Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Music That Makes Me Want to Cry

 

I got thoroughly hooked on Arahant’s Friday post about music that makes you want to dance. All it takes is one dance song, and I’m in that mindset; it’s not hard to conjure track after track to keep the party going. Not every song in the thread did it for me, and I’m sure some of mine would keep most folks in their seats, but it was still a great thread and a great Friday playlist.

Music can transport me in a hurry. It’s similar for other moods. I have go-to hymns for getting into a more spiritual frame of mind. K-Pop existed when I lived in Korea, but it’s more traditional Korean music that takes me back to the streets of Seoul. But when I think of Ireland, I’m more likely to think of the Saw Doctors or U2 than “Danny Boy” and trad. Blues standards can take me back to times I was feeling low and the songs that gave me comfort.

If I’m in a mood for crying? There are times; tears can be cathartic. Tears of joy and love can transport me to memories of dear friends and family. There are times tears of empathy spur us to action. If you hear a few bars of Sarah McLauchlan’s “In the Arms of an Angel” and don’t instantly picture sad rescue pets, I envy you. And music is a quick way to get there.

To get the ball rolling, I narrowed my list down to three.

In my senior year of high school, I sang in a madrigal choir. Our director, Mr. Schmitt, had been beloved at the school for its entire quarter-century existence; he was retiring at the end of the year, ending an era. For all the songs we sang together, it was Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band” that resonated most. Even then, it was hard to reach the end without crying. (Teenage hormones make crack seem as addictive as 1% milk.) He passed just two years later and the song took on even more poignant feelings. Listening to it takes me back to some of my fondest memories in high school and the people who made such a lasting impression.

“In the Arms of an Angel” is a cliche these days, but music as motivation has a long history. It can spur deeper empathy, open your eyes and heart to suffering you may have known previously only in the abstract. I’m not generally a fan of rage metal, but there’s something about Five Finger Death Punch that hits me in a visceral way. Their music video about the plight of homeless veterans is a gut punch. It wrenches the tears from me, and it’s hard not to be moved to donate after viewing.

The tabernacle in Provo, UT, was renovated when I lived there in the 1980s and 1990s and hosted not just religious services, but community events. One of the first was a concert featuring Reunion, consisting of original members of the 1960s pop sensation The Lettermen. I went, not knowing what to expect. It was a pleasant enough evening with a trio of singers my mom liked way back when but the finale blew me away. Jim Pike, the former lead singer, had left the group when his voice started giving out. For decades he wasn’t sure he’d ever sing again. That he was back was, for him, a true miracle, and one of his Lettermen favorites had taken on new meaning as he worked his way back to the music he loved. When he finished singing “The Impossible Dream,” with that bit of background, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Postscript: Not many years later, after I’d moved away, the Provo Tabernacle was gutted by a fire. It was devastating to the community and hurt my heart to see it when I returned for a visit. The exterior was largely intact, but the fire damage was obvious. The LDS church announced that the tabernacle would not just be restored, but would be turned into one of its functioning temples. Its original builders would be astounded to see it today – itself, but also so much more. Inside and out, it is a tribute to the community. And when I hear “The Impossible Dream,” I think not only of Jim Pike, but of the building where he shared his impossible dream with us, and its own impossible dream fulfilled. And my heart swells.

I could go on, but I’m more interested in the songs that bring you to tears, and why. And, is it something you seek out or are there songs you try to avoid because you’d rather not relive those memories? I imagine we’ll see more of the former, but I welcome either. Happy Monday!

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  1. E. Kent Golding Member

    • #1
    • June 8, 2020, at 1:02 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I’ll see if I can think of one song in particular. I did want to say that this is the first time I’ve really listened to and understood Dan Fogelberg’s song. Gorgeous and touching. Thanks, Jim.

    • #2
    • June 8, 2020, at 1:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Not well known, but here is my submission:

    Home, by Gary Puckett

    • #3
    • June 8, 2020, at 1:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Old Buckeye Member

    I can never sing America the Beautiful without choking up, especially the second and third verses.

    • #4
    • June 8, 2020, at 1:25 PM PDT
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  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have three:

    Dan Fogelberg: Forefathers

     

    Barenaked Ladies: Bad Day

     

    Alan Parsons Project: Old and Wise (I want this song played at my funeral, with the sax solo at the end played LOUD.)

    • #5
    • June 8, 2020, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. HerrForce1 Coolidge
    HerrForce1 Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks for posting this. I loved Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band since it came out. Thanks for reminding me about it! I found a few more gems thanks to your and others’ comments. I posted a similar list here a couple of months ago called, “We Can Share the Troubles We Already Know–Sad Songs (Say So Much)” if anyone’s interested.

    Well-known: Elton John’s Sad Songs (Say So Much), The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, Dolly Parton’s Jolene, Johnny Cash’s Sunday Morning Coming Down or cover of Hurt.

