Whats the soundtrack to your pity party?
August 8, 2004 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Whats the soundtrack to your pity party? Every good masochist would rather hear depressing songs in their dark hours than be cheered up. What do you listen to when youre not quite here but you feel like you are?
posted by c to Grab Bag (59 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Fourth of July, Soundgarden
posted by shoos at 9:33 PM on August 8, 2004

Anything by Elliott Smith, Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emporer or The Cure works.
posted by amandaudoff at 9:39 PM on August 8, 2004

I second Elliott Smith.

Also: Closing Time and Mule Variations by Tom Waits
posted by scarabic at 9:42 PM on August 8, 2004

Joy Division - Anything from the "Still" album, especially "Isolation"

Billie Holiday
posted by caddis at 9:43 PM on August 8, 2004

Joy Division: Music to slash your wrists by.

I second the Cure too - particularly the albums "Faith" or "Pornography"

Finally, the song "Everything's Fucked" by the Dirty Three.
posted by Jimbob at 9:55 PM on August 8, 2004

Alanis Morissette's Under Rug Swept.
posted by Alylex at 9:58 PM on August 8, 2004

Also Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes.

(Side note: The music of The Dismemberment Plan convinced me to quit a job a few years back...not music for the financially vulnerable.)
posted by amandaudoff at 10:02 PM on August 8, 2004

Billie Holiday. Nothing like Lady Day singing the blues to put pain into perspective.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:30 PM on August 8, 2004

Black Tape for a Blue Girl.
posted by bobo123 at 10:35 PM on August 8, 2004

*Toward the Within by Dead Can Dance- even the stuff that is supposed to be happy isn't.
*Broken by Nine Inch Nails.
*Islands in the Sun by Weezer.
*...and this is sooooo cheezy, but the theme to Silent Hill 2. Yes, the theme to a video game that I never even played.
posted by oflinkey at 10:56 PM on August 8, 2004

I created a compilation for this express purpose. Other favorites include:

- "Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was"
- "Exit Music (for A Film)"
- "Climbing Up The Walls"
- "How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found"
- "Pyramid Song"

Counting Crows
- "Time and Time Again"
- "Raining in Baltimore"
- "Color Blind"
- "Speedway"
- "Chelsea"
posted by Danelope at 10:57 PM on August 8, 2004

"Gone" by Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo is an incredibly melancholy yet beautiful album that most people (even some Blue Rodeo fans!) have never heard of.

From the link:
"Greg started working on this album, which was recorded in the fall of 1996, at a time in his life when he was going through a series of changes.

First he found out he was adopted. Then he discovered his birth name, and eventually, his birth mother. Around the same time, he suffered a fall from a ladder that triggered the onset of diabetes.

With all these experiences, Keelor found he had something to say. And that he had to say it alone. "

The CD features Sarah McLachlan on a couple tracks and is, IMHO, the perfect album for any late night driving, especially if you're going through mountains and/or on a Greyhound bus. If pressed, I will often cite Gone as my favourite album of all-time.
posted by Jaybo at 11:02 PM on August 8, 2004

Response by poster: great stuff so far. i must be the queen of misery because ive listened to most of those! pyramid song is one of my top toaster-in-tub tunes.

more specific tracks would be good. which songs give you big knots in your stomach and tears in your eyes!

just thinking about these sad songs is making me happier@!
posted by c at 11:05 PM on August 8, 2004

The instrumental songs of Bowie's Low and Heroes are my go-to songs for this mood... although occasionally I've found them strangely uplifting, too. Ditto "Ashes to Ashes" from Scary Monsters. When I was an incredibly overdramatic (and clinically depressed) teenager, I always thought that would be a great song to commit suicide to. (Egads!)

- Sister Lovers/Third by Big Star is legendarily gut-wrenching.
- Chris Isaak is nice lamenting music for a rainy day, as is German cabaret music (Ute Lemper, Marlene Dietrich, etc.).
- Califone captures that weird Saturday night/Sunday morning moodiness of the black sky just starting to fade into grey after you've been up all night drinking whiskey.
- For that robotic alienated feel, there's no beating Gary Numan's first several records.
- Springsteen's The Ghost of Tom Joad and Nebraska are both sources of moody Americana.
- Willie Nelson is good on this score too -- Teatro most recently. God bless the Red-Headed Stranger!
- Tom Waits' Frank's Wild Years, esp. "Innocent When You Dream" and "Train Song."
- The song "Last To Know" by Neil Finn has been known to prompt me to pull over to the side of the road to cry my little eyes out, as have "Time Passes" and "With Time and Temperance" by Paul Weller, "Easy as Sayin' 1-2-3" by Timmy Willis, Otis Redding's version of "A Change is Gonna Come," and "Stick in the Mud" by the Jayhawks.
posted by scody at 11:13 PM on August 8, 2004

