Looking for music tinged with nostalgia and sad longing.
May 16, 2012 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Songs like Jackson Browne's These Days are suffused with nostalgia and wistfulness, what other great songs fit this mold? Help me find them.

Other examples might be Johnny Cash's version of Hurt and Boston area musican Orange Nichole's Cleveland as well as Smashing Pumpkins 1979. I might even place something like The La's There She Goes in this category.
posted by MasonDixon to Media & Arts (59 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Kinks, "Waterloo Sunset"
posted by FrauMaschine at 7:38 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Beach Boys - I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
posted by hydrophonic at 7:39 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recommended "Funny How Time Slips Away" by Al Green (feat. Lyle Lovett) in this 2009 thread, which may also have some good suggestions for you.
posted by juliplease at 7:41 AM on May 16, 2012

As I read this question, I was listening to Dawes' Million Dollar Bill. That one fits.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:43 AM on May 16, 2012

The lyrics don't quite match what you're going for, I don't think, but Otis Redding - Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay.
posted by knile at 7:45 AM on May 16, 2012

Don McLean's American Pie would seem to be it, too.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:48 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ooh La La by the Faces.
posted by penduluum at 7:49 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Saint Etienne--Teenage Winter. Such a great song.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:49 AM on May 16, 2012

Ben Folds - You To Thank, which is kind of peppy but also really wistful.
posted by mskyle at 7:50 AM on May 16, 2012

Bonnie Raitt - The Glow
posted by fuse theorem at 7:50 AM on May 16, 2012

Fairport Convention's Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
posted by hydatius at 7:51 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Surprise, AZ by Richard Buchner
The Background by Third Eye Blind (!?)
Not Dark Yet by Bob Dylan, maybe.
Still Fighting It by Ben Folds.
posted by gauche at 7:52 AM on May 16, 2012

Big Wreck's "In Loving Memory Of...", the whole album.
posted by mhoye at 7:53 AM on May 16, 2012

An early-ish Genesis song, "Ripples," may suit. (Coincidentally, I've found two videos - the original music video from the mid-70's, and a live stint from their 2008 farewell concert.)

Billy Joel's Scenes From An Italian Restaurant tap-dances on the edge of bombast at times, but it's still the shit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: And on lack-of-preview - Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue" does this for me. As does Van Morrison's "Into The Mystic," upon reflection.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Coming Up Close by 'til tuesday seems to fit the bill.
posted by xingcat at 7:55 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Mountain Goats - Pale Green Things and Love, Love, Love.
posted by mskyle at 8:00 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I always felt that way about Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer." Not a huge Henley fan but I really like the haunting sense of, as you say, wistfulness and nostalgia.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: two more by jackson browne: Late for the Sky and Fountain of Sorrow
posted by katieanne at 8:03 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybelle, by Ida
posted by dirtdirt at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2012

I remember thinking Madness' "Our House" was happy nostalgia incarnate until I heard the "Something tells you that you've got to get away from it" line, which has forever added a tragic twinge to it for me.
posted by kimota at 8:14 AM on May 16, 2012

A Little Soul by Pulp
posted by activitystory at 8:14 AM on May 16, 2012

Tonight, I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown - The Flatlanders
is one that fits, I think, both lyrically and sonically. Frustrating that my google-fu isn't turning up any good links.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:17 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: Our Town by Iris Dement gets me every time.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:17 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another Browne contribution to Nico's album Chelsea Girl, Fairest of the Seasons is practically a companion piece.
posted by teekat at 8:22 AM on May 16, 2012

On Saturday Afternoons in 1963, Rickie Lee Jones
posted by neroli at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2012

Kind of obscure, but Danny O'Keefe's Mad Ruth/The Babe does it for me.
posted by Rash at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: Thought of another . . .
Helpless - Neil Young
posted by MasonDixon at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tim Buckley - Strange Feelin'
posted by hydrophonic at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: Bob Seger, "Night Moves."

I never appreciated the last verse until I was old enough to hear it:

"I awoke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in"
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:09 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Elbow's cover of The The's "August and September" is a big, gorgeous ball of nostalgia, remembered pain, longing and present sadness.

"Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas" by Okkervil River.

Emmylou Harris, "Boulder to Birmingham"...
"The last time I felt like this
I was in the wilderness and the canyon was on fire
And I stood on the mountain
In the night and I watched it burn"
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "A New England" by Billy Bragg, particularly when sung by acoustically in duet with Kirsty MacColl.
posted by maryr at 9:27 AM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: OK people, TIME TO GET SAD!

Simon and Garfunkel: April Come She Will
(also by Simon & Garfunkel: The Boxer. Here's a good version by Emmylou Harris)
Speaking of Emmylou Harris, here's Tulsa Queen
Probably half of Tom Waits' oeuvre fits your request, but here's Train Song and Whistle Down the Wind
Cowboy Junkies: A Horse in the Country and The Last Spike
Bruce Springsteen: Racing in the Street and Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Go-Betweens: That Way and Cattle and Cane
The Cure: Just Like Heaven
The Pretenders: Back on the Chain Gang
The Field Mice: Emma's House
Morrissey: Suedehead and Everyday is Like Sunday
I also quite like Bonnie Raitt's version of Angel From Montgomery
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:44 AM on May 16, 2012

Oh, I almost forgot- Bob Dylan: Tangled Up in Blue
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:47 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

