Bleakest lyrics regularly heard on classic rock radio

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i'm sure there are other, equally depressing lyrics i am not remembering. classic rock radio was blaring in my parents' car throughout my childhood so i am sure some of these songs did real subliminal damage

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone (jack and diane - john "cougar" mellencamp) 13
Other 7
Your sister's out, she's on a date / you just stay at home, and masturbate (captain jack - billy joel) 4


Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:19 (one year ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhNPeiy-MeU

how's life, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:19 (one year ago) Permalink

great song. not a staple of classic rock radio in the US though

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:20 (one year ago) Permalink

oh wait, this song is in dialogue with classic rock lyrics. i never noticed that.

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:21 (one year ago) Permalink

great first post!

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:21 (one year ago) Permalink

The Billy Joel one fucks me up though. Maybe we can contact Doug Martsch and have him squeeze that one in somewhere.

how's life, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:23 (one year ago) Permalink

billy joel can go deeper and darker than any scandinavian black metal band

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:24 (one year ago) Permalink

i think it's just because he's so crass and pedestrian. he doesn't aestheticize depression, he just writes about it in all its sordidness, with a minimum of apparent self-awareness

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:26 (one year ago) Permalink

Was Alan Parsons Project's 'Time' ever a classic rock staple? Because those might be the most depressing lyrics of any charting song ever.

'Dust In The Wind' fer sure, as well.

My Whole Existence Is Flan (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:26 (one year ago) Permalink

"Jack and Diane" was playing on the office radio earlier today.

an opportunity thick enough to taste (snoball), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:29 (one year ago) Permalink

Also, both in the sense of playing on the office radio earlier today and having bleak lyrics, Bryan Adams' "Summer Of '69".

an opportunity thick enough to taste (snoball), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:30 (one year ago) Permalink

Also 'Boys Of Summer', 'Glory Days', really any song about nostalgia for (probably imagined) faded glory.

My Whole Existence Is Flan (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:33 (one year ago) Permalink

what about "the river"

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:34 (one year ago) Permalink

then i got mary pregnant / and that was all she wrote / and for my nineteenth birthday / i got a union card and a wedding coat

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:35 (one year ago) Permalink

(Total aside, but a friend of mine coined the usage of 'faded glory' to describe a long in back & bald on top hairstyle, which I've always thought was brilliant.)

My Whole Existence Is Flan (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:35 (one year ago) Permalink

springsteen happens to be a good lyricist -- he lends some depth and dignity to the experiences he writes about imo. for me at least, that offsets the "shoot yourself" quality of a "jack and diane" or "captain jack"

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:36 (one year ago) Permalink

Lots of Springsteen fits this bill, surely.

My Whole Existence Is Flan (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:36 (one year ago) Permalink

And, yes, Springsteen is often very good with the lyrics.

My Whole Existence Is Flan (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:36 (one year ago) Permalink

"Meeting Across The River" might be Springsteen's bleakest non-nostalgic song, basically because you as the listener know that the whole meeting is going to go badly wrong.

an opportunity thick enough to taste (snoball), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:45 (one year ago) Permalink

"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true/ Or is it something worse"

Blowout Coombes (President Keyes), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:52 (one year ago) Permalink

"So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."

T.L.O.P.son (Phil D.), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 18:56 (one year ago) Permalink

This is kind of turning into my high school classmates' yearbook quotes.

dlp9001, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 19:25 (one year ago) Permalink

verse 2 of "American Girl" gets me in my feelings every time

And for one desperate moment
There he crept back in her memory
God it's so painful when something that's so close
Is still so far out of reach

"Robots are sexy as shit" - Big Sean (some dude), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 19:26 (one year ago) Permalink

Anyway, this one is theoretically pretty bleak if you take it literally:

I woke up this morning and the sun was gone

dlp9001, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 19:27 (one year ago) Permalink

instead there were two moons

Neanderthal, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 19:28 (one year ago) Permalink

I heard this afresh the other day:

Caught up in a landslide
No escape from reality

real orgone kid (NickB), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 19:59 (one year ago) Permalink

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming, "Let me out!"

