10 to Spin | Annie Stela

Photo by Rachel Demsick

Annie Stela’s songs have made me cry once or twice. In the enormous stash of sad songs that is my iPod, Annie’s “Breathe Through” and “Swallowed Snakes” hold top spots on the cry-o-meter (if she’s reading this, I’m sure she’s laughing her ass off right now). In fact, I’m surprised I didn’t weep while she performed her songs in my living room last October. You’d think I was a girl, or something. No, I’m a dude. Sorry, dudes.

So, it’s not surprising that when I asked Annie to create her 10 to Spin that she responded with a list a heartfelt beauties. Because, you know, Annie Stela is a heartfelt beauty. If you don’t have her albums, I’d recommend starting with her last two EPs, Hard City and Little House. You won’t regret it.

Please enjoy Annie’s 10 to Spin below.

I like to think I’m tough.  I am not the kind of girl who cries at AT&T commercials.  But play me the right song and I will collapse in a puddle at your feet.  Or more accurately, sniff secretly and pretend I have something in my eye.  I became a songwriter so that I could write songs that moved people the way my favorite songs moved me.  So I’m giving you my list of those Songs That Get Me Every Time. –Annie Stela

1 Peter Gabriel: Washing of the Water

Just the sound of Peter’s voice is enough to make me cry, but this song in particular has a vulnerability that others don’t. By the time his voice goes falsetto in the second verse, I’m a mess.

2 The Replacements: Skyway

Contains one of my favorite lyrics ever written: “In my stupid hat and gloves at night I lay awake/wondering if I’ll sleep/ wondering if we’ll meet out in the street.” Short, haunting, and classic.

3 Bonnie Raitt: You

I have a tendency to cloak my sentiment in sarcasm. Not Bonnie. This is a straightforward, old-fashioned love song that shocks me with its honesty.

4 Rufus Wainwright: Dinner at Eight [listen]
Allegedly about his strained relationship with his Dad. It doesn’t matter if you had a shitty dad or not, this song about parents and children is gut-wrenching. They say you can’t wait until your parents are dead to write about them. I’m so glad Rufus didn’t.

5 Colin Hay: Waiting for my Real Life to Begin

I relate to this so completely. I think we love sad songs because they remind us we aren’t alone in our pain, and this one does that for me.

6 Paul Simon: Obvious Child

Despite all the awesome African drumming and horns in this song, it’s actually pretty sad, dudes. But sad because it’s real and honest and about things we all inevitably go through. The master storyteller.

7 Annie Lennox: Why

Try to forget the video where she paints herself up like a scary clown. Only Lennox can go from sad to angry to desperate to triumphant in the space of five minutes. By the end, you’re just as exhausted as she must have been.

8. Randy Newman: Feels Like Home

In the ’90s, Chantal Kreviazuk did a cover of this song that ended up in every episode of Dawson’s Creek.  But no one can compare to the man himself. To hear something so honest and romantic from a man so funny and frog-like is arresting.  When he gets to“If you knew how lonely my life has been,” I always choke up. You can only hope someone feels this way about you.

9 Billy Joel: Famous Last Words [listen]
The last pop song Billy Joel ever wrote. I know I’m supposed to be too cool to love Billy Joel. But I’m not.  Go listen to the words of this song, because neither are you.

10 Radiohead: Let Down

Let’s end on an upbeat note. This song has no sad melody or nostalgic lyrics. But I cry every time I hear it, just because of the fact that there is someone on earth who exists and who wrote it. And we get to hear it.

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