10,000 Maniacs, These Are Days
Martin Sexton, Livin' the Life
John Denver's AMAZING cover of "Casey's Last Ride" (a Kris Kristofferson song)

and for an unusual take on nostalgia, there's "The Curse" by Josh Ritter.
posted by jbickers at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2012

John Prine has a number of wistful, nostalgic songs. Some that spring to mind are Angel from Mongomery, Hello in There, Christmas in Prison, Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You, and Paradise.
posted by TedW at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2012

Morrissey: Suedehead
My wife and I have an unresolved argument over whether Carissa's Wierd's cover surpasses the original or not. It's not on Youtube, but pretty much all of their songs fit the bill, e.g. this one.
posted by junco at 11:03 AM on May 16, 2012

Elvis Presley - My Little Friend

Elvis Presley - Pieces Of My Life
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2012

The Village Green Preservation Society album--highlights: the title track, Animal Farm, and say, Picture Book. Also a couple of their singles from this era are great: Days and Autumn Almanac.

That whole era was chock full of great nostalgia songs,
Left Banke's "Desiree",
The Zombies' "Hung Up On A Dream"
"Maybe After He's Gone",
The Who's "Our Love Was"
and of course those Beach Boys songs already named (just listen to Pet Sounds...)

Soul songs I can think of right now:
Stevie Wonder's "I Wish",
Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights",
Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions' "I Loved And I Lost", and
Willie Wright's "Nantucket Island".

Moving along: Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark's "Beginning and the End",
XTC's "Grass",
Beat Happening's "Indian Summer",
House of Love's "Beatles and the Stones",
Close Lobsters' "I Kissed the Flower in Bloom",
The Sweetest Ache's "If I Could Shine" (I assume it's nostalgic, I can't understand what's being sung, it's shoegaze).

And of course Paul McCartney's "Junk"
posted by Luminiferous Ether at 11:31 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you like your nostalgia whiny:

Raining in Baltimore - Counting Crows
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:59 AM on May 16, 2012

Is Tom Waits's Martha too obvious?

Also Georgia Rain by Trisha Yearwood. (You fixed your Daddy's house up nice- I saw it yesterday when I drove by. Looks like you've made yourself a real good life...)

Also also Gary Allan's Life Ain't Always Beautiful, which starts out schmaltzy and in the second person before pulling in and redeeming itself in the third verse.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:00 PM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: This is also pretty much what the BoDeans do, in my opinion. Here's Paradise and Idaho.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:21 PM on May 16, 2012

Pretty much every Belle and Sebastian song ever written. Paging through my mp3s: You Made Me Forget My Dream, Seymour Stein, It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career, The State That I Am In, Little Lou Ugly Jack Prophet John, Read The Blessed Pages...

Kinks - Days, Good Day (man, the Kinks kinda have this market cornered).

Silver Jews - I Remember Me

Ben Kweller - Thirteen

Jens Lekman - And I Remember Every Kiss

Van Morrison - Cyprus Avenue (really, all of Astral Weeks)

Lucksmiths: Great Lengths, The Sandringham Line

A hell of a lot of Magnetic Fields songs: Living In An Abandoned Firehouse, When You're Old And Lonely, Take Ecstasy With Me, Plant White Roses
posted by zvs at 12:25 PM on May 16, 2012

A couple of 90s tunes that do it for me:
Verve Pipe - The Freshmen
Oasis - Wonderwall
Radiohead - High & Dry and Fake Plastic Trees
posted by jabes at 1:06 PM on May 16, 2012

Iron and Wine & Calexico - 16, Maybe Less
posted by mahorn at 1:22 PM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
A Case of You by Joni Mitchell
Chelsea Hotel by Leonard Cohen
Long May You Run by the Stills-Young Band
"Four Strong Winds" (I like the Johnny Cash version, myself)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:23 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Joel Plaskett's "Ashtray Rock" is a concept album about a two friends in a high school rock band who have a falling out over a girl they both love. It's based loosely on Plaskett's own experiences and ranges from goofy (Drunk Teenagers) to heartfelt (Soundtrack For The Night) but is definitely wistful and nostalgic all the way through.
posted by Monster_Zero at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2012

Porcupine Tree: Time Flies - there's a long and a shorter version.

Spock's Beard: June
posted by PussKillian at 3:09 PM on May 16, 2012

Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, "All I Left Behind"

Mary Chapin Carpenter, "This Shirt"
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:45 PM on May 16, 2012

Cherry Bomb - John Mellencamp
Come Dancing - The Kinks
I Wanna Go Back - Eddie Money
New York, New York - Ryan Adams
65 Love Affair - Paul Davis
posted by SisterHavana at 6:49 PM on May 16, 2012

Wilco's cover of "Thirteen."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:54 PM on May 16, 2012

Another one from the Fairport Convention: Farewell, Farewell

Palace Music: Come In

Comes a Time by Neil Young
posted by gamera at 11:14 PM on May 16, 2012

John Hiatt-Perfectly Good Guitar
posted by TedW at 3:29 AM on May 17, 2012

Fred Knoblock- Why Not Me

Thin Lizzy- Frankie Caroll
posted by wittgenstein at 10:26 AM on May 17, 2012

Best answer: John Denver - Leaving On A Jet Plane
posted by knile at 6:01 AM on May 29, 2012

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