Do you smell that? It smells weird. Like, it smells like some weird combination of roses, cheap chocolate, and the tears of the broken. And I definitely know that last smell pretty well. Yes, it’s the smell of Valentine’s Day. Love is floating through the air along with the broken hearts of millions. It is truly a wonderful and horrible time of the year.
But that’s the problem I face. I could do a bunch of love songs and be really blatant about the Valentine’s Day cliches, but yet I would be ignoring the broken masses. Yet I’m also not edgy enough to not include any love songs. So, for these tunes, the songs will be divided into two sections: Love Songs and Sad Single Person Songs. Now, without further ado, let’s begin the tunes.
All I Need – The Frights
To start these tunes off, I have to be a little edgy. I know, I know, it really is expected for me to do so, but what can I say? A garage/punk rock love song is quite literally the perfect kind of love song for me.
“All I Need” is the lead track off of The Frights’s sophomore album “You Are Going To Hate This.” The song tells of a guy who wants to yell his heart out for this girl, for she is his baby, and that is all he needs. This is paralleled by very energetic verse sections followed by very mellow and relaxed choruses, creating a rollercoaster of both pure adrenaline and heartfelt love.
Something – The Beatles
Now that I’ve gotten my edge out of the way, I think it is time for things to get a little more heartfelt and sweet. And what could be sweeter than a band that has written songs about such controversial topics such as hand-holding and reminiscing about the past? Such topics are so controversial that even I wouldn’t dare write about them, yet these four brave mop-headed souls did.
“Something” is the second track off of The Beatles’s “Abbey Road,” and despite my introduction to the song, has nothing to do with hand holding nor reminiscing. It’s about how much George Harrison loves this one girl, and is accompanied by one of the most heartwarming and tender rock instrumentals of all time. This song can remind anyone of how good love is, while also warming the coldest of hearts.
Do You Realize? – The Flaming Lips
Now that we’ve covered our bases, let me crank up the psychedelia just a bit. Because hey, sometimes love feels like some cosmic coincidence that can make you feel like your mind and heart are connected as one singular soul. And that’s like, totally mind blowing man.
“Do You Realize?” is one of the singles off of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” the seminal concept album from psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips. The song tells of what it feels like when you realize you are just a small speck of dust floating through the universe, and how it makes you want to tell your loved ones just how much you love them. It’s backed up with a very upbeat and joyous instrumentation, which is impossible not to smile and bob your head to. For a song tackling such existential themes, it stands as both a great love song and a relaxing fun jam.
Someday – The Strokes
To be honest, love is difficult. Sometimes you end up loving a person that just isn’t right for you and you both suffer for it. But you end up looking back on those times as good because even though there were so many problems, the good parts were some of the best moments of your life. And that’s what is troubling but also beautiful about love. Even if things don’t go great, you’ll still have good memories to look back upon. This next song captures that feeling perfectly.
“Someday” is a single off of The Strokes’ debut album “Is This It?”. In it, we see lead singer Julian Casablancas reminiscing about a relationship gone sour but also recognizing the great moments in the said relationship. He is backed up by an upbeat and fun instrumental that just makes you feel good. This is a song that reminds you that even in the rough, you can find a couple diamonds.
Heroes – David Bowie
Now, for the end of this section of the playlist, I realized there was only one song that I could choose. Why? Simple. In my opinion, it is the greatest love song of all time.
“Heroes” is the title track off of David Bowie’s album “Heroes.” The track tells the story two lovers on either side of the Berlin Wall, calling out for each other. With the amazing guitar work of Robert Fripp backing Bowie’s voice, which changes from soft-spoken and gentle to impassioned screaming, the song truly feels like one of the great love stories. Walls nor governments could keep the two of them apart, and you feel that in ever lyric Bowie spits out.
All right. Enough of this love stuff. Crack open a fresh pint of Ben and Jerry’s, because it is Sad Single Person hours my guys.
Sad Single Person Songs:
Tangled Up In Blue – Bob Dylan
Let’s start off by easing into the sadness. It would be unfair to slap you right in the face with a real tearjerker right off the bat. It’s still going to be sad, of course. Just not immediately heartbreaking.
“Tangled Up In Blue” is the lead track off of Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks.” This was Dylan’s break up album, as he wrote and recorded this while experiencing marital tensions with his then-wife Sarah. The song features poetic lyrics about how Dylan’s partner doesn’t think he’s good enough for him, which leaves him in feeling trapped in a web of sadness. This is one of Dylan’s most personal songs and is also one of his most relatable too.
Since I’ve Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin
Usually, when we think of sad songs we think of slow, acoustic jams with personal lyrics about life and other things. But sometimes, sad songs can be pretty surprising. Like instead of an acoustic ballad, a sad song could be a 7-minute blues jam with epic guitar solos and giant choruses.
“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is the fourth song on Led Zeppelin’s “Led Zeppelin 3.” The song begins with one of Jimmy Page’s greatest licks and somehow continues to provide some of his best guitar work. Robert Plant sings of how being in love with this woman is making him lose his mind, and sings it with probably his most passion to date. It is an incredibly heartbreaking song and stands as my favorite Led Zeppelin tune.
Nude – Radiohead
This by far is not the saddest song by this band. Yet that isn’t saying much as most of their discography deals with heartbreak, existential anxiety, and general insanity. But the absolute sense of emotional atmosphere that this song gives me is like no other song they’ve made. It leaves me speechless every time I listen to it.
“Nude” is the third track off of Radiohead’s 2007 album “In Rainbows.” It begins with sweeping orchestral movements that carry you off of your feet then immediately drop you when they cut out and you are left alone with the bass guitar. Thom Yorke sings of giving yourself to high of expectations and disappointing yourself in his trademark falsetto. It is such beautiful and heartbreaking songs: a perfect summary of my favorite Radiohead album.
Oh Comely – Neutral Milk Hotel
Alright, guys and gals. If you didn’t bust out the tissues by now, you best be reaching for them. Because this is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard.
“Oh Comely” is the track that begins side two of Neutral Milk Hotel’s masterpiece “In the Aeroplane over the Sea.” The song tells of a little girl walking in on her dad cheating on her mother. Jeff Mangum’s powerful and broken voice convey every bit of pain and betrayal that girl fells in that moment, and in turn, you feel those same feels. It’s dark, harrowing, and everything that makes “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” all at once, creating one phenomenal track.
Casimir Pulaski Day – Sufjan Stevens
Remember how I said the last song was one of the saddest songs I’ve heard? Well, it used to be the saddest song I had ever heard. Then I listened to this song and well, it shot straight to number one.
“Casimir Pulaski Day” is the tenth song on Sufjan Steven’s masterpiece “Illinois.” It tells the story of a little Sufjan as he deals with the loss of his childhood love to cancer on March 1, aka Casimir Pulaski Day. The lyrics detail Steven’s pain as he talks about all the fun times he had with her and questions his faith in God after he took his love from him. It is emotional, deep, and an example of some of the greatest songwriter of the 21st century. There may be no better Sufjan Steven song, and also no better song to cry to.