Singer-Songwriting Rockers 3: “Sweet Old World”

The supremely talented Lucinda Williams released “Sweet Old World” as the title song of a 1992 album. It was written in tribute to a lover of hers, the poet Frank Stanford, who had killed himself years earlier. Rolling Stone named it the 22nd saddest country song of all time.

I don’t know about that but it’s a beauty. Lyrically, it’s a list song, like “You’re the Top,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” and “How Deep Is the Ocean.” In this case, the list is the things “you” have lost by not living, and it accumulates power as it proceeds:

The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone’s ring
Someone calling your name

The music, as well, is simple and haunting. Here’s a duet between Lucinda and Mary Chapin Carpenter; don’t miss Gurf Morlix’s very tasty guitar work.

On reflection, all I can say is if that’s the 22nd saddest song, I’m not sure I can take the first 21.

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