Sad-Ass Music #1

By William Cody Watson

So, hello. My name is William Cody Watson, and for as long as I can remember, listening to music has been a huge part of my life; and I've realized that over my 28 years of existence, the #1 thing I always come back to, time and time again, just utterly drawn to like a ridiculous little moth going towards the back porch bulb, is SAD-ASS MUSIC. I love it. I remember discovering The Cure, and Red House Painters as a teenager, and just losing my shit in a bedroom stinking of boredom and restlessness.

I'm an adult now, and guess what, I'm still reeling in that very same headspace. The bedrooms have changed, but I'm still essentially a teenager losing my mind to sad music that makes me forget to bathe, and stare out car windows, and into mirrors, above bathroom sinks for long periods of time.

So, a couple times a month, I'll be letting you into my realm; to soak in my personal melancholy zone. You can zonk out on all the grim jams that are burning my soul up. To get you started, I've constructed a little primer. Dive in, homies. Get lost in the murk. I love you all so very, very much.


Trust me, I’m an expert on this shit.

Every so often, a time comes in your life when you just want to wallow in your own terrible, piss-stinking misery. Let’s not be foolish, for all the times we’ve bitched and moaned to our friends about our wretched depression and googled “how to get over blah blah blah whatever,” deep down, there’s a sense of comfort and security in the anguish. Now, I’m no psychologist, so I’m not the guy to give it a finite explanation, but I think it has something to do with feeling alive. Shit, I think we can all agree it’s better to feel a mile of mental torment than feel nothing at all…. No? Maybe that’s just me.

Everyone, every single human being on this fucking planet (over the age of maybe 16-20), is either A.) feeling the furious flames of a recent love affair gone shithouse licking at their souls or are B.) still reeling in the torment of their first – or all– loves gone wrong, or there’s the freaky C.) those of you who’ve never successfully sealed the deal, writhing in the pain of that unrequited love / crush / friendzone area. Stop being so fucking nice and grow a pair of big testicles, you giant pussy.
Anyway, so what I’m getting at is we’re all fucking sad about some boy or girl who split open our chest and shit all inside our ribs. It’s just human nature. I’ll literally fight anyone who disagrees with this. Don’t give me shit about liberated persons out on the prowl just ‘cause it feels good, and they’re totally fine and comfortable with themselves, blah blah blah. Bullshit. Someone, somewhere fucked them up just like you and me. Misery loves company, luckily, we’re all fucking miserable, and we all like music.

Everyone has their own misery mix, a collection of sad songs from their life that make them weep within the opening chords. Maybe for you, it’s like “Brick” by Ben Folds Five, or “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. No lie, I’ve gotten a bit whack-a-doo teary-eyed at both, shit even that Sarah McLachlan song from the fucked up dogs commercial, that’s a heavy one. But c’mon, what you really need is a rock solid, soul-crushing, heart-stomping mix that’ll get your limbic system going bananas with fatass depression boners. So I’ve done you a solid. I took 12 of the most dismal tracks of all time and made you this paint-peeling mix, RIPE for your ipod, or shit, go oldschool and burn this bitch on a cd-r. Pass it on to someone else. Give it to the cocksucker that shit on your soul. Let them feel the burn.

Elliott Smith’s “Between The Bars”
Well, ok… Let’s just get the facts out there. Elliott was on heroin. That’s a plus. I’m not saying heroin is cool, but considering our situation here, the heroin addiction definitely isn’t hurting anything, aaaaaaand, y’know, Elliott fucking died. Officially, I guess, he killed himself, but some people aren’t so sure. Others say he was murdered. Either way, suicide or murder, something fucky was going on. We reap the benefits of Smith’s tortured existence with a track like “Between The Bars,” which is our intro to this perfect mix. Hopefully it won’t land us in the grave.

Most devastating lyric: “Drink up baby, look at the stars / I’ll kiss you again between the bars / Where I’m seeing you there with your hands in the air / Waiting to finally be caught.”

Bob Dylan’s “Boots Of Spanish Leather”
Do you feel like I’m hitting the classics? There’s a plethora of Dylan tracks that carry the bumout vibe, but really, there’s no better post-ditch sesh jam than “Boots Of Spanish Leather.” Was this on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack? Imagine Tom Cruise’s fucked up face and how sad he was. You’re that sad too, obviously.