Sorry to monopolize the conversation but I just had to add a third-party comment from the section of the Blue Rodeo message board dedicated to Greg Keelor's "Gone" (I told you it was my favourite album of all-time):

"I think this album is a masterpiece. When I first bought it just after it was released in '97 (Was it really that long ago?? Time for another solo, Greg!) it took a few plays before I warmed up to it. It's not the sort of CD you can't play as background music at a party, when friends come over or when you're busy around the house and that's where I made my mistake. Gone is a solo album in every sense of the word, not just because it was made by one very talented man but also because it's best when you listen to it alone with no distractions.

The whole CD is like one song to me. Each song flows into the next as though the songs were meant to be together. To sit down and listen to the whole album is almost a meditation. There's a definate *spiritualness* to the experience that I suppose is personal to the individual listener. I don't think anybody who has really listened to this album comes away unmoved or unchanged."

(Have I convinced you to track down a copy of this album yet?)
posted by Jaybo at 11:18 PM on August 8, 2004

And oh yeah: Magnetic Fields, baby! So personally evocative of my great lost love that I haven't been able to listen to 69 Love Songs in more than a year. I look forward to the day when I can sit down with a box of kleenex and happily cry my way through the whole thing.
posted by scody at 11:20 PM on August 8, 2004

Disintegration - The Cure (particularly the songs "The Same Deep Water As You" and "Prayers for Rain"

Anything, and I mean anything, by Joy Division.

"Gloomy Sunday" by Billie Holiday.

"Blue Valentines" and the entirety of "Alice" by Tom Waits

The entire record "Geek the Girl" by Lisa Germano

"Roads" by Portishead. This is probably the saddest fucking song I've ever heard in my life.

"Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" by the Smiths.
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 11:23 PM on August 8, 2004

If I'm feeling mopey, Low and My Bloody Valentine, chased with Henryk Gorecki's Symphony #3, Opus 36 is a good way to accompany drinking until passing out.

If it's one of those angry, suicidally depressed times, Skinny Puppy, Dive and Wumpscut.

Actually, this sounds like a good mix CD idea.
posted by cmonkey at 11:23 PM on August 8, 2004

That one Ben Harper song "Walk Away" (over and over again).
or Jeff Buckly's Grace. Specifically "Lover, You Should`ve Come Over" and "Last Goodbye"

Feeling miserable?
Morrissey. No one does it better (love the new album too). Or Joy Division (but they tend to put me in that "dark place" so I only go there once in a while, or I go to Joy Division lite - ie Interpol).

Krishna Das - (the first disc of "Live on Earth") who sings invocations and Sanskrit prayers recorded with classical western and Indian instruments. When I get bummed out, this tends to me my remedy (mp3 sample), though let it be said that the harmonium is the most depressing instrument ever created.

I will say the Dismemberment Plan - specifically the album Change (MP3's Face of the Earth ; Time Bomb) and the song "The City" (MP3) from Emergency and I which is so beautiful.

Lately, it has been Joanna Newsom's album The Milk Eyed Mender, which has this weird power over me, especially "Sadie" (stream). If you can make it past the first line, the rest of the song is so amazing.

And lastly, I will say The Promise Ring's last album Wood/Water. I get really tired of defending my devotion to this band from all the hipsters I know, but I really, truely believe that this is one of the best albums of the last four years. (MP3's - Get on The Floor ; Say Goodbye Good )
posted by Quartermass at 11:38 PM on August 8, 2004

I second 69 love songs by the magnetic fields. Particularly disc 2. "Mess" by Ben Folds Five. God that song makes me sad just thinking about it. The album "The Final Cut" by Pink Floyd. "Weezer (The blue album)". Bjork (Usually the album "Post"). Dar Williams (the songs "Spring Street" for example from This Green World). XTC's Apple Venus Volume 2 (Wasp Star). The Blade Runner soundtrack. Smashing Pumpkins (Siamese Dream, Gish). And Also THe Trees. Nick Drake.