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Eno, Ugh (ledge), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:04 (one year ago) Permalink

good ones

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:10 (one year ago) Permalink

never caught the suicidal implications of the bowie one before

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:10 (one year ago) Permalink

and on that note:

"billy rapped all night about his suicide/ how he'd kick it in the head when he hit twenty five / speed jive, don't wannna be alive/ when you're twenty five"

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Really this is kind of shooting fish in a barrel:

Mirror, mirror on the wall
The face you've shown me scares me so
I thought that I could call your bluff
But now the lines are clear enough

Classic rock was pretty bleak, in general.

dlp9001, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:16 (one year ago) Permalink

Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:17 (one year ago) Permalink

-Fleetwood Mac, Dreams

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:17 (one year ago) Permalink

- Bob Marley

T.L.O.P.son (Phil D.), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:19 (one year ago) Permalink

- Abraham Lincoln

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:22 (one year ago) Permalink

I could be wrong, but I think that dreams of classic rock era (70s) for the people who weren't going to be able to buy a castle in England were to land a steady job while somehow maintaining illusions of 1960s rebellion, so the contrast between theory and reality was inevitably pretty bleak.

dlp9001, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:23 (one year ago) Permalink

When masturbation's lost its fun
You're fucking lonely
- Green Day "Long View"

o. nate, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:25 (one year ago) Permalink

what do you guys think about "gimme shelter"? it's a dark song, apocalyptic, but is it bleak?

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:26 (one year ago) Permalink

No one knows what happened that day
How his car overturned in flames
But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck
With his dying breath, they heard him say
Tell Laura I love her.

It's a sad song all around... guy wants to get married to the girl he loves, has no money, enters a car race to win money and dies. I think it was even banned at the time for being too bleak for the radio.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:29 (one year ago) Permalink

In a similar note Last Kiss, which was also a hit for Pearl Jam.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:29 (one year ago) Permalink

"And if I could move I'd get my gun and put her in the ground."

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:30 (one year ago) Permalink

Actually a country staple (a depressing genre on its own with many examples) but I hear it on classic rock radio all the time.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:31 (one year ago) Permalink

Was Alan Parsons Project's 'Time' ever a classic rock staple? Because those might be the most depressing lyrics of any charting song ever.

you mean Pink Floyd's "Time"? yes it is a staple

pink floyd rules

rockpalast '82 (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:31 (one year ago) Permalink

From SONGFACTS.. "Mel Tillis wrote this song. He based the song on a couple who lived near his family in Florida. In real life, the man was wounded in Germany in World War II and sent to recuperate in England. There he married a nurse who took care of him at the hospital. The two of them moved to Florida shortly afterward, but he had periodic return trips to the hospital as problems with his wounds kept flaring up. His wife saw another man as the veteran lay in the hospital. Tillis changed the war in the song to the Korean War, and left out the life ending: the man killed her in a murder-suicide. In the song, the man says he would kill her if he could move to get his gun."

✖✖✖ (Moka), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:33 (one year ago) Permalink

"no one told you when to run / you missed the starting gun" is like, too real for me

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:34 (one year ago) Permalink

"Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin' into the future" vs. "Don't fear the reaper"

... (Eazy), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:36 (one year ago) Permalink

don't fear the reaper is too Romantic to be bleak. in that song, death is the unknown, not the end.

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Petty has a lot:

Two cars parked on the overpass,
Rocks hit the water like broken glass
I should have known right then it was too good to last
God, it's such a drag when you're livin' in the past

I've given up, I've given up
I've given up, you tangle my emotions

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some
Who knows maybe you were kidnapped tied up,
Taken away and held for ransom
I've given up, honey please admit it is over

'Cause somewhere deep down inside
Someone is saying, "Love doesn't last that long"
I got this feelin' inside night and day
And now I can't take it no more

It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone
I hit my last number and walked to the road

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again

You better watch what you say
You better watch what you do to me

rockpalast '82 (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:38 (one year ago) Permalink