    Less-Known: Bruce Springsteen’s One Step Up, the Zombies’ A Rose for Emily, Janis Ian’s At Seventeen, Warren Zevon’s Desperados Under the Eaves, Dave Mason’s We Just Disagree, Bruce Hornsby’s The Road Not Taken 

    Practically Unknown: Sara Groves’ What Do I Know (talking with an elderly friend who’s afraid of dying), Daily Planet’s Six String Rocketeer (kid hiding away with his guitar as parents slide into divorce, so much wisdom in this one), Skillet’s Lucy (a young couple grappling after an abortion), German alternative band Pudeldame’s Zeitlupe (“slow motion” about chasing and possibly not achieving anything)

    • #6
    • June 8, 2020, at 2:00 PM PDT
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  7. Mim526 Member

     

    • #7
    • June 8, 2020, at 2:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Arahant Member

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    • June 8, 2020, at 2:30 PM PDT
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  9. Stad Thatcher

    John Eliot Gardiner’s version of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, second movement allegretto (the weeping violins at the 2:17 point get to me):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1oAgxQHcc0

    This was used in the movies The King’s Speech and Knowing. Not sure where else . . .

    • #9
    • June 8, 2020, at 2:30 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. Columbo Member

    This one always makes me cry … for the pathetic lyrics, and his realistically pathetic rendition.

    • #10
    • June 8, 2020, at 2:37 PM PDT
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  11. repmodad Coolidge

    Dan Fogelberg has three on this list for me: Leader of the Band, Same Auld Lang Syne, and (oddly) Run for the Roses. Every year while watching The Kentucky Derby, I suggest to my family that they should replace My Old Kentucky Home with Run for the Roses. Gets me every time.

    Come to think of it, One Shining Moment used to have the same effect on me when paired with college basketball highlights, before I became old and disillusioned with college sports.

    But the granddaddy of them all is George Jones’s He Stopped Loving Her Today.

    “Kept some letters by his bed,

    Dated 1962.

    He had underlined in red

    Every single I love you.”

    The steel guitar really drives home the misery.

    • #11
    • June 8, 2020, at 2:54 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
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  12. danok1 Member

    Here are two by The Band, about those who were defeated in war or expelled from their land. First up is Acadian Driftwood, about the expulsion of the Acadians from Acadia, which included present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and part of Maine:

    The second is The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. You can hear the pain and pride in Levon Helm’s voice:

    (How did a Canadian get the aftermath of the Civil War so right?)

    • #12
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:04 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
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  13. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    I’m not much of a crier, but these are songs that make me emotional.

    England by The National (Mumford and Sons cover is also excellent) 

    I don’t know if it was the intent, but it’s an excellent representation of the expat/living abroad experience. The simultaneous guilt and thrill of leaving everything you’ve ever known behind, the struggle to manage the expectations of those that you’ve left behind (do you reveal that things are rough?) and your own integration in a new society, and the times when it seems like a mistake. Sometimes I stick it on my flight playlist when I head back to school, and it can hit really hard.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9Zm07aaXsE 

    Forever by Mumford and Sons

    I’m at the stage in my life where it’s expected that I’m going to start to search for a long term partner, and I love this song because it represents my own feelings about love (especially after having had my first semi-serious significant other); that for romantic love to work it has to be balanced with each person’s vocation and dreams, and that physical distance isn’t necessarily a roadblock.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESaKF3vuUyE

    I See A Darkness by Bonnie Prince Billy 

    I first heard this song when David Chang posted it in tribute to Anthony Bourdain, and I still associate it a lot with that. (Bourdain killed himself only a few months before I was set to start college overseas, and I had been watching his show obsessively while I waited for my AP results, which were what actually determined whether I was going to get to go, and I found it suddenly very hard to watch something which had brought me so much comfort and joy). On its own, it’s a beautifully crafted song about the difficult stages of a man’s life, from the perspective of his friend.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAriDxTeed8

    For The Good Times by Dean Martin

    For me, Dean Martin is associated with a lot of good (and sad) childhood memories, so his music always has feeling for me, and this song in particular I think just captures the magic of his talent. It’s simply phrased, without excessive background singers or gimmicks, and full of so much personal emotion that I can’t help but feel moved by it. I love it especially because there’s a version from sometime in (I think) the ’80s, when he had reconciled with his second wife, and the tone is completely different, so you can tell how much connection he really felt to it, how much his delivery was about his own life.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgSznl_UWxw

    Ето Всё ДДТ-а

    My favorite Russian song, an incredibly well written (and preformed) ode to the end of a relationship and a life.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEspHbiCkAc

    • #13
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:14 PM PDT
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  14. Arahant Member

    Columbo (View Comment):
    This one always makes me cry … for the pathetic lyrics, and his realistically pathetic rendition.

