This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music

This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music

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by Adam Brent Houghtaling
     
 

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This Will End in Tears is the first ever and definitive guide to melancholy music. Author Adam Brent Houghtaling leads music fans across genres, beyond the enclaves of emo and mope-rock, and through time to celebrate the albums and artists that make up the miserabilist landscape. In essence a book about the saddest songs ever sung, This Will End in Tears<

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Overview

This Will End in Tears is the first ever and definitive guide to melancholy music. Author Adam Brent Houghtaling leads music fans across genres, beyond the enclaves of emo and mope-rock, and through time to celebrate the albums and artists that make up the miserabilist landscape. In essence a book about the saddest songs ever sung, This Will End in Tears is an encyclopedic guide to the masters of melancholy—from Robert Johnson to Radiohead, from Edith Piaf to Joy Division, from Patsy Cline to The Cure—an insightful, exceedingly engaging exploration into why sad songs make us so happy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Freelance writer Houghtaling initially defines “miserabilist” music by scrolling through some of the artists on his iPhone: David Ackles, Patsy Cline, Joy Division, George Ligeti, and Radiohead, among others. All of them share what Houghtaling calls “a natural affinity for melancholy, an elemental leaning towards the sour side,” and he describes their music—as well as that of more than 70 other artists—in this enlightening collection of short descriptions. A random dip in and out of this alphabetically arranged survey reads like the list on a really, really good mix tape/CD, one that includes Samuel Barber and Frank Sinatra alongside the Shangri-Las and the Eels. But Houghtaling has a bigger agenda: he wants “to coalesce disparate artists separated by time and traditional genres into a new system based on emotional cues (sad is the new jazz).” To this end, he attempts to show connections between melancholy artists from all ages in a few longer essays on Miserabilist themes such as heartbreak, cheating, depression, and disease. However, any guide to melancholy musicians that includes an essay on Morrissey but not one on Joni Mitchell has to be seen as highly idiosyncratic—although overall, Houghtaling is highly entertaining. (Sept.)
Rob Sheffield
“For the meticulously melancholy music fan in all of us, a celebration of songs with a dark side. This Will End in Tears gathers the downest, doomiest sounds in rock, soul, jazz, the blues, and any music that can put a serious chill in your evening.”
Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
“Sad sacks of the world: Rejoice! Adam Brent Houghtaling has ingeniously compiled the ultimate guide to this cruel world’s maestros of miserabilism. The feel bad book of the year!”
Leslie Simon
“Breaking up is hard to do, but not when you’ve got a book like this to help you make the saddest playlist of all time. Now, someone pass me a Kleenex...and that Elliott Smith album.”
Mark Yarm
“Sad songs say so much, but Adam Brent Houghtaling has a lot to add to the conversation. This Will End in Tears is a book well worth wallowing in.”
Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive, sharply written journey through the music of sadness, of every stripe and from every genre. In his first book, Houghtaling takes what could have been a routine collection of lists and turns it into a highly useful roadmap through musical melancholy. Helpfully arranged by topics that cover everything from heartbreak to death to apocalyptic doom and all the many subcategories in between (divorce, depression, suicidal despair, murder, etc.), the book provides both highly specific playlists (e.g., songs to cover every one of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief) and the context to go with them. Houghtaling delves into the physiology of sadness, such as the way the body responds to sad music and how the aging process enriches a singer's voice. Mini essays shed light on world-class mopes (Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Nico, The Cure, Townes Van Zandt), fascinating obscurities (16th-century weeper John Dowland, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, East River Pipe, The Field Mice) and key tracks in every genre (Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," Cohen's "Hallelujah," Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit"). The author also includes a well-annotated list of the "100 Saddest Songs." Houghtaling can get hyperbolic (anything involving The Smiths), and there are some slight omissions (No P.J. Harvey or Lefty Frizzell?), but the book is buoyed throughout by the author's thoughtful approach and enthusiasm. Whether read straight through or dipped into at random, in times of despair or not, this is a most helpful musical sourcebook through every kind of blue.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061719677
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/07/2012
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
947,710
Product dimensions:
6.18(w) x 8.96(h) x 1.12(d)

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