Grief and music that helps?
April 18, 2007 7:35 AM   Subscribe

My kitten just died, and I'm looking for songs to help ease the pain.

I just witnessed my five month old kitten be killed in a car accident. I'm desolate, as I loved that cat, Sebastian, more than I can say. He was my delight and comfort.

He was also a symbol to me of all the other loss I've suffered over the last few years, my dad - whom I also saw die when I was young, my closest friend, the man I'm in love with, and my life as I knew it.

I lay in bed last night sobbing, and mum held me, and played me Gavin Bryars CD "Jesus love never failed me yet" with Tom Waits and a homeless man, and it helped comfort me immeasurably.

I've been listening to this recording of a homeless man singing, a loop of an old hymn, Jesus love never failed me yet, never failed me yet, never failed me yet. Jesus love never failed me yet, this one thing I know, for he loves me so... over and over and over again.

eventually, an orchestra comes in and begins to accompany his voice, a frail cracked voice singing of his personal faith in the midst of adversities. The strings wax and wane, soar and swoop. Tom Waits joins in, towards the end (the whole thing goes for 72 minutes), and he sings with the tramp.

The whole thing is exquisitely beautiful, and it never grows tiring to listen to, no matter how repetitive it is. It's the type of thing that goes straight to the soul. Touches something deep inside you, makes its mark. The type of thing that never leaves you - this song, that mum played to me last night as she held me while I cried myself to sleep.

I was wondering if there were any other songs you can think of that produce an intense spiritual reaction like that one.
posted by jonathanstrange to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
hurt - johnny cash
posted by goldism at 7:45 AM on April 18, 2007

Polyphonic Spree's album - "Together We're Heavy". Fixed an entire shitty summer for me once.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:48 AM on April 18, 2007

It won't be to everyone's taste, but when I was in a similar state I howled along with this Elegy.

When I'm depressed I can't abide music that is overtly cheering - rather just wail out the sorrows they're gone.

This is not an inappropriate time for Mahler's #2, either.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:50 AM on April 18, 2007

Alison Krauss - There is a Reason
Spiritualized - Broken Heart
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:52 AM on April 18, 2007

The Cure.

Entire albums: 17 Seconds and Pornography.

Make sure you don't have any sharp implements handy.
posted by Jimbob at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2007

Sorry for your loss.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:13 AM on April 18, 2007

I'm afraid I don't have a song I can recommend to you, but I just wanted to say I'm so sorry. I hope you can find comfort in some of the songs others have suggested.
posted by schmoo at 8:28 AM on April 18, 2007

Well, I don't have a song, but this is something a friend wrote for another freind. I know it's not totally applicable now, but I hope it helps some:

Poem request - "loss of a pet and adopting a new one"

The hall is too quiet
Though I once swore you made no noise
The kitchen is too empty
Though you spent most of your time elsewhere

Life is duller without you here
Sounds are muted, colors grayer, forms blurred
Despite holding your memory in my heart
I must face the reason I let you there in the first place

I've searched for your successor
An animal that can make his own mark in this home
One who will accept my affection
And be worthy of your memory, while being himself

But such bonds are not created easily
They must endure the pains of creation and uncertainty
For we are not putting together a puzzle
We are building and remodelling a shelter for our hearts

Was it so hard when you and I first did this?
Strange that I can only remember the good parts
Perhaps the retrofitting was not so extensive then
Or maybe the perfection of the finished piece erased the frustration

Or maybe my new furry one is showing me he is not you
And teaching me to accept him on his own terms
So he can take me to new places in my heart
Just as you once did

And when those places become home to me
I will know that we have found the love between us
And he will be your true heir
And my cherished pet


and .
posted by lysdexic at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have a few records that have, in the past, offered something. Of course YMMV but these have all envoked different thoughts for me:

Sigur Ros - 'Agaetis Byrjun'. A really positive feeling album

The Album Leaf - 'The Light' from the album 'Into the Blue Again'

Jeff Buckley - 'Last Goodbye' from the album 'Grace'

Iron & Wine - 'Fever Dream', 'Naked As We Came' from the album 'Our Endless Numbered Days'

