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The Saddest Voice

Friday, June 14, 2013 11:29 AM Comments (70)

It turns out my kids like The Traveling Wilburys, which is okay with me.  They think they sound like The Wiggles, which makes me feel bad for The Traveling Wilburys and for The Wiggles.  In fact, the two bands are more of less the opposite of each other:  The Traveling Wilburys was made up of guys who were already rock stars, and just decided to goof around and have some fun.  The Wiggles always expected to be actual rock stars, but instead ended up being charming and harmless for the soggy bottom crowd.  Both bands ended up writing fairly light and carefree stuff, because, in both cases, who cares?  But I'm fairly sure that, if you look deep into Murray's eyes, you'll see deep wells of yearning and desperation that would make Bob Dylan want to run home to mama.

Anyway, as we were listening to "Not Alone Anymore," I was struck for the ten millionth time at the extraordinary suffering in every syllable that comes from the mouth of Roy Orbison, even when he's fronting a relatively snappy, somewhat dated, semi-throwaway ditty like this:

 

 


Billie Holiday of course.  Like Roy Orbison, she may actually sound her most desolate when she's singing something that's supposed to be peppy and upbeat.  And then when she's not -- take a listen, but brace yourself:

 

 

 

 

Who else has a voice who can break your poor heart?   How about Iris DeMent?\

 

 

Patsy Cline never gets old:

 

 

 

And I've only recently discovered Karen Dalton.  Whoa.
 

 

 

 

Hank Williams Sr.with a melancholy that's a little more guarded:

 

 

 

Neil Young is untouchable:

 

 

And you know Johnny Cash was coming:

 

 

What do you think?  Who's on your playlist when you want to enjoy feeling bad?

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and nine children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.