The first time I heard this song, on the Path at the NLS campus, it was on a fairly short lived medium - the mp3 Discman. Destined to follow the 8-track, the 5.35 inch floppy disk, the aurochs and chivalry into extinction. Every Sabbath track I had heard so far had the same fantastic, tantric mix of menace and celebration - all good clean happy metal. And then, this came on, a tour of strings and flute so mournful and choral in nature, that it arrested me immediately, forced me to check my tiny display and start it over. I can safely say that it took half an hour out of my life before I could move on to doing anything.
Black Sabbath - Solitude - 1971
I return to the song, that same haunting melody, the same witchcraft on a hill. Really, the words betray the depth of melancholy this song encompasses. It's not a lovelorn lament - it's an apocalyptic sadness, a wasting away to the end of the world. The music is so much sadder than words can express. Ulver's cover of "Solitude" turns the song into an atmospheric, sluggish lament - an oh so distant mood from the folkishness of the original.
Ulver - Solitude
Thanks for the spot, Hemant; what a great band! There's a trumpet or something in the background and what sounds like a box being blown about by the wind. I can actually feel the wind in this version.
Ulver - Blinded by Blood - 2005
Another great Ulver track with outstanding artwork by Giger. How dark the future can look and sound sometimes. Turn it up. Let it wash over you, full of doubt and lethean suspense, the tinkling xylophone of a demented jester and a chorus of angels.
At times, melancholy catches everyone. The sorrow at the heart of the blues tradition is usually a life affirming thing, but sometimes, it reveals a deeper loss- the inability to deal with the forces that defy meaning. The jive, the swing, the delightful r'n'b ishness - that's the form speaking, but there is none of the bluesman's boast that has been part of the idiom since it's birth.
The Grateful Dead - Death Don't Have No Mercy - 1968