I apologise in advance for what is going to happen here. Earlier this week I contracted a little earworm. Niggling in the back of my mind was this sunny little reggae number with chords still warm from the fingers of Bob Marley, overlaid with Sting’s repetitive but remorseful lyrics of heartbreak. Round and round it went in my mind piecing itself together from memory until it finally forced itself into physical manifestation through my fingers to the keyboard to the speakers. Now I’m stuck. I cannot un-hear it and I cannot hear anything else.

Not satisfied with infesting my own mind I am willed to bring this upon the rest of you and what is worse is that this dictates the theme for the week. Not earworms as they are indiscriminate and personal beasts, but songs about loneliness. And yes, there are many. Which shouldn’t be a surprise given that music is inspired by emotions both positive and negative. 

Now we stand teetering on the edge of a mine field. Can happy songs make you feel sad? Can a sad song make you feel happy? If a sad song is backed by major chords and bouncing refrains is it still sad? Is state of mind the only factor that affects how we feel about a piece of music?. Much has been written by people with far more relevant letters after their name than I. So maybe lets just have a listen to 4 great tunes which may or may not make you feel happy or sad but are fundamentally about sad stuff.
So firstly the one that lit the fuse. So Lonely by The Police. I do love the fact that most people thought Sting was actually performing an ode to the BBC TV presenter Sue Lawley in one of the better lyric mishears since ‘everytime you go away you take a piece of meat with you.’
Next up is Elenor Rigby by The Beatles. Apparently, Paul McCartney used to do charitable work as a child visiting the old peoples’ homes and reading to elderly women which inspired this somewhat depressing tale of dying alone and forgotten. I’m fairly certain that a large proportion of the female population would find this a preferable end of days than tending to the will and desires of Sir Paul. One can only imagine the current Mrs McCartney thanking her stars that she has 22 years on the ex-Beatle, who may or may not have entirely replaced his biological constitution with tofu and self-importance.
Next People are Strange by The Doors. The doors never officially had a bass player in the band. Which is a useless piece of trivia, unless you are a band looking for reasons to get rid of your bassist. People are strange when you are a stranger. Is there another adjective / noun that can be used in that way and make sense? People are French when you’re a Frenchman. People are drunk when you’re a drinker. People are lonely when you’re alone. Nope, I must be missing that Indian spirit to find my lyrical soul.
And finally, to Lonely Boy by The Black Keys. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Black Keys live and they are never better than when stripped to the barebones of a two-piece bashing out some dirty blues-rock. This was the first single from the album ‘El Camino’ and the video caught as much attention as the cantering guitar riff, with part time actor / security guard Derrick T Tuggle shimmying and shaking his way through the whole track in a one shot take. It may be about unrequited love and loneliness but it makes me smile.