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Sad Bastard Music: Regretful June (John Gross)

June 19, 2015


Welcome to another blog post that is full of nothing but Sad Bastard Music. This month, let’s explore regrets. Letting yourself and others down is a bummer feeling. Regrets can be anything as minor as wasting time drinking beer or as major as not being able to treat a relationship the way it may have deserved thus causing it to crumble. Let’s get into REGRETS!

:The Afghan Whigs – Regret:  I’ve posted the Get Up Kids version of this song before because it’s a great track, but I came across this mid-90s Whigs version recorded live in Boston and wanted to share it. The protagonist in this cover version of the 1993 New Order classic tries to assure himself and the world that he is capable of not being a sadsack. He’s trying to convince the world that he is capable of being normal when for whatever reason he is broken. Some fans claim it’s about the notion of celebrity, but I know it is regret from a relationship gone wrong.  NOTE: The song kicks in at about 2:20 after an awful lot of on stage banter.

:David Bowie – Sorrow:  Originally by a group called The McCoys, this appears on the 1973 Bowie album of covers, Pin Ups. It is great. This is total glammy rock but it’s dripping in remorse and regret. “You’re out there playing your high class games of sorrow” and leaving Thin White Duke all alone!

:Ben Folds Five – Regrets:  From the brilliant 1999 concept album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, this song paints a picture of the bad feeling of not doing enough for grandparents before they pass, as well as a weird police mistaken idea mixup. The song ends with a MEGA half-time-tempo, full choir, tympanis, and fuzzed-out bass production making this little ditty a certifiable monster jam.

:St. Vincent – Regret:  From St. Vincent’s self-titled album, this John Congleton produced track (!) touches on not allowing yourself to be happy, being scared of commitment and simultaneously the fear of being left alone. It’s a self fulfilling ouroboros of anxiety that goes on and on and on and on. This is one of my favorites by St. Vincent, and there are many.

“I’m afraid of heaven because I can’t stand the heights

I’m afraid of you because I can’t be left behind”

:The New Pornographers – Daughters of Sorrow:  Dan Bejar’s trademark voice is a national treasure. This track off their 2013 effort Together will make you pump your fists right and sway back and forth all over the course of about three minutes. Bum bum bum bah bah. USA! USA!

:Neon Indian – Should Have Taken Acid With You:

“Should have taken acid with you/ Take our clothes off in the swimming pool

Should have taken acid with you/ Told my parents that I’m staying with you”


:Au Revoir Simone – Don’t See The Sorrow:  Here we have a sweet song about wanting a love to make some room for the protagonist. But it’s just not happening. Add in a waltz casiotone beat and plenty of airy harmonies and we’ve clearly got ourselves a sad bastard song.

:American Football – But The Regrets Are Killing Me:  I’m pretty sure all of the American Football songs will one day be included in these sad music mixes … but we’ll start here. The song takes place at a juncture after four years of a relationship, presumably high school or college. “A long goodbye with mixed emotions, just fragments of another life” with angular guitar noodling and odd time signatures that build and build and build to the self-realized proclamation: “ I’m not dead yet, but the regrets are killing me.”


Come listen to a ton MORE songs of misery at the next NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music, DJ GrossYall’s monthly night of nothing but heartbreaking songs of tragedy at The Volstead. Look – here’s a facebook invite!

Featuring everything from Elliott Smith to Hank Williams and Sam Cooke to Cat Power, this free night of songs of hyper-melancholy is a safe space to get lonely. NO DANCING is the only place in town where you’re able to hear the sounds of people’s relationships falling apart through loud speakers with a craft beverage in your hands and all the Kleenex you could possibly need.

Join in at the Volstead June 23rd !

Like NO DANCING on Facebook to be up to date with happenings.

XO. Goodbye.


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Sad Bastard Music: This May – Heaven Adores You (John Gross)

May 8, 2015


In honor the upcoming documentary Heaven Adores You, about the late and tragically great Elliott Smith, I’ve chosen to highlight some of the best tracks from his catalog for this month’s sad music column. Is it complete and does it cover each of his albums? No. Does it feature anything from Heatmiser? No. But this is some of my favorite Elliott Smith-related material and it’s the glue that will hold together this mixtape.

Sad songs are the best songs and Elliot Smith, man, he could write a mean sad song. Coping with drug addiction on top of basic heartbreak and general showbiz depression is a heavy order, but it worked for Smith and provided him with artistic fuel right up until his passing in 2003. I was heavily involved with college radio at the time of his death and was therefore surrounded by people to whom Smith meant the world to. His sensitive strummings, odd riffs, and layered self-harmonizing made him a treasured love. His music brought a sort of comfort to listeners; we listen to sad music to know we are not alone in our pain. You know what they say about misery and company. Because of the connection so many felt to Smith, the gruesome nature of his death – two self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest – he left in his wake an army of heartsick mourners. His death is as haunting as his music he left the world with. Some people have Kurt Cobain. I’ll take Elliot Smith any day.

There are a TON of questions about his death and a TON of unique moments from his life that I have high hopes the new documentary will address when I see it at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on May 11 and May 14. Check out the trailer!

Tickets are available HERE.  ALSO, I’m giving away TWO pairs of tickets for the May 14 Alamo Austin screening and all you have to do to win is send your favorite Elliott Smith song in the subject line and your first/last name in the body HERE. Winners will be chosen randomly on Wednesday the 13. There are no wrong answers! Drink up baby.

:Portland Cello Project – Between the Bars:  Does the fact that Elliott was from dreary Portland make this ensemble of four strings and bowed axes even MORE somber? Yes. Yes it does. You can practically hear the long stretches of grey sky in the slow lull of the cellos’ baritone.

:Elliott Smith – Needle in the Hay:  Recorded in 1995 and popularized by the attempted suicide of Ritchie Tenenbaum in 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums, this was an Elliott gateway for many who missed his Oscar nomination in 1998 for Miss Misery.

:Bad Astronaut – Needle in the Hay:  A song so nice – let’s play it twice! This version is from Bad Astronaut, the side project of Joey Cape from Lagwagon. They released three EXCELLENT albums littered with inspired covers and this is one of the best. The distortion pedal is used with love here but the delicate confession remains. The sarcastic wordplay of “getting good marks” is emphasized. Give it a listen.

:Elliott Smith – Everything Means Nothing To Me:  Legend has it that Smith was so fed up with the state of his life and the music industry that he took a knife, carved the word NOW in his arm and sat down at the piano to write this song with the blood dripping everywhere. DUDE! That’s up there with Phil Spector pointing guns at the Ramones as far as studio lore goes, folks!

:Elliott Smith- Blackbird (Beatles Cover):  Smith was known for covering this song live late in his career, and this bootleg recording is stupidly good. I recall, an entire lifetime ago, when he played it at a 2003 Austin show and it was especially moving. His presence on stage that night was very removed and shy and somber. A few months later my pal, Michael, from the radio station, would embark on a pilgrimage from Austin across the country to pay homage to Smith at a series of (roman) candlelight vigils.

:Ben Folds- Late:  This is such a good tribute song. The idea of gloomy and depressed Smith is countered here with the image of him playing pickup games of basketball with his pal, Ben Folds. The picture of a track-marked, skull-capped Smith faking the funk on a nasty dunk brings a smile to my face. It’s the same alien feeling of seeing your middle school teacher at the store; picturing Smith sweaty and jovial on the court is so removed from his usual portraiture. Learning that Smith meant as much as he did to a respected musician like Ben Folds, makes his legacy even more significant. “Elliott, man, you played a fine guitar/And some dirty basketball/ The songs you wrote/ Got me through a lot/ Just wanna tell you that.”

