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Ode to a Broken Heart: The Saddest Tunes of All

Updated on July 30, 2013

Accidental Babies — Damien Rice

There's something about a solitary voice and a soft piano that seems to go hand-in-hand with poignant music such as this beauty by Damien Rice. As he details a failed relationship through his painfully sincere lyrics, he asks his former lover questions such as "Does he drive you wild, or just mildly free?" and ends the verse with a profound "What about me?". You really can't help but feel a certain pang of empathy towards the narrator. To those who have suffered through the affliction of unrequited love, this track really does hit home.

Blood Bank — Bon Iver

I am going to be honest here. After long hours of listening to this song repetitively and considering all the possible interpretations of the lyrics, I can't seem to come to a conclusion. Regardless of its subject matter, this song is one of the few that I'll never tire of. It is clear that Justin Vernon composed every detail of this song from the depth of his heart. The particular verse with the thought-provoking "Ain't this just like the present, to be showing up like this?" gives me chills every time, and pushes me to think about how much more there is to life than some may think.

Kettering — The Antlers

You'll have to turn up the volume for this one. Not just because it's quietly performed, but because you really have to listen to understand. 'Kettering' is a particularly heart-wrenching story of a hospital worker, possibly a nurse, and his lover, who has been diagnosed with cancer. Evidently, the victim of the disease realises she cannot fight this alone, and falls for her possible saviour ("Because you'd been abused by the bone that refused you, and you hired me to make up for that"). After an argument, she tells him to leave ("You said you hated my tone, it made you feel so alone, so you told me I had to be leaving") yet he sticks by her the entire way through her trials ("But something kept me standing by that hospital bed; I should have quit but instead, I took care of you.). He has realised his love for her is unfaltering and will not ever be obliterated, even by death itself. This ultimate form of devotion and the devastating pain experienced by both parties equals a song that simply drowns the heart, and floods the eyes.

Shallows — Daughter

Originally titled "In The Shallows" when it featured on their EP Wild Youth, Shallows is a sweetly compelling plea to a lover who is firm on leaving. Its deeply emotive lyrical choices do an efficient job of enhancing the dreamy guitar plucks; the heart of the song. Her deep affection is made clear with such desperately romantic lyrics as "Come out, come out to the sea my love, and just drown with me", almost making you feel as if Elena Tonra (Daughter's vocalist) is singing specifically to you. If you're looking for an alternative ballad of lost love, then this one's for you.

Forget Her — Jeff Buckley

Last but certainly not least (in fact, this is one of my favourite songs of all time), we have Jeff Buckley's take on the never-ending issue of decaying love: cheating. Originally intended to be on Jeff's debut and only album, 1994's Grace, he eventually grew to hate the song and demanded it not be included on the album, and so it was replaced with So Real. To be fair, I do not see any reason why he could have hated this absolutely astounding song. A passionate rock ballad detailing Buckley's heartbreak and frustration towards an unfaithful lover, the underlying pain and fury definitely comes through in this one. By the end of the song, you almost feel as if you were the one cruelly exploited. It's crazy to think of what other masterpieces Jeff could have come up with if he were still alive today.

Which of these songs is your favourite?

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    • JoyLevine profile image

      JoyLevine 3 years ago

      Thank you for introducing me to some beautiful music. The first one, by Damien Rice, is unbelievable. That one defies words. I can't imagine writing something so intensely personal and then just baring it all.

      Excellent article and great music. Two of my favorite sad songs are Randy Newman's "Same Girl", which has such a cataclysmic emptiness, a forlorn melancholiness to it, and the song "In My Secret Life" by the legendary Leonard Cohen. That's probably my all time fave... There are many interpretations for this song, but for me, it's like having that one perfect thing in life that slipped away, and no matter what happiness you find again, it's never quite the same, you never have that innocence, that unmarred carefree spirit again.

    • eloisekate profile image
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      eloise 3 years ago from australia

      Thank you so much for your comment! It means a lot considering I've only just started on here. I agree, it's simply amazing.

      I will definitely listen to those two songs, they sound beautiful. Thanks again for the suggestions. Leonard's a legend!

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