Friday, 2 December 2016

My Top Ten Self Pity Songs (Volume 1)

Things are still pretty hectic at the moment and I'm swamped with trying to decide what my Top Ten Albums of 2016 will be... and writing the posts to accompany them. However, rather than go a week without a Top Ten, I thought I'd plunge into the archives and re-run an old favourite. My Top Ten Self Pity Songs (Volume 1... if I'm still stuck, I'll run Volume 2 next week) originally appeared six years ago in my old blog, Sunset Over Slawit. That was more than just a music blog, but I lost interest in writing about all the other aspects of my life and packed it in just before starting this one. I made the old blog private although many of the posts had by then been stolen and re-posted by a clickbait website on the other side of the world so they may still exist on the internet somewhere (despite reporting the thief to the google police, nothing was ever done about it).

I've edited this re-post slightly because I'm not the same person I was five years ago...

Ironically, it's the complete opposite to the post I would have written this week if I'd had time. I'd planned to follow Swiss Adam's lead and post ten happy, upbeat songs to counteract the tsunami of bad news we've had to face in recent weeks. Turned out I couldn't even manage five...

Isn't self-pity great? I hereby declare it the most ace emotion ever! If I'm having a bad day, there's nothing guaranteed to cheer me up more than a good long bout of feeling sorry for myself.

You'd think that with all the money and groupies and cocaine and stuff, your average rock star wouldn't have much time for self-pity, yet they seem to get off on it almost as much as I do. Although to be fair, most of the anthems to self-loathing listed below come from early in the respective artist's career - by singing about how shit they felt, they made oodles of money and hence stopped feeling so shit about themselves... and then went on to stop writing such good songs, since happiness is rarely conducive to artistic greatness.

This is Volume 1 simply because there are so many great self-pity songs, I really couldn't narrow it down to just ten. I'll throw some more onto the fire the next time I'm feeling crappy. Do feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box...

10. Mansun - What It's Like To Be Hated

How are you feeling today, Paul Draper?
Ugly, scruffy, no one
Nasty, bitter, enraged
Hated, broken
Oh, come on now, cheer up - it can't be that bad.
Disturbed, unwanted at birth
The fucking joke that we are
I've never had any friends
Fair enough then.

9. Teddy Thompson - Turning The Gun On Myself

I really should do a list of suicide anthems. And this really should be on it. But as it's possibly the best song Richard Thompson Jr.'s ever written, it deserves its place here too.

8. Strangelove - Freak

If your name was Duff, you might expect your life to follow suit. So, cheesed off that fate had robbed him by leaving that all-important 'y' off the end of his name - otherwise he might have been The Man From Atlantis or Bobby Ewing - Patrick Duff formed Strangelove and channeled all his negativity into this...
I walk the plastic streets
Just like a monkey
Just like a geek
My scraping knuckles bleed
I hear my Mummy crying out
He's a freak
I live a life alone
And all my friends are gone
It kind of turns me on
I hate them one by one by one
I'm a freak
7. Eels - Dog Faced Boy
Coming home from the school today
Crying all along the way
Ain't no way for a boy to be
Begging ma to shave me please

You little punks think you own this town
Well someday someone's gonna bring you down
Life ain't pretty for a dog faced boy
E from the Eels has built a career on feeling sorry for himself, understandably so when you consider some of the things that have happened to him. That said, he's always aware that things could be worse. He could always have a face like a shaggy mongrel.
Ma won't shave me
Jesus can't save me
Dog-faced boy!
 6. Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag

I don't care, I love this song. It encapsulates how shit it is to be a teenager, listening to Iron Maiden, unable to get the girl you want because she's dating a dick. The video features perpetual loser Jason Biggs trying to cop off with Mena Suvari (from Amy Heckerling's underrated teen-com Loser). The band followed this supreme ode to woe with an Erasure cover. But as one-hit wonders go... wow.

5. Eric Carmen - All By Myself

When Eric Carmen was young, he never needed anyone. Making love? Making love was just for fun! Sadly, those days are gone. Now he's living alone, thinking of all the friends he's known... but when he dials the telephone... nobody's home.

I don't know about you, but I'm welling up.