Come listen to a ton of Elliot Smith related tunes and MORE at the next NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music, DJ GrossYall’s monthly night of nothing but heartbreaking songs of tragedy at The Volstead. Join in at the Volstead May 12 for a special Elliott Smith heavy evening in honor of this new documentary.

Featuring everything from Elliott Smith to Hank Williams, Sam Cooke to Cat Power, this free night of songs of uber-misery is a safe space to get lonely. NO DANCING is the only place in town where you’re able to hear the sounds of people’s relationships falling apart through loud speakers with a craft beverage in your hand and all the Kleenex you could possibly need.

Like NO DANCING on Facebook to be up to date with happenings.

XO. Goodbye.


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Sad Bastard Music: April Showers Of Tears (John Gross)

April 10, 2015

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The open bars and potentially killer apps of SXSW have left us and as a result we’re stuck with a strange lonely liquid on our faces for the month of April.

As you know by now – my favorite songs are the saddest ones and while there are a million subjective subgenres within that criteria of music, there is nothing as tried and true as a protagonist straight up talking about sobbing. Bonus points for getting it on the microphone and pressing it to tape!

The infinite sadness of music that hits our ear holes all stems from the tear ducts in our eye holes. But that’s not always the “coolest” thing to talk about so … sometimes it’s just … you know … “raindrops.” But as Flight of the Conchords explain: “These aren’t tears of sadness because you’re leaving me, I’ve just been cutting onions, I’m making a lasagna for one.” Always a classic go-to line.

:Smokey Robinson And The Miracles – The Tears Of A Clown:  This is one of my all time favorite songs. Smokey Robinson was one of the first Motown employees ever as a songwriter and is a certified legend. Here, he evokes the clown Pagliacci and paints the picture of a guy who is smiling on the outside and frowning on the inside. He had used this comparison before with the line “just like Pagliacci did/I’ll try to keep my sadness hid” that appears in the song My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down), which he wrote three years earlier for fellow Motown artist Carolyn Crawford. Fun fact: little Stevie Wonder co-wrote this song and it can always make me get up and dance.

:James Intveld – Teardrops Are Falling:  This is the guy who was the singing voice of Johnny Depp in John Waters’ Cry Baby. He got weaseled out of being in the theatrical credits … but this is him. JAMES INTVELD!

:Del Shannon – Cry Myself To Sleep:

“The party’s over and I’d like to be alone

‘Cause when I see her I just have to weep

I’m gonna cry myself to sleep

Cry ya-ya-ya…”

:The Everly Brothers – Crying In The Rain:  Hide the tears in the stormy weather, it’s not like there is any sunshine anyway.

:Anne Peebles – I Can’t Stand The Rain:  Before Missy Elliot got her freak on with this, Peebles delivered this monster sad bastard hit in 1973. The line “Alone with the pillow, Where his head used to lay” gets amplified when the rain hits the window panes, and rain is you know … sorta like the gal upstairs in the clouds weeping.

:Magnetic Fields – Bitter TearsThis one is Merritt preaching it right.

“cry because it looks so good

I cry, why not, it’s free

And there’s nothing more interesting

Than crying constantly

And as I tell everyone

Crying all the time is fun”

:Flight Of The Conchords – I’m Not Crying:  Modern day gospel from New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy-folk duo!

“I’m not crying, it’s just been raining on my face

And if you think you see some tear tracks down my cheeks

Please, please don’t tell my mates”

There are SO many more sad songs about weeping.  the internet isn’t big enough!  Thanks for reading!


If you want more sad bastard music and want handcrafted cocktails made for you while you listen- come to NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music on Tuesday, April 14 in Austin at the Volstead Lounge. I’ll have plenty of Kleenex.



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Sad Bastard Music: Spring Breakup Forever (John Gross)

March 18, 2015


It’s that time of year again. It’s a time when a flurry of complicated haircuts, free energy drinks and former members of Das Racist pour in to Austin for a music festival that is located in the Lone Star State.

There are a lot of talented dance groups, party rock bands, etc coming to town but let’s pay tribute to some of those coming to the festival who could be best be interpreted as the purveyors of sad bastard music. This is not the easiest list to compile because there is a convention center full of musicians from all over the world and this week they are all going to be sad when they can’t get into the secret show where Robert Durst from the Jinx raps with Drake, but let’s take a crack at it. Let’s listen to the sounds of people’s relationships falling apart through the computer speakers shall we?

:Angel Olsen – unfucktheworld:  Last year’s Jagjaguar release Burn Your Fire for No Witness is full of lament and lonely feels but my favorite is this here bare-your-soul jam. “If all the trouble in my heart would only mend …” YES! The whole album was recorded to make you feel alone. It’s sparse and through studio magic (with wizard producer John Congelton behind the knobs) let’s you into Olsen’s tragedy. By definition: unfucking the world would imply a sensation of promise … but she’s the only one now. so there is no hope for happiness. She is a rock, she is a gritty and beautiful island.

:Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener:  Seeing Barnett live is a whole different experience than listening to the record. It’s more lush and upbeat as demonstrated in this Australian’s recent Fun Fun Fun Fest performance. This song is the ultimate slacker, panic attack, asthma anthem. It creates a jangly, stream of consciousness picture of a case of the Mondays gone very wrong. Ack.

:Noveller – Into The Dunes:  Instrumental soundscapes of verdant guitar, droney atmosphere all from six strings and a ton of weirdo pedals. Love it. The way Godspeed You Black Emperor taught a generation about Canadian post-rock, Noveller teaches us about accessible noise and will serve as a gateway into more extreme sub genres of soft murmers and thundering peaks. No need for a gnarly beard or a Yoko Ono shirt to get in to this wall of sound. This is for those ready to graduate beyond St. Vincent and hey, guess what – Noveller has been opening for Annie Clark lately! Perfect pairing! Even though there are not any words and the only direction we’re given in the title is that of going into dunes, I will gladly admit that I project despair onto this blank, ethereal canvas. The glass is half empty!

:Doug Sahm- Faded Love:  The legendary Texan is being honored at SXSW this year with a documentary about him as well as a tribute show. I’m SO pleased about this Sahm revival that’s taken place in 2015! About time! This track is his take on a 1950 Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys classic that Doug brought back to life in 1973 and it might be sacrilegious, but I think Sahm’s is the best. Better than Elvis Presley’s and better than Patsy Cline’s. The best. The tinge of groovy tejano goes a long way in his music and the fact that he’s not more widely appreciated is a downright shame. Here’s hoping that SXSW can help raise his profile even more.

:Juan Wauters – She Might Get Shot:  This simple little ditty is a tad goofy, but it’s slice of life beauty. Portraying a fragile character saying goodbye inherently creates certifiable sad bastard music again – even in the face of goofiness. Not even the canned live audience clapping towards the end can change that.

