Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

More depressing 1970s songs to make you hate life

Some more listening on Sirius/XM has produced additional depressing songs.

Like I said before, the 1970s was a great time for “downer” songs that made you want to just end it all. Maybe it was the energy crisis, or maybe it was just that I was at a low time in my life, but these songs really got to me:

  • “Help Me” – This 1974 Joni Mitchell song, from the moment I first heard it, really helped me decide that her music wasn’t for me.
  • “Big Yellow Taxi” – A 1970 Joni Mitchell song that gripes about how “they paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.” The line is quoted so often that some people think that’s the title of the song. Ever notice that people who complain about environmental degradation invariably have their meetings in their houses? As if they themselves hadn’t contributed to the destruction they’re whining about. She was inspired by the sight of a parking lot from her hotel in Hawaii. But she didn’t complain about the hotel.
  • “I Started a Joke” – A 1968 song by the Bee Gees about social alienation, according to Wikipedia. Just in tune for the 1970s.
  • “Alone Again (Naturally)” – This 1972 anthem to depression by Gilbert O’Sullivan is the ultimate “downer” song. You hear this, and you’re ready for that high dive off the falls.
  • “The Night Chicago Died” – A British group called Paper Lace put out this awful, historically inaccurate “story song” when I was young, and they still play it today. It’s depressing, and still inaccurate. And the “East Side of Chicago” is somewhere in Lake Michigan.
  • “On and On” – Stephen Bishop’s version of this song is absolutely the kind of song that makes you just hate. Formless, pointless hate. “On and on, you just keep on trying/And you smile when you feel like crying/On and on/On and on/On and on.” Makes you want to walk into the ocean like the woman did in Woody Allen’s “Interiors” and keep going.
  • “Rock On” – Another one-hit wonder from a guy named David Essex. This got lots of airplay back in the 1970s, and the whole song is really about nothing. “Still looking for that blue jean, baby queen. Prettiest girl I ever seen. See her shake on the movie screen. Jimmy Dean. Jimmy Dean. Jimmy Dean. Rock on.” And I gripe that hip-hop makes no sense.
  • “Fame” – I recently read a Rolling Stone cover story about David Bowie, and while this song is from the early 1980s, I have to confess that I never got his music at all, though I did like “Changes” and “Major Tom.” I hate slow songs, though, and this one just is too much. My favorite part of the director’s cut version of “Almost Famous” is the scene where the guy dressed like Bowie goes on and on about how one album is “hamburgers for the Apocalypse,” then sees Bowie and his manager – who’s covering him with a jacket, racing through the lobby of a hotel. “Oh my God, it’s BOWIE!” the guy shouts as he and his fellow Bowie fans tear toward the elevator.

February 2, 2012 - Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , , , , , ,

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