Most devastating lyric: “I got a letter on a lonesome day / It was from her ship a-sailin’ / Saying I don’t know when I’ll be comin’ back again / It depends on how I’m a-feelin’.”

Spiritualized’s “Broken Heart”
TRY TO MAKE IT THROUGH THIS ONE, YOU MOTHERFUCKER! J Spaceman doesn’t let up, offering the absolute, most perfect audio rendition of a shattered heart trying to mend itself back together. You title your song “Broken Heart,” and you better fucking deliver. Spaceman did… In spades. So heavy.

Most devastating lyric: “And I’m crying all the time / I have to keep it covered up with a smile / And I’ll keep on moving on for a while / Lord I have a broken heart.”

Codeine’s “Broken-Hearted Wine”
Codeine mastered that ominous, lonely sound. It’s showcased better with “Broken-Hearted Wine” than anywhere else. Quintessential belly-achin’ music. I really can’t say much else, so I’ll let the song speak for itself. I will say this though, fuck the wine, go buy a whole case of cough syrup and drink it til your belly is full of that crimson serum before you crank this one. Drink that shit while laying in the bathtub.

Most devastating lyric: “So you finally see his face at last, and the pain will never pass / You thought he was the only boy in the whole wide world for you.”

Now, with Red House Painters we’re dealing with a very heavy, layered discography, and everything Mark Kozelek touches basically drips of burned-out, faded love shit. We’re talking a stack of records that will pummel you down into nothingness. So selecting the “perfect” Red House Painters song; that’s tricky. So you go with “Katy Song,” the eight minute jam with a chorus of “without you, what does my life amount to,” and you coast your fucking car off the cliff. Later alligator, afterwhile crocodile. Take a second to realize this is one (of many) of Kozelek’s musings about his ex-girlfriend Katy, who he’s claimed is practically the “great muse of his life.” Katy actually passed away in 2003 of cancer. Once you understand that, the song becomes even more important than just your average “oh what a bummer” mixtape jam. You understand? Get your shit together.
 
Most devastating lyric: “I know tomorrow you will be somewhere in London living with someone / you’ve got some kind of family there to turn to and that’s more than I could ever give you.”

Big Star’s “Take Care”
Hard toss up between this and “Holocaust,” but ultimately I went with “Take Care” because it’s got that weaselly, yeah you’re a fucking asshole, but I’m trying to be nice to you vibe to it. You know what I mean? You do. You know that shitty persona you take on when you bump into your ex and you’re all like “yeah it’s all good, blahblahblahblahblahblah,” then you drop some pseudo-spiritual bullshit, ‘cause now you’re all enlightened, and you’ve grown so much as a person? Whatever. That’s kinda how this song is, but like, beautiful and shit.

Most devastating lyric: “This sounds a bit like goodbye / In a way it is I guess / As I leave your side / I’ve taken the air.”

Slowdive’s “When The Sun Hits”
Agony has never sounded as blissful as it does right here. Pile the pillows up and jump into them shits.

Most devastating lyric: “As the sun hits, she’ll be waiting / With the coffins under heaven / Hey hey lover, you’re still burning / You’re his song yeah.”

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Matt Sweeney’s “Blood Embrace”
Will Oldham on his own has spat out some pretty volatile earthquakes bound to bed you for a while, take into consideration “Even If Love” or “Take However Long You Want.” But he teamed up with Matt Sweeney for this Superwolfalbum, which I’ll admit, I never finished. I’ve never made it past “Blood Embrace,” because I’ve never needed anything else – this is a fucking lie, scope “I Gave You” from the same album. When this one creeps up on you, with its fabulous sample from 1977 grindhouse epic, Rolling Thunder, you’ll understand. 8 heavy minutes of “goddamnit.”

Most devastating lyric: “Oh would I give her up at all / Because I know it could not be better / To live without what she provides / When we’re alone and I undress her.”

Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times”
Oh, fuck you Kris Kristofferson. (I love you)

Most devastating lyric: “I’ll get along; you’ll find another / And I’ll be here if you should find you ever need me / Don’t say a word about tomorrow or forever / There’ll be time enough for sadness when you leave me.”