Ed Harcourt - 'Good Friends Are Hard To Find' from the album 'A Beautiful Lie'

Nick Drake - 'Northern Sky' from the album 'Bryter Layter'

Some of the cheerier end of my sorrow repertoire. Hope something here helps.
posted by mjlondon at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2007

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Two songs that come to mind that have engedered emotional reactions in me are "I Hurt," by Peter Gabriel (on the City of Angels soundtrack) -- it's not cheerful, but it's an expression of pain, and sometimes hearing that expressed helps. I also must admit that despite not being either a fan of country or religious, the gospel number "Testify to Love" as covered by Wynonna Judd has always had an emotional impact on me ...
posted by WCityMike at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2007

A great mood lifter for me is the recent indie album from the Swedish band I'm From Barcelona, called 'Let Me Introduce My Friends"... Really positive fun stuff, somewhat in the vein of Polyphonic Spree's wide-eyed optimism.
posted by wonderwisdom at 10:05 AM on April 18, 2007

i'm so sorry ... i understand a bit of what you feel; a few days ago i lost a most beloved kitty as well, four days after his fourth birthday. it's a terrible thing to suffer the loss of a pet.

i've been listening to jeff buckley's cover of leonard cohen's "hallelujah" pretty regularly. it seems to help with the miserable unexpectedness and incomprehensibility of it.

were i in your circumstances, though (car accident as opposed to [they think] congenital heart issue), i'd be looking for something ... angrier, or at least more intense. the entirety of tool's "aenima" album has seen me through some tough times.

i've also found much of patsy cline's recordings to be sadly comforting, despite the fact that they may be better suited to a malaise of a more romantic nature.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 10:16 AM on April 18, 2007

I am very sorry for your loss. Maybe some of this music will help. I'm afraid my recommendations skew towards soundtrack cues, but that's the way she rolls.


"Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" by Arvo Pärt.

"Balaliaka" by Firewater.

"Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues.

"Nothing But A Child" by Steve Earle.

Mass in B Minor by Bach.

"The First Five Minutes After Death," "Ostia," "Summer Substructures," "A White Rainbow," and "Christmas Is Drawing Near" by COIL.

"Idumaea," traditional, as covered by Current 93, with vox by Marc Almond. Other Current 93 songs in this vein include "The Bloodbells Chime," "The Great Bloody And Bruised Veil Of The World," "All The World Makes Great Blood," and "They Return To Their Earth."

"25th Hour Finale" by Terence Blanchard. I also highly recommend the less chaotic bits of the fantastic score to The Caveman's Valentine. Beautiful stuff.

"Your Hand In Mine (strings version)" by Explosions In The Sky (from the Friday Night Lights score).

"Dolores Claiborne" by Danny Elfman.

"Kissing In The Rain" by Patrick Doyle (from the Great Expectations score.

"The End" by Harry Gregson-Williams (from the Man On Fire score).

"Fields Of Athenry" by Harry Gregson-Williams (from the Veronica Guerin).

"Recapitulation" by John Morris (from score to The Elephant Man).

"Death Is The Road To Awe," "Finish It," and "Together We Will Live Forever," by Clint Mansell (from the score to The Fountain).

And while I don't personally own them, the scores to The Sweet Hereafter and For Roseanna are also gorgeous.

I will also say that The Arcade Fire's Funeral and - so help me God - My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade are also pretty terrific.


Sorry for the single-mindedness on display.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:20 AM on April 18, 2007

So very sorry you're going through this.

"All Dead, All Dead" by Queen (on their News of the World album) is a haunting, beautiful song. It was written by Brian May after his beloved cat passed away, although you can't really tell that from the lyrics.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2007

So sorry for your loss.
No song recommendations here, just want to say that you sound like the kind of person that this world full of homeless cats needs more of.
When you lose a pet, there is nothing you can do to replace them, but the joy of providing a home for a new kitten or 2 is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.
Sebastian is somewhere up there looking down and when you're ready, I think he'll lead you to the perfect new friend who really needs your love and care right now that Sebastian is in a better place.
From one cat lover to another, my deepest condolences. Please don't lose the will to provide a loving home for kitties that need you. I promise you'll make Sebastian proud.
posted by BillBishop at 11:26 AM on April 18, 2007

the last three songs on the Prefab Spout album Jordan: the Comeback always do it for me. They helped me when my mother was dying of cancer, and they helped me more recently when I had to watch 10 kittens from the same litter die one after the other for no discernible reason.