:Drake – Lord Knows:  This track is produced by SXSW performing artist Just Blaze and it’s one of his best – of which there are many and provides the thesis statement to what Drake’s all about “I know that showin’ emotion don’t ever mean I’m a pussy/Know that I don’t make music for niggas who don’t get pussy/So those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me” That’s right Drizzy – own that sad bastard tendency and feel free to sing about all your sensitive feelings about how it’s lonely to have so many millions and so many pornstars all around you. It’s lonely at the top and Just Blaze’s masterful beat with gospel singers, tight drums and Rick Ross trademark “URGH” makes it all work! YOLO or whatever y’all.

Spring Breakup Forever! Happy SXSW!

Closing note: Watch the trailer for The Doug Sahm Documentary Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove:


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Sad Bastard Music: Valentine’s Day Pity Party Mixtape! (John Gross)

February 13, 2015


The shortest month of the year also just so happens to pack the biggest lonely punch, doesn’t it? Austin Monthly recently reported that “whether you’re strictly against saccharine displays of affection and the commercial aspect of Valentine’s Day or have recently ended a relationship, there’s a night just for you and your fellow lonely hearts.” The night of course in reference is NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music in the heart of the sad, sad city of Austin Texas. A monthly gathering to get down. In honor of the holiday of heart shape boxes, this column will treat you to a lil mix of nothing but songs about breaking up, cheating and the subsequent misery and falling tears.

Let’s listen to the sounds of people’s relationships fall apart through the computer speakers shall we?

:The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now:  The proper etiquette is to begin with the Mozz, patron saint of heartbreak song. This midtempo little ditty branches out from your basic confusion-centered heartbreak, goes beyond and even gets into dissatisfaction in the workplace. When it rains it pours and with this one, like all true great Smiths songs, it also manages to make you sway your giant pompadour back and forth a little.

:Pedro The Lion – Second Best:  From one of the best breakup albums Control, this monotone crooning laid atop of When the Levee Breaks drums gets down and dirty into the desolation of having someone else chosen first. This symphony of misery builds and builds and builds and builds until finally you and your true sad song loving pals will know the joy of closing your eyes at the climax and belting out at the sky “What’s wrong with second best?!”

:The Ataris – Giving Up On Love:  There’s a great poppunk anecdote in here about a bride-to-be leaving her fiancé for Billy Idol and/or his touring band. In 23-year-old pop punker Kris Roe form, this is representative of the human condition. The never-ending cycle of love, heart break, write a song about it, rinse and repeat plain and simple “really kinda sucks.” Sidenote: if you’re a fan of the Ataris seminal album Blue Skies, Broken Hearts … Next 12 Exits, the dudes are mounting a national tour to cash in on the nostalgia that I confess I very much have!

:Descendents – She Don’t Care:  Giving all of your love to a relationship while someone just plain doesn’t care is a ostensibly natural human circumstance that seemingly has created an entire industry of well paid couples therapists. Here, Milo looses a wife, a lover and a best friend. Everything evaporates and everything sucks.

:Elliot Smith – Everything Reminds Me Of Her:  Trying to get on with your life, trying to get along in social functions, trying to move forward and becoming a contributing member of civilization when the brain and the heart simply aren’t ready. Heck, even something as minute and as a natural as a SHADOW can bring you down to a puddle of seemingly infinite depression like a figure 8. Why should I lie? It can suck. This song nails it in a way that only the ol heart stabber (Figurative. Literal.) can.

:Del Shannon – Runaway:  Great. Something went wrong with a strong love and now you’re standing in the rain, confused, wishing, wa-wa-wa-wondering where the girl that stole your heart is staying with tonight. Add in a hauntingly shrill, yet zippy little organ sound made on on a clavioline-based electric keyboard called a Musitron!

:Jim Stafford – My Girl Bill:  Just listen.


:Get Up Kids – Valentine:  “Will you be my valentine if I’m a world away?” The protagonist is living a road warrior lifestyle, presumably inspired by the tribulations of a successful emo band on tour, but could just as easily be one of those George Clooney business men types from Up In The Air. Distance makes the heart grow fonder but also wages war and leads to a sea of apologies as a result. Good intentions are just that – intentions, the truth is that being a world away can break down and disintegrate a relationship. We’ve heard it a thousand times where what was once second nature becomes alien. The bit about forgetting the words to anniversary songs always gets me. Despite the polite and formal inquiry about being this protagonist’s special Valentine – I’m guessing that the answer is a Lisa Simpson to Ralph Wiggum level rejection. Hey, “constants aren’t so constant anymore.“

Goodbye. And Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Sad Bastard Music: Jilted January (John Gross)

January 16, 2015


Lost hope? Dreams ended? Spilled milk? This is Sad Bastard Music – a monthly column of the best sad songs of all time and this exists solely for your comfort. Come here buddy … bring it in. There you go …. that’s better. Let it all out. Let it all go and have a good cry. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

The sadder the song, the better the song – that’s the motto!  Let’s begin!

:Hank Williams – There’s A Tear In My Beer:  I can already tell that you’re not listening to enough Hank Williams today so far so let’s change that right … now. Crying at the honky tonk is my favorite country music trope and it can likely all be traced back to this 1950 megaclassic. If you need a resolution for 2015 it should absolutely be to listen to more Hank Williams and to get his likeness tattooed on your forearm.

:Azure Ray – Raining in Athens:  These two girls, man. They can be brutally sad. Wait – not can be … they ARE brutally sad. This poetic song tells tale of a hypothetical universe of what could have been between a failed couple, an alternate universe where things worked out and the couple grow old together. A false reality where the main character has “mastered the art of dealing and slipping away without falling apart.” The realization and confession of this is a hugely complex thing to grapple with and it’s tackled in three short stanzas in about four minutes. For more, I strongly recommend the record Burn And Shiver but really any Azure Ray from our sadsack pals at Saddle Creek will do the trick. Brutally Sad.

:Bruce Springsteen – My Hometown:  You can’t escape. Racial tension, shotgun blasts, hotrod races, unemployed factory workers and the Americana cycle that goes on and on and on. This could be viewed as an uplifting something or other about the American dream we’re promised and the glory of being able to make your own way in the land of milk and honey or whatever – but it’s a sad one to me. The glass is half empty in my hometown.

:Mac DeMarco – Brother:  Here, DeMarco and his devil may care attitude takes a jab, like a lackadaisical Springsteen, at the modern American dream. With mellow, chorus pedal drenched guitar and almost monotone melody, Mac warns against conformity and the meaningless existence of the rat race in corporate America. There’s more to life than work/work/work/work/die. Right? For instance: there are great music blogs to read and kitty cats to pet!

:Beck – Cut in Half Blues:  This is some of that textbook “anti-folk” stuff that the kids are going wild for these days. It’s certainly not serious but in it’s humor there is sadness. Heck, I don’t envy a protagonist that’s literally been cut in half by his old lady! Hey – she loves power tools! Even in the bedroom! Some may know this song from Stereopathetic Soulmanure but this version here is much more rare – it’s from an unofficial collection of weirdo Beck demos called Don’t Get Bent Out Of Shape from 1992, two years before Loser-mania swept the nation. “Well, the last thing I saw was a big long saw, I got the cut in half blues”


I’ve been wildly into the Everly Bros lately and after absorbing all of the greatest hits CDs that exist commercially – the only other place to go is to the internet to find 50 year old live TV performances from the UK. These bouffant haircuts were captured live on the Alma Cogan Show and the backing band just so happens to be the Crickets just two years after the day the music died and Buddy Holly passed away. There must be something in this fresh 2015 air that is making internet nerds like me revisit their musical luster, because right before posting this I ran across this recent love letter to the Bros from Esquire that has a sweet Spotify playlist and everything! Check it out HERE!


