Given that this is a blog about musical obsessions, I must point out that the episode of This American Life that aired tonight contained a rebroadcast of David Wilcox's tale about his younger sister, obsessed for two decades with "the worst mix tape of all time." This must be the single saddest story I've ever heard on that program--and that's saying a lot. Starts off perfectly witty and amusing and Ira Glass-y and all, but then it just goes deeper and deeper into gut-wrenching territory, and every time you think it's gotten as sad as it can possibly get, it gets sadder. I don't want to give anything away (because the careful, gradual unfolding of the details is a major part of the piece's power), just encourage you to listen to it online if you like first-rate first-person storytelling and don't mind having your tear ducts cleaned out. I didn't even hear the whole thing this time around--it was on the car radio as I drove to an art opening, and the minute I heard Carly Simon and a bunch of children singing this bathetic version of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" on the aforementioned mix tape, it all came back to me. I knew I had to get the hell out of the car pronto or I'd be a basket case for the rest of the night.
I admit it: beneath my devil-my-care exterior, I nurse a soft spot of truly embarassing proportions. The proper Red Sovine recitation, like one particular selection on his Christmas album, can have me bawling my eyes out in no time. At least one Dolly Parton composition from her classic era (is it "Daddy, Come and Get Me"? "Down from Dover?") can do it to me, too.
And let's not even mention the Dar Williams song "The Christians and the Pagans," which I don't even think was intended to be a tear-jerker. In fact, I think it's actually supposed to be kind of light and funny. There's just something about the image of this complicated, fragmented family trying to find common ground at the dinner table that gets me every time.
There, I've said too much. If you have a song (or, okay, spoken word piece) that makes you weep uncontrollably, share it with the world by posting it in the comments section below, and we'll all have a good old cry together.