You start with "Mercy", a beautiful, but sad acoustic song about forgiveness; "Mercy on me, oh say that I'm forgiven/And wrap your arms around me/To your goodness I surrender/Without mercy where is goodness ?"

Next is Scarlet Nights, a song about death and accepting the fact of death; "Scarlet nights waiting sleep is overdue/Scarlet nights ending here on in they're blue/Blue as skies and blue as heavens/Watching over you"

Finally, we have "Doo Wop In Harlem", a song about the afterlife; "If there ain't a heaven that holds you tonight/They never sang doo-wop in Harlem"

I don't share Paddy McAloon's religious beliefs, but I find his sentiment of mercy, acceptance of death as part of the process and his belief in there being something hereafter reassuring. I doubt the last bit myself (I suspect that this world is all of heaven or hell that we get), but I like the idea that death is not the end; we continue in the remeberance of others.
posted by baggers at 12:02 PM on April 18, 2007

Sorry for your loss, first of all.

Secondly, and this is an honest attempt to answer what's "behind" your question, which is how to feel better: I recommend against holing up and listening to sentimental songs as a means of feeling better. This kind of dwelling actually makes it harder to get out of the rut / depression that comes from loss.

My recommendation would be to keep yourself busy doing things - preferably things you enjoy, but chores are another good way to take your mind off of it.

Again, I'm really sorry for your loss. Hope you feel better soon.
posted by twiggy at 12:12 PM on April 18, 2007

I am so sorry. Please accept my sincerest condolences. I am practically ruled by my cats, so I understand.

Please take BillBishop's post under consideration. There are many other homeless kitties who will never replace Sebastian, but who could offer their own furry comfort and love to you, when you are ready.

Also, Sanvean by Dead Can Dance from their Toward the Within album.

Side: lysdexic, is there a name to put to that poem, so that I may give proper credit? It was lovely.
posted by oflinkey at 12:28 PM on April 18, 2007

Hymn of the Big Wheel by Massive Attack.

My sincerest condolences, I have empathy for your loss.
posted by goml at 1:38 PM on April 18, 2007

oflinkey: I'll ask, and let you know.
posted by lysdexic at 2:02 PM on April 18, 2007

Thanks to all offering song ideas and condolences, they mean a lot to me. :)

I've listened to as many of the songs as I can find, and they are beautiful.

I've thought of getting a new kitten BillBishop, and I definitely will - Sebastian's sister was until recently up for adoption, and I'd thought yesterday I might adopt her. It felt like a nice thing to do - especially as one of the things that had touched me about Sebastian was that I discovered several weeks after I had him that he was born on my father's birthday.

Other songs that have helped me that no-one's mentioned in the past are Nimrod, by Elgar (which was the last song my dad listened to), and Run, by Snow Patrol.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks. You guys have helped a lot, and I'm really grateful to you all.
posted by jonathanstrange at 2:39 PM on April 18, 2007

How about A Cat-Shaped Hole In My Heart?

"A benefit album of cat-loving bands honoring their pets and celebrating felines. Royalties donated to the Tree House No-Kill Shelter of Chicago."
posted by mykescipark at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hayden has a track on his Live At Convocation Hall album called Woody which is a great little song. And I'm not even a cat person.
posted by ODiV at 2:46 PM on April 18, 2007


The poet is Amanda Barncord-Doerr
posted by lysdexic at 5:22 PM on April 18, 2007

Another vote for Hallelujah, just about any version will do. Also Godspeed by the Dixie Chicks. It's a lullaby but I think it works for what you want.

I'm sorry for your loss, jonathanstrange.
posted by deborah at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2007

"Leave My Kitten Alone"?
posted by Doug Skullery at 5:17 PM on April 28, 2007

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