The next No Dancing: Sad Bastard Music night at the Volstead will be in honor of Valentine’s Day and all attendants will receive one of a kind cards from me to you featuring the best gut wrenching pop lyrics of all time! February 10th 2015- mark your calendars!


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Sad Bastard Music: Woeful October (John Gross)

October 28, 2014


Lost hope? Dreams ended? Spilled milk? This is Sad Bastard Music – a monthly column of the best sad songs of all time and this exists solely for your comfort. Come here buddy … bring it in. Let it all go and have a good cry.

The sadder the song, the better the song – that’s the motto!

:Five Cent Hero – I’m Sorry Seymour:  Remember that episode of the Simpsons where you learn that Seymour Skinner’s true identity is Armin Tamzarian and that he just Don Drapered some dude in the war? His mom rejects the real Seymour (voiced by Martin Sheen!) at the end and keeps her imposter son and chooses to continue living a lie. Of course you do! Well, this is the saddest 1 minute song in the history of the world about this exact interaction.

:Radiohead – Give Up The Ghost:  From the sometimes underrated album King of Limbs, this repetitive and transcendent song that features the refrain “don’t hurt me” over and over again is about letting go of the hurtful past, and I’m pretty sure the high pitch vocals are supposed to sound like a spooky ghost. That’s what I like to think anyway.

:The Verve Pipe – Freshman:  Catch me late night in a small karaoke room and you better believe that we’ll be linked arm in arm screaming about our guilt-stricken, sobbin’ with heads on the floor. Rich with metaphors and high school nostalgia about the pain from a girlfriend’s suicide … or abortion. It’s hard to tell. Hey, I LOVE THE 90S!

:Fred Thomas – Pumpkin Seeds:  The prolific Saturday Looks Good to Me/ City Center frontman Fred Thomas also has put out some weirdo records under his own name and I’m a big dumb fan. I can’t get enough of anything this guy touches.  Tapes, 7 inches, drawings – I want and love it all!   This song is a drone-y meditation with feedback, finger picking and tripped out choral vocals. I can’t understand the lyrics but it’s so mellow and mysterious that I can project onto it whatever I want – and I want it to be sad!

:Propaghandi – Anchorless:  This is the Propaghandi song that really made a generation of fans primed for transitioning into Weakerthans fans. Here, bass player John K Sampson takes center stage in the anti-racist, pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-feminist, vegan punk band from Canada and carves out 100 seconds of the second album Less Talk More Rock and crafts a song about coping with family death,  growing up and make-it-out-of-this-small-town ambition. The nasal voice gave us all a taste of what we wanted more of and thanks to their four studio albums, we have more to clutch close to our chests. Since it’s release in 1996 I supposed I’ve listened to this song about 500 times.

:Magnetic Fields – Very Funny:  Being lied to by a significant other is the pits. The instrumentation here along with Stephin Merritt’s baritone almost define it perfectly. Very funny indeed.


:Jenny Lewis – Head Underwater:  Jenny Lewis has composed some of the best, saddest songs of the modern era but this one manages to sum it all up. And to kick it off it begins with some sweet backmasking. She channels major, chronic depression but couples it also with a TEENIE TINY bit of hope. Treating depression is a super serious thing with a multitude of drug industry fueled options and here Lewis outlines the potential negative side affects and how they can remove you from the true self. Sometimes that’s the best way but not always. She contemplates mortality, puts her head down and powers through sort of like a sequel to Rilo Kiley’s A Better Son/Daughter. The imagery of taking a blanket into a bath crushes me. This song’s up-tempo nature and three part background harmony help illustrate that yeah – things can be a downer but buck up little dude – it’ll be alright. Or will it?

I was lucky enough to see Jenny Lewis at Texas’ Oldest Honky Tonk Gruene Hall earlier this month and I’m still riding a feeling of excitement. Long live THE VOYAGER!


The next No Dancing: Sad Bastard Music night at the Volstead in Austin is November 11. There, you’re encouraged to tear your heart out, rip it in two, bury it in the ground and treat yourself to whiskey drink specials in your mouth and the saddest tunes in your ears. Mark your calendar!

Happy Halloween!


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Sad Bastard Music: Sulky September (John Gross)

September 26, 2014


Welcome to another installment of the internet’s definitive column that talks about the best sad pop music there is. Each month we delve into heartbreak and feelings of general no-good, malaise.

If after listening to the below songs you don’t cry on the outside, you are dead on the inside. The sadder the song, the better the song- that’s been the motto.

Tear your heart out and drop it in a pint glass full of whiskey and let’s dig in.

:The Dukes - Teardrop Eyes:  The great New Orleans producer and proto-rock and roll godfather Cosimo Matassa passed away earlier this month so I wanted to include something here that he touched and the Dukes win. It’s the short, somber sax solo that does it for me for this 1956 doo wop jam. “Come back to me darling, these teardrops just keep falling.” Rest in peach Cosimo.

:Merle Haggard - Swinging Doors:  “In here the atmosphere’s just right for heartaches, and thanks to you I’m always here till closing time.” Merle’s character has been driven to living at the very hole in the wall he does his drinking. Poor guy. This 1966 album went to number 1 on the Billboard Country Charts and still resonates to anyone who has ever seen a lonely fella at a honkytonk. This is a common occurrence in Texas.

:Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Despair:  “Oh despair, you’ve always been there, You were there through my wasted years, Through all my lonely fears.”  I love it when the always fierce Karen O gets emotional. The band is so fun and such a turn-key, art-rock dance party in most cases but when they want to they can go from zero to gloomy hopelessness in no time at all. There’s no escaping a salty discharge from the eyes in this wasted life hymn.

:Kissing Book - Superman Vs Lloyd:  “I can’t believe all the time I spent thinking about the way that you walk and the way you dress. I can’t believe all those days went by when I was lying broken-hearted on your bed.” Being knocked emotionally down the scale from Superman all the way to Lloyd Dobler is no fun descent. No sir.  It happens and it hurts. 90’s Portland, Magic Marker recording artists Kissing Book know all about it.

:Beverly - Black And Grey:  This is the last song on the debut Beverly album Careers. The somber dittie is a perfect ambient closer to the indie-pop goodness from Frankie Rose (ex-Crystal Stilts/Vivian Girls drummer). The vocals are haunting and work together with the simple instrumentation in this song about darkness in a wonderfully lush way.

:The Mountain Goats - Hellhound On My Trail:  From 1996’s Nothing for Juice record, this Robert Johnson cover is as intense as it should be. There is no escaping the doom and the evil that is coming for the sinner protagonist. This is prime Mountain Goats territory.  And hey, that’s sad. KnowwhatImean?  Sidenote: John Darnielle’s new book Wolf in White Van is out now and it’s fantastic.


Fuck it. Here’s some Taylor Swift.


If you’re in Austin, hear the the saddest pop tunes of all time at the next installment of NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music at the Volstead on October 14. The saddest, bastardest night of music in the whole country is enhanced each month with cheap drinks to drown the sorrows and free Kleenex to dry the tears. It’s fun to get lonely!