"born in the usa" prob the bleakest springsteen song you ever hear on the radio, even if he does end it with "i'm a cool-rockin' daddy in the usa!" for some reason

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:39 (one year ago) Permalink

that song is mostly bleak because it sucks so much and it's a disgrace to the songwriter

Treeship, Wednesday, 6 April 2016 20:40 (one year ago) Permalink

Just take those old records off the shelf
I'll sit and listen to 'em by myself

― ejemplo (crüt), Thursday, April 7, 2016 6:46 AM (4 days ago)

I love this, also out of context it is my life

no one in particular (Abbott), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 01:34 (one year ago) Permalink

Any Harry Chapin song fits this. What's more depressing than "Cat's In The Cradle"? And "Taxi", in addition to be pretty bleak, is maybe the most absurdly dramatic and pretentious thing ever recorded (hard to top a Sylvia Plath poem sung in falsetto)...tbh it always makes me laugh when I hear it and sometimes I watch this live version to cheer myself up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfqjKDRQvWI

mosele (L P Mosey), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 01:37 (one year ago) Permalink

did you guys know if you are depressed and you hear a song at work or in the grocery store, it is a bleak song of dusty nothingness that speaks to the emptiness of mankind, even if ja rule made that song

no one in particular (Abbott), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 01:38 (one year ago) Permalink

Harry Chapin doesn't actually get CR airplay anywhere, does he? (Nor Suzanne Vega.)

Hi! I'm twice-coloured! (Sund4r), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 01:44 (one year ago) Permalink

I heard Taxi a few times on classic rock radio in St. Louis in '08 or '09, but I think that was because that station had No Repeat Weeks. Growing up in Nebraska, every station played "Cat's In The Cradle". That might be a regional thing though.

mosele (L P Mosey), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 01:48 (one year ago) Permalink

Oh, cool.

Hi! I'm twice-coloured! (Sund4r), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 02:04 (one year ago) Permalink

cats in the cradle is a brutal tearjerker. kid was neglected by his busy father, who is now a lonely, elderly man, neglected by his son. the song pretends to be about the cycle of life but it's just about a cycle of neglect.

Treeship, Tuesday, 12 April 2016 03:27 (one year ago) Permalink

or maybe it's not pretending anything. the dad realizes the son grew up "just like him," too preoccupied with work to make time for his family.

the socialist in me wonders whose really to blame here: the dad for losing sight of priorities, or the insane working hours americans are expected to keep

Treeship, Tuesday, 12 April 2016 03:30 (one year ago) Permalink

fast car is pretty much the saddest song i have ever heard. i didn't even know it until raymond posted it and i listened again. jesus christ.

Gatemouth, Tuesday, 12 April 2016 03:33 (one year ago) Permalink

like all that stuff Werner Herzog says about what he sees in the faces of bears is sort of what I imagine about the souls of John Mayer fans

this is cracking me up.

campreverb, Tuesday, 12 April 2016 03:51 (one year ago) Permalink

Burma Shave by Tom Waits has a similar theme to fast car but is way more depressing.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 05:51 (one year ago) Permalink

disagree, there's a theatrical nature to waits thing that sort of keeps you at arm's length

be someone
be someone
;_;

rockpalast '82 (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 13:25 (one year ago) Permalink

Angel of darkness is upon you
Stuck a needle in your arm
So take another toke, have a blow for your nose
One more drink fool, will drown you
Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 12 April 2016 13:28 (one year ago) Permalink

which reminds me of:

I hit the city and I lost my band
I watched the needle take another man
Gone, gone, the damage done

schlep and back trio (anagram), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 13:40 (one year ago) Permalink

out of the blue and into the black
they give you this but you paid for that
but once they're gone you can never go back
when you're out of the blue and into the black

thom yorke state of mind (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 18:59 (one year ago) Permalink

'Fast Car' is bleak, but even bleaker, albeit for a different reason, is the Jonas Blue cover version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjnadPBMJGs

an opportunity thick enough to taste (snoball), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 19:19 (one year ago) Permalink

