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*1.09-STILL I'M SAD (Yardbirds)

Kinks

LISTEN

[Chant]

See the stars come falling down from the sky
Gently passing they kiss your tears when you cry.
See the wind come softly
Blow your hair from your face.
See the rain hide away in disgrace.

Still I'm sad!

[Chant]

For myself my tears just fall into dust.
Day will dry them, night will find they are lost.
Now I find the wind is blowing
Time into my heart.
Let the rain fall, for we are apart.

How I'm sad!
How I'm sad!
Oh how I'm sad!


This is the first song recorded by the Yardbirds that the group wrote themselves. The lyrics of Still I'm Sad are embedded in a melody presented in the manner of a Gregorian chant. At first we hear a wordless vocal melody. Then follows a lyric of grief, and the treatment of the music gives it a spiritual feeling, seemingly coming to us from a distant age. The sadness expressed in the song is ancient.

The two verses mirror one another: the stars falling from the sky in the first verse become tears falling into dust in the second; the wind that gently blows hair from the beloved's face in the first verse becomes time blowing into the poet's heart. The rain that at first had been hiding in disgrace is beckoned to fall, as an appropriate expression of the beloved's absence. The setting of the lyric makes it sound like a prayer, although God is not mentioned, and the second person address to "you" emphasizes an intimacy such as the sex of the two participants is dissolved in you & me, I & we. It is a pretty and delicate lyric mingling natural phenomena with love in a mournful tone far from the usual on Top 40 radio. Nonetheless, as the B side for Evil Hearted You, written by Graham Gouldman, it was considered avant garde and made it to #3 on the BBC chart in England.

Bob Dylan's lyrics had developed an angry & haughty response to the American scene in 1965, and set down the emotional base of psychedelic awareness, focused on the stupidity and untrustworthiness of the old school. The Kinks & the Yardbirds at this stage seem compelled to express personal grief. With the Kinks, we have reason to believe that Ray Davies' expression was one of authentic loss. One might guess that the zeitgeist of the time was still mourning the assassination of President Kennedy and a loss of innocence that came with further consciousness of American vulnerability. But the Kinks & Yardbirds were English, and these weren't the only British songs at the time to be built around grief. The Rolling Stones would soon score a number one psychedelic hit in 1966 with the story of the grief stricken lover in Paint It Black. My intuition tells me that as English artists began to take themselves seriously during the psychedelic era, one of the first (superficial, romantic) indicators or postures of seriousness was grief. There isn’t really much grief in the history of psychedelic music past the emergent phase. Outside of another Yardbirds song, Turn Into Earth, later psychedelic songs that sang of death (which they frequently did) refused to attach grief to their subject. After psychedelia’s initial outbursts of woe, the most grieving songs I can find in this collection are by the Pretty Things, who associate grief not so much with death as with lack of trust.

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