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Sad Bastard Music: Angsty August (John Gross)

August 22, 2014


Sure, it’s fun to listen to November Rain in its entirety before getting out of bed in the morning, but sometimes it’s nice to spice it up a little and add some variety to your stockade of Sad Bastard Music.  I’m here for you.

:Modern Lovers – Girlfren:  Do kids these days know about the Modern Lovers? They fucking should.  They need to understand the beauty of a simple song that proposes that: I’d be happy if I could only have a girlfriend … not only that, but I’d be able to understand the true art of Cezanne and would better connect with the breathing city of Boston. If only. And kids – take note: it’s spelled “G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N.”

:The Mountain Goats – Autoclave:  Crippling depression, dreams of death and destruction, perfect metaphors – this Mountain Goats song has it all.  What a hook this is: “I am this great, unstable mass of blood and foam And no one in her right mind would make my home her home”  It has a beat and you can doubt your very core to it!

:The Mr. T Experience – How’d the Date End?:  The classic narrative of a date gone wrong as explained in song to Chuck Woolery and a studio audience on Love Connection.

“How’d the date end? Horrible.  How’d the date end? Deplorable.”

That Dr. Frank sure is a sweetheart.

:The Rentals – Say Goodbye Forever:  “I’m in such a lonely place (It’s a lonely place) …  And I could be forever (Goodbye)”  1999’s Seven More Minutes is a classic album and we’re so lucky to be alive while Matt Sharp has a NEW album on Polyvinyl Records entitled Lost in Alphaville that comes out August 26. First one in 15 years and yes there are still some sad bastard homeruns up his sleeve.  That’s a promise.  Preorder it HERE.

:Harry Nilsson – She’s Leaving Home:  This Lennon/McCartney gut-wrencher from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has the listener right there with the lonely runaway girl who’s setting out on her own to try and find happiness and we also get to peek into the crushed parents who will never understand what happened. The original song was played for Brian Wilson before Sgt. Peppers came out and it made him uncontrollably weep right then and there, which is no small feat – but I’ll argue that this Harry Nillson version is as much of a tearjerker if not more. And he does it without the trickery of that breathtaking string section. The Nillson covers appears on his 1967 record Pandemonium Shadow Show and paved the way for a greater friendship with the Beatles who eventually helped him get more and more fame and consequential money. If you haven’t seen the documentary WHO IS HARRY NILLSON AND WHY IS EVERYBODY TALKING ABOUT HIM – I highly recommend it.

:The Magnetic Fields – I Don’t Want To Get Over You:  Sure, there are things that could be done to make the pain go away, but what fun is that if you’re a character in a Stephin Merritt song?

:Dolly Parton – Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright:  One of Bob Dylan’s many timeless sad bastard tracks here has a jangly and Dolly-ized treatment that makes sense somehow. This song has been covered countless times by all sorts of musical greats over the years …. most recently by … ummm … gulp … Ke$ha. Yup – read it and weep. Let’s all just enjoy this Dolly version shall we?


:Divorcee – Law & Order:

The Divorcee project of Yoni Wolf (from Why?) and ex-girlfriend Anna Stewart is a fantastic EP out now on Joyful Noise Records. It’s full of tunes from fragments of a broken relationship. Yoni was able to sift thru tiny moments and feelings on various Why? albums, but here Stewart is able to as well.

“Living with you is like driving in the rain, I can’t see where I’m going but I still don’t press the brake.”

Using poetic lyrics and slivers of what was, the release is a successful victory for any couple, and doubly so for an ex couple.  Yoni handles all of the beats on the record while Stewart heads up all things lyrical – so we have her to thank for name-dropping both Law & Order (created by Dick Wolf – no relation) and Woody Allen in this great song.  Note: the colored vinyl is outta sight and limited to 400 copies … I snagged mine, make sure you do the same.

I you like what you read here and happen to live in Austin – you should come to NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music at the Volstead on September 16 where this sort of music will be played all night long and there is an abundance much kleenex.

Let’s close this month’s column with getting November Rain stuck in your head:

“Do you need some time…on your own

Do you need some time…all alone

Everybody needs some time… on their own

Don’t you know you need some time…all alone.”



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Sad Bastard Music: Down In The Mouth July (John Gross)

July 18, 2014


Oh, hello there. I didn’t see you sitting there. Please pop a squat on a throne of dried up, used Kleenex and let me take you on a journey of sad bastard music. This monthly column showcases the deepest cuts of music’s misery and lonesomeness spanning from songs of cheating to murder to destitution and an abundance of general heartbreak.

Let’s begin, shall we?

:The Get Up Kids – Regret:  My favorite types of sad songs are the ones that are actually upbeat and danceable. It is sorta the way that guy Sting probably gets his rocks off whenever a newly married couple has their first dance to Every Breath You Take, when it’s actually a supercreepy stalker anthem. I digress, the protagonist in this cover version of the 1993 New Order classic tries to assure himself and the world that he is capable of not being a sadsack. He’s trying to convince the world that he is capable of being normal when for whatever reason he is broken. Some fans claim it’s about the notion of celebrity, but I like to think it’s just from a relationship gone wrong. I have always been confused here on if it’s OK to feel uplifted by this song or it’s not, but in this situation where it’s being covered by the Get Up Kids on their compilation album Eudora, there is no question that the scale tips towards the sad bastardness.

:Rilo Kiley -  Glendora:  “I cry, cry, cry, then I complain, Come back for more, do it again.” This song is about a sad girl in a bad situation in a California town of Glendora. She’s all dressed up and headed in a downward spiral. She is awkwardly sexually confused and needing validation so desperately that she is pressured into a weird sex thing but allows herself to be subjected to it because … it’s confirmation of existence. The Californian hero’s lack of self-confidence and consequent bad decisions is something that happens all across America, but somehow it seems more fitting in the LA area of California. All this darkness is set to the one of the most upbeat and poppy Jenny Lewis songs there is, making a juxtaposition that backs up that she’s the undisputed best for a reason. Her new album The Voyager (produced in part by Beck!) is coming soon! July 29th!

:Ben Folds – Still Fighting It:  I had waited on baited breath between the final Ben Folds Five album in 1999 and the first Ben Folds solo record, and on 9/11, 2001 when Rocking the Suburbs was released (great timing!) I was satiated. It is still one of my favorites. That record covers all the Ben Folds bases that fans have come to expect: the upbeat stompers and the crushing low joints. Still Fighting It is straight up bittersweet as Folds prepares his son for the realities of life, specifically adolescence. Everybody knows it sucks to grow up … but the line that always gets me is “And you’re so much like me, I’m sorry.”

:Dolly Parton – Jolene:  Posting this MP3 is really just a public service of sorts so you can have it in your iTunes and thus you have a digital representation of one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s been covered thousands of times (including by ol Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter) but you need the original 1973 – that’s whats up. Oh also – have you heard the conspiracy theory that Dolly is covered in tattoos under her clothes? It’s a good one.

:Phosphorescent – Can I Sleep In Your Arms:  This cover (originally written by Hank Cochran and performed by Sir Willie Nelson) from a live KEXP taping achieves the same sparse majesty that Cat Power does with her Covers Record – in the true power of a cover, it reinterprets the source material with a unique and fresh twist. Originally the song’s character first confessed desolation, heartbreak and loneliness to the his lady friend in 1973, but the 2011 Phosphorescent version proves that when the one you love leaves you ”lonely an’ cold an’ so weak” it’s still a monster. Phosphorescent teaches us all that you don’t even need a pedal steel – you can just use your voice!