Most depressing Waits lyric I've ever heard is from "A Little Rain," on Bone Machine:

She was fifteen years old
And she'd never seen the ocean
She climbed into a van with a vagabond
And the last thing she said
Was "I love you Mom"

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 19:21 (one year ago) Permalink

jesus

Treeship, Tuesday, 12 April 2016 19:24 (one year ago) Permalink

For bleakest Waits, I'm partial to "A Soldier's Things"

Davenports and kettle drums and swallowtail coats
Tablecloths and patent-leather shoes
Bathing suits and bowling balls and clarinets and rings
And all this radio really needs is a fuse

A tinker, a tailor
A soldier's things
His rifle, his boots full of rocks
Oh, and this one is for bravery
And this one is for me
And everything's a dollar in this box

Cufflinks and hubcaps, trophies and paperbacks
It's good transportation but the brakes aren't so hot
Neckties and boxing gloves, this jackknife is rusted
You can pound that dent out on the hood

A tinker, a tailor
A soldier's things
His rifle, his boots full of rocks
Oh, and this one is for bravery
Oh, and this one is for me
And everything's a dollar in this box

Honor thy pisstake as a hidden intention. (WilliamC), Tuesday, 12 April 2016 19:41 (one year ago) Permalink

Please tell me which classic rock radio station plays Tom Waits songs that aren't sung by Rod Stewart

badg, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 01:06 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah, they don't even play the Eagles "Ol' 55."

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 01:12 (one year ago) Permalink

the classic rock station I made up in my head where I go to escape this cruel world

Honor thy pisstake as a hidden intention. (WilliamC), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 01:16 (one year ago) Permalink

"Fire and Rain." (At least it used to get occasional play on the classic rock station here--they're making the transition towards Simple Minds right now.)

clemenza, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 01:21 (one year ago) Permalink

Somewhere out there on that horizon
Out beyond the neon lights
I know there must be somethin' better
but there's nowhere else in sight
It's survival in the city
When you live from day to day
City streets don't have much pity
When you're down, that's where you'll stay
In the city, oh, oh.
In the city

I was born here in the city
With my back against the wall
Nothing grows, and life ain't very pretty
No one's there to catch you when you fall
Somewhere out on that horizon
Faraway from the neon sky
I know there must be somethin' better
And I can't stay another night
In the city, oh, oh.
In the city

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 03:17 (one year ago) Permalink

then he started into dealing with slaves
and something inside of him died
she had to sell everything she owned
and froze up inside

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 03:19 (one year ago) Permalink

So you decide to take a holiday
You got your tape deck and your brand new Chevrolet
Ahhh, there ain't no place to go anyway
What for?

So you got everything, aw, but nothing's cool
They just found your father in the swimming pool
And you guess you won't be going back to school,
anymore.

But Captain Jack can get you high tonight
And take you to your special island
Aw Captain Jack will get you by tonight
Just a little push and you'll be smilin'

never ending bath infusion (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 04:45 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah that song is like a face tattoo exclaiming "life is meaningless"

Treeship, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 04:47 (one year ago) Permalink

good call on "in the city"

lute bro (brimstead), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 05:08 (one year ago) Permalink

They cry in the dark
So you can't see their tears
They hide in the light
So you can't see their fears
Forgive and forget
All the while
Love and pain become one and the same
In the eyes of a wounded child

Zachary Taylor, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 05:43 (one year ago) Permalink

Everybody's got a secret son,
Something that they just can't face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take

Till one day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag 'em down
Where no one asks any questions
Looks too long in your face
In the darkness on the edge of town
In the darkness on the edge of town

Zachary Taylor, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 05:50 (one year ago) Permalink

And I know a father who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he'd done
He came a long way just to explain
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and he headed home again

Zachary Taylor, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 05:54 (one year ago) Permalink

Twelve o'clock, I gotta rock
There's a truck ahead, lights starin' at my eyes
Oh my God, no time to turn
I got to laugh 'cause I know I'm gonna die

Zachary Taylor, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 06:01 (one year ago) Permalink

If it feels alright, maybe you can stay all night
Shall I leave you my key?
But you've got to give me a sign, come on girl, some kind of sign
Tell me, are you hot mama? you sure look that way to me

Are you old enough? will you be ready when I call you bluff?
Is my timing right? did you save your love for me tonight?

