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Party Of One: Misery Alienates Company

Tonight and every night, hordes of keg-tapping sex-havers are congregating. They're bantering flirtatiously, talking about their nice cars and fulfilling jobs, and otherwise basking in the warm glow that so often bathes the wanted.

Tonight and every night, you were not invited.

Why would you be, really? Your misery is of the stripe that actually alienates company, and besides, having friends would just mean sharing what's left of the Pringles. So let them have their happy hours and baby showers and scrapbooking parties and company picnics! Between Halo 3 and staring vacantly into the middle distance, you've got a full plate. All you and your poor, pockmarked soul really need is a soundtrack — five songs to ensure that you and your stuffed animals will have a night to remember.

For more entries in this summer's weekly It's Time to Party: Summer Songs series, click here.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

I Remember Me

A bruisingly sad look at a relationship torn asunder by tragic circumstances, Silver Jews' "I Remember Me" lays a significant claim to the title of Saddest Song Ever Written. After laying out the mundane and sublime details of a perfect romance -- "They slow-danced so the needle wouldn't skip / until the room was filled with light" -- singer David Berman throws in a tragic twist that hits like a punchline. Amazingly, the song gets more devastating from there, as it wallows in bad luck and bittersweet memory, mitigated only slightly by the beauty that surrounded it. Your own feelings of hopelessness should sound so sublime.

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

It's been 60 years since Hank Williams Sr. wrote "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and it's been nursing the psychic wounds of downtrodden lonelyhearts ever since. If you could bottle up and weaponize the misery this song has nurtured, you could arm a device capable of destroying the sun, thus extinguishing all life -- and sadness -- in the solar system. So at least there's an upside.

Hope There's Someone

Antony Hegarty's music is the perfect companion to menial household labor: When you're scrubbing a toilet or shoveling ashes out of the fireplace, it'll make you feel just like Cinderella. (Except without the prince, and the mice don't talk.) So if you're stuck at home alone feeling sorry for yourself yet again, throw on this brooding gem and try actually accomplishing something constructive, like baking and then eating an entire pie.

Bad Boy Boogie

The gloomy mastermind of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, Mark Kozelek often performs unlikely cover songs in a manner than drains them of all joy. Hey, that's a lot like what you do, but in your daily life! Here, from a terrific album of AC/DC covers, is Kozelek's shimmery take on "Bad Boy Boogie," which transforms Bon Scott's boasts into self-pitying epitaphs.

Crowd Surf off a Cliff

It's not a criticism to say that "Crowd Surf off a Cliff," from a solo album by Metric's Emily Haines, makes the listener's heart feel as if it's being slowly and inexorably crushed under a giant boot. Just think of that tightness in your chest as a hug that comes from inside! Come to think of it, speaking of hugs, if you cocoon yourself in a sleeping bag and then pack it tightly with towels and old bedding, you can convince yourself that you're being embraced by a loved one. Try it, and you'll be the life of your very own party of one.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)