:Mineral - & Serenading:  Here’s a song that deals with growing up and learning more and more about yourself and the reality of the world as it relates to loss of faith. Or maybe it’s about just becoming jaded by adulthood and losing the magic of being a child. It sucks to grow up either way. & Serenading is a beautiful track from 90’s indie/emo echelon and is one of their many that makes me thrilled for the band’s first show since 1997 at this year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest. Rejoice! I will be there front and center to see them for the first time. “When I was a boy I could hear Symphonies in seashells. So why am I so deaf at twenty-two?”

:The Pouges - The Band Played Waltzing Matilida:  This is the standard last song that gets played each month at the No Dancing Sad Bastard Music DJ nights because it’s the only song that the bar back at the Volstead likes. Eight minutes of lyrics about war, death, and haunted memories is a great way to clear a bar. But what happens sometimes is the linking of arms and singing along like a bunch of scallywags. Seriously – this is one of the most crushing war is hell songs of all times. “And when I woke up in my hospital bed, And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead, Never knew there were worse things than dying … No more waltzing Matilda for me”


:JJ – When I Need You:  The new JJ album V comes out August 19th and, as expected, is chock full of sadandsexyjams to the infinite degree. It’s that voice. Here’s a song about longing for a lover that you’re not supposed to long for. The painful dreams from a bed of sorrow that result and hating to see someone leave and loving to watch em go. The whole record is as fantastic as you’d expect it to be. Check out the (insane!) trailer for it below.

PS – Thank you to everyone who has been coming to America’s BEST night of all sad pop songs in Austin for the past year. NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music celebrated it’s one year anniversary at the Volstead with commemorative Kleenex boxes, a specials guest set from Chris Simpson from Mineral/The Gloria Record/Zookeeper, a Hugging Booth and there were even tear drop cupcakes! Remember everyone – NO DANCING.


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Sad Bastard Music: June Gloom (John Gross)

June 20, 2014


The sadder the song, the better the song – that’s the motto

Welcome to the latest in a monthly installment of your round up for the perfect sad bastard songs for most any occasion. You know how sometimes you just need to NOT hear a Lil’ Wayne remix but rather an alternate recording of Sounds of Silence? Yes! Let’s do that sort of thing! Pour yourself some cold whisk and crack the cardboard on a fresh box of Kleenex for the latest in great songs of misery, lonesomeness and significant others getting new significant others!

:The Last Names – You Don’t Own Me:  The Last Names are the project of the adorable couple Justin Rice (of Bishop Allen fame) and Darbie Nowatka (radical designer and also of Bishop Allen). In 2012 they set off on a goal of the self-explanatory 52 Covers which yielded wonderful results notably here with the cover of 60’s girl pop queen Leslie Gore’s You Don’t Own Me. While the original song is empowering and may or may not have helped lead to the second wave feminist movement, it’s somber re-working here by the Last Names makes the self-confidence bolstering and assuring empowerment all the more necessary from a distressing situation. Get all 52 covers they recorded together for free HERE.

:The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving:  Ah, the Weakerthans. This is from John K. Samson, (Propaghandi!) who put out his second softer, more emotional and literary venture in 2000 called Left and Leaving. Picking a single song off this record is a tricky task so I’ll go with the titular one. Here in this song the passage of time after a breakup is explored in poetic minutia, right down to the throwing away of once cherished birthday cards from a past life. Urgh.

:The Beach Boys – I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times:  “Sometimes I feel very sad.” Depression, alienation, and theremins! God bless Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys! The struggle is real for this Pet Sounds protagonist here who likely is a projection of Brian Wilson himself. It’s safe to say that he hasn’t always had the most healthy mental state of mind in his days. In fact it’s common knowledge that this surfer boy wiped out and suffered multiple nervous breakdowns while crafting some of the most perfect songs … well … ever. He just wasn’t made for those times … God only knows that bringing barking dog sounds and sci-fi Russian antennae box instruments into the studio coupled with crippling doubt, pressure and despair can make a guy feel out of place. This is just one of many beautiful, beautiful songs on that record and I love it.

:Chad And Jeremy – A Summer Song:  This is one of those interesting ones that at a casual bird’s eye listen could be confused as a happy song. It’s got a riffy little poppy hook, it’s got swelling strings, horns, Chad and Jeremy harmony talking about summer days and dreams but really it’s a song about loss and remembrance of a brief summer romantic fling. It’s simple in that there’s only a few chords but the aural flourishes of other instrumentation elevate this song to an above average 1964 song. Hey so much so that it made the soundtrack for Rushmore. “They say that all good things must end some day”

:Del Shanon – Two Silhouettes:  This 1963 cut is basically the moment in Biz Markie’s Just A Friend when his heart goes down south for a whole song. “Two silhouettes on the window shade, Has caused each dream I had to fade, I started walking up to your door, Turned around, (turned around), What’s the use, (what’s the use), You don’t love me anymore”

It never charted in America but it’s a good simple, short sad track that is one of my many favorite Del Shannon songs.

:Trisha Yearwood and Aaron Neville – I Fall To Pieces:  Originally by the great sad bastard song queen Patsy Cline, this version is from a compilation called Rhythm, Country and Blues that pairs country singers with … you guessed it, R&B stars. The lyrics here are simple and truly heart crushing. “… each time I go out with someone new, You walk by and I fall to pieces …” The delivery in this version from Yearwood and Neville is wildly good. I promise. I know it’s not “cool” to post Trisha Yearwood songs on a blog with such hip credibility such as Side One Track One but I’m pushing that goddamn envelope.

:Me First and the Gimmies Gimmies – Speechless:  This Lady Gaga cover appears on the punkers lastest (brilliantly titled) album Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! After the boy left the girl the girl vows to never talk or love again. How could she? Most people I guess already know this as a wildly popular Lady Gaga song but I have to confess I still haven’t heard the original but this cover does it for me in a fun way.  With their takes on Cher, Dolly and a ton of other lady icons this pop punk record is surprisingly summer jamable and along the way touches on some quality sad cornerstones as well. Also note the solid homage to the Dead Boys’ Sonic Reducer which can also be found as the hook in the Beastie Boys An Open Letter to NYC.


Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked

She’s back! I was lucky enough to help with Lykee Li’s very first US show during SXSW of 2008 in a Birds Barbershop parking lot. It’s a special memory because I’ve so enjoyed seeing her career flourish and get more and more acclaim and realize that I am not the only super fan out there. She’s been thru heartbreak and she’s got that special knack for capturing brokenness and above all making great breakup albums. Her new album I Never Learn is out now and is fantastic. The proof is in this video!

“I let my true love die

I had his heart but I broke it every time

Lonely I, I’m so alone now”



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Sad Bastard Music: Melancholy May (John Gross)

May 23, 2014


Heyheyhey. Thanks for looking at the words NO DANCING on your computer screen right now. I wrote them so I could communicate to you some of the best tear-soaked songs out there. All of the below tracks are perfect to drink whiskey and/or dry your eyes to. So, WELCOME to the latest monthly installment of your monthly soundtrack for glum.  We must pray to the alter of Elliott Smith, The Gloria Record, George Jones and the rest with this monthly column of sad bastard music here at Side One Track One. Let’s explore some somebody done somebody wrong songs shall we?!

