Yeah, we’re doing this.
We’re talking about songs that moved us to tears.
Too personal? Too embarrassing? Maybe it would help if I got things started.
I’ll begin by saying that the number of times that I have cried at movies or while listening to music is alarmingly high.
I’ve cried twice at songs:
since I began writing this.
Sometimes it’s triggered by a scene, a lyric or a situation that would understandably make anyone cry, such as the end of Old Yeller, or a song being played at a funeral. But other times it doesn’t make any sense at all.
I think that maybe my crying mechanism is just broken.
I once started getting teary-eyed during a direct-to-DVD Barbie video, for no logical reason whatsoever.
I remember my daughter looking at me in disbelief as she scornfully asked “Dad, are you CRYING?”
Kids show no mercy. None.
Well, that wasn’t fun to admit, but there, I said it.
One of my most memorable experiences regarding a song that induced tears is a shared one, and it goes back to 2002.
A couple of Chicago-based rock critics, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis had a show called “Sound Opinions” on a local rock station, where they would talk about music.
A novel idea back then, before the onslaught of podcasts on the topic. The show eventually moved to NPR and is still going.
One day, they were discussing the newly released Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips, and then they played the song “Do You Realize??” and I loved it right away.
I went out to Tower Records and bought the CD.
I played the song for my wife and the two of us just stood there together and wept as we listened to it. The striking musical arrangement, the vulnerability in Wayne Coyne’s voice, and a unique and touching reflection on life and love unlike anything we had ever heard in a rock song all combined to just emotionally bowl us over.
Flash forward to 2021 for a song on the completely opposite end of the musical spectrum that brought on the waterworks.
And made for an awkward online experience.
Tom Breihan of Stereogum.com, in a little column called “The Number Ones” had reached the year 1987 in his quest to review every #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from its inception in 1958 to the present.
An avid reader for a couple of years, I had been waiting patiently for some time for him to get to “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” by Whitney Houston. And when he finally did, my over-the-top enthusiasm for the song came pouring out in the comment section. Here’s what I posted that day:
I am going to say that this is not only Whitney’s best ballad, but maybe one of the greatest ballads of all time, period.
I know it’s going to be off-putting and overbearing for some folks that she blasts a major portion of the song in chest voice at a ground shaking volume, but the fact that she goes all out practically non-stop until that last tender, wistful “didn’t we almost have it all” is what makes the song hit me so hard that I can barely get back up.
Every last drop of the emotions and memories of an epic love and the hopes to somehow capture the magic again come flooding out of her voice with a heart-wrenching, almost unbearable force. I’m literally sobbing as I am listening to it.
No, not many should attempt to pull this off, but Whitney did it to stunning perfection, and the fact that she is no longer with us just makes it that much more tragic and haunting to hear her voice majestically soaring into the stratosphere.
It’s past the point of me even having to say it, but I’m giving this a 10. Call it overwrought schmaltz and I’m taking my ball and going home. I’ve already cried like a baby so I might as well act like one too.
I knew going into that day that it was unlikely Tom would like the song much at all. And predictably: his dismissal was swift and thorough. Having been familiar with the comment section’s reaction to previous Whitney ballads, I also had an inkling that at least a few of its inhabitants would be repelled from the song, probably for the very same reasons it lured me in.
That also turned out to be true, only the negativity was far more relentless and rampant than I was expecting. I became more and more self-conscious about what I had shared as the beatdown continued throughout the day.
There were a handful of folks that spoke favorably of the song, so I was not alone on an island.
There were others (led by our tnocs.com editor/webmaster/chief cook and bottle washer here, mt58) that kindly offered to join me on that island and keep me company, even if they didn’t care for the song.
Still, it felt weird to be so moved by something that was derided by so many.
In retrospect, I understand that we don’t always get to consciously choose what hits us the way it does, and the same song may cause a completely opposite reaction from somebody else.
There is no shame in crying over a song under any circumstances, whether others relate to it or not. We feel what we feel.
So let’s talk about songs that have made us cry for whatever reason. Feel free to share your stories, pass around the virtual box of Kleenex, and let it all out.
Oh, and one last thing-
I recently watched the official video for what is being plugged as “the last Beatles song”.
There are numerous reasons to be cynical about the whole thing, and would John have wanted any of this? I can’t imagine he would.
But did I get misty eyed hearing the song for the first time, and seeing those old images mixed in with current footage?
Yes, I did.
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