Jason Molina’s “It’s Easier Now”
Like Kozelek, Jason Molina is a master craftsman of the moanworthy rock and roll vibe. Across the board, under names like Songs: Ohia and leading groups like Magnolia Electric Company, Molina has shit out an abundance of songs you’d listen to while staring out a window or into a broken bathroom mirror. It was when he dropped this beaute under his own name, that the real, visceral power of Molina’s music drug its ugly side into the forefront. Minimal and haunting. This is just hard to get through. Ugh.

Most devastating lyric: “And I just say I got better / It’s easier now / That I just say I got better / It’s easier when I just admit / Death comes now.”

Sibylle Baier’s “The End”
This song seems crafted from a scorned lover’s scorching hellfire. It’s a half smoked cigarette slouched between your dangly fingers, while you’re staring at your front door. Dude, it’s been three weeks, wash up.Clearly Sibylle understood what she was doing here. I know people that can’t even sit through this song. It burns your guts that bad, but fuck it, man up.

Most devastating lyric: “time is over where we could simply say I love you / now you opened the door / leave me crying / trying to embrace you again / trying to face this damn situation.”

Jackson C. Frank’s “Dialogue”
There’s nothing I can say that will speak to you better than just the lyrics of this one…Motherfucker.

I want to be alone
I need to touch each stone
Face the grave that I have grown
I want to be
Alone
Before all the days are gone
And darker walls are bent and torn
To pass the time of those who mourn
I want to be
Alone
Rivers that run anywhere
Are in my hand and just up the stair
Past the eyes of those who care
Who can never be
Alone
Changes that were not meant to be
Tow the hours of my memory
Sing a song of love to me
To say you must never
Never be alone
The tears of a silent rain
Seek shelter on my broken pain
And run away
But I remain
To speak the words
That sing
Of alone
I want to be alone
I need to touch each stone
Face the grave that I have grown
I want to be
Alone

Most devastating lyric: um. yeah.

If you make it this far before you crawl into your bed and pull the covers over your head or, like, walk out a window or something, I applaud you. We can now be best friends. If you’re a hot girl, let’s make out. I know you’ve been to the dark places most hearts dare not travel. If you don’t like my mix, do one better, send it to me, I want to cry with you. I really do.
 
And if this mix was just right for you, and you wanna dig into this seedy underbelly of pure disgusting, putrid, sweaty, and stinking depression, here’s some other gems to add to your collection:

Harry Nilsson, “Without You” http://youtu.be/_bQGRRolrg0

Replacements, “Unsatisfied” http://youtu.be/7BUeO5YGF2Q

Roy Orbison, “Crying” http://youtu.be/-l-AxZIdq4E

Pedro The Lion, “Bad Diary Days” http://youtu.be/b5aczDQHa_A

Townes Van Zandt, “Waitin’ Around To Die” http://youtu.be/xTGKzWDakK8

Mojave 3, “In Love With A View” http://youtu.be/ofbtetrxB74

Santo & Johnny, “Sleep Walk” – Hell you could even fuck with the Modest Mouse version, it’s got words and it’s pretty damn sad too. http://youtu.be/1st_9KudWB0

Mazzy Star, “Fade Into You” http://youtu.be/ImKY6TZEyrI

Jóhann Jóhannsson, “The Sun’s Gone Dim And The Sky’s Turned Black” http://youtu.be/Iv4CuIIspdE

Hammock, “Shipwrecked (Flat On Your Back)” http://youtu.be/BACunS0riec

Christie Front Drive, “Saturday” http://youtu.be/D5UpwovGIhk

Antony & The Johnsons, “Hope There’s Someone” http://youtu.be/Luirzce0UF8

Neil Young, “On The Beach” http://youtu.be/CKgj1FNToWY

David Allen Coe, “She Used To Love Me A Lot” http://youtu.be/SDJTNTyWREE

My Bloody Valentine, “Sometimes” – This one absolutely works better if you imagine a beautiful Scarlett Johansson asleep beside you in a taxi in Tokyo, just saying.http://youtu.be/t0dJqlvOSq4

But for now, you can go back to being totally terrified about the real state of the world, and how much more important that is than the fact you got dumped two years ago. A world where people are murdered every second, for dumb reasons, or no reason. A world where people are stripped of any real sense of humanity and are left to live shoeless, foodless, homeless, and in the midst of pandemic, be it chemical or poison, drug or disease. You know, that beautiful, real (really real) world we live in. Fucking weird world, maaaaaaan.

Yeah you should probably go back to listening to Len.

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