These 12 Sad Songs Were Inspired By Equally Tragic Real Life Stories

When your sad, sad songs are the only company you require. In those moments of hopelessness, music heals you. It helps you express yourself in a way that you couldn’t have otherwise. It lends a voice to your pain. Maybe that is why some of these songs hold a space in our hearts.

These songs helped people overcome personal losses. They are sad, but their origins are downright heartbreaking.

#1. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails

The song has helped many with the history of depression and self-harm. The song was originally written by Trent Reznor after his girlfriend’s death when he was in a dark place in his life, however, became cathartic with Johnny Cash’s vocals.

This was a song of tragedy in every way. Johnny Cash sang this tune while he was ailing from serious health issues.His wife died three months post-filming ( she makes a cameo in the music video). Cash died 7 months after the video was shot. The video was filmed at Cash’s home which was destroyed in the fire, years later.

Hurt is still as haunting and leaves you with the shivers. If you feel alone and well, hurt, this song will get you through the roughest of times. While Johnny Cash’s version is still popular, I still prefer the raw vocals of Reznor.

#2. Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton

This has got to be the saddest piece of musical literature. The stripped down version expresses the pain of losing a child; a fate that no parent should ever face. Eric Clapton’s 4-year-old son Connor died when he fell from the 53-rd floor of a friend’s apartment. Clapton wrote the song for Connor and lyrics show his pain. The simple lyrics still gives goosebumps to the listeners.

#3. Believer – Imagine Dragons

Dan Reynolds penned the song and it described his battle with Ankylosing spondylitis. The song also reflects his fight with depression and anxiety. It was his ode to pain and how he, in turn, derived strength from it. The song is an anthem for those who are dealing with pain and need to find the courage within themselves to heal.

#4. Hey Jude – The Beatles

Written by Paul McCartney, the song was composed to comfort Julian, bandmate John Lennon’s son. Julian’s parents were separating and this was the band’s way of making him feel less isolated. The simple lyrics and composition was a hit and is one of the more popular works of the band.

#5. Looking For An Answer – Mike Shinoda

Last year Chester Bennington committed suicide. It was a shocking reality that his family, bandmates, and fans had to accept. His sudden loss opened many wounds, and bandmate Mike Shinoda wrote a song for him. He performed the song at his tribute concert when the song was just a draft. The lyrics matched the void left by Bennington.

#6. Last Resort – Papa Roach

The song makes it obvious that it is about suicide. The band’s vocalist Jacoby Shaddix has claimed that Last Resort was about his best friend who was suicidal and going through some rough times. The lyrics are relatable and gives you an insight of a suicidal person’s psyche. The song achieved commercial success and has been an inspiration to people suffering from depression.

#7. Shine On You Crazy Diamond- Pink Floyd

This song from the album Wish You Were Here was a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett. Barrett died after battling pancreatic cancer. During the stages of his illness, he retired from music and remained private. His short career as a musician is still exemplary of a genius at work.

#8. Strange Fruit

Originally written as a poem, Strange Fruit became a part of African American identity. The song is about the lynching of African American communities. The words are clearly heartbreaking and paint a painful imagery of racism and violence against the Black community.

#9. This Is The Place – Red Hot Chili Peppers

The song however light and melodious is about vocalist Anthony Kiedis missing the funeral of his friend because he was hopped up on drugs. The song expresses his regret and pain and the strong lure of drug and addiction. In fact, much of the album, By The Way, was based on his personal experiences and the songwriting shows it.

#10. Show Must Go On – Queen

This song is an example of pure dedication to the music. The final track on Queen’s album Innuendo is about their late band member Freddy Mercury. He was in the later stages of his life suffering from the complications of HIV/AIDs which was still kept secret from the public. He’d taken ill when the recording of the song was due. The band members considered the recording impossible until Mercury with all his stubbornness came through and gave a killer performance. It is still considered as his best vocal performance by fans and critics alike.

#11.Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor – Eels

Electro-Shock Blues, the album was mostly based on Mark Oliver Everett’s personal tragedy. He was coming to terms with the loss of his sister’s suicide. Elizabeth (Mark’s sister) was suicidal and she attempted it multiple times throughout her lifetime. The song describes one such attempt when he found her on the bathroom floor. She finally succeeded in her ninth attempt.

#12. All My Love – Led Zeppelin

Lead singer and songwriter Robert Plant was on a 1977 North American tour with the band when he suffered a personal tragedy. While on the road, he heard the news that his 5-year-old son Karac had passed away due to a stomach infection. The song pays tribute to him in the most beautiful way.

Art is truly inspired by life. These songs are proof of it.

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