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September 16, 2007 12:52 AM   Subscribe

Melancholy love songs required for an unusual playlist. More inside.

I'm trying to make a playlist with a very specific criteria. I'm looking fo songs that touch on one or more of the following themes:

- Doubts about a long-distance relationship
- Commitment issues generally
- Memories of amazing times together
- Hopes for a future relationship

Don't worry, I'm not making a break-up CD, I'm not that much of a jerk. Anything you can think of would be great, and just any brilliant melancholy lovesongs you can think of would be useul too. Thanks.
posted by greytape to Media & Arts (49 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Well, two that come to mind that fit the long-distance relationship criteria are "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab for Cutie and "Hackensack" by Fountains of Wayne.
posted by good in a vacuum at 12:59 AM on September 16, 2007

Come Back From San Francisco - The Magnetic Fields.
I Thought You Were My Boyfriend - The Magnetic Fields.
London - The Smiths
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:16 AM on September 16, 2007

Come back from San Francisco— The Magnetic Fields (quite a lot of 69 Love Songs will fit the bill actually... I think the Magnetic Fields are the answer to just about every mixtape question going. According to AskMeFi anyway!)
One More Hour— Sleater-Kinney
Good Things— Sleater-Kinney
Undecided— The Magic Numbers
The Truth About Cats & Dogs— Pony Up!

Most of these are about long distance/commitment issues. I'll try and come up with some about hope for a future relationship now!
posted by indienial at 1:31 AM on September 16, 2007

Should've previewed, sorry Infinite Jest!!
posted by indienial at 1:32 AM on September 16, 2007

Most of Alice Peacock's work is about relationships. There are a few upbeat ones, but some quite mellow ones too.
posted by Solomon at 1:36 AM on September 16, 2007

Sufjan Stevens - Holland. (This one's a good fit.)
Wilco - Far, Far Away.
Tom Waits - Martha.
Beck - Sing It Again. (Might be a stretch.)
posted by parudox at 1:40 AM on September 16, 2007

"Across the Sea" by Weezer
"True Love Waits" by Radiohead (I don't think this was ever recorded in a studio, but you can find it on their I Might Be Wrong - Live Recordings EP)
"The Trees" by Pulp
"Your Ex-Lover is Dead" by Stars
"Blind" by TV on the Radio
posted by good in a vacuum at 1:42 AM on September 16, 2007

Support the local talent! How about "Go" by Saellys on MeFi Music?
posted by RichardP at 2:02 AM on September 16, 2007

You might like Ginger by the Lilys (link just goes to Itunes sample). "She comes and goes, but she mostly goes." It's not exactly "commitment issues," but it's close. (Oh, and have you already either included or ruled out "I'm like a bird"?)
posted by salvia at 2:14 AM on September 16, 2007

"Soft Rains of April" - a-ha
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:19 AM on September 16, 2007

Two radically different suggestions:

Goddess on a Highway, by Mercury Rev. Haunting, melancholic, and with the chorus "And I know, it ain't gonna last..."

And for the long distance, I hate to admit it, but I have a sft spot for Calling America by ELO. 70's synth pop. Gotta love it...
posted by csg77 at 2:42 AM on September 16, 2007

My idea of what constitutes a love song can admittedly be a bit warped. There's someone still mad at me for a Valentine's Day mix I gave a bunch of people in 2004. But...

Snow Come Down by Lori Carson makes a nicely oblique hope for a future in its refrain, unless you live someplace particularly snowy, I guess.

Inside by UNKLE has plenty of doubt, though not specifically of the commitment type.

The title track off Lali Puna's Faking the Books, and possibly a few others.

Curve's Unreadable Communication wants to make sweet love to you while playing those old records we know all the words to.

I'm pretty sure all of those can be easily previewed through either iTunes or Amazon.
posted by Su at 2:45 AM on September 16, 2007

Uh, if you're fluent in Finnish, I'd go for
Zen Cafe - Helvetisti järkeä
Zen Cafe - Tuhannen kilometrin päässä

Hell, most of ZC's work is about love involving physical/emotional distance and longing...

posted by slimepuppy at 2:55 AM on September 16, 2007

of course, love hurts by nazereth.
posted by jak68 at 2:59 AM on September 16, 2007

(or rather, nazAreth)
posted by jak68 at 3:07 AM on September 16, 2007

Here are a few more, biased towards my CD collection:

"Like a Tiger" by Fourth of July is about a guy whose SO isn't nearby and is trying to decide whether to let a woman pick him up or not. Some lyrics, since they're not available online:
She can't even think of what number drink But she waits for something to say to me
You see, I tend to lose count
And you're out of town
And she hopes for something to say to me
(They're a good smaller band, and worth the price of admission for the rest of the album)

"She Says It's Alright" by The Rentals is all about a non-committal, on-again/off-again long-distance relationship.

