My “Summer of Despair” Mixtape

Seems like everybody’s pretty big on summer mixtapes in the blog universe. So why not me? I like imposing my musical tastes on other people as much as anyone…

It occurs to me that almost every one of my favorite songs is totally depressing. (I’m not sure why that would surprise anybody.) But what the hell. I see no reason why that should stop me. Anyway, here’s my “Summer of Despair” mixtape. Hope it doesn’t harsh your mello.

Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson

This is not Richard Thompson’s most depressing song, by a long shot. Actually, it’s fairly chipper by his standards. Consider yourself lucky I didn’t go for “Galway to Graceland.”

Red Dirt Girl by Emmylou Harris

A beautiful song about life and death just a little south-east of Meridian, Georgia. A total downer. Hell, her frickin’ dog dies and everything.


Racing in the Street by Bruce Springsteen

This slightly edges out “Darkness on the Edge of Town” as the most depressing song of my youth. I used to listen to this over and over late at night and brood about Jody Foster.

I’m One, by Pete Townshend

A rather fun version of this heartbreaking song. Pete Townshend apparently pulled somebody out of the audience to help sing it.

Hurt, but Johnny Cash

Sigh. What a wonderful song. And Johnny Cash’s beautiful ruined old face is extraordinary to watch.

What’s Love Got to Do with It? by Tina Turner

This is the most danceable of all of my songs of despair. Tina’s hair is the most depressing thing in it.

Political Science, by Randy Newman

The only fitting end to my mixtape. Enjoy your summer!


7 Responses to “My “Summer of Despair” Mixtape”

  1. Preston Says:

    I’d add My Hometown by Bruce Springsteen and Angel From Montgomery by John Prine to that list. Just sayin

    • Paul Murphy Says:

      You’re probably right, but then I’d have had to leave off Tina Turner, and she has fantastic legs.

  2. Marek Says:

    Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt is one of the few covers that can hold the candle to its fantastic original. Another good cover is from Amanda Palmer at the Boston Pops.

  3. I'm the Two Says:

    The Pete Townsend clip looks as if it was *Pete* who was pulled out of the audience–not the other singers. Given that Joe’s Pub has room for about 25 people (but they admit 129), I wonder if he was booked there himself.

    In related summer news, coyotes are buying children in the NY suburbs. What song goes with that?

  4. I'm the Two Says:

    “Political Science” is quite cheerful, really. I think “God’s Song” would capture the feeling of those sunny summer days, the breeze blowing through your hair, when you realize that your cancer is inoperable and your wife has run off with the pool person, taking your medicare card with her.

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