What’s The Saddest Song You Know?

There are a ton of songs out there that are sad, or about difficult things, but what’s the song that’s just the saddest damn thing you ever heard?

Giving it a few moment’s thought, the first few that came into my head were:

Nine Inch Nails – Hurt  (and Johnny Cash’s version, too)
Mike & The Mechanics – The Living Years
Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven
Hank Williams – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
Billie Holiday – Gloomy Sunday
Harry Chapin – Cat’s In The Cradle
and so on…

But for me, the winner has to be George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today.

It doesn’t matter whether you like country music or not. This one is a relationship tune, but it’s not about a break-up. No, this one’s about a man who loved a woman for a long time, but he wasn’t even with her. Unrequited love. Still he loved her until the day he died. THAT was the day he stopped loving her.

Just… damn. Right in the feels!

The Lyrics:

He said “I’ll love you till I die”, she told him “You’ll forget in time”
As the years went slowly by, she still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again

Kept some letters by his bed dated nineteen sixty-two
He had underlined in red every single “I love you”

I went to see him just today, oh but I didn’t see no tears
All dressed up to go away, first time I’d seen him smile in years

He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

You know, she came to see him one last time. 
Aww, ‘n’ we all wondered if she would 
And it kept runnin’ through my mind-“this time he’s over her for good.”

He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today.

Posted on 2017-04-13, in posts by aaron and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 65 Comments.

  1. The Johnny Cash version is pretty rough. May suggest Lazarus by David Bowie, pretty haunting considering the circumstances. Anything Radiohead’s done in the past five years much? Also, a personal favourite, Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa by De La Soul isn’t sad in a traditional sense, but it’s got pretty heavy themes. Happy Easter…


    • In my email, all I could see was the youtube urls, and I was afraid to click them because I figured you were rick rolling me.

      But no I can see Corby and Mangan so I figure these two are safe to click on!


  2. Actually, 3. Porcupine Tree – My Ashes. Also would like to mention Audioslave – Wide Awake and another Porcupine Tree – Sentimental.


  3. 1. Pearl Jam – Black. 2. Soundgarden – Like Suicide. 3. The Mars Volta – With Twilight as my Guide.


  4. Bittersweet Symphony likes it’s name is a good one.


  5. I will add one that is a Bon Jovi song. I always loved the song “Something to Believe In”. It always felt so sad and that he had lost his way.


  6. Few good calls there. Hard to argue with He Stopped Loving Her Today or I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. Country music is a treasure trove of sad songs. Given that you’re delving into the sounds of Townes, I expect you’ll discover the many he has.

    Boulder to Birmingham is one that I find helluva sad… and I could pick a few off Pet Sounds (That’s Not Me, God Only Knows and Caroline No!).

    Never found NIN’s Hurt particularly sad, though. Cash’s version is a different story.


    • Oh for sure, country is called hurtin’ music for a reason! A lot of blues songs that could be in there, too.

      I’m looking forward to getting into the Townes for sure. Great shout on the Emmylou, too. Funny, folks always think of the Beach Boys as happy music but you’re right, those tracks sure aren’t!

      Maybe the sadness in the original NIN track is in the lyrics, not necessarily in how he presents it…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, they do. I guess it depends how much someone listens to the Beach Boys? Some incredibly sad songs there.

        I think maybe Cash’s interpretation of Hurt is what added that weight. Perhaps that’s what makes it sad now?


        • Maybe they wrote the sad songs on days when they couldn’t go to the beach because they were stuck inside due to rain. 😉

          I think Reznor’s work was powerful already, so Johnny adding his voice and experience to the track made it all new again (and sad for different reasons).

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I can identify with some of those and the two I would add because they have relevance in my own past are “That’s Why They Call it The Blues” by Elton John and sad as it may be, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.”


  8. Nice idea for a post!
    I’d add my two favourite miserable groups, ‘trust’ by the cure and ‘asleep’ by the smiths


  9. Wait until Grohl works with Saxon or Akercocke!


  10. Ian Hunter’s ‘Michael Picasso’ – preferably live for maximum heartbreak.


  11. My answer was going to be Gloomy Sunday.


  12. Lou Reed “Sad Song”?


  13. Townes Van Zandt is pretty good at this sort of thing. Waitin’ Around To Die seems like a quintessential pick for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You touched on a few that I agree with.

    Also I Can’t Make You Love Me, You See Me Crying, The River, Hallelujah, Everybody Hurts, Wicked Game, Last Kiss, Something In The Way, Candle In The Wind, Streets Of Philadelphia.

    For it is a tie for saddest song between Highway Of Heroes and 4AM.


  1. Pingback: “Put the cow horns back on the Cadillac”: John Hiatt – Bring The Family (1987) – Vinyl Daft Dad

  2. Pingback: “Put the cow horns back on the Cadillac”: John Hiatt – Bring The Family (1987) – Resurrection Songs

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