"Little Light" by Jets to Brazil is about a guy on the road with his band and the issues it causes in his relationship in being away all the time.

"In the Summer's When You Really Know," also by Jets to Brazil, about the impending end of a summer romance.

"Wires and Waves" by Rilo Kiley is pretty straightforward about the issues in an LDR.

"Left and Leaving" by The Weakerthans is more of a post-breakup song but it still has bits about remembering the good with the bad.
posted by barnacles at 3:07 AM on September 16, 2007

Of course Autumn Leaves (Nat King Cole) or in french
Les Feuilles Mortes (Juliette Greco)
posted by jouke at 3:29 AM on September 16, 2007

There are a LOT of songs by The Mountain Goats from their 'Alpha Couple' series that I'd recommend, particularly a few from their Tallahassee album. Especially the first song - Tallahassee - and Old College Try. Oh my goodness - the whole album (and the Alpha Couple series of songs in general) is about a fatally wounded relationship that is insanely dysfunctional yet somehow oddly beautiful (eh, to me at least) at the same time, there is/was genuine love there even if it "has never had a leg to stand on" ... gloriously melancholic.
posted by zeph at 4:09 AM on September 16, 2007

The Be Good Tanyas: Broken Telephone.
posted by brautigan at 4:21 AM on September 16, 2007

Galaxie 500 - When Will you Come Home?
posted by Martin E. at 4:30 AM on September 16, 2007

So Far Away - Carole King
posted by cashman at 4:41 AM on September 16, 2007

Please Come to Boston - Dave Loggins
posted by MCTDavid at 4:57 AM on September 16, 2007

Half of the songs on Warmer Corners by Melbourne band The Lucksmiths are about long-distance relationships eg: Now I'm Even Further Away; The Chapter In Your Life Entitled San Francisco; If You Lived Here,You'd Be Home Right Now.

And it also provides the rather cheery and hopeful song Hiccup In Your Happiness.

My two favourite relationship / hope whatever happens is for the best songs are God Only Knows by The Beach Boys and You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones.
posted by pipstar at 5:26 AM on September 16, 2007

Best answer: Some good suggestions that fit well with the "fond memories" and "future hopes" theme can be found in the Guardian's playlist of upbeat break-up songs. Louise by the Human League sounds particularly apt.
posted by flashboy at 5:29 AM on September 16, 2007

It doesn't get much more melancholy than For the Good Times by Ray Price -- covered by many. I particularly like Al Green's version.
posted by peace_love_hope at 5:29 AM on September 16, 2007

At the risk of being too Top 40, I happen to like the rather lo-fi acoustic sound of Hey There Delilah by the Plain White Tees.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 5:53 AM on September 16, 2007

Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills & Nash
St. Patrick's Day - John Mayer
We Just Disagree - Dave Mason
Wild Heart of the Young - Karla Bonoff
I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) - Joe Jackson
I Just Want To Stop - Gino Vannelli
Missed Opportunity - Hall & Oates
What A Fool Believes - The Doobie Brothers
Up Where We Belong - Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
posted by paulsc at 5:54 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here's one originally by The Magnetic Fields. However, by actually just playing as a folk/rock sort of song instead of the whole precious "let's play folk/country songs on our synths" that The Charm Of The Highway Strip was based on, Arcade Fire has a much more awesome version of "Born On A Train."

I've been making promises I know I'll never keep
One of these days I'm gonna leave you in your sleep
I have to go when the whistle blows
The whistle knows my name
Baby I was born on a train

It's not officially released, so if you're interested but have trouble immediately finding it post and I will e-mail it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:05 AM on September 16, 2007

Kris Delmhorst is your girl. Try "Too Late's Come and Gone," "Broken White Line," or "Arm's Length."

