likes of Barry Manilow, the Carpenters or even some horrifically sad country music – which is what put me over the edge back in 2004, when I suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (following my heart transplant).

Elton John once sang, “sad songs say so much” and Billy Ocean lamented, “there’ll be sad songs to make you cry.” These songs I’ve chosen is music that at various times in my life, helped me cope and “cry it out,” as they say. I won’t delve too much into the details, but I think each of us has had moments in our lives where we felt exactly the same way.

If you would like to share some of your sad song moments with us, I would be thrilled to post them – even anonymously, if you prefer. Sometimes, misery really does love company.

Even Now – Barry Manilow

There is no way I can start a list like this with anyone other than Barry Manilow. His music, especially when I was a child, was often the first I turned to in order to bring the tears out. “Even Now” had two different meanings in my life. The first was that it reminded me of a difficult stage when I left home for the first time. The other was when I was recovering and memories of lost love were breaking my heart all over again.

Whiskey Lullaby– Brad Paisley with Alison Krauss

In my 46 years, I have never heard a sadder song than “Whiskey Lullaby.” Aside from the agonizing lyrics, Alison Krauss sings this song like no one else can. I must warn you, though. If you are sensitive to heartbreaking songs, you may wish to pass over this tune, which tells the tale of terrible mistakes and merciless regret. When I was suffering my depression post-transplant, I began to listen to a lot of country music. After hearing this song (and watching the video), I knew if I didn’t snap out of it, I would not survive. This song seemed to shock me to live.

Sons About Rain – Gary Allan

Another country song from 2004, this song was the first country song I listened to and seemed to start my path to deep despair. I didn’t know it at the time, but my fears of my marriage failing was what this song signified. Gary Allan’s tale of regret and lost love proved to be the starting point to my recovery and well-being. I considered another song by Mr. Allan, titled “Best I Ever Had” (originally recorded by Vertical Horizon), as Allan dedicated this song to his wife’s memory, after she committed suicide.

Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O'Sullivan

When I was 10 years old, my brother and sister both moved out of the house and went to away to school. For the first time in my short life, I was alone with my parents and I was terribly lonely. Along comes this song and all I could think about was the possibility of my parent’s dying and my being alone. As I researched songs for this list, I found most similar lists included this at or near the top. No surprise there.

Superstar - The Carpenters

There is something wonderfully tragic about the late Karen Carpenter’s voice. Like a number of artists on this list, I could have chosen any number of songs from her. But I chose this one because he haunting vocals often put tears in my young eyes. I was horrified when she passed away and to this day, whenever I hear this song, I still choke up.

All By Myself – Eric Carmen

Like “Alone Again, Naturally,” this song reminded me of my loneliness when my siblings left. I’ve never been a big fan of Carmen’s music, but this was an exception. How could it not make the list?

Cat's in the Cradle – Harry Chapin

Boy, does this song hit hard. As you may have assumed, I was very close to my father. But, as a Rabbi of a congregation, he had very different work hours than most fathers and a more demanding schedule. I should note that he did have time for me and some of my favorite memories are of our family trips to Florida and going to ball games. But still, I felt lonely. I had few friends growing up and I felt the pain of being ignored.

At This Moment - Billy Vera & the Beaters

When this song appeared in the TV show “Family Ties” (when Alex, played by Michael J. Fox, breaks up with his girlfriend), it also happened to be at a time when the love of my life (so far) broke my heart as well. I spent many hours crying over the sound of this song.

The End of the World – Skeeter Davis

I always knew I was a depressed child. Many of the pictures my father took of me were without a smile on my face. I don’t really recall having a bad first few years, but for some reason, this song, which came out when I was just a baby) always brought me to tears. Obviously, when I was so young I had no clue what the song was about. But her voice and the passion she sang with helped me to understand what pain and sadness were all about.

Hurts So Band – The Lettermen

The same could be said for this tearjerker from the Lettermen. I would love to say that I had certain painful memories of the song, but all I can tell you was whenever I heard it, all the joy melted away. I guess the line about “begging you please” really did me in.

Bonus Track

Puff, the Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul and Mary

I cannot think of any other sing from my childhood I could not listen to, other than “Puff.” The sadness of the story, the sorrow in which Peter Yarrow sings it, or the haunting harmonies of Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers bring this children’s tale to life for me. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to deal with the song and it’s meaning. But for an overly sensitive child as myself, this was just way too much.


Noa said...

De-lurking myself here - it's Resi Hirsch, from Pittsburgh NCSY (1993-96). I would also add: "And so it goes" by Billy Joel and "Butterfly Kisses" - both of which make me bawl. Also "Both sides now" - Joni Mitchell. Also "I know him so well" from the musical Chess (ABBA). I used to have a sad-song breakup-mix CD.

Samantha Desatnik Kuznik said...

Resi Hirsh..I think I remember you from NCSY.

Shayne, I totaly get that feeling about being alone too. My siblings left home to go to boarding school one by one. I was the youngest so by the time I was 13/14 I was "all by myself." It was one of the worst times in my life.
My sad songs: Don't speak by No Doubt. and Lightning Crashes by Live. I am sure there are many more but I can't think right now. Too early :-)

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