:Okkervil River – Happy Hearts:  The best Okkervil River songs are essentially photo albums of nostalgia and here is the only one that happens to have a Greek chorus of the volatile sounding outsider artist Daniel Johnston. I recall when this album came out in 2002 not fully appreciating Johnston the way I do now and in hindsight not realizing the thrill it must have been for the then young band to have a vote of confidence cast in their favor by the guy who famously painted Hi How Are You on a wall in Austin making it eternally “weird.” God, is that record really 12 years old? I digress, for those who don’t know this cut, you will forever love it because the song climaxes with one of the best spelling out of a phrase of all recorded music.

:Vashti Bunyun – I Won’t Say:  “You’ve got your life and I’ve got mine, I’ve got no right to call you mine, When I know you can’t give your life to me.” Vashti Bunyun is an official cult-hero of sad bastard music and is sometimes called the “Grandmother of Freak Folk.” Each song is stripped of anything that could be construed as not soul bearing, leaving the music with nothing but fragile human isolation and mad sorrow. Explore everything you can from Vashti!

:Memphis Minnie – Biting Bug Blues:  Being bitten by annoying little bugs is certainly a nuisance and in extreme situations – yes, I suppose that a sad song could be written about the extreme discomfort that they cause, but you see here … Memphis Minnie is using what’s called A METAPHOR. She didn’t really shoot an actual bed bug, she is shooting a PERSON in bed. Sadness, delusion, passion, gunplay and above all, blues WORDSMITHERY! Memphis Minnie wrote blues songs as a woman at a time when doing so was practically unheard of and the fact that they were about teaching men with certain infidelities a lesson with a firearm is all the more badass.

:Pedro the Lion – Eyes On The Finish Line:  Winners Never Quit is an album full of super sad bastard jams. Case in point here with Eyes On The Finish Line: a protagonist that’s essentially misunderstood by his fellow man including his lover … and to that end … he does something that is foreboding, but in that same misapprehending reality panache, perhaps all will be forgiven in heaven? Perhaps not.

:Beck – I Get Lonesome:  We know that Beck’s returned to the Sea Change era for the new record Morning Phase and a lot of people (myself included) are all jazzed up for that, BUT let’s look back even further to the ORIGINAL sad Beck jams, circa One Foot In The Graves times. Here, Beck doubles vocals with the mega-baritone Calvin Johnson on a simple riff that manages to equate man’s bummer thoughts “to dirty socks piled in the corner.” The 2009 release of the album has a version of the song that’s a bit shorter (less repetition of “I get lonesome”) and that doesn’t have Johnson singing on it. The version posted here is the real deal with that trademark odd couple harmony.

:B.J. Thomas – (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song:  This was a major hit for Thomas back in 1975, certified gold status even but the biggest accomplishment for this sad bastard banger is that the Muppets performed it on the Muppet Show.

:Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend:  This is one of the most upbeat and dancey songs about unfaithfulness out there. It’s a modern and straightforward view of dating told from an underrepresented point of view of the “somebody new.” It won’t make sense right now but you’re still her friend. Note for people who live in Austin: the karaoke dude at Ego’s does indeed have this song in his arsenal.


:Mac DeMarco – Blue Boy: There are a lot of little ditties that Mac’s trickled on his latest record Salad Days. This laid-back backyard BBQ jangler has some good sad complexity to it because the subject is insecure and conceited. The dreamy guitar and the meditative pop chorus all blends together in a big stew of sad bastard goodness. “Honey, that’s the way that life goes.”

AUSTIN RESIDENTS: Join me Tuesday June 17, 2014 from 10-2 for a FREE evening of songs detailing regrettable yesterdays, long gone lonesome blues, and waking up alone. The Volstead bartenders will be slinging the cheapest and BEST whiskey dranks on the Eastside and as always there is a fresh pack of Kleenex (real-deal name brand, mind you) in front of the turntables.

“LIKE” No Dancing on Facebook and post your favorite sad songs HERE.


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Sad Bastard Music: April. Blah. (John Gross)

April 18, 2014


Howdy. Thanks for looking at these words on your computer screen. Pour yourself some whisky and crack open a fresh box of Kleenex and let’s get you set up with the latest installment of your monthly soundtrack for melancholy. Blah.  If you like what you hear here, be sure to “like” dancing on the facebooks HERE.


:Weezer – Tired of Sex:  That distortion, dude. That fuzzy bass, dude. That picture of a post Blue Album Rivers Cuomo swinging yet empty lifestyle. Dude. He’s stretched thin, apologetic, guilty and has a full dance card of ladies. But maybe, just maybe there’s more to life than that. This was the first song on Weezer’s final album, Pinkerton.

:The Mountain Goats – The Mess Inside:  Is it possible to pick a favorite song from the Mountain Goats’ seminal 2002 album All Hail West Texas? That’s a loaded question. For a variety of deeply personal reasons I can make an argument for this being not only my favorite track on the album but also one of my top Mountain Goats songs period. An emotional photo album, an emotional map of the United States, and a trademark simple chord progression can make hearts pop. It all lands home to me.  The protagonist’s memories of an untidy and tragically doomed relationship cut deep here. May we all find the creeping sense of dread with temporal things when we’re ready.

:The Shangri-Las – Remember (Walkin In The Sand):  The pleading of “Oh, no, oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” and the seagull noises are about as perfect of a sad mid-60s girl group combination that can possibly exist. The hand claps, the finger snaps and the snapshot of being a teenage girl who had access to the beaches of New York resonated with America and made the song HUGE for the gals, but not as huge as their anthem for the dead motorcycle-riding greaser boyfriend track Leader of the Pack. Find a Best Of The Shangri-Las CD in a used bin somewhere and devour it. Or just play it on the jukebox at The Shangri-La here in Austin.

:The Fleetwoods – Mr. Blue:  This was a number one Billboard hit in 1959 and it’s still a blissfully sad and tender song. . Yes, America loves a good song about a nice young man who just wants a call from his dream gal. She’s out painting the town red and he’s at home painting the town blue. The whimpering horn is nice and sad but this song is really extenuated by the backup harmonies. (wah-a-wah-ooh)

:Sam Cooke – That’s It, I Quit, I’m Moving On:  Why would anyone be two hours late for a date with Sam Cooke? For shame. Sam’s got some decent relationship empowerment here because he’s not going to stand for for his baby doing wrong, but it’s still a bummer that his main squeeze is running around on him. That’s not fair. Poor Sam Cooke.

:Pairote – Tee Makhuea Pok (Your Cheatin Heart): You know the essential 1952 Hank Williams country standard Your Cheating Heart, right? Well, Here’s an amazingly groovy 60s cover version of it from Thailand. Boom.

:The Magnetic Fields – Very Funny:  This song gets in, paints a portrait of a cuckold, and gets out in under a minute half making it a true achievement amongst the Magnetic Fields famed 69 Love Songs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Stephin Raymond Merritt is a living legend among men.


Angel Olsen’s latest Jagjaguwar-released record Burn Your Fire For No Witness is full of neo-Roy Orbison somber mega-jams. One of the more upbeat tracks, Forgiven/Forgtotten, got a nice lil’ music video made for it seen here. The song has Olsen’s character coming to terms with the time she allegedly got wasted with an ex and the video achieves the imagery with kodacrome colors and hand scratched experimental film school aesthetics. As much as she’s working hard to move on from the relationship, there is still an element of unrequitedness where she continues to seek validation from the ex all combining to result in a poppy, perfect sad anthem for 2014. Go Angel Olsen, go!


