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The Sad Song Cycle

a recital by

Haley Hodson, harp

Keith Packman, tuba

Idea Concept

For some reason I regularly find myself in the late hours of the night listening to music alone in our kitchen.


What I find in these "kitchen sessions" is that I tend to lean more towards wanting to listen to very sad music. Music where the burdens of life are too much, music where the situation is not going to improve, music where the artist has lost hope. While these themes are all depressing, I do think it is important that in order to experience life we must experience these ideas and learn from them. While quietly standing in the kitchen and listening to the music I can find these emotions that I typically suppress and explore them in what I think is a healthy manner.

I devised this recital program in the fall of 2022 which was a particularly difficult time in my life. I found myself yearning to go back to the kitchen each night to listen to more sad songs and revel in those emotions; it was literally my therapy. The feeling of being surrounded by similar feelings to what I was going through in my life was comforting and through the sounds and the lyrics of these songs I was able to better understand how I was perceiving my own situations.

Because nearly all of these pieces are by non-classical musicians I knew that I'd have to arrange the songs myself. Since the setting that I wanted to go for was an idea of intimacy, mimicking my loneliness in the kitchen, I knew that I did not want this to be a loud recital. The perfect corresponding  musician and instrument to perform with had to be my wife Haley and the harp. She knew best about these emotions that I was feeling, she had known the songs when I played them for her and she was the one to help me sort out my feelings as I was experiencing them.

Since performing these selections on string and wind instruments inherently remove the lyrics and their emotional potency, below are the lyrics for each of the songs, if they have lyrics. We invite you to read through these words and reflect upon their meaning to both the the artist who composed the words and to yourself. It's okay to feel sad every now and then.

The Sad Song Cycle
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by Lingua Ignota
from the album SINNER GET READY

Me and the dog we die together

Within the Lord I cast off all my earthly bonds

There is victory in Jesus

Do you want to be in Hell with me?

I know you want to stop but you can't stop

I've watched you alone in the home where you live with your family

And all that I've learned is everything burns

Do you want to be in Hell with me?

I wish things could be any other way

I've watched you alone in the home where you live with your family

But one thing I've learned is everything burns

Above all others

I fear your voice

Above all others

I fear your name

Above all others

I fear your voice

Above all others

Me and the dog we die together

rises the moon

by Liana Flores
from the album recently

Days seem sometimes as if they'll never end

Sun digs its heels to taunt you

But after sunlit days one thing stays the same

Rises the moon

Days fade into a watercolor blur

Memories swim and haunt you

But look into the lake shimmering like smoke

Rises the moon

Oh close your weary eyes

I promise you that soon the autumn comes

To darken fading summer skies


Days pull you down just like a sinking ship

Floating is getting harder

But tread the water, child, and know that meanwhile

Rises the moon

Days pull you up just like a daffodil

Uprooted from its garden

They'll tell you what you owe but know even so

Rises the moon

You'll be visited by sleep

I promise you that soon the autumn comes

To steal away each dream you keep


Vedro con mio diletto

by Antonio Vivaldi
from the opera Il Giustino
libretto by Nicolò Beregan

Vedrò con mio diletto

L'alma dell'alma mia

Il core di questo cor

Pien di contento

E se dal caro oggetto

Lungi convien che sia

Sospirerò penando

Ogni momento

I will see with my pleasure

The soul of my soul

The core of this heart

Full of happiness

And if from the dear object

Far it must be

I will sigh in pain

every moment


by Thundercat
from the album Drunk

Sometimes you're alive

Sometimes you are dead inside

With the time to read between the lines of life and death

Sometimes it's okay

Sometimes it's the worst thing ever

Hopefully you won't get drunk and get a DUI

You will see that it's not so bad

There's always tomorrow

Bottom of the glass

At this point you've made an ass

And your friends will let you know tomorrow

I'm so tired

One more glass to go

Where this ends we'll never know

Voice of No Return

by 岡部啓一 Keiichi Okabe
from the video game NieR: Automata

Note: This song is sung in a fictional, futuristic language that serves as an amalgamation of all languages. While there is no way to translate these lyrics, this song plays at pivotal and emotional moments in this story about androids struggling to understand their purpose for existing.


by 菅野 よう子 Yoko Kanno
from the anime series Cowboy Bebop

Instrumental track


by Bo Burnham
from the film Inside

So long


I'll see you when I see you

You can pick the street

I'll meet you on the other side

So long


Do I really have to finish?

Do returns always diminish?

Did I say that right?

Does anybody want to joke

when no one's laughing in the background?

So this is how it ends

I promise to never go outside again

So long


I'm slowly losing power

Has it only been an hour?

No, that can't be right

So long


Hey, here's a fun idea:

how 'bout I sit on the couch

and I watch you next time?

I wanna hear you tell a joke

when no one's laughing in the background

So this is how it ends

I promise to never go outside again

Am I going crazy?

Would I even know?

Am I right back where I started fourteen years ago?

Wanna guess the ending

if it ever does

I swear to God that all I've ever wanted was

A little bit of everything

All of the time

A bit of everything

All of the time

Apathy's a tragedy and boredom is a crime

I'm finished playing and I'm staying inside

If I wake up in a house that's full of smoke I'll panic

so call me up and tell me a joke

When I'm fully irrelevant and totally broken

dammit, call me up and tell me a joke

Oh shit

You're really joking at a time like this?

Well, well

look who's inside again

Went out to look for a reason to hide again

Well, well

buddy you've found it

Now come out with your hands up

we've got you surrounded

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