4. Simon & Garfunkel - I Am A Rock
I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
See the genius of Paul Simon here is that, bad as he's feeling, he's actually convinced himself he's better off that way. There was a time in my life I lived by the following lines...
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
Listening to this song reminds me how much better off I am now.

3. Beck - Loser

For many years, I thought that Beck sang "So - open up the door - I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?"

Only when it comes to writing this post do my investigations reveal he's actually singing "Soy un perdedor", which, according to the internet... is Spanish for "I'm a loser".

2. Radiohead - Creep

I wish I was special. Don't you?

1. The Smiths - I Know It's Over

Of course, I could have compiled an entire Self-Pity Top Ten just from Smiths songs. And I could have made a Top Hundred just from sticking pins at random in Morrissey's solo catalogue. But none of them would have been quite as majestically miserable as this. It begins with Morrissey climbing into an empty bed he equates with a grave... and goes rapidly downhill from there. He then imagines a relationship with a potential partner who turns round and says to him these immortal words...
"If you're so funny
Then why are you on your own tonight ?
And if you're so clever
Then why are you on your own tonight ?
If you're so very entertaining
Then why are you on your own tonight ?
If you're so very good-looking
Why do you sleep alone tonight ?
I know ...
'Cause tonight is just like any other night
That's why you're on your own tonight
With your triumphs and your charms
While they're in each other's arms..."
Then again, if you've never sat alone late at night and asked yourself these questions... count yourself very, very lucky.

There - that was so much better than a Top Ten Feelgood Songs, wasn't it?

Wasn't it?


  1. I'll tell you what, Rol, I think this is the best Top Ten you've ever had on here, or back on Slawit. But then that probably says more about me than it does about the songs. Having said that, the tunes (esp all top 5) are golden.

    1. Thanks, Martin. There's many more where they came from. Volume 2 will follow shortly.

  2. Being an old fart, I only recognise about half the songs in your top 10 and - at the risk of being told that you posted about this song before - I would like to offer this George Jones gem as worthy of inclusion in any top 10 of self pity songs.
    "The faucet started drippin' in the kitchen
    And last night your picture fell down from the wall
    Today the boss said sorry, I can't use you anymore
    And tonight the light bulb went out in the hall

    "Things have gone to pieces since you left me
    Nothing turns out, half-right now it seems
    There ain't nothing in my pocket,
    But three nickels and a dime
    But I'm holding to the pieces of my dream..."

    1. I could, of course, do a Top Ten Self Pity Songs made up just of George Jones tracks. Rest assured, he will feature in the future.

  3. Brilliant list. One of your best. A sad reflection of my own state of mind but then:

    So this is how it feels to be lonely
    This is how it feels to be small
    This is how it feels when your word means nothing at all

  4. This list made me think of 'Figure of Fun' by the Birthday Party, which someone once said reminded them of me (it wasn't a compliment). Lyrics include:

    I am a figure of fun,
    Obsessive, deadpan and moribund


    I have no luck in love,
    I have no luck in anything,
    I am a figure of fun

    1. Well, at least Nick cheered up as he got older...

  5. I think I know It's Over is the greatest song ever written and recorded. Proper soul.

  6. Yep, there are many great self-pity songs. This type of list definitely needed The Smiths. I might add these 10, in random order:
    Winter Kills by Yazoo
    In Shreds by The Chameleons
    Cup Of Coffee by Garbage
    Fade to Black by Metallica
    Kiss Off by Violent Femmes
    You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory by Johnny Thunders
    State Trooper by Bruce Springsteen
    All The World is Green by Tom Waits
    Moonbeam Levels by Prince
    and finally something by Leonard Cohen or The Cure

    1. Some great suggestions, there, Chris. Giving me an idea for an "All Request" Self Pity Top Ten sometime soon.

  7. Morrissey is definitely the king of self pity
    Good call by FBCB for Geoge Jones though

    Can I offer up Ron Sexmith with Me,Myself and Wine

    1. Deserves a place for the title alone.

  8. Being stuck in the 1960s at the moment, Skeeter Davis with The End Of The World comes to mind.

  9. Fantastic, and I can't think of anything worthy of adding to this list and the suggestions in the comments. But something tells me it would be inadvisable to listen to them all in one sitting without making sure first that all kitchen knives are out of reach.

  10. Surely this one qualifies, Rol?

    Standing Here Crying


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