Pick 5: Anti-Valentine’s Day Ballads of Tragic Love - The Birthplace of Country Music
Loading station info...

Pick 5: Anti-Valentine’s Day Ballads of Tragic Love

Three heart shaped sugar cookies, with the top one, bearing the words "Be Mine" broken in half.

For our “Pick 5” blog series, we ask members of the Radio Bristol team to pick five songs within a given theme – from heartsongs to murder ballads and everything in between! Once they pick their “5,” they get the chance to tell us more about why they chose those songs. With a diverse staff of knowledgeable DJs, we’re sure to get some interesting song choices, which might introduce you to some new music, all easily accessible by tuning into Radio Bristol! Today’s “Pick 5” is by Ella Patrick, DJ host of Folk Yeah!

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I remember losing all the lollipops out of those little cardboard cards the cool kids used to give out, or I think of the time I accidently sat on an entire box of conversation hearts in front of the whole class. For me the “Valentine’s Day” thing has been forever clouded by a dust of powdered sugar, wadded up declarations of strictly platonic love, and the sinking feeling of rejection.

Based on personal experience, I thought for my “Pick 5” I’d make an “Anti-Valentine’s Day” playlist for all the broken hearted ne’er do wells out there (like me). Basically for those of us who know that love’s true nature is destruction, tears, and tubs of ice cream. So if you’re looking to avoid the sickly-sweet melodrama of assorted chocolate boxes and piles of overpriced hallmark cards, or if your personal life has been obliterated by Cupid’s arrow and the texture of red velvet makes you nauseous, look no further then this incredibly tragic playlist of sulking folk ballads! Whether you want to let go of the deranged hope of “finding true love,” feel the need to cry your eyes out, or want to find a “Sonic Hole” to crawl into, these songs will be a perfect guide to letting those nasty feelings of regret, loneliness, and heartbreak play on repeat.

“The End,” Sibylle Baier (1970 / 2006)

Written by Sibylle Baier, German folk singer and actress, “The End” was originally recorded in the early 1970s and was almost lost to obscurity. In 2006 Orange Twin Records released this song, along with a handful of recordings that comprised the album Colour Green, which gained Baier a cult following. Accompanied by sparse plucking on a classical guitar, Baier’s airy voice lingers through the refrain “It’s the end, friend of mine,” expressing wistful disbelief in her impending heartbreak. If you get through this first song without one tear, you may in fact be a robot…or an emotionally stable human being, whichever.

Diamonds & Rust,” Joan Baez (1975)

One of the few songs written by the “Queen of Folk” Joan Baez to chart top 40, “Diamonds & Rust” recounts the awkwardly public love affair between Baez and Bob Dylan. Literally every time I hear the spacy intro to this song, I start tearing up!!! I don’t know if it’s the uncomfortably vulnerable storytelling of a break-up that happened TEN years before the song was written, or the undeniable realization that there IS a universal force that makes it impossible for folk singers to have healthy relationships, but it always gets to me. If you don’t find yourself misty eyed after listening to this song, then you need to go spend some time contemplating existence in a crummy hotel over Washington Square, or just continue being a square for all eternity.

“Make the World Go Away,” Ruen Brothers (2018)

Originally composed by Hank Cochran and first recorded by Ray Price in 1963, “Make the World Go Away” was a top 40 success three times back in the day and became a “Country Crooner Classic” covered by the likes of Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, The Secret Sisters, Martina McBride, and even Elvis! This version was released last year on Ramseur Records and features the “retro” rock English duo, the Ruen Brothers. Produced by Rick Rubin, this stripped-down acoustic, starry-eyed take alludes to every half-realized romantic daydream that smitten, self-centered lovebirds feed off of. If you can sway along to this beautifully dreary number without so much as a snivel, I’m personally concerned about your emotional depth.

“Undone in Sorrow,” Ola Belle Reed (1976)

Introduced as “a sad, sad, mournful song,” this song by Ola Belle Reed from a 1976 Smithsonian Folkways’ recording recounts the tale of every true lover’s worst nightmare. The main character goes out into the world to seek his fortune, planning to come back to marry his betrothed, but when he returns, he finds her pushing up daisies, buried on the mountainside instead. This song is a painful reminder that breaking up isn’t the only way to be destroyed by love; you can also have your partner plucked from this life randomly, never to return. If you can’t squeeze out a tear or two from this woeful ballad, you must live a life sheltered by powder puffs and psychological bubble wrap.

“Nothin,’” Townes Van Zandt (1971)

Nothin’ says romance like telling your lover to pick up all their junk and make sure not to leave anything behind when they go…RIGHT?! This song is either a destructive anthem to a wanna be Buddhist/strung-out hobo, or the bitter words of an extremely mortified songwriter unable to accept love, relating it only to their addictive patterns. Recorded in 1971 by Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt, “Nothin’” has a circular feel to its brooding finger-picked melody. It seems like the listener is being swirled into a black hole of a jangling dismally poetic abyss. This IS the “Sonic Hole” I was talking about! Listen to this song five times on repeat, and if you don’t find yourself bawling uncontrollably, then you’re probably irreversibly desensitized to the human experience, or you just don’t care about nothin.’



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *