5 Songs is a weekly series where we point out the strange, the grand, and the unique connections between our favorite songs. Let’s get weird.
Words by Chris
These are songs mentioning a sad lady. Read on to share in momentary pathos mixed with personal convictive storytelling. No, I don’t know what that means either.
“Ruby” / Dave Rawlings Machine
Track one from this undervalued and splendid 2009 record. It has all the rings and rhymes of a classic song, with that ancient fairy tale of Rapunzel, leaning over her window. Of course, the best part about it (in utter male fantasia) is the idea that Rapunzel is awfully lonely up there with a fresh spin, as Rawlings sings, “Ruby, you ain’t lovely yet with your crystal and your Russian cigarette.” The best though is that chorus, with a big accompanied-vocal, “I’m that old-time telegraph man and I came here with a simple job to do, ‘cause that news coming down the wire says that your world’s on fire, and I’m trying to get a message through to you.”
“Ada” / The National
Funny how these gentlemen find a place in this column every week. This is probably the first National song I ever heard, but it was that gnarly version from their Take Away Show filmed by Vincent Moon. There are many ways to approach this song’s meaning, but the one I like best is the idea of a soon-to-be bride hosting a party and losing it (probably in an argument with the soon-to-be groom). She has locked herself in the bathroom and the character in the song just wants things to be as will be, “Leave it all up in the air.” In the chorus, Matt Berninger comfortably repeats that beautiful iambic name and says so plaintively, “Ada, I can hear the sound of your laugh through the wall.” The horns and arrangement are magnificent in this song because it finds subtle joy in this moment of crisis.
“Lauren Marie” / Girls
Girls make a living coming up with modern songs that are unmistakably about the same things girl groups in the 60’s sang about. This song’s kinda cute, actually, because Chris Owens sings that he’s just wants to make Lauren Marie feel better although he “might be crazy.” The innocence cuts through whatever happened to old Lauren. This is a song from the point-of-view of an obsessed dude just trying to get the sad girl to look his way again. I’ll bet you $5 he’s the one that made her sad. Kudos to Girls for not letting the song’s content go any further than that.
“Jane” / Elf Power
Here’s one from the end of the 90’s that is (looking back) pretty down-home for that decade’s romantic songs. What I’m saying is that there was an influx of songs about girls who were introverted beauties. Seems like a thing to me. Nothing particularly stunning or out-of-step about this one, except that it’s downright pleasant to listen to and it fit the category perfectly. Suck it.
“Patty Lee” / Les Savy Fav
If you’ve seen the music video for this song, then you know about cute punk girls dancing strangely on a blank stage seemingly before a live show. So thanks for that, LSF. The song itself is a little fairy tale about a murderous Gaia and the battle of the sexes at large. Over a moody bass line, Tim Harrington belts-out, “We used to be gods, now we’re so plain. It took ten million years just to say my real name. Back before Babylon, shit was cool! Now we’ve all got our saddles on. We trot to school.” Maybe there’s something in there about how “saddled” we all are now compared to a different age. Go out and have some free love.
Sad ladies are the best. WHat are other bands have songs about some down in the doldrums girls? Leave us some comments as there are plenty!