Ten Sad, but Legendary Rock Songs

Aristotle, the crazy philosopher said, “The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain”

Now, consider a gloomy classical composition like Mozart’s “Requiem” – while it portrays a strong sense of loss and sadness, this masterpiece has fascinated people for centuries. Our enjoyment of sad music is paradoxical – we go out of our way to avoid sadness in our daily lives but in the fields of arts, themes such as loss, grief etc. can be safely experienced, profoundly enjoyed and even celebrated.

Simply put, our lives aren’t perfect. We’re all struggling between the constraints of environment and what we truly desire – our dreams about our perception of bliss. A lot of these desires aren’t fulfilled making pain inevitable. At times, we are unable to share our emotional state of being with the people around us, either realizing that they too are struggling or because we just don’t want to bother them.

So, we smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors and fight battles nobody knows about.

This is when sad songs come to rescue.

Rock music has been the fuel of my life and, like most of us, life makes sure I witness my share of crests and troughs. So, when my chips are down or I’m in need of some motivation, I go to these ten sad but legendary rock songs to keep me going.

  1. Goodbye to Romance by Ozzy Osbourne

I fell in love with this song, the very first time I heard it. During college days, this was my go to song in times of turmoil. When hope seemed to fade away Ozzy captured my feelings more perfectly than I could ever have.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

I've been the king, I've been the clown
 Now broken wings can't hold me down
 I'm free again
 The jester with the broken crown
 It won't be me this time around
 To love in vain
  1. Beyond the Realms of Death by Judas Priest

This is one of Priest’s best. The guitar solo is magnificent, ignites a haunting debate about the right to choose whether to live or die.

Have you ever been so disappointed with the world that death seems like a better option? When you feel that a realm beyond life is the only place where you can be yourself? Judas Priest brought this feeling to life with a dark, melancholic ballad which will haunt you for a long time after you listen to it.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Keep the world with all its sin
It's not fit for livin' in
Yeah, I will start again
It can take forever, and ever whatever,
whenever, but I'll still win
  1. Knocking on Heavens Doors by Guns N Roses

This Bob Dylan classic combined with the unique charm of Axl Rose was the perfect recipe for many like me who felt many times that it was the time to quit.

Over the years this song’s been covered a million times but for me, the GNR version is the best. This song was originally written for the movie “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” where Pat Garrett, a sheriff, is ordered to hunt down his old friend Billy the kid. “Mama, take this badge off me, I can’t use it anymore.” The grief of a man who is unable to make the right decision and his moral conflict is beautifully captured in the song.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Mama take this badge from me
 I can't use it anymore
 It's getting dark too dark to see
 Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door

Mama put my guns in the ground
 I can't shoot them anymore
 That cold black cloud is comin' down
 Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door
  1. The Sound of Silence by Disturbed

The original song by Simon and Garfunkel warned us about a society without empathy. Disturbed covered this song to show us how it is relevant even today. And if anything, things are only getting worse. This song brings forth the feelings of anguish towards over-commercialization and materialism. It warns us about the feelings of alienation in a postmodern era where society is running blindly towards all things that glitter.

The song touches you with a prophetic and personal poise that invoke deep feelings, which we are not used to experiencing or expressing.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
  1. Black by Pearl Jam

Heartbreaks are a common thing. But that’s not what you think when it happens to you. And there are few songs that capture the personal and desperate nature of heartbreak better than this song.

This song is one of the most emotional, gut wrenching, excruciating form of self-expression I have ever heard.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
 Were laid spread out before me as her body once did
 All five horizons revolved around her soul
 As the earth to the sun
 Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn
 Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
 Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
 And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
 Of what was everything?
 Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black,
 tattooed everything
  1. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

A song that is sanguine enough to find tranquility amidst antipathy and takes you on a trip to the halcyon days of the past. The interesting thing about Floyd songs are that, I interpret them differently every time I listen and the variance is often directly related to my state of mind.

A beautiful opening guitar piece perfectly invokes tranquility and warmth every time I hear this song. And in a strange surreal way, it portrays the inevitable changes that even the ones closest to us go through over time.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

So, so you think you can tell
 Heaven from hell
 Blue skies from pain
 Can you tell a green field
 From a cold steel rail?
 A smile from a veil?
 Do you think you can tell?
  1. Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones

This one is a classic. A blissful rock song, the expression of unconditional love, heartfelt.

The slurry, hazy aura mixed with raw emotions, poetic metaphors and the musicality of Rolling Stones makes this song one of the best.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Childhood living is easy to do
 The things you wanted I bought them for you
 Graceless lady you know who I am
 You know I can't let you slide through my hands
 Wild horses couldn't drag me away
 Wild, wild horses couldn't drag me away
  1. Show Must Go on by Queen

One of the most powerful songs ever created. Defiance and hope interweaved with strong vocals, a masterpiece. The way Freddie Mercury connects with your emotions is incredible. It carries the weight of Mozart’s Requiem. The message in the song is simple – there are hard times in life but we should carry on and still aim high. however eventually the song evokes a higher spirituality.

The song was beautiful when I first heard it as a child, now I find it legendary.

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Empty spaces what are we living for
 Abandoned places I guess we know the score
 On and on, does anybody know what we are looking for
 Another hero, another mindless crime
 Behind the curtain, in the pantomime
 Hold the line, does anybody want to take it anymore
 The show must go on


  1. The End by The Doors

This song is simply incomparable. It is intense hypnotizing, dark and builds a surreal, oneiric atmosphere. It will drive you to the end of human consciousness. As far as intensity is concerned nothing can reach the level of this song.

Although this 11-minute song starts with “this is the end” but it explores themes like mystical symbolism, our fear and fearlessness of it, magic and wisdom etc.

Imagine the end or imagine it is salvation. It’s like the conjuring of everything – existence, space and time, experience, all fused into one (the big bang – may be)

Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

This is the end Beautiful friend
 This is the end My only friend
 The end of our elaborate plans
 The end of everything that stands
 The end 
 No safety or surprise the end
 I'll never look into your eyes Again
  1. Fade to Black by Metallica

I think this song is a perfect encapsulation of grief and despair, which is melodic and aggressively beautiful. A classic hard rock ballad, glorifying the typical Metallica style – their passion and aggression.

The song starts with acoustic strums before reaching its heavy metal heights with amazing solo and mind-blowing riffs.

Personally, this song is very close to my heart. Helped me overcome few odds. Somehow this song, not only acts as a catalyst to inspire me in times of depression, but also re-fuels my passion to stay in course. Focused on the path I have chosen. (Need the end to set me free)


Noteworthy lines from the legendary song:

Life it seems to fade away
 Drifting further everyday
 Getting lost within myself
 Nothing matters no one else
 I have lost the will to live
 Simply nothing more to give
 There is nothing more for me
 Need the end to set me free


Leave a Reply