thank you everyone for the recommendations. i found something by chance that just might be it. it doesn't meet my original criteria but it sounds very intense and passionate to me so i'm going with it.
Is this for a movie or something? Why the specific criteria?
sorry j, top secret... here's a link to the song if anyone's interested:bachianas brasileiras no. 5
scroll down then click on track #2.
"Bachianas" is a beautiful piece, but if the reason it doesn't exactly fit the criteria is because it doesn't have enough of the old, scratchy sound, try recordings by Django Reinhardt, frequently billed in conjunction with the Hot Club of France. Â Most of his numbers are uptempo, but he does have a few gorgeous slow ones, including a version of Ellington's "Solitude." Â Compilations of his music go in and out of print all the time, so I hesitate to recommend a specific one (mine is a French print from a decade or so ago, and almost certainly no longer available). Â The instrumentation is typically two or three acoustic guitars, bass and fiddle. Also, the saddest song recorded before WWII to me has always been Louis Armostrong's "St. James Infirmary" but it usually has vocals. Â In fact, the lyrics add the extra measure of sadness (it's about a dead lover). Â There may be instrumental versions out there, but I haven't looked. Let me know what you end up with. Regards, artdeco73