Top Tens – Most Depressing Songs Ever Written

(0riginally published 1/1/03 in Inform Magazine)

1. Candidate – Joy Division

The most miserable band ever (TM) with a track from Unknown Pleasures selected more or less at random. Still totally bleak.

2. The Kids – Lou Reed

Berlin is a pretty horrible album but this track, complete with ‘authentic’ children crying (actually producer Bob Ezrin’s own kids after being erroneously told their mom was dead), comes out tops.

3. Mother – John Lennon

Lennon had a lot of grief to get out, and we got all of it. Altogether now: ‘mother don’t goooooo-arrgaahhhahhh!’

4. End of the Rainbow – Richard Thompson

‘There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow…’ The king of miserable with a song so pissed off that it can’t even be bothered with an actual tune. And this was before his wife left him.

5. Dirt Nap Stories – Lee Hazlewood

Deep-voiced crooner singing, in all seriousness, about how his pain is like ‘Dying on Christmas Day’. Before the presents are opened. Honest.

6. The Weeping Song – Nick Cave

‘This is the weeping song,’ warbles the Aussie goff in that peculiar tremolo of his. He’s right.

7. 25 Minutes To Go – Johnny Cash

Cash has many death row songs. This is just one of them.

8. The Comedians – Roy Orbison

Actually written by Elvis Costello, but the Big O gives it that cheerful delivery only he was capable of. The sad story of a man who gets his girlfriend nicked whilst he’s stuck on a ferris wheel. Really.

9. My Death – Jacques Brel

The French musical satirist was also given to equally dramatic ruminations on mortality like this. Literally hopeless.

10. Polly – Nirvana

Happy chappy Kurt Cobain on his favourite subject: rape. In an arrangement that defines ‘basic’ and a delivery that equally defines ‘monotone’. Suicide probably cheered him up.


About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at) or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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