I can obsess over things for too long. It's like I'm whittling away at it. It was just this way with a song called Kentucky Karaoke, by David Grubbs. After weeks and months of listening to it, I began pushing it on my friends as 'one of the saddest songs I'd ever heard'.
This was a claim often met with perplexed looks. David Grubbs is rarely remembered for his heartfelt songwriting. He's often dismissed as pretentious (at worst) or cerebral (at best). Brainy tendencies seems something people seem more ready to accept in instrumental music.
The entirety of the lyrics are as follows:
Here is a prediction:
When you have stories to tell,
You will tell them.
The amount of time I've spent mulling over these three lines—practically a haiku—most likely outweighs the import of their actual intent. For all I know, Grubbs himself may have seen this a simple exercise: a meandering melody on piano fitted to a short, snarky putdown—to add a little levity. His intentions are beside the point, though. These words opened up a channel of thought for me, and those thoughts ran away with me.
The dark, misanthropic places I found myself had little to do with the song as it was. Even still, Kentucky Karaoke was what opened those gates, so I think of the song that way. That's a hell of a lot more than any run-of-the mill, sad sack, woe-is-me, indie-folk song has ever done for me.