    You should hear my brother sing it. Thank Cod there are no recordings. Playing that would be a crime against humanity.

    • #14
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:22 PM PDT
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  15. Arahant Member

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    • June 8, 2020, at 3:27 PM PDT
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  16. Arahant Member

    • #16
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:32 PM PDT
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  17. Arahant Member

    • #17
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:35 PM PDT
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  18. Arahant Member

    • #18
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Arahant Member

    • #19
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:42 PM PDT
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  20. Arahant Member

    • #20
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Jules PA Member

    About eight years ago I learned of this album called “Calling All Dawns.” It is a wonderful set of vignettes. The one that brings me to tears is Hymn do Trójcy Świętej.

    When you know what Poland has been through, even though you don’t understand the Polish text, you can hear the sadness, loss, and hope. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEVonfHtilw 

    The text, translated:

    The blazing sun is rising
    You are the unity, eternal light
    In our Hearts, Holy Trinity
    spread the inconceivable love.
    We adore you in the morning
    we beg you in the evening
    bring us to you
    with the Saints in heaven adored.
    Together Father and Son
    and the Holy Spirit
    As there was, and ever will be
    Eternal Glory, always and forever.
    Amen

    From the liner notes:

    Throughout its history, Poland has suffered countless wars that have repeatedly threatened its existence; through these dark periods of foreign occupation, it is only through faith, deeply rooted in Catholicism, that Polish culture has survived. The Hymn do Trójcy Świętej is an embodiment of that faith; a reminder that, with each dawn, the return of light brings with it an indescribable spiritual salvation that banishes even the darkest night.

    The entire song cycle is amazing. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJYWtzivvWo

    • #21
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Arahant Member

    • #22
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Jules PA Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    John Eliot Gardiner’s version of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, second movement allegretto (the weeping violins at the 2:17 point get to me):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1oAgxQHcc0

    This was used in the movies The King’s Speech and Knowing. Not sure where else . . .

    Oh, yeah. I forgot this. But I don’t usually think of it as a song.

    It is a very emotional movement. It is like a salve, drawing out the sadness you didn’t even know you had. 

    • #23
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:48 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Arahant Member

    • #24
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Arahant Member

    • #25
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  26. Arahant Member

    • #26
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Jethro Tull, Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die. This entire concert is on YouTube and is awe-inspiring. Watch on your big-screen TV.

     

     

     

    • #27
    • June 8, 2020, at 3:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Jim Wright Coolidge
    Jim Wright

    Thanks for some excellent songs! It’s been a cold, rainy, hailey kind of day here in Utah, which got me in a Portland state of mind for some reason. (The weather feels like winter in Portland more than June in Utah; last week we had sunny skies and temps into the 90s.)

    Here are some from my larger list. Avi Kaplan, who seemed to be terminally chipper when he was with Pentatonix, has been much more melancholy and intense as a solo artist. I found both of these very moving, in different ways.

    Clapton’s original Layla gets me, but when he went Unplugged he got even more soulful. I liked that side of him.

    • #28
    • June 8, 2020, at 4:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. Annefy Member

    HerrForce1 (View Comment):

    Thanks for posting this. I loved Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band since it came out. Thanks for reminding me about it! I found a few more gems thanks to your and others’ comments. I posted a similar list here a couple of months ago called, “We Can Share the Troubles We Already Know–Sad Songs (Say So Much)” if anyone’s interested.

    Well-known: Elton John’s Sad Songs (Say So Much), The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, Dolly Parton’s Jolene, Johnny Cash’s Sunday Morning Coming Down or cover of Hurt.

    Less-Known: Bruce Springsteen’s One Step Up, the Zombies’ A Rose for Emily, Janis Ian’s At Seventeen, Warren Zevon’s Desperados Under the Eaves, Dave Mason’s We Just Disagree, Bruce Hornsby’s The Road Not Taken

    Practically Unknown: Sara Groves’ What Do I Know (talking with an elderly friend who’s afraid of dying), Daily Planet’s Six String Rocketeer (kid hiding away with his guitar as parents slide into divorce, so much wisdom in this one), Skillet’s Lucy (a young couple grappling after an abortion), German alternative band Pudeldame’s Zeitlupe (“slow motion” about chasing and possibly not achieving anything)

    One click, Less-Known: Bruce Springsteen’s One Step Up, and I’m out. 

    The bookend in my head to the above is E-Street Band If I Should Fall Behind.

    Always loved the song, but hearing CC on that saxophone would bring a tear to a glass eye.

    • #29
    • June 8, 2020, at 4:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Navy Hymn. I’m sure the men of the USS Arizona appreciate this.

    • #30
    • June 8, 2020, at 4:36 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.