By the way, I have a friend who's struggled with depression. Like me, he's drawn to music that makes him sad. He felt it was fueling his problems so he's turned to music that he also loves, but that fills him with joy. Like, Reggae, Ska, various other music he likes that does not make him sad. It's just a thought. In this vein, for me, some good stuff is: The Sugarcubes, Tahiti 80, XTC's Apple Venus Volume 1 (go figure). Eva Cassidy. They Might Be Giants.
posted by RustyBrooks at 11:39 PM on August 8, 2004

Also Concrete Blonde's exquisite "Bloodletting" album, and Neko Case's beautiful, tortuous torch song "Furnace Room Lullaby" which is good for putting on repeat and spending the next few hours in the company of a bottle and your thoughts.

Nina Simone is excellent, too. "Ne Me Quitte Pas" will do...even though it's in French, you can still identify with the heartbroken way in which she sings.

I could do this all night, and actually have several mix CDs full of these types of songs, but I'll leave it at that =)
posted by ScarletSpectrum at 11:45 PM on August 8, 2004

MP3s: This, this, this, this (sl), this, this (sl), this, this, this, this, this, this (sl), this, this, this, this, this (video), this (sl), this, and sometimes these (self links on "these"; sl=self links of mp3s I host with permission from the artists).
posted by dobbs at 11:58 PM on August 8, 2004

Response by poster: for the record here are some of my killyourself songs:

pyramid song - radiohead
pick up the phone - the notwist
oh comely - neutral milk hotel
obstacle 1 - interpol
speed on the m9 - malcom middledon
avenues - whiskeytown
he turns down - cat power
lonely days - future bible heroes

etc etc. those are pretty much standards though. need more!

and, rustybrooks: ive found the perfect mix of the sucidal and the upbeat in the russian futurists who manage to make the most uplifting sounding songs out of the most hopelessly realistic lyrics. i think at least.
posted by c at 12:00 AM on August 9, 2004

Oh, and quite a few Tiger Lillies songs are great moping music.
posted by cmonkey at 12:16 AM on August 9, 2004

Rilo Kiley- The song 'Better Son / Daughter' kills me.

and sometimes when you're on you're really fucking on
and your friends they sing along and they love you
but the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap
and it teases you for weeks in its absence

Bright Eyes - 'Kathy With a K's Song' in in that rip my heart out and stomp on it group.

Magnetic Fields - 'Grand Canyon' is all you need.
posted by amandaudoff at 12:46 AM on August 9, 2004

Poems - Tricky
Delicate Cutters - Throwing Muses
Rabbit in Your Headlights - UNKLE
posted by shoos at 1:07 AM on August 9, 2004

Nick Drake - "Pink Moon" (plus the songs he recorded after that which ended up on the oddments album "Time of No Return")

Pete Namlook and Dr Atmo - "Omid/Hope" from "Silence" - a drone with a soothing voice saying "you are rain". Weirdly, frantically upsetting for some reason.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:06 AM on August 9, 2004

Almost every record by American Music Club and/or Mark Eitzel. Also "World Without End" by the Mighty Lemon Drops, select Scott Walker tracks and Low.
posted by black8 at 3:55 AM on August 9, 2004

At around the time that Pretty Hate Machine came out, both myself and a close friend underwent seperations and divorces from our wives. That album is a good (?) blend of male self-pity, anger, longing, despair, with a fair amount of teenage male style brooding angry self-involvment—just the thing for late 20s divorcing males in the early 90s. We both found we listened to it a lot. We'd occasionally get together, drink tequila, and go for long, random car rides with the stereo turned up really loud.

Ah, good times.

Well, no. Actually, that was the worst time in my life. Sometimes the music helped, though. Until my utilities were shut off and there was no power and thus, no music. Just a lot of silence.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:23 AM on August 9, 2004

Joy Division, Smiths, Cure, Radiohead as have been mentioned a few times. Also:

Red House Painters, especially the first 3 albums

Bay (Scottish band, sound very similar to RHP. I managed to play the line 'Why did you pick him over me' while driving past my soon-to-be-ex-wife's new boyfriends house. How's that for timing!)

