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The Saddest Music in the World

Sorrow of the Children

And furthermore, the most beautiful songs in the entire world.

I’ve seen similar articles, lists, and so on and have always been disappointed. Perhaps sadness is extremely subjective, perhaps some don’t know what true sadness is?

I think true sadness has no face, no description, and no one to describe the phenomenon to us. Similar to death, since no one has come back to tell us what it’s like, we couldn’t imagine true sorrow, true sadness. We can understand suffering on a physical level, those that have survived torture, the holocaust, or rescued POWs for example.

But, true and complete sorrow and sadness could only come from a place that’s hidden to us. The reason is simply the saddest human experience would likely be complete isolation and loneliness until death. So, the true sound would be nothingness, or perhaps the sounds of yourself going mad?

The very fact that I’m writing this article and you’re reading it, means we’re sitting in a building with internet and freely able to interact with others and express ourselves. In other words, we couldn’t possibly understand the true horrors and pain in this world to the fullest. We’re already too far beyond privileged.

However, it is also true that you only experience your own life, so your perspective is absent of other extremes. The saddest thing you’ve experienced is indeed the saddest thing in your world or reality, to you, very specifically.

To me, the saddest music in the world are songs that encapsulate a deep feeling of being alone and feeling empathy for the unknown horror and sorrow that awaits. Onto the music…

I think my first selection will easily put to shame any current attempt online to share the saddest song in the world. First, just listen and don’t read any further until you’ve finished:

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Crypt Keeper at Halloween Love
I ♥ Halloween. I am the creator, editor, and keeper of Halloween Love. Although you'll find new creeps about helping me to maintain these macabre archives of dread. Reach me at black@halloweenlove.com.

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  • Mazagran

    Black, if you’re a lover of sad music I really, truly can’t urge you enough to listen to the music of a young composer named “Stray Ghost” (real name Anthony Saggers)…

    Try “Radnoti I & II” from “October Songs”

  • Leonardo

    Ok, this is a song by Oscar Brown, called “Brown Baby”, that was suposedly sang by Marceline when she and Jim adopted a black baby. But the song is previous to all the events of the People’s Temple.

    I think people consider sad songs influenced by their lyrics, instrumentation and tone of the singer, but not music on itself in the simplest sense. Sad songs by any means: Mahler’s Kindertoten-lieder. It would still be sad even in a mambo rhythm.

  • For me it’s about context. So in this case this specific recording is what hits home, the fact that the song pre-dates the events of Jonestown means absolutely nothing. The original lyric’s meaning or intention does not somehow take away the impact of the feelings that this song creates in this context with these people.

    Also, I would strongly disagree with the idea that beautiful and sad music will illicit the same feeling however, wherever played. I have favorite sad songs that have been covered in a hundred different ways in a dozen different genres and some sound so cheesy without passion that I have that sense of “this is off” and reach for the skip button.

    I have no interest in the technicality of music, who wrote it, who sang it etc. It only matters how specific performances of music and the passion of those musicians sit with me. I think music is deeply deeply personal and never objective. Even the most simple of songs, even when instruments are out of tune or the singer is out of key, if there’s passion and emotion there it’s a different beast altogether.

  • Leonardo

    Interesting answer, thanks!

    Actually, I didn’t mean that this song, in this interpretation, isn’t sad, it is very sad!, but in the end you agreed with my description, and I just wanted, first, to give credit to the composer of this song and, second, to say that there are works intrinsically sad.

    Now, you mentioned objectivity/subjectivity in music, and I agree with you about all the effects of subjectivity in music, but I don’t think objectivity undermines subjectivity, not at all: you say about context and how it matters for what it makes this song so sad to you, but *musical* context also makes us perceive beautiful things to which we were deaf at first.