The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.
TW: alcoholism, domestic abuse.
Songs have a way of expressing our innermost thoughts and feelings. Music and instrumentation can pull us in while lyrics can keep us hooked. They don’t need to be undecipherable – like some deep, analytical Shakespearean lyrics, they need to be relatable. Humans naturally crave to be a part of something bigger than themselves, they crave to be understood and loved. Musicians pour their hearts into their lyrics in an attempt to connect to their listeners, even if their experiences aren’t exactly the same as their fans. Like other university students, music is my lifeline, and lyrics are my medicine. I have compiled a list of ten sad girl autumn lyrics that I think should be studied in history books, posted as yearbook quotes, or tattooed on your upper arm. These are the lyrics I consider literature.
- “The blood is rare and as sweet as cherry wine”
Hozier; “Cherry Wine”
To be so emotionally raw, to be so intensely attached to the cycle of abuse that you take even the horrible parts of the relationship in stride is such a complex feeling. Hozier uses the vivid imagery of addictive red wine to represent the highs and lows of this toxic relationship. His 2023 CityFolk performance of this song brought me to tears. So much so that I’m pretty sure security wondered if I was having a complete breakdown (I was).
- “I want to make you fall in love as hard as my poor parents’ teenage daughter. She’ll be the best you ever had if you let her”
Phoebe Bridgers; “Waiting Room”
If they would just give you the opportunity, you would make them feel the most overwhelming love they’ve ever seen. I think many people, myself included, deeply relate to this lyric. The feeling of knowing you would be all they ever needed – knowing you would walk through hell and back for them – but not being able to for various reasons is absolutely gut-wrenching.
- “I am my mother’s child, I’ll love you ‘till my breathing stops. I’ll love you ‘till you call the cops on me”
Lorde; “Writer in the Dark”
A Lorde song produced and co-written by Jack Antonoff is pretty much the equivalent of crying until you can’t produce any more tears. Whole-hearted lovers rise, the Lorde has spoken. As someone who comes from a long line of mad women who loved until their hearts were broken in half, this lyric is as deep as it gets. I and other recklessly loving individuals will continue to love and give our souls until time stops ticking, and sometimes that pays off, but most of the time it simply hurts.
- “Crack baby, you don’t know what you want. But you know that you had it once. And you know that you want it back”
Mitski; “Crack Baby”
Are you longing to be happy again? Is there that one itch you just can’t ever scratch right? Mitski has been there and she is ready to devastate us with “Crack Baby”. A crack baby usually refers to a baby born with prenatal drug exposure. Mitski sings about a crack baby, born with an addiction and growing up never knowing what it was they longed for, but always longing for it. You can interpret this in one of two ways; Mitski is singing about drug addiction or Mitski is singing about longing for some sort of childhood naivety and happiness. I take this song both ways. We are born innocent – unbroken by the painful world around us, but as we grow, most of us face the harsh reality of life. We crave that childhood lust for life, we ask why the world seemed brighter when we were kids. What are we longing for? And why do we need it so badly?
- “I wait by the door like I’m just a kid. Use my best colors for your portrait. Lay the table with the fancy sh*t. And watch you tolerate it”
Taylor Swift; “tolerate it”
We are back to that painful childhood hopefulness. When you have been disappointed time and time again by someone – when you have given them absolutely everything you have, and all they do is tolerate it, you learn never to try again. One-sided relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic or even familial truly exhaust you. To foster so much hope and patience for one person but be constantly disappointed by their actions or lack thereof, strips you of the want to be better and do better for them. If you are relating to this lyric, you deserve so much better!
- “I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky. But why, why, why can’t it be. Oh, can’t it be mine?”
Pearl Jam; “Black”
We can’t handle you moving on. We are still so hung up on you that we can’t cope with the fact that you will eventually find another love. It’s that gut-wrenching jealousy that you feel when you see your past lover with someone new. It’s that cycle of reminiscing, wallowing, crying and comparing. Why can’t they just be ours, forever and ever? But life just isn’t that simple. All we can do is wish them success and hope that if the stars align, they will be back.
- “There’s only so much wine. That you can drink in one life. And it will never be enough. To save you from the bottom of your glass”
Phoebe Bridgers; “So Much Wine”
Bridgers once again reminded me to book my next therapy appointment. Anyone who has ever struggled with alcoholism or knows someone who has knows that sorrowful feeling. You know that addiction is a disease, you know they are struggling and you also know that no amount of substances can save them from themselves. Many people use substances as a way to cope with difficult, painful feelings or experiences. But as I’ve seen firsthand, no amount of muting your feelings with a drink or smoke can address the deep-rooted problem at hand. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction you can go to https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/get-help-with-substance-use.html for information and resources to help you.
- “And you can laugh a spineless laugh. We hope your rules and wisdom choke you”
Radiohead; “Exit Music (For A Film)”
Two young forbidden lovers – your Romeo and Juliettes, your Beauty and your Beasts. They spit in the face of your authority. Their love transcends your mundane rules and regulations. Their love is so overwhelming you fear their power. To have young love is such a special, all-encompassing feeling. It mesmerizes you, so much so that you start to question the authority of those who look down upon your choices. When you’re 14, you feel like you can do anything and with a partner in crime, it’s like you could fight God.
- “The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy. Till all of the tricks don’t work anymore. And then they are bored of me”
When Amanda Seyfried’s character Needy said “Hell is a teenage girl” in the 2009 horror-comedy film “Jennifer’s Body” she surely didn’t lie. To be a teenage girl or a girl in general is to put on your happiest face, and your cleanest clothes and perform. My experience of trying to like every ultra-popular song, or buy every newest $40 shirt just for validation is not far from the experiences of others. Fake people love the character you put on when you leave the house, they love how they perceive you. But when you peel back the layers and show them the scary, sad or ugly parts of yourself, it’s like all their love just fades away.
- “If he’s a serial killer, then what’s the worst. That can happen to a girl who’s already hurt? I’m already hurt”
Lana Del Rey; “Happiness is a butterfly.”
Desperation hurts. Being in love with someone you know is bad for you hurts. To be so in love that their red flags turn beige and posing the question “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” is usually a recipe for disaster. They could be the worst possible thing for you, but you love them just the same. It’s both a gripping and isolating feeling all at once.
From 21st-century sad girls like Lana Del Rey to indie-folk Irish giants like Hozier, meaningful music can make us feel less alone. Whether we miss our exes or our childhood joy, someone, somewhere has been there. You are not alone, they are not alone, it’s the human experience we all suffer through together.