Sad Bastard Songs

I had a post written for this week. I made kind of a split decision Monday, and I wrote it Monday afternoon. But then I turned on the news. I’m writing this Tuesday night.

Really, the idea of this post was taken from longtime friend and fellow blogger Jarrod Nelson. You can find a link to some of his stuff if you scroll through my Twitter feed; the kid is pretty talented. This week, Jarrod had something to say, and when Jarrod has something to say, he says it. This week’s post (which he posted tonight, though his weekly date is also Wednesday), was entitled “Pagliacci.” I encourage you to go read it.

I usually avoid the bandwagon when it comes to news like this. When Michael Jackson died (talented musician though he was), everyone seemed to forget what a weirdo he was. Suddenly he was an angel. I don’t take part in that. But Robin Williams is different.

A lot of kids my age grew up with Robin Williams. He was Genie! I’d recognize that voice anywhere — I watched Aladdin that many times. Hook, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, I could go on. His work meant a lot to a lot of people. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what kept some of the depression at bay for this long.

It doesn’t matter what you have in life. A big house, a lovely family, a career everyone envies. None of that matters when it comes to depression. Regardless of whether or not you’re living in a mansion or on the street, it hurts us the same. Depression doesn’t care who you are or what you do. Depression merely wants to keep you from living your life. Sadly, sometimes Depression prevails.

It’s a feeling a surprising amount of people struggle with. And a lot of the time, it’s people that seem to have it all together. It’s a lonely feeling. But you’re not alone.

This week, I want to share some of my “sad bastard” music. I’ve got a whole slew of songs I play for different situations, but these are the most important to me, and I hope you find the value in them too. Maybe, they’ll make you feel better too.

#41 – Dave Matthews Band

“#41” is at the top of my list because (while plenty of other DMB songs could make the cut) it’s my favorite song. And I can definitively say that. It’s not so much a song as a poem — a poem written by someone who’s been through a lot. But despite everything the speaker has been through, it’s optimistic. There’s hope. It’s a great reminder that “I’m only this far, and only tomorrow leads the way.” It’s the kind of song that makes you want to keep going, and every single line is beautiful. It makes you ask yourself “Why won’t you run into the rain and play, let the tears splash all over you?”

Dreams – Fleetwood Mac

Over the years, Fleetwood Mac has had some great hits. I guess the obvious choice for a Fleetwood Mac song would have been “Don’t Stop,” but this one seemed more appropriate. It’s quiet, and deals with exactly what you feel when you’re upset: loneliness and loss. It’s got a tinge of hope too, though. It’s the kind of music that comes from falling apart and yearning to get back together.

Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine

There is nothing quite like Florence Welch’s voice. It’s completely unique: haunting almost. There’s a dark twinge to the song but it’s the kind that sucks you in and makes you feel what she’s feeling. It’s another one of those songs sung from the perspective of someone who’s lost everything but reuses to give up.

Slide – The Goo Goo Dolls

I like to listen to “Slide” when I’m upset. It seems like a curious choice, but it’s another point of view. Instead of singing about loss, he’s singing to someone who’s lost. It’s a little reminder that someone’s out there for everyone.

Let Her Cry – Hootie & The Blowfish

I used to hate this song when I was little. I thought it was boring, or something of that nature. It honestly wasn’t until I was playing my “Summer Hits of the 90s” Pandora station that I found the beauty in it. It’s got a wonderful guitar part to complement the chorus. It’s not exactly a happy song, but for some reason I find it very comforting. It’s a reminder that it’s okay to cry.

Dig – Incubus

Quite honestly, when I’m in a mood I’m not someone to be around. This song is a little bit of a wake up call. “We all have sickness… We all have someone that digs at us.” “Dig” is a good reminder of the importance of friends. When you’re feeling down, remember that you always have each other — even “when everything else is gone.”

Be OK – Ingrid Michaelson

I listen to this song a lot. It’s a good song to listen to when you’re down (or having incessant road rage) because it’s not a sad song. It’s got a boppy beat that makes you want to sway along. It’s a song with a calming effect that shares the mantra we’ve all recited at some point in time — just be ok.

Ceilings – Local Natives

This is a song I believe I talked about on my Hummingbird post. It’s another quiet song that sort of reflects the mood. “Ceilings” is a song that surrounds you and creates the feeling of floating on a cloud. It’s the kind of song you close you’re eyes and just listen to as you listen to the lofty vocals of Kelcey Ayer and Taylor Rice.

Save Me – Muse

This is another song I’ve mentioned before (see my The 2nd Law post). It’s a song written and sung by the band’s bassist regarding his struggles with alcoholism. It’s another lofty song with a common plead and the song itself is a kind of therapy. It doesn’t fix the problem, but it makes it known.

Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Scar Tissue:” what an appropriate name. Anthony Kiedis (lead singer for RHCP) titled his memoir this. It’s an interesting song that seems like it could only come from someone who has suffered from depression. It expresses the feeling to share your feelings with those around you, but it grapples with the feeling that you can’t. Lines like “Scar tissue that I wish you saw/sarcastic mister know-it-all” capture the feeling quite well while John Frusciante serenades you with his guitar.

Jumper – Third Eye Blind

I always think about that scene in Yes Man when I hear this song. You know, the part where Jim Carrey singlehandedly talks a guy out of jumping out his window by simply singing this song. When I was little, I really liked this song. I knew all the words. I didn’t figure out why it was called “Jumper” until high school. “Jumper” is a good reminder that you can’t get hung up on the little stuff. There is a way to “put the past away.”

One Headlight – The Wallflowers

I chose to closeout my “sad bastard” playlist with this one because the meaning behind it isn’t exactly black and white. For some reason, I always associate it with Forrest Gump and I think it’s because of the line “well since she died easy of a broken heart disease, I listen through the cemetery trees.” They have nothing to do with each other, but this is another one of those songs that is less like a song to me. Unlike “#41,” which is actually a poem, this is a real song; it lacks the feel, however. It’s got resilience in it — or at least that’s what I hear.

Other Honorable Mentions:
The Way I Tend To Be – Frank Turner
Heavy Feet – Local Natives
Funny The Way It Is – Dave Matthews Band
Recovery – Frank Turner

I’ve posted a link to a YouTube playlist (that I made) with these songs. Listen if you wish; you don’t have to. I hand picked these songs because each and every one of them has some meaning to me, whether it be through the lyrics or simply the music. I’ve tried my best to sum up what each of these songs is about and why I feel the way I do about it, but sometimes I just don’t have words. I hope they impact others like they have me. Listen, and tell me what you think. And one more thing — keep listening.

Jarrod’s blog:



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