Synopses & Reviews
Sad music moves us like nothing else, and despite its gloomy nature it also has the curious power to make us happy. In This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music, author Adam Brent Houghtaling explains why, while offering up a compendium of history's masters of melancholy and the greatest sad songs of all time, featuring artists across genres and through time — from torch songs to country weepers to emo classics. Loaded with recommended playlists and insights into our favorite sob songs, This Will End in Tears is a fascinating immersion into the "miserabilist" genre, a musical marker with increasing resonance.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A comprehensive, sharply written journey through the music of sadness, of every stripe and from every genre....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." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"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." Rob Sheffield, author of Love Is A Mix Tape and Talking To Girls About Duran Duran
"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." Leslie Simon, co-author of Everybody Hurts and author of Wish You Were Here
"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!" Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, co-authors of I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution
"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." Mark Yarm, author of Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge
"Highly entertaining." Publishers Weekly
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.
About the Author
Adam Brent Houghtaling is an editor, writer, musician, and digital consultant living in Brooklyn, New York.