Torch Songs

I seldom devote entire posts to music. I’ll occasionally attach an mp3 file for the listening pleasure of the 13 but blogging about music definitely isn’t my milieu. (Again, shouts to Lala and Reecie two very underrated music bloggers. If they ever tag-teamed they definitely be on some Hawk and Animal sh*t.) This morning, while ironing my trousers, getting ready for another day at the cotton patch Ray Charles’ “Drown in My Own Tears” randomly shuffled through my ear buds. Ray is undoubtedly the man. Hearing “Drown in My Own Tears” made me think that Ray could sing the hell out of a torch song. By definition a torch song is a love song that deals with the loss of or unrequited love. Infidelity and heartbreak are almost always common elements in torch songs.  

I started thinking of some of the other torch songs that I think are absolutely amazing. Amazing in the way that they convey the emotions both good and bad that come with the topic of love. So I said to myself, “I know what I’m going to do. I’m gonna call Zed.” “I’m going to do a blog about torch songs. Like a crack head I started going through my music seeking out songs that I thought would fit in well in a blog about torch songs.

I hope y’all enjoy my picks. [I]


Oh, there’s no one to have fun with/Since my baby’s love had been done with/All I do is think of you/I sit and cry oh and I sing the blues

Shawna’s pops goes in on “I Cry and Sing the Blues”. Bordering on being a drunken joint anthem and a desperate plea, this is a great damn song. It lets Buddy Guy showcase why he is one of the best guitar players of all time as well as flexing his vocals. Every whiny lyric is equally matched by one of Mr. Guy’s well placed guitar licks. Towards the end of the track you realize just how much of a bad way he’s in when he just repeats “I sit and I cry… I sit and I cry… and I sing on…”

Prince- How Come U Don’t Call Me

I keep your picture side my bed/I still remember everything you said/Always thought our love was so right/ I guess I was wrong

A lot of people think this is an Alicia Keys song. (I originally thought it was until my man Duane told me otherwise right after “Songs in A-Minor” dropped.”) Mr. Rogers Nelson is upset that his baby or the woman that used to be his baby just won’t pick up the phone. She has obviously hurt the little guy’s feelings by not making her presence felt. Sitting somewhere in his weird little room, in his weird little town of Minneapolis his flame for her is still smoldering. (“Still like a fire on a rainy night/Still like it better when you’re holding me tight.”) He’s just waiting on a word from her and as you can tell by the song’s lyrics she won’t acquiesce. Poor guy.

Ray Charles- Drown In My Own Tears

It brings a tear, into my eyes/When I begin to realize/I’ve cried so much since you’ve been gone/I guess I’ll just drown in my own tears

This song is the culprit that inspired this post. Mournful is the adjective that I would use to describe “Drown in My Own Tears”. There is no hope here. She’s gone and she’s not coming back. The lyrics never say this but Ray knows that it’s over. He’s just using the song as an exercise in catharsis. Manly pride aside he’s reduced to tears.


Anthony Hamilton- I’m A Mess

I’m so torn up now/Can’t believe I lost you/Lost my best friend, my soul mate/Can’t believe it’s true/We’ve invested in a set of twin, a small house, a dog

I’ve stated more than once that I think Anthony Hamilton is a great singer because his voice makes me believe what he’s singing. I believed every word he said on “Charlene” and “I’m a Mess” makes me believe that he’s in even worse shape a few weeks later when he realizes him and Charlene may not make it. “Ain’t bathed/can’t shave” illustrates Hamilton’s state of emotional decay. He’s ruined. He let the good things in his life go and now is regretting every second of it.

Norah Jones- Cold Cold Heart

I’ve tried so hard my dear to show/That you’re my every dream/ Yet you’re afraid each thing I do/Is just some evil scheme

“Cold Cold Heart” was originally written and performed by Hank Williams Sr. His version is real meh to me so that’s why I chose Norah Jones’ version. It is hard being the ex who follows, the ex, that was a complete sh*t bird that ruined your ex. (Read that slowly. That didn’t make sense to me either.) Hank, Norah, and anyone else who has fallen for a broken person have all felt like this. You wish that things were better; the past was different, but they aren’t. The scars and damage just run too deep and you realize that your ex’s ex not only ruined their life but also yours. Son of a b***h!

Etta James- All I Could Do Was Cry

I heard church bells ringing/I heard a choir singing/I saw my love walk down the aisle

Lots of people go on and on about how “At Last” is such an amazing song. (It is.) One would think that Etta James never had another hit. One would be dead wrong. Pining over someone who you used to date is one thing. Pining over someone who used to date as they are about to tie the knot must flat out suck. There’s not much I can write about “All I Could Do Was Cry” that the lyrics don’t explain. Just listen…

Issac Hayes- Walk on Bye

If you see me walking down the street And I start to cry each time we meet/ Walk on by, walk on by/ Make believe that you don’t see the tears/ Oh just let me grieve

I’m going to be completely forthcoming for a moment. This is one of two Issac Hayes songs that I sing (Badly Horribly) in the shower.[I] Black Moses voice generally makes everything sound good but he makes running into your used be in the street and pretending you don’t see them sound spectacular. I’m going to guess that whatever they had was either so good or so bad that he just can face her. I can picture Hayes walking down the street in Memphis, fresh off of a barbeque run wearing tank top made of chain mail and spotting his ex before it’s too late to dodge her. He’s already loss but seeing her brings all of the feelings of that loss back up. Their ain’t no dust in his eye.

These are some of my favorites. What are yours? What torch songs just allow you picture the singer at their worst, thinking about what was? Tell it.

Vaya con Dios.

[I] “The Look of Love” is the other.

[I] As a proud Southerner, I think citations should be issued to people who spell “y’all” like this “ya’ll”. I know it won’t happen because some republican would label it as big government.


6 responses to “Torch Songs

  1. I LOVE this post! I learned something new…torch songs. Wow, never knew that was the term. I def did a post on Walk On By by Mr. Hayes. One of my favorite posts, lol. Etta James…All I Can Do Is Cry…yup. Check out Church Bells by her too. That Ray Charles track and Buddy Guy…blew me away! Anthony Hamilton…man listen…the raw emotion in that track. You don’t have a heart if that song doesn’t touch you.

    Little Walter- Last Night

    Beyonce- Resentment Track samples Curtis Mayfield and for once I think Bey tapped into some emotion. As a woman, I can relate to this song. Plus, the harmonies are amazing

    Cynda Williams- Harlem Blues I discovered this cound track when I started playing the drums. I would practice along to the other jazz songs, but at 12 years old…this song did something to me.

    • I didn’t know the term “torch song” until I watched Ray and he asked Anjune Ellis if she could sing a torch song. Issac Hayes songs just make people cooler. I think I’ve heard “Church Bells” before. I’ll go back and listen to make sure. Ray and Buddy took those tracks to different levels. I wonder if people knew that Shawna’s dad was a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer? As for “I’m a Mess” the actions in that song are happening somewhere as we speak.

      “Last Night” is just the truth. That reminds me how much Columbus Short went as Little Walter.

      I remember “Harlem Blues” my youngest sister had a copy of the Mo’ Better Blues soundtrack and she left it at home when she went back to college. That was a dope song. I also remember Denzel’s song on that sound track. “Some guys will feed you lines but I’ll take you to Mickey D’s.”

  2. Harlem Blues
    Wordpress is hating on my commenting.

  3. Wow. That Etta James one is a fave. Ish is just so dayum sad!!! As for my Anthony Hamilton torch song, I gotta go with “Hard To Breathe”. It is just so dang grippping.

  4. if ur talking about torch songs u have to hit certain standards. One for my baby is definitely my favorite also i’ll never fall in love again.

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