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Sad Bastard Music: Miserable March (John Gross)

March 21, 2014


Pull up a barstool, take a deep breath and really let the rye fill your lungs as you delve into this month’s installment of Sad Bastard Music. This is a column that takes a moment each month to veer away from the latest sweet Pharrell music videos and Major Lazer remixes to focus on the all-important sour. There is a whole night of this devoted to songs like this at the Volstead in Austin Texas called NO DANCING: Sad Bastard Music and I’m pleased to proclaim that you would very much enjoy it and your heart will go down south. The next one on the books is April 15. In the meantime – enjoy these Sad Bastard toonz!


:Beck – Say Goodbye:

The nursery rhyme couplet lyrics along with the minor key trademark Beck somberness make this a mediation of sorts on Paul Simon’s 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. There’s the old Steve Martin joke about the Banjo making everything sound cheerful and that it’s impossible for a rapid picking banjo to convey a downer message- this is one of those songs that proves the honorable Mr. Martin incorrect. No Dancing welcomes back Beck to the paradigm of heartbreak and disconnection with the new album Morning Phase. Pick it up at a fine retailer near you. Thank you Mr. Beck for all your sad bastard contributions over the years.


:Hank Williams – Lovesick Blues:  Gotta love the way that the lyric about “not being anyone’s sugardaddy now” is something that only Hank Williams is able to sing with a straight face and not have it sound silly. Seriously, it’s very hard to say “sugar daddy” with a straight face in everyday conversation and Hank Williams has managed to keep the word on a pedestal through the decades. God bless, this is one of the best songs of all time.

:Okkervil River – I Came Here To Say I’m Going Away:  This is from Okkervil’s Golden Opportunities mixtape of live rarities that the Austin based band gave away to fans on the magical internet for the holiday season back in 2007. This particular song was translated by frontman Will Sheff from the great Serge Gainsbourg. With a Question Mark and the Mysterians outro hook of Too Many Teardrops, the song cuts to the heart of better days, cheery memories and then the inevitable end. At February’s No Dancing Sad Bastard Music night Will Sheff was actually in attendance eating tacos, having a drink and letting all the sad jams pour over him. It was a proud moment for me because his music has been huge for me since the release of Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See in 2002. Too many teardrops, for one heart to carry on.

:Dirty Three – Long Way to Go with No Punch:  OK, so there’s no lyrics here to connect with that say what this song is about and why it’s sad per-se but come on, you know it’s sad as shit. It’s sad as shit just like all Dirty Three songs. That’s why we love them. We’ve got a song title to go off that implies lackluster and half-heartedness. The elegant whining of the violin and the repetitive trickling of the high-pitch piano keys punctuate the crippling bummerness of this sadcore jam. Love it.

:Leonard Nimoy – Visit To A Sad Planet:  This is classic from Mr. Spock’s Music From Outerspace which came shockingly BEFORE Shatner’s seminal Transformed Man. I don’t want to spoil the twisty/turny narrative of this deep song, so why don’t you just listen to it and enjoy it.

:The Good Life – Twenty Two:  The crashing of glass that almost becomes a beat but is closer to a bed to this song about a young man that’s made relationship mistakes to say the least. This song has grown to mean different things to me since it came out in 2000 and the concept of what it means to be 22 years old has obviously changed as well as I’m about 10 years past that marker now. The narrative is from a tragic character and not necessarily songwriter Tim Kasher per-se, who at the time was 26 and is now 39. I can only imagine how the song resonates with him in 2014.

:Jackson 5 – Never Can Say Goodbye:  Classic Motown from 1971 belted out by then prepubescent, now dead King of Pop. This little dude has conviction in confessing the “very strange vibrations, piercing me right to the core” and his sincerity is what started his epic career, which peaked with his Weird Al Yankovic tribute parody of Fat. Oh – also he and his brothers had cool afros that they could hide boxes of Kleenex in for this track.

:Jason Lytle – Ghost of My Old Dog:  The Granddaddy mastermind wrote song of his most potent and sad songs under his own name after the unfortunate dissolving of the band who brought us a concept album Software Slump about a depressed robot that will always be overshadowed by OK Computer. Sigh. This song captures the moment of looking thru old photos of those who are no longer with us, man, woman or even man’s best friend, and is done so with Lytle’s signature melancholy complexity. Don’t stop with Grandddady. get all the Jason Lytle projects you can get your hands on.  They are all special.

:The Magnetic Fields – Busby Berkeley Dreams:  I can’t even start to write about this song. Sorry. It’s too much. Time to end the mixtape for the month.

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Sad Bastard Music: Jaded January (John Gross)

January 24, 2014


Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands, of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” – Rob Gordon//High Fidelity

Preach it brother Rob!!!

Welcome to the inaugural monthly column of a currated Sad Bastard Music that will most certainly change the landscape of internet music blogs as we know it. For the past 7 months I’ve thrown a night at the Volstead here in Austin Texas called No Dancing: Sad Bastard Music that focuses on nothing but songs of heartbreak, misery and generally no good, very bad days. It’s a blast! Getting people together to wallow in a sea of whiskey, beer and Hank Williams is a special thing and I’m flattered to be here on your computer screen right now to tell you more about it. I pledge to bring you a reasonably depressing mix of the best in Sad Bastard Music pulling from soul, pop, country and Kleenex-core* (*patent pending) to highlight an audio blend of perfect mopeyness.

This month’s melancholia starts off with the Man In Black and ends with later day Chubby Checker from his lesser known 1971 psychedelic record Chequered which is a giant leap from his well known Twist steez. Along the way we’ll visit Blake Schwarzenbach’s softer side from his JTB moniker, Boston’s Modern Lover and 1 of the great 69 love songs. Sprinkled in there is my favorite Cat Power song lately and a holiday song from Tom Waits that is ideal to cringe in it’s tragedy any ol’ time of the year. Enjoy these Sad Bastard toonz!

Jaded January Mix:

:Johnny Cash – On The Evening Train:
:Del Shannon – World Without Love:
:Jets to Brazil – Further North:
:Jonathan Richman – True Love Is Not Nice:
:The Magnetic Fields – Meaningless:
:Cat Power – Good Woman:
:Tom Waits – Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis:
:Chubby Checker – Goodbye Victoria:

Song Of The Month:

Also, I’ll be featuring a newish Song of the Month here in this space. Tim Kasher is the man that brought up classic sad bastard jams with his Cursive and the Good Life projects and also recently released his second solo record entitled Adult Film. Kasher is a tortured soul that can craft a tortured rock song no doubt about it, with A Raincloud Is A Raincloud he achieves one of the harder things to do while working with sad song devices, which is, to make it poppy and upbeat. Here, we’ve got tambourines, synthesizers and a catchy sing-along chorus … which so just happens to center around the inevitable demise of relationships. The self-reflexive mixed metaphors carry both the heavy “why bother” and the “what if” messages which climaxes with the wink wink to the fact that the character has lost an child. OUCH! But, you know what – why bother being bummed about it? Let’s tap our feet and singalong because a raincloud is a raincloud.

:Tim Kasher – A Raincloud Is A Raincloud:

“Like” NO DANCING on Facebook HERE! Come out to the next installment in REAL LIFE on February 11 at the Volstead!


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