Sad people often listen to sad songs. Sometimes, they do so because these songs serve as a convenient distraction. Other times, they do so because these songs can help them process their feelings. Whatever your reason for doing so, you can choose from a wide range of songs to listen to when sad.
10. “Jar of Hearts” – Christina Perri
Christina Perri wrote “Jar of Hearts” during a tumultuous time in her life. She had moved to Los Angeles. There, Perri had gotten married before getting divorced just 18 months later. Then, she moved to Philadelphia before writing the song. “Jar of Hearts” is much like what one would expect based on those circumstances. It is a condemnation of an ex who wants to get back together. Simultaneously, it is a statement of strength in the face of said proposal.
9. “How to Disappear Completely” – Radiohead
“How to Disappear Completely” is named after a how-to guide on starting a new identity. However, its lyrics have nothing to do with that. Instead, the song was inspired by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s post-OK Computer experience. Said individual found that time so stressful that he suffered a mental breakdown. Some of the song’s lyrics came right from R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe’s advice to Yorke on how to cope.
8. “Lazarus” – David Bowie
“Lazarus” is the last single that David Bowie released in his lifetime. Under those circumstances, it makes sense that people would interpret it as a self-epitaph. Indeed, there is speculation that the name “Lazarus” is Bowie’s prediction that he would become more famous in death than in life. The lyrics are very open to interpretation, though an ambivalent attitude runs throughout them.
7. “Old Money” – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey is famous for her haunting vocals. Its lyrics are what make “Old Money” stand out. There is a strong sense of the passage of time in them. Despite that, it is clear that the viewpoint character’s feelings haven’t faded the slightest bit. At the same time, she isn’t sure whether the other person will feel the same.
6. “Lithium” – Evanescence
Speaking of which, Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee is another singer known for her powerful voice. “Lithium” is the second single from the band’s second studio album. Most people wouldn’t consider it to be Evanescence’s best song. Still, “Lithium” might be the most suitable for someone feeling sad because it is so good at expressing the crushing post-relationship loneliness.
5. “The Boxer” – Simon & Garfunkel
Most of “The Boxer” is a lament from the singer’s perspective. It describes his loneliness plus his sense of being ground down. Then, “The Boxer” concludes with a third-person observation of a boxer who is battered but unbroken. The combination makes it very tempting to interpret the song as a statement that the singer is far from being down and out despite his wear and tear. It seems safe to say that message resonates with people who feel exhausted by their experiences.
4. “The River” – Bruce Springsteen
People can be lonely even when they are in a relationship. After all, relationships can sour, so much so that something uplifting becomes a ball and chain bound to the participants’ ankles. Relationships should always end before reaching that point. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen in the real world because people can force themselves to stay together. “The River” is particularly brutal because it describes a dream of high school sweethearts turned into a nightmare by an unexpected pregnancy. It isn’t bad enough for the participants to wake up. Instead, they must watch themselves wither while the dream of what once was dangles just in view to prevent them from resigning themselves to the situation entirely.
3. “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” – Neil Young
There are countless songs about the pain of heartbreak. As such, it takes something special to stand out in that crowd. There can be no doubt about “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” being one of those songs. For proof, look no further than the existence of more than 20 covers by more than 20 artists.
2. “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor
A song doesn’t have to be versatile for it to be good. However, versatility can make it more interesting. Initially, “Nothing Compares 2 U” was just another heartbreak song. Prince penned it for his side project. There, it was nothing more than filler. Later, Sinead O’Connor turned it into an international hit, not least because she sang with such raw emotion. Famously, her music video showed her with tears rolling down her cheeks. Supposedly, those tears were caused by O’Connor thinking of her mother, who passed away just five years before the music video came out. “Nothing Compares 2 U” might be a heartbreak song. Even so, it is versatile enough to resonate with other people feeling other kinds of loss.
1. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash
“Hurt” is another example of a song with an overshadowed original. The Nine Inch Nails rendition had its merits. Still, most people would point to Johnny Cash’s cover as the superior version of the song. He brought a sense of gravity that Trent Reznor couldn’t match because he recorded it towards the end of his more than seven decades of life. Moreover, the music video accentuated this by being set in the House of Cash which had been closed for a few years. Combined, the song and the visuals can be overwhelming.