Peter Mulvey's "Out Here" also comes to mind.
posted by bassjump at 6:33 AM on September 16, 2007

4am by Richard Buckner (I think this one is perfect, I think)
Once - Buckner
Revelation Big Sur - Red House Painters
I would've said the Saturday Boy too, but clearly you've got that one.
posted by jdl at 6:44 AM on September 16, 2007

Late to the party, but I just have to recommend Boots of Spanish Leather by Bob Dylan.
posted by otolith at 6:46 AM on September 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: i wish that i could see you soon by herman dune
posted by noloveforned at 6:51 AM on September 16, 2007

Also, consider "Luv" by Travis - a lovely track about long-distance melancholy. Not only is it an excellent, fragile little heartbreaker about seperation, but it inspired the excellent anecdote that, when they played a demo version to Oasis while on tour, it made Oasis' guitarist Bonehead cry so much "he had to go and hide in a cupboard".
posted by flashboy at 6:53 AM on September 16, 2007

Here are a few (admittedly mainstream) possibilities:

"Tempted," Squeeze
"Waiting in Vain," Bob Marley
"Long and Winding Road," Beatles
"Rainy Night in Georgia," Brook Benton
"They Can't Take That Away from Me," Ella Fitzgerald
"Waiting for Charlie," Etta James
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:59 AM on September 16, 2007

Dollar Bill. Screaming Trees.
posted by repoman at 7:59 AM on September 16, 2007

"Home and Dry" by Pet Shop Boys.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:00 AM on September 16, 2007

"First Day Of My Life" by Bright Eyes
posted by kmtiszen at 8:08 AM on September 16, 2007

Just about everything from Cowboy Junkies fits your criteria.

They're some of the most talented musicians in existence, IMHO.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 8:28 AM on September 16, 2007

err, corrected link
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 8:29 AM on September 16, 2007

Colin Blunstone - Though You Are Far Away

And if you're going to use "Love Hurts," don't use Nazareth's. Go for a good version like those by The Everly Brothers (original) or Gram Parsons.
posted by rhizome at 8:53 AM on September 16, 2007

'Til Tuesday - "Coming Up Close"

and maybe a little bit...
Zero 7 - "Destiny"
posted by OneOliveShort at 8:59 AM on September 16, 2007

"The Promise" - Tracy Chapman - Specifically about holding a place in your heart for someone who is far away.
"Stations" - Denison Witmer - A song about traveling away from a loved one. There are two versions of this song floating around; the one with a peppy drum beat should be avoided.
"You Can Sleep While I Drive" - Melissa Etheridge - A song about doubting a lover's commitment and leaving. Also one of the saddest and most beautiful songs ever.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 9:28 AM on September 16, 2007

Tomorrow is a Long Time - Dylan
I'll Come Running - Brian Eno
Mandocello - Cheap Trick
Wichita Lineman - Dwight Yokum version
Lithium - Nirvana
and to reallly sell it
I've Been Loving You to Long To Stop Now - Otis Redding

Seconding Love Hurts - Gram Parsons (with Emmylou Harris in harmony)
Made it as a play list in itunes while thinking - can send it if you need it.
Good Luck!
posted by readery at 9:55 AM on September 16, 2007

For the "memories of amazing times together" I immediately thought of Indoor Fireworks by Elvis Costello. My favorite line:

You were the spice of life
The gin in my vermouth

But it might be a bit too much of a breakup song, too.
posted by cabingirl at 10:23 AM on September 16, 2007

In Thee - Blue Oyster Cult "I've wrapped myself in cities I've traveled, wrapped myself in dreams...but I wish I could wrap myself in thee"

Fleetwood Mac's songs are like... the history of Nicks and Buckingham's relationship woes, generally covering the last 3 of your criteria. "Monday Morning" and "Go Your Own Way" (commitment issues) are more well-known. "Love in Store" deals with hope for romance and is more upbeat, and sung by Christine McVie, is pretty and light. Also by McVie is "Wish You Were Here," and dealing with distance in relationship and past good memories is more bittersweet.

Obviously I am quite a fan... and I haven't even listed solo Nicks songs for you ;) (because these songs aren't so popular), but if you like this style, you can email me for more ideas.
posted by artifarce at 10:26 AM on September 16, 2007

Nick Cave has a bunch of these. "Black Hair" comes to mind.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:06 PM on September 16, 2007

In the old-school vein of memories, what about "America" by Simon and Garfunkel?
posted by mckenney at 2:10 PM on September 16, 2007

any brilliant melancholy lovesongs

(maybe with some distance in them)

Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight & The Pips
2000 Miles - Pretenders
By The Time I Get To Phoenix - Glen Campbell
Oh, Girl and Have You Seen Her - Chi-Lites
50 Ways to Leave your Lover - Paul Simon
Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight - James Taylor
So Far Away - Carole King
posted by pracowity at 7:10 AM on September 17, 2007

Oh! and Nickel Creek - "Tomorrow is a Long Time"

(In fact a great deal of the album "Why Should the Fire Die?")
posted by OneOliveShort at 3:31 PM on September 18, 2007

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