MUSIC TO COOK BY: THE BEST SONGS TO SAY GOODBYE
I love a good gut-wrencher on even the sunniest of days. But when you’re tired or preoccupied they’re even better. As a lot of you know from the last post, I just lost an old and valued friend. My usual response when confronted with the overwhelming is cooking, listening to music, and writing. That and washing a lot of dishes. Stoicism can be a bitch… the following is what happens when the previous collide.
You are not needed now by Townes Van Zandt
Supposedly Townes wrote this after hearing Janis Joplin had died. Whether that’s true or not, it hits the perfect bit of pause to let some truth sneak in. Leaving isn’t a singular gut-wrenching event and this song grabs all those subsequent unfocused afternoons and wraps them in a neat enough package.
Song tastes like: Lunch counter stew, something hot and nourishing even if your mind is drifting elsewhere so you don’t really taste it.
The front Porch Song by Robert Earl Keen
This song will forever have new, unintended meaning for me. If it was possible to make it better that alone will.
Song tastes like: Rainier and hot dogs, enough said.
The Broad Magestic Shannon by The Pogues
Shane MacGowan is another of the magnificent basket cases I’ve been fascinated with throughout my life. I’m not exactly sure how, or if, he remembers what he was saying goodbye to. But the man’s a damn poet. Enough so that I awoke at 4am with these words going through my head.
Song tastes like: The last few half glasses sitting in front of you at a proper wake: stout, Powers, Tullamore… just a little bit more to wash the lump from your throat.
Gulf Road by James McMurtry
Few opening lyrics encapsulate the nature of a years long friendship as well as these do. Which shouldn’t be surprising, McMurtry is no stranger to great writing or misery.
Song tastes like: Bourbon and shrimp. Something you enjoy with a friend on a slow afternoon.
Desperados Waiting for a Train by Guy Clark
Friendship, growing up, growing old and saying goodbye in about 4 minutes. It doesn’t get better, or worse, than that.
Song tastes like: Whatever they served at the Green Frog Café, my guess is Pearl in a can and pickled sausages. But that’s only a guess.
I love you, But Goodbye by Langhorne Slim
Langhorne Slim is a master of juke-jumping drunken folky explosions. But it’s always his moments of desperation that hit the hardest. This song haunts, just as it should.
Song tastes like: A grilled cheese sandwich, made with the fake cheese, if only because you’re too preoccupied to make something more nourishing and complete.
Days by The Kinks
Whenever this comes on, I feel like I’m living my own personal tiny kitchen scene in a Wes Anderson movie… only my pants are long enough. There’s a subtle melancholy here that betrays the upbeat face to the tune. In any case, it’s a nice look back to something you can’t return to.
Song tastes like: Your favorite hot lunch meal in grade school, you remember how good it was but know you can never eat it again.
Magic and Loss by Lou Reed
The bargaining, the anger, the doubt, and finally the undeniable truth that the world is moving forward with or without your grief. In other words, if you think you have an axe to grind get in line because there are too many of us to mention.
Song tastes like: Office coffee: stinging, bitter, but a welcome back to the endless drive forward nonetheless.
Play a Train Song by Todd Snider
An unapologetic look at a life lived, and something I hope will one day be played at my own funeral, as well as that of my brother and all my best friends. When confronted with an existential quandary, play a fuckin’ train song.
Song tastes like: The first Bloody Mary of a happy but hung over morning.
Number Nine by the Twilight Singers
A man bargaining over his fate in light of his own personal shortcomings. That, or some awesome guy talking to the devil. Whichever it is, it’s the amazingly brooding and dark punctuation at the end of an album full of amazingly brooding and dark punctuations. Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli always seem to make some badass music together.
Song tastes like: What ever they had to eat in Inferno, probably something not good for you.