30 Day Song Challenge #4: A Song That Makes You Sad

[Day 4: A Song That Makes You Sad]

Kid Sam – The Sunday Bus

This is one of the most achingly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t really make me sad- none of the music I like does- but it certainly can’t help but make you feel somewhat sombre.

The Sunday Bus is a song by Australia’s own Kid Sam, and it’s a murder ballad. It tells the story of an unconventional relationship between a man and a woman (some people I’ve spoken to think the woman is a slave, but that’s certainly not my interpretation), and culminates in the man hunting the woman down after she runs away. The constant juxtaposition of the desert landscape and the narrator’s existence is breathtaking.

But the song tells the story much better than I can:

I’m mostly good enough man
And I own the bottle-o in this desert town
I’ve always lived alone behind the shop out back
With an emptiness so heavy hanging all around

I was fifty-three years old when I got a wife
Took a plane to Thailand and I found her there
Standing in the market with her hair so black
I had the money so I took her back home with me here

Yeah I took her back to this desert town
We lived our lives the same as most of you
We never loved each other but that’s alright
That’s a gift given only to a chosen few

It was a good deal we had going
She kept the kitchen busy and I kept her fed
She got a comfortable place to sleep
And I got a woman sleeping in my bed

A bus comes through this desert town
Every Sunday morning making its way west
This week I found a stash of twenty dollar notes
I grabbed her and pulled her close to my chest

I said darling you can never leave
Or I’ll bury your body in the desert sands
They stretch on forever like the endless years
You’ve never seen a more brutal and beautiful land

I got up this morning
Kitchen was quiet it was all real suss
I got in my car and drove off looking for her
Robby said he saw her getting on the Sunday bus

Now it’s dark and I’m behind the wheel
With my rifle on the front seat and in front of us
The desert is such a brutal and beautiful place
And I can see the tail-lights of the Sunday bus

They are simply phenomenal lyrics. Song writing doesn’t come much better than that. I can remember when I first heard the song live, played early in the day at the idyllic Laneway Festival River Stage complete with a melodica for the chorus. It was an amazing, beautiful moment, and thinking back to it can offset the slightly morose feeling I get when thinking about the story of the song.

3 Responses to “30 Day Song Challenge #4: A Song That Makes You Sad”

  1. Simple. Cassimir Pulaski Day.

    Gets me every time.

    • Yeah also a very good pick. Maybe even John Wayne Gacy, Jr. as well for me, perhaps I should have done this challenge with all Sufjan songs…

  2. Great lyrics, well constructed.

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