Readers recommend playlist: your songs about loss

This week’s reader-curated playlist certainly wasn’t at a loss for suggestions – No Doubt, the Divine Comedy and Black Sabbath are among those making the cut

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

When I invited you to share your songs about loss I had no idea what a fabulous selection of music you would find for me to listen to. Narrowing it down to an A list (with honourable mentions on the B list to come later in the comments) has been a very hard, albeit enjoyable process.

There were lots of songs nominated about bereavement and broken relationships, which, while providing excellent music and encompassing sadness and regret, I felt did not capture any feeling of loss. In the end I decided to approach the playlist with the rule that as the topic was “loss”, the word itself, or one of its derivatives, had to appear somewhere in the song. Surprisingly, this rule revealed quite a few tracks that weren’t really on-topic!

Listen on YouTube. Ian McNabb’s Not Lost Enough to be Rescued is not available on the service.

On the subject of bereavement, the standout song for me was Steven Wilson’s The Raven That Refused to Sing. Not only does it have poignant lyrics, but the music conveys a real sense of loss.

Lost love was encapsulated for me by the Beat’s Can’t Get Used to Losing You, No Doubt’s Don’t Speak (especially with its line “I really feel/I’m losing my best friend”), and particularly by Steeleye Span’s Gone to America. The last one is the tale of a married couple forcibly separated: the singer “married [her love] in April, lost him in July”.

On the wider subject of loss, Jerry Garcia’s Loser is about an inveterate gambler, trying to borrow the money to win back his losses. The Divine Comedy ponder on all the things they have lost throughout their life in Lost Property – they “just cannot seem to keep hold of anything”. Dakota Suite, too, seem to be melancholy about Things We Lose Along the Way, in a haunting instrumental.

Black Sabbath, meanwhile, are concerned with the loss of just about everything really, as the world ends in Children of the Sea.

However, not all loss is tragic – a number of artists have lost themselves in love, and seem very happy about it! I picked out three songs on this sub-topic. Al Stewart’s protagonist is definitely lost in love (and has lost his ticket, too) in Year of the Cat. Sarah Brightman doesn’t seem to have a problem with extra-terrestrial romance in I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper. And equally happy to have lost herself, this time abroad, is Bonnie Tyler who, as I’m sure you know, is Lost in France “and in love”.

Perhaps being lost in love is why Ian McNabb feels Not Lost Enough to be Rescued. Perhaps not. Either way the result is a splendid piece of blues rock.

To end on a happy note, here are three lighthearted looks at loss. In an interesting take on a traditional song, Geordie (featuring Brian Johnson, who was to go on to replace Bon Scott in AC/DC) sing about how Geordie’s Lost His Liggie. Marie Lloyd has lost her home, her husband, and all her possessions as she didn’t listen to the advice she was given in My Old Man Said Follow the Van. Finally, Michael Flanders has lost his French horn and instead of playing it as he had hoped, is forced to sing about it in Flanders and Swann’s Ill Wind.

I have a feeling this isn’t going to be the list many people were expecting. However, for the last five days I’ve been lost in music, so perhaps somewhere along the way I’ve lost the plot.

New theme: how to join in

The new theme will be announced at 8pm (BST) on Thursday 3 August. You have until 11pm on Monday 7 August to submit nominations.

Here is a reminder of some of the guidelines for readers recommend:


Chaz Cozens

The GuardianTramp

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