What Makes a Song Sad?

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What Makes a Song Sad?

What makes a song sad is a sad story, sad events, or sad emotions. The lyrical content can include sad thoughts--things that are the opposite of happy. But being able to express those sad feelings in words can be helpful and therapeutic to the writer and the listener who may be able to relate to what you are trying to convey. Often times sad songs help the listener who is sad get through a similar time… because it feels like someone else understands how they feel because they are going through or went through a sad emotional time. People sing along to all types of songs, but sad songs can help make you feel like you’re are not alone with this emotion.

Let’s go over a few sad songs that we mentioned in our blog, Tap into Your Emotions. We offered four examples of sad songs. Let’s take a look at how you can break down a song to find its core components.

Sample 1:

Walk Away by Ben Harper

Let’s check out a few lines of a verse:

We've tried the goodbye
So many days
We walk in the same direction
So that we could never stray
They say if you love somebody
Than you have got to set them free
But I would rather be locked to you
Than live in this pain and misery

Let’s look at the chorus:

And it's so hard to do
And so easy to say
But sometimes, sometimes you just have to walk away
Walk away

If we look at the lyrics, the theme is about losing someone special in one’s life. Whether it’s a relationship, death, or just losing touch with a good friend—it is life. Sometimes it happens. The artist tries to explain how he knows it’s sad and lets you experience that sadness with him and share his feelings about it. He is trying to connect that he knows people have been through this type of sadness before.

Sample 2:

Saturday Sunrise Rides by Michelle D. and YourSongmaker

The song is called Saturday Sunrise Rides. Its about a little girl who used to go on car rides with her father on Saturdays. He passed away when she was a young girl and her mother wrote the lyrics and sent it to use to produce in the style of music she likes.

Listen to the song and find the full lyrics here.

Let’s check out a few lines of a verse:

The sky bursts with purple and grays
The sun dares not to delay
Trouble focusing
Pajama feet carrying
I pad my way to you
Rubbing my eyes
Blinking and claiming that sleep has past me by
I lied
The reason for my waking is Saturday
And Saturday Sunrise Rides

Let’s look at the chorus:

Oh how can I forget them
So sweet and fancy free
Oh how can I recount them
So young and so carefree
Memories of a little blonde girl with a dad
Smart and kind
He took me for a car ride
To ease a sleepless mind

Along with the sad sounding lyrical content and story, with the dissonant, sad, slow, chord progression, the song is emotional and easy to understand. It is also relatable enough to someone who may have a similar story. We’ve all lost someone we love, but we know the sun will come up the next day and regardless of whether we are ready, we have to continue with our lives. That is often what these sad songs are about. Sad, but hopeful.

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Tina Paone