Zachary Taylor, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 06:03 (one year ago) Permalink

That Jonas Blue cover of fast car is wretched because it's hopeless -- the original version has always sounded to me like the narrator's saying "fuck this, I'm done with it" finally.

Three Word Username, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 11:18 (one year ago) Permalink

tom jones - not unusual

it's not unusual to see me cry/I WANNA DIE

pre millennial tension (uptown churl), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 13:47 (one year ago) Permalink

i sometimes wish i'd never been born at all

. . .

nothing really matters, anyone can see
nothing really matters
nothing really matters to me
. . . anyway the wind blows. . . .

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 13 April 2016 15:48 (one year ago) Permalink

Not the bleakest, but this couplet always bring me down:

So many people, have come and gone
Their faces fade as the years go by

henry s, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 16:31 (one year ago) Permalink

You don't hear "Eleanor Rigby" on classic rock stations too often (except maybe during a Beatles 6-pack or rock block), but those lyrics never fail to block out the sun.

henry s, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 16:36 (one year ago) Permalink

i always saw belle and sebastian's early work as like a response to the beatles' question of where lonely people in the uk come from/belong. it turned out they were predictably sad and lonely but also had rich inner lives, filled with transgressive sex and deep spiritual convictions. that made me feel better.

Treeship, Wednesday, 13 April 2016 16:47 (one year ago) Permalink

and if i smile, tell me some bad news
before i laugh, and act like a fool

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 20 April 2016 21:00 (one year ago) Permalink

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time made you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too

thom yorke state of mind (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 20 April 2016 23:21 (one year ago) Permalink

I am never not haunted - even after hearing the song a zillion times in non-bleak contexts - by the backing vocals in Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," distantly chanting "this world is only going to break your heart" over and over again

Your Ribs are My Ladder, Thursday, 21 April 2016 02:17 (one year ago) Permalink

i always saw belle and sebastian's early work as like a response to the beatles' question of where lonely people in the uk come from/belong. it turned out they were predictably sad and lonely but also had rich inner lives, filled with transgressive sex and deep spiritual convictions. that made me feel better.

― Treeship, Wednesday, April 13, 2016 4:47 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

this is amzing and making me see+appreciate both bands anew

bernard snowy, Thursday, 21 April 2016 04:21 (one year ago) Permalink

Does "Johnny and Mary" by Robert Palmer count, because that's as bleak as bleak

a hairy, howling toad torments a man whose wife is deathly ill (James Morrison), Thursday, 21 April 2016 06:02 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah, that's a great post, Treeship.

never ending bath infusion (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 21 April 2016 12:28 (one year ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 1 May 2016 00:01 (one year ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 2 May 2016 00:01 (one year ago) Permalink

Another year and then you'd be happy
Just one more year and then you'd be happy
But you're cryin, you're cryin now

Liquid Plejades, Monday, 2 May 2016 02:41 (one year ago) Permalink

OP didn't even choose the bleakest line of Jack & Diane, which is:

"Suckin' on a chili dog outside the Tastee-Freez"

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 9 May 2016 18:40 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I remember when rock was young
Me and Suzie had so much fun
Holding hands and skimmin' stones
Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own
But the biggest kick I ever got
Was doing a thing called the crocodile rock
While the other kids were rockin' round the clock
We were hoppin' and boppin' to the crocodile rock

But the years went by and the rock just died
Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy
Long nights crying by the record machine
Dreaming of my hevy and my old blue jeans
But they'll never kill the thrills we've got
Burnin' up to the crocodile rock
Learnin' fast as the weeks went past
We really thought the crocodile rock would last

Crocodile-rockin' is something shockin'
When your feet just can't keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will

Newb Sybok (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 27 December 2017 17:52 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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