Monday, January 22

It felt good to be sad and lonely

When winter settles in and a gray chill creeps into everything, an inevitable feeling of sadness comes with it. There are two courses of action to take when this happens. The first is to fight it. This involves things like drinking orange juice, wearing red, forcing bulbs, listening to The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, watching something funny and redemptive like Groundhog Day or Enchanted April and perhaps going for a jog if the sun shines for a few moments at a time—anything to keep gloominess at bay.

The second course is to embrace the melancholy. You accomplish this by reading something in which the characters are hopelessly flawed, like Wuthering Heights, or unhealthily introspective, like The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by eating large quantities of soup, knitting a sweater you will probably never finish, staying firmly ensconced on the sofa and by listening to sad music. I like to be prepared with music appropriate for any situation (I’m still working on this—there are gaping holes in my music collection), so I put together a little “Winter Melancholy” iTunes playlist. The links are free downloads.

Bleecker Street—Simon & Garfunkel
“The fog’s rollin’ in off the east river bank…”
Every Ship Must Sail Away—Blue Merle
This was an iTunes free download from way back.
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning—Carly Simon
A columnist for the Wall Street Journal said that Frank Sinatra’s album by this name was his best work. I’m tempted to hunt it up on eBay.
Sketches—Daniel Lanois
This sounds like fog, clouding your thoughts and sapping your resolution.
Sho Heen—Kate Rusby
She’s from England, where it is almost always cold.
First and Last Waltz—Nickel Creek
The music sounds far away, like spring.
Old Friends—Simon & Garfunkel
“Winter companions, the old men/Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sunset”
Gotta Have You—The Weepies
I mean, The Weepies…
Alice—Tom Waits
Death, a frozen pond, insanity, lost love: this is winter melancholy at its best.
Holland—Sufjan Stevens
So quiet and still, like a day when it’s too cold to move.
Dou Way Robyn/Sancta Mater—Trio Mediaeval
Another free download from iTunes.
Love and Loneliness—Wendell Kimbrough
Written in Maryland, where the sun shines even less than it does in Mississippi.
Mary’s Waltz—Over the Rhine
It’s been said that OTR’s music makes sad people happy and happy people sad.
The Survivor—The Normals
Maybe it’s just because there are bare tree branches and a gray sky in the album art, but Coming to Life has always felt like a winter album to me.

And no matter how bad winter is, at least I don’t have to deal with this.

So what would go on your winter playlist?


wendell said...

Thanks for including me with Paul Simon and Sufjan in your playlist. It's an honor.

I think every winter playlist should end with Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison/the Beatles. It gives me hope.


Paula said...

Tuan and I were thinking of playlists today, only ours was slightly less melancholy. We were trying to think of songs that would capture our high school years (and the nineties--can you believe that was so long ago?) for us. I'll try to think of some melancholy songs--that's hard for an optimist.

Caroline said...

Wendell, Abbey Road is one of the gaping holes in my music collection, but I just ordered it from So "Here Comes the Sun" will go on the "Hallelujah! Winter's Over" playlist, along with "Winter's Come and Gone" by Gillian Welch.

Paula, a good nineties playlist should definitely have Green Day and The Wallflowers.

Paula said...

Your blog is beautiful. I was _just_ thinking of changing my look and there you went. Great minds think alike.

Brad said...

New look, not bad!!

Sarah Jo Steffens said...

can you make me a pretty blogspot header like that? i'll unscramble all the words you want.... :-) hehe.

Paula said...

can you tell me how to delete comments?

Sarah Jo said...

hi roomie.
i have a new place [blog] - it's fun - you should stop by.

and I guess, your play list is my play list :-)

Paula said...

Are you ever going to update? You could do mindless ramblings like I do.