Tom Reynolds: I Hate Myself and Want to Die (Hyperion; 271 pgs; $12.95)

52 depressing songs is about 50 too many to hold my interest.


The best part about this book is the charmingly macabre artwork by Stacey Earley.

That's not to say it's an altogether bad book. But walking through Tom Reynolds' dissections of "the 52 most depressing songs you've ever heard" gets tedious rather quickly. Oh, Reynolds helps with his hipster humor and tongue-in-cheek stabs, and that's entertaining. For example, he breaks the book down into categories of depressing songs, including such gems as "I'm Trying to Be Profound and Touching, But Really Suck at It" and "If I Sing About Drugs, People Will Take Me Seriously." But his humor only takes you so far.

Part of my weariness, I'm sure, comes from being unfamiliar with probably 75% of the songs Reynolds discusses. I was tempted to go online and look up every single one of them…but even that was too much work. This book highlights depressing and oftentimes just plain bad songs-not exactly material that inspires one to action. Through each of his 52 entries, he follows the same formula: first describe the song, then tell us why it's depressing

In dissecting the Carpenter's "Good-bye to Love," Reynolds writes: "Instead of over-the-top beltings, Karen sang every Carpenters song with sadness, resignation, and vibrato-free purity, as if she instinctively knew she was recording drivel and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. Her premature death at age thirty-two from anorexia robbed the music world of a genuine talent and Branson, Missouri, of a future headlining act." Ouch. Of Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park"—a song with lyrics so obtuse and indecipherable, it could easily slip out of the depressing category and into pure schlock—Reynolds reveals, "After the orchestra exhausts itself, it's back to the chorus one more time for a reminder of the cake being left out in the rain. Harris changes genders while hitting the last note: ‘Oh nooooo…!'" (Surely you can see now why I wasn't inspired to dig up every last gem and listen for myself?)

Each of the 10 sections of the book begins with a perfectly emo sketch of a girl in the throes of despair. Buy this book for the drawings alone. Or the occasional one-liners that make you laugh out loud. But trust me when I say that 52 depressing songs is about 50 too many to hold your interest.

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