Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Here's a bunch of depressing, bitter, mordant and cynical songs of ill will for ill folks.
Since this IS the illfolks blog, for artists of less renown, don't expect the obvious; famous miserable folk like Leonard Cohen or Morrissey or Charles Aznavour, nor today's well-mourned sensitive souls like Elliott Smith, or famous sad songs (that say so much).

The Television Personalities - Sick Again

You've never heard of them and you never will. That's 'cause they're sick. They also seem to have set their Casio keyboard to violin and accordion simultaneously, which will make your cat cry. Thanks guys, for the musical equivalent of an IV drip.

Anna Ternheim - To Be Gone
Anna's a depressed Swede who sings pretty tunes with suicidal tendencies: "Leave the body, leave the mind...I just happen to feel so alone....I just wanna be gone." Her accent is thick enough to make "body" sound "bawdy..." Sad girls ARE sexy, especially when they're trying to shuck off their mortal coil via a bossa nova shuffle.

Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra - She Won't
A twangy dirge...a portent that Lee & Nancy Volume 3 was not going to be a hit. Did they know that their album would not even get a U.S. or U.K. release?

Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer - Oh Death
Traditional folk music is as close to a death experience as you get in life.

Jerry Yester-Judy Henske - Mrs. Connor
Yester was briefly with The Association. Here he sings lead on a moody number with lyrics from then-wife Judy Henske: "When death comes for Mrs. Connor, he will lay his heavy leg on her and groan." Necrophilia at its best. No wonder Andrew Vachss is a Henske fan.

Anna Singt - Gloomy Sunday
The famous Hungarian suicide song, which did indeed lead to documented suicides, continues to be covered by new generations of depressives. Anna and coffin-sized piano.

Thea Gilmore - Everybody's Numb
Get the zeitgeist...these days are so alarming, the next wonder drug will be a topical anesthetic you massage into the scalp. Thea has plenty more where this came from.

Pamela Morgan - It Ain't Funny

No, it isn't. This one's about the economic woes of an age when most fish is now farm-raised and bad for you.

Mary Gauthier - I Drink
It's almost cheating to include a country song like this, but Mary is a crossover artist. She's cross over mean men, hard times and a world of hurt. Guthrie-esque Gauthier is a balladeer for the mental dust bowl.

Mathilde Santing - Wonderful Life

With an opening guitar riff unwittingly referencing the start of "Suicide is Painless," Santing floats in to assure us, "no need to run and hide." Except this minor key ballad is as lively as a beached jellyfish. "Don't give up," Kate Bush sang, but she hadn't heard this kind of optimism.

Eva Cassidy - Ain't No Sunshine
Sad songs say so much...and so does the way there's been a cottage industry mourning a pretty blonde singer who died young.

Beth Nielsen Carpenter & John Hiatt - World of Hurt
The truth: "It's a world of hurt, nothin' works. It's a lonely little planet made of dust and dirt. Who'd ever think that in the midst of this, something as beautiful as love exists?" Yeah? For how long? See "Hurt" by Trent Reznor and look under "dirt, my empire of."

The Magic Numbers - Which Way to Happy?
Sort of a gay Leonard Cohen with a wan chick singing in the background, and a vibe of being totally wilted. Nice. All too often, artists now go from total unknowns to superstars via a debut album! But are they happy? No? Good.

Townes Van Zandt - Waiting Around to Die
No longer an accurate title.

Kendra Smith (of Big Star) - Holocaust
Why rhyme moon and June when you can open with: "Your eyes are almost dead. Can't get out of bed..."

Randy Newman - It's a Jungle Out There

As usual, he's tap dancing on the edge, and really, if you can't find humor in impending disaster, then you might as well be Morrissey. This pungent one minute theme song is for a TV show involving a germ-phobic Arab.

To reference Jann Arden and Sheryl Crow...Happy? If it makes you happy...
download here
And if you just want a quickie from Mathilde Santing...

1 comment:

onlybizet said...

Great idea for a blog!
And your comments are insightful, if mordant, and very enjoyable.
Stick with it!