14 brutally sad – yet fantastic- songs for Valentine’s Day

Charles M. Schulz got it right with this 1967 gem of a book which, thanks to a yard sale a couple of years ago, I am the proud owner of. It’s true. Happiness IS a sad freakin’ song, especially one that is well written and sung with just the right amount of desperation and sincerity.

happiness-is-a-sad-song-book

I don’t mean songs like Erin Carmen’s “All By Myself” (with all due respect). I’m talking about ones a bit off the mainstream path that pack way more of an emotional punch for this gal.

So in honor or the 14th of February, let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with this collection of 14 brutally sad yet outstanding songs about love, the human heart and the various forms of related suffering.

Ready? Set? Heartbreak!

ONE: “1000 Oceans” by Tori Amos. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. But my oh my.

TWO: “Somebody” by Depeche Mode. For no other reason than the longing in Martin Gore’s voice. This song has been making me feel all the things for decades.

THREE: “I Know It’s Over” by The Smiths. Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I don’t think this one needs an explanation. And let’s be honest, this entire post could be ALL Smiths songs. God I love them. Oh well…enough said.

FOUR: “The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. This song slays me. It’s not specifically “sad” but just so overwhelmingly powerful and emotional. Frankie say tears! p.s. listen to the song with your eyes closed. The video’s kinda nutty. “Love is like an energy…rushing inside of me”

FIVE: “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice. There is literally nothing I can say about this. Nothing.

SIX: “Never Be Mine” by Kate Bush. She’s a goddess. This song’s insane. Meaning perfect.

SEVEN: “This Year’s Love” by David Gray. Because “when you kiss me on that midnight street, sweep me off my feet” is one of the greatest lines ever written. Oh and the entire song will rip your heart out.

EIGHT: “A Soft Place to Land” by Kathleen Edwards. Kathleen Edwards is one of my reasons for living. This song. The violin, the words. All of it. Take a whole lot of deep breaths before listening to this extra amazing live version.

NINE: “You Left It Up To Me” by Indigo Girls. Achingly sad and therefore I love it  And the harmonies are really great.

TEN: “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance” by Sinead O’Connor. This one will rip you apart at the seams but will also remind you of HOW SPECTACULAR Sinead is.Extra great live version for added Sinead bliss.

ELEVEN: “That Wasn’t Me” by Brandi Carlile. If you know it then you probably already love it and if it’s your first time hearing it then get ready to have the wind knocked out of you.

TWELVE: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. Excruciating. But I’ve also heard it entirely too many times so it doesn’t kill me nearly as much as it used to.

THIRTEEN: “Crying” by KD Lang. I know, I know. It’s a Roy Orbison classic. But this one kills me more than even Roy’s version. Just listen. Especially when Lang’s vocals really get going.

FOURTEEN: “Monoply” by Shawn Colvin. I love every single song on her “Fat City”album and this one is devastating. Every single second of it. Sheer perfection.

New love for seven old songs via incredible covers

While I’m typically all about original music, I also have a special place in my heart for certain covers. Especially ones that make me fall in love with the song in a way that didn’t happen when I heard the original version however many years ago.  Or maybe I’ve heard the original one too many times. That said, I tip my hat to the artists that created these songs in the first place. Here’s seven times that a cover knocked my socks off in a huge way.

SONG: Enter Sandman

ORIGINAL ARTIST: Metallica from their 1991 self-titled album. This was of course a huge hit for them and I remember the video from MTV days. But it wasn’t until I heard this new version, recorded in 2016 that I came to appreciate it.

COVER VERSION: SHEL recorded the song on their 2016 “Just Crazy Enough” album. They’ve taken a metal song and made it into something you’d hear in say a Tim Burton film or in a dream. They’ve made it into something other-worldly. SHEL is four sisters  (Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza) and they’re all insanely talented musicians and I adore pretty much everything they do, including their take on Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore”  but we’ll go with this one for now. Hit play and get ready.

 

SONG: Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)

ORIGINAL ARTIST: Phil Collins. Theme song for the film “Against All Odds” which is actually a great  80s film with Jeff Bridges, James Woods and the red hot Rachel Ward. I’ve sung along to the Collins version more times than I care to admit and yeah, it’s a fairly epic love ballad. But I’ve always thought there was a bit of a cheese factor.

COVER VERSION: The Postal Service. They’re a Seattle-based indie-band and I’ve been meaning to take a deeper dive into their music for many years. It’s on my ever-growing list. We all have those lists. Anyway…they recorded “Against All Odds” in 2004 and its on the soundtrack to “Wicker Park,” a film I really love that you should see at some point. Their version kills me. In a good way.

 

SONG: Eye in the Sky

ORIGINAL ARTIST: The Alan Parsons Project (I simply cannot hear that band name without immediately thinking of Austin Powers. Right?)  The song is the title track of their 1982 album of the same name and it tore up the charts. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this song, it just doesn’t “move” me in a way I like to be moved. Though there’s a certain moodiness to it that I can appreciate for sure.

COVER VERSION: Jonatha Brooke. For real, JB is one of my absolute favorite singer-songwriters. She can do no wrong and you should check out her original stuff. She recorded “Eye in the Sky” for her 2004 album “Back in the Circus.”  Her version pulls at my heart strings in a way the original doesn’t. There’s something about her voice that makes me, as the saying goes, feel all the things.

 

SONG: It Must Have Been Love

ARTIST: Roxette. This dramatic love  song is of course best known for its inclusion on the “Pretty Woman” soundtrack back in 1990. I won’t trash talk the song because that’s not how I roll and also, I very much appreciate that -as I said above- if we didn’t have the original, there could be no cool cover for me to flip my lid over.

COVER VERSION: Kathleen Edwards. Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards is one of my reasons for living. Her catalog, at the moment, consists of four perfect studio albums and a few odds and ends, including her rendition of It Must Have Been Love. Her version, recorded in 2013, is devastating and gorgeous and bit edgy.

 

SONG: I Melt With You

ARTIST: Modern English, recorded in 1982 for their “After the Snow” album. Though I came to appreciate it around the time of the 80s classic film “Valley Girl.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with this song. I’ll always love it. I just grew weary of it. It sometimes happens.  So when I came across this cover, I was able to wrap my arms around the song all over again.

COVER VERSION: Nouvelle Vague. They’re a French cover band and I could write half of this post about their work. Dive in when you get a chance and thank me later. Their “I Melt With You” is from their 2004 debut record. Every track on that thing kills me. especially this one.

 

SONG: Rich Girl

ARTIST: Hall & Oates. I have nothing negative to say about Hall & Oates because they’re freakin’ Hall & Oates. The fellas recorded “Rich Girl” in 1977 for their “Bigger Than Both of Us.” And who doesn’t love their “Rich Girl?” But I’ve heard it twelve billion times and was ready for it to get a new lease on life.

COVER VERSION: The Bird and the Bee. They’re a California duo and”Rich Girl” is from their 2010 tribute album “Interpreting the Masters Volume I: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. It’s dynamite.

 

SONG: Shut it Down

ARTIST: Drake. Canadian rapper superstar. Mega famous. Yet I know very little of his work and will even admit I didn’t know this song until I heard the cover. I’m lame. I’m sorry. Anyway….Drake recorded “Shut it Down” in 2010 for his debut album “Thank Me Later”

COVER VERSION: Sarah Jaffe. She’s a singer-songwriter out of Texas and I just about lost my mind when I heard her take on this song. I wrote about Jaffe a few years ago when she came to Portland.