Stina Nordenstam - pretty much anything, but especially 'So this is goodbye'

Disco Inferno ('In Debt' especially but the later sampler driven stuff works in places too)
posted by etc at 4:27 AM on August 9, 2004

Patsy Kline

I like her because when I'm feeling down in the dumps I put on her music and realize that, dag, there is no way I feel as bad as she does.
posted by Dagobert at 4:48 AM on August 9, 2004

I second American Music Club - The Confidential Agent is a subtle killer. Also everything from Lori Carson, particularly the whole of "Where It Goes".
posted by vers at 5:03 AM on August 9, 2004

Kid A / Amnesiac - all of them
Fiona Apple - Tidal

Moby - Porcelain
Air - Ce Matin La
Jeff Buckley's cover of Lilac Wine
posted by pieoverdone at 5:06 AM on August 9, 2004

To Wish Impossible Things--Cure
posted by amberglow at 5:12 AM on August 9, 2004

Joy Division, Smiths, Cure, Graham Parsons, Bauhaus, The Misfits, Red House Painters. Lately it's been more of the Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine type stuff, though really the first bands were all good music when I was depressed more often [back in college] and had more free time to mope. Now when I'm low I'm more likely to put on anti-depressed music like They Might be Giants, The Go-Gos, or the Pixies.
posted by jessamyn at 5:35 AM on August 9, 2004

Sun Kil Moon - "Carry Me Ohio"
posted by damnitkage at 5:57 AM on August 9, 2004

Patsy Cline and Tom Waits and Billie Holiday.

Oh and Etta James!
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:59 AM on August 9, 2004

Preacher Boy is a good bet. His latest is accoustic, but if you can get some of his other stuff (esp. "Postcards and Ashtrays" off of Crow), you'll be drinking in neo-Waitsian bliss.

Or you could save the pity until October when the new Tom Waits comes out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:07 AM on August 9, 2004

What, nobody's mentioned Hayden yet? Not all of his stuff is melancholy, but "Street Car", "Hardly", and "Nights Like These" are three of the saddest songs I know. Perfect stuff for when you feel abandoned & ignored by the world.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:16 AM on August 9, 2004

Slint's "Spiderland" and most Three Mile Pilot usually does the trick for me.
And Modest Mouse's 'Bankrupt on Selling'.
posted by saladin at 6:35 AM on August 9, 2004

in my college days, it was allman brothers (whipping post) and layla; unrequited love is the worst
posted by whatsupdoc at 7:00 AM on August 9, 2004

The Replacements' "Here Comes a Regular" is absolutely murderous. I can't even listen to it.
posted by furiousthought at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2004

One of my favorites is The Pernice Brothers Overcome by Happiness: an overlooked album of melancholy, beautiful pop music that is perfect for all of your wallowing needs.
posted by varmint at 7:20 AM on August 9, 2004

Almost anything by Elliott Smith (as others have said). It's a Motherfucker by The Eels. Gary Jules' cover (from the Donnie Darko soundtrack) of Mad World by Tears for Fears. Behind Blue Eyes by The Who. Any slow-ish and quiet Belle and Sebastian songs.
posted by thebabelfish at 7:20 AM on August 9, 2004

So, what, you're all too cool to mention Dashboard Confessional's "Swiss Army Romance" album? Is that it? You won't stoop to that level?

Here is a list of tracks on the CD which are pretty depressing:

Screaming Infidelities
Sharp Hint of New Tears
Living in Your Letters
Swiss Army Romance
Turpentine Chaser
Plain Morning
Age Six Racer
Again I Go Unnoticed
Ender Will Save Us All
Shirts and Gloves
posted by lotsofno at 7:29 AM on August 9, 2004

Another, dark, moody and involving work: Mozart's Requiem, especially the version recorded by Sir Neville Mariner. Like Billie Holiday or Patsy Cline you can crawl inside of this and get cozy with your melancholia.
posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on August 9, 2004

Forever Blue (the whole album) by Chris Isaak.
posted by rushmc at 7:38 AM on August 9, 2004

Jeebus, what the hell is with you all of you modern-day hipsters? Thank goodness a few of you have mentioned Billie Holliday.

But for plumbing the true depths of loneliness and despair, there is only one: "One For My Baby" by Frank Sinatra, from the Only The Lonely album. The opening piano notes just completely rip your heart out.

