(When I recently refreshed this post, originally made in 2009 and updated in 2014, a friend asked me to make it a podcast. So now, as I move it over to JohnHenry.US, I’m going to do that as the first episode of my new “John Henry: Creative” podcast. We’ll talk about these songs and much more on Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 at 8pm EST either at the JohnHenry.US LiveStream page, or on my YouTube channel, I’ll heavily advertise it before the event so you have the link and afterward it will be available here as a podcast and this message will be gone.)
A friend of mine and I were discussing sad songs, music that doesn’t just tug at the heartstrings but grabs them by the fistful and rips them out of your chest, leaving you feeling drained and contemplative and sad. After some discussion, I ended up with a list of nine of the saddest and most powerful songs I could think of. Here are a few tracks that I really, REALLY love, in no particular order. Fair warning: if you’re prone to depression, you might want to wait to listen to all these if you’re not feeling well.
9. Susan Enan – Bring On The Wonder
This apparently enjoyed a brief bit of popularity when it was used as background/theme music in an episode of the TV show “Bones.” In researching a bit for this article, I notice it’s also been recorded in a version by Sarah MacLaughlin, and I honestly don’t know the provenance of the tune.
I do know, however, that it’s unquestionably a beautiful and moving piece of music, and like all of these songs in this article it’s deeply melancholy and speaks of the grief of realizing you’ve failed to appreciate beauty when it was surrounding you, of loss and regret. Enan’s version is fairly uncomplicated in a musical sense, but a really gorgeous mood/vibe that will touch your soul. The particular version I’ve embedded manages to bring a grittier and more authentic quiet passion to the work, a sort of stark mourning that is, in my opinion, somewhat obscured in the more produced popular release A short few minutes of work that will resonate with you for years.
As a sort of fun side-note, as I was writing this article I found another video of Susan performing this acoustically and got a bit inspired…and ended up writing an arrangement played “naturally” (without a capo) that’s more suited to a deep male voice a’la Leonard Cohen or Roger Waters. If I can get comfortable with the arrangement and rehearse it a bit, I might try to make a version of my own and see how people like it, just for the heck of it. It really is a beautiful piece, and with nothing but acoustic guitar and voice I should be able to pull a reasonably decent recording of it right here at my desk.
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