(6) Leonard Cohen, "Closing Time"
It’s easy to miss the fact that “Closing Time” is a sad song, and I imagine that some will argue it’s not really sad at all. But, despite the cheery tempo, it’s pretty bleak—the ultimately depressed-at-the-party song, except here the party is life itself, and closing time might just be death. It’s sung by a speaker so jaded that he’s apparently gone beyond bitterness and arrived at amusement re: life’s sound and fury: “Yea, we’re drinking and we’re dancing / But there’s nothing really happening / The place is dead as heaven on a Saturday night.” Honestly, you can just about convince yourself that this is a happy song, or at least a pleasantly detached song, until you get to the heart of it: “I loved you when our love was blessed / And I love you now there’s nothing left / but sorrow and a sense of overtime / And I miss you since the place got wrecked / And I just don’t care what happens next / Looks like freedom but it feels like death.” Suddenly the speaker shows his true face, and the song becomes something else entirely. All of this is underpinned, of course, by Cohen’s world-weary voice, the best possible voice for when you need to lift your glass to the awful truth.
(6) Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over"
Crowded House, that consistently underrated band from Australia with the dumb name, penned a plethora of melancholy songs; the two best known are “Better Be Home Soon” and “Don’t Dream Its Over.” “Dream” got the March Sadness slot for reasons mentioned here. The song is a bit enigmatic: the chorus asserts “They come, they come / to build a wall between us / We know they won’t win.” But a little bit of doubt seems to creep in at the second verse: “In the paper today tales of war and of waste / but you turn right over to the tv page.” Again, enigmatic: is this a critique of the beloved, or praise for her ability to block out the horrors of the world? In any case, the speaker clearly needs to believe that his relationship is rock solid, but is it? The pleading “Don’t let them win”s at the end of the song leaves me pondering whether the speaker is choosing delusion over depression.