(Sad Songs & Waltzes is a recurring feature on Muzzle of Bees, where artists share their favorite sad songs. Previous contributors include Megafaun, Delta Spirit, Damien Jurado, Sharon Van Etten, Over The Rhine, Conrad Plymouth, Frontier Ruckus, Strand of Oaks, and Roadside Graves.)
Not long ago The Black Swans came through Milwaukee for a show at Linnemans. I spent a good amount of time chatting with Jerry DeCicca over coffee in my kitchen the following morning on a variety of topics. If they didn’t have another city and gig to get to I’m sure we would have talked all through that day. Good times. The Black Swans will release Don’t Blame the Stars on May 31st via Misra Records. Jerry was kind enough to send through some of his favorite sad songs below.
By Jerry DeCicca
There’s few songs, it seems to me, outside of “Old Shep,” that I like that I’d want to slap the sad tag on. Most good songs have more depth, more gray, than that one emotion and label. Then, there’s the ones who’s sadness is all art and punches you in the stomach and leaves you exhausted. Here’s some of those.
Iris Dement – “Easy’s Getting Harder Everyday” (Listen)
Making coffee’s a drag, flowers die, her husband falls asleep after sex and she doesn’t care because they have nothing to talk about. Lots of deep depression here. No hope outside the sound of her voice.
Paul Siebel – “Louise” (Listen)
Not much could be sadder than a song about a dead prostitute who everyone slept with but nobody loved.
Elmore James – “It Hurts Me Too” (Listen)
100s of versions of this song, but this is my favorite. Sadness in empathy, lack of control.
Richard Buckner – “Surprise, AZ” (Listen)
A one-sided conversation, son speaking to mother, from inside their caskets about his girlfriend and his father leaving them. Few words and a lot of mystery.
Larry Jon Wilson – “Bertrand My Son” (Listen)
About wishing his son happiness and health because he can’t play with the other children since he was born with a disability. Gut wrenching.
John Prine – “Sam Stone” (Listen)
This is how war can kill you after you return home.
Carole King – “It’s Too Late” (Listen)
Any song that begins with being so sad that you can’t get out of bed is alright with me. “Still I’m glad for what we had/ And how I once loved you”. All good people love Tapestry.
Dwight Yoakam – “Two Doors Down” (Listen)
One of the saddest song ever. A pathetic and broken man. There should be a statue of Dwight here in Columbus, Ohio, his hometown.