Welcome to my new mixtape feature, where I will be compiling and posting themed playlists. Got no woman? No dog? No central heating? Then this is the playlist for you. It is not, nor is meant to be, comprehensive, but here are 17 songs to depress the living fuck out of you this winter.
1. I am the Cosmos by Chris Bell
“Every night I tell myself I am the cosmos,” gulps Bell, in a desperate [and futile] attempt to convince himself of his own importance. This is, for me, a genuine contender for the most miserable song of all time. Bell and his bandmates sound like they are on the brink of collapse; the Beatles-like melody is stripped of all its potential sparkle and effervescence by a performance so sluggish that even Sloths would roll their eyes at it.
2. Superstar by The Carpenters
The Carpenters made a lot of eerily sad music but Superstar is the saddest. It is a song that is either about being a discarded groupie or, and this is my preferred interpretation, about obsessive fandom and being in love with someone who doesn’t even know you exist. The inaccessibility makes the longing even more acute…
Long ago, and, oh, so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear
But you’re not really here, it’s just the radio
3. On Your Own Again by Scott Walker
“You’re on your own again,” Scott whimpers, and it’s the again that is the real killer. He hasn’t just been forsaken once, this has happened before. And, yeah, it’ll probably keep happening.
4. All Your Women Things by Smog
Poor Bill Callahan has been abandoned and all she has left him is her frilly underwear, out of which he makes a doll…y’know, as a replacement. Aw, come on, we’ve all done it.
5. Stay With Me by Lorraine Ellison
Listen to that vocal, that is a woman on the edge. She’s not asking you to stay, she is tearing at her face and pleading with you.
6. Flirted With You All My Life by Vic Chesnutt
Vic wrote a song telling death to fuck off. Then killed himself.
7. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor
A song so sad that it reduced Sinead to tears in the video. She’s inconsolable, counting the days and hours since her lover left. Eventually she goes to the doctor, who tells her she “better try to have fun,” and while that is good advice I would suggest that really he ought to have been prescribing some heavy-duty anti-depressants.
8. Tired Eyes by Neil Young
If there’s a better opening line in musical history than “well, he shot four men in a cocaine deal” I haven’t heard it. A song about grief, and death, and the people who simply get lost. Throughout Neil sounds wrecked, and the band don’t exactly play like they are sober either.
9. Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel
Rabbits. Dead ones.
10. Remember (Walking In The Sand) by The Shangri Las
So, like, get this, he made all kinds of promises to me and then he goes overseas and meets some girl and so, like, sends this letter breaking it off with me. What a douche.
11. Only The Lonely by Frank Sinatra
A song to drink and smoke and weep to.
12. Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying by Blind Willie Johnson
Quite frankly, this doesn’t make me sad, it terrifies me.
13. Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jacques Brel
Extreme misery. In French.
14. No Easy Way Down by Dusty Springfield
Saturday afternoon hangover music. Sad but strangely soothing.
15. Bring Me My Shotgun by Lighnin’ Hopkins
I don’t think you wanna know why he wants that shotgun, folks.
16. Cryin’ In The Streets by George Perkins
One of my favourite songs. Apparently it is about Martin Luther King’s funeral; that it reduces me, a man who was not even a gleam in his mother’s eye at the time of King’s death, to a gibbering wreck is proof that no matter how specific one’s words or intentions are a feeling is universal.
17. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong by Leonard Cohen
This song so upsets Old Laughing Len that he starts wailing uncontrollably towards the end.