It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place
Except you and me
So set 'em' up Joe, I got a little story
I think you should know

We're drinking my friend, to the end
Of a brief episode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

I know the routine, put another nickel
In the machine
I feel kind of bad, can't you make the music
Easy and sad

I could tell you a lot, but it's not
In a gentleman's code
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

You'd never know it, but buddy I'm a kind of poet
And I've got a lot of things I'd like to say
And if I'm gloomy, please listen to me
Till it's talked away

Well that's how it goes, and Joe I know you're gettin'
Anxious to close
Thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn't mind
My bending your ear

But this torch that I found, It's gotta be drowned
Or it's gonna explode
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

posted by davidmsc at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2004

hm. since a lot of my favorites have already been mentioned, maybe I'll go for different shades of glum.

moody: "Hips and Makers" by Kristen Hersh, the whole thing

pissy: Bob Mould's self-titled album, particularly "thumbtack" "anymore time between" and "the next time that you leave"
posted by whatnot at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2004

I'm offended nobody has mentioned the tracks "High Water" and "Steal The Crumbs" off Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne.
posted by keswick at 8:47 AM on August 9, 2004

"This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush is the ultimate in misery. It makes me cry even when I'm in a good mood.

I second both the Red House Painters and the Pernice Brothers.

And for some reason, a lot of the old classic Christmas songs make me all teary (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, etc...).
posted by MsVader at 10:06 AM on August 9, 2004

Harry's Circumcision - Lou Reed

And one that really hurts:

Philadelphia - Neil Young
posted by Steve Simpson at 10:15 AM on August 9, 2004

I've got a mix tape made up that's labelled "Music to Feel Sorry for Yourself By." It includes:

I hate these songs--Dale Watson
Statue of Jesus--The Gear Daddies
Old Violin--Johnny Paycheck
What am I gonna do (with the rest of my life)--Merle Haggard
Emily--Los Lobos
Gonna change--The Gear Daddies
Papa was a rodeo--The Magnetic Fields
Wagon of Clay--Cheri Knight
Farewell the Roses--Steve James
This much I know--Dwight Yoakam
It won't hurt--Dwight Yoakam
Heartaches of a fool--Willie Nelson
22--Richard Buckner
Firefighter--Chris Whitley

I feel worse just looking over the track listing. It also appears that I'm the only country music fan here, but I'm comfortable with that.
posted by stet at 10:40 AM on August 9, 2004

I am shocked and dismayed that no one has mentioned the king of "might as well shoot myself and get it over with", Leonard Cohen.

I'll second/third etc. Nick Drake and Morrissey (I eschew pancakes and pike for the chorus of Every Day Is Like Sunday when a MeFi thread is about to go horribly off track).

Oh, yeah, Beth Orton (songs like This One's Gonna Bruise and Mount Washington are suitable for extended pity).
posted by m@ at 10:41 AM on August 9, 2004

Paradise, Philadelphia, Secret Garden -- Bruce Springsteen

Ravel's Bolero

Born to Lose -- Ray Charles

Auschwitz/Birkenau from Schindler's List (the part at the end with the cello almost moaning makes me look for windows to jump out of)

Trinity Sessions -- Cowboy Junkies

Almost anything by Leonard Cohen when the depression is pretentious (you beat me to it, m@), almost anything by John Prine when it's not
posted by joaquim at 10:50 AM on August 9, 2004

Joy Division will depress you -- not because the songs are sad, but because you just spent ten dollars on the worst music you've ever heard. Stay away.
posted by punishinglemur at 12:22 PM on August 9, 2004

Yeah, I've been amazed that most of the songs I think of when I'm depressed and want to grind it in a little more haven't been mentioned (what may be stranger is that I know a lot of the songs that have been listed don't really depress me at all).

"Here Comes a Regular" is the only one I would include that I listen to (but alcohol usually plays a big factor in any depressive streak I'm feeling). I think "Answering Machine" is great for that too, in a different way.

Nick Drake sometimes. Leonard Cohen, especially "Last Year's Man". Johnny Cash's "Hurt." R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts", a huge cliche but one that's still emotionally resonant. Bob Dylan - "If You See Her, Say Hello". Wilco - "At My Window Sad and Lonely" (it's on one of the Mermaid Avenue albums). Lyle Lovett - "I Can't Love You Anymore". Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "I See a Darkness".

There are more but I can't think of them.
posted by nath at 2:23 PM on August 9, 2004

Anything by the Boulevard of Broken Dreams is excellent for this, too.
posted by rushmc at 7:32 PM on August 9, 2004

Only two passing Bright Eyes mentions so far???!!

Bright Eyes is the down music for me. A Perfect Sonnet, Arienette, Something Vague, and many others are stunningly beautiful and gut-wrenching.
posted by azazello at 11:06 AM on August 11, 2004

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