Tuesday, January 22, 2013


BOO HOO!!!  The latest episode of the terrific music podcast "ALL TIME TOP TEN" was one of the best so far; it features host Ben Eisen and guest David Daskal (of the band XYZYX -- check out their great new single "Kirk Cameron" on youtube) each chose the top ten songs that make them cry.  And the show revealed something really interesting about the completely subjective response we all have to music and how there's no equation which can demonstrate why something makes us cry.  So I thought I'd totally rip off the idea . . . only in my case I'll make it 25 songs instead of 10.  Hey, that's what Hollywood calls "homage", right?  So by all means go right now and listen to the latest "ALL TIME TOP TEN" podcast (as well as all the other episodes because they're great and always fascinating).  And this episode, as I say, was particularly fascinating as it was the most emotionally honest and personally revealing topic so far; the choosing of the songs that make one cry leaves one quite exposed.  Especially if you're a big tough guy like me who eats punks like you for breakfast!   Sniff.

So without further boo-hoo, I'll provide my top 25 songs that make me cry (and YES, they ARE in order with number one being the boo-hooingest) and I'll put all the songs over there in the box on the right for you to listen to.  And remember, songs that make you cry do not have to be necessarily sad.  And while some of these are definitely sad songs, others on my list (as well as the "ALL TIME TOP TEN" guys) can make you cry because they make you very happy or they're associated with a particular personal thing or else the music is just so unbelievably beautiful (and all of these occur on my list).  And I guess I'll do my list in reverse order too so my number one song appears last.  So here goes -- hankies at the ready...
  • 25)  SPOON RIVER by Steve Goodman  --  an exquisitely beautiful and innocent, lilting waltz which is just so gorgeous that it makes me cry.  Another of those songs about the Civil War but this time the nightmare is being us as we attempt to pick up our lives and continue on into the sunny morning.  Also Steve Goodman's tragic early death adds another heartbreaking aspect to the song.
  • 24)  GRACE by Jonathan Elias featuring James Taylor  --  I guess this one reveals something of a spiritual yearning on my part.  Emerging from "THE PRAYER CYCLE" album by Jonathan Elias which features scads of guest artists like Nusret Fatah Ali Khan and Alanis Morissette, this one allows Sweet Baby James' pure voice to meld with a full English Chamber Chorus of human voices and the viruoso guitar of John Williams while we float upon that stormy sea.
  • 23)  VON (LIVE)  by Sigur Ros  --  Don't have a clue what the words mean (not being able to speak Icelandic) and I don't really need to know.  The sound of the soaring vocals teamed with the strings and the rum-tum-tum of the drumming makes me soar into the blue sky above any problems.  At least during the song's duration.  The operative version is the "acoustic" version which appears in the film "HEIMA" and is to be found on the Sigur Ros album "HVARF-HEIM".
  • 22)  HURT by Johnny Cash  --  Can anyone forget the devastating video which reduced Trent Reznor himself to tears.  But the power is also here in the music and the unflinching performance by the Man In Black.  Particularly that relentless pounding piano at the end.
  • 21)  STORMS by Fleetwood Mac  --  the sound of a relationship cracking up on an icy glacier.  Stevie Nicks' vocal sounds resigned as well as hurt.  And most importantly, she doesn't lay blame on someone else.
  • 20)  SPOSA SON DISPREZZATA by Cecilia Bartoli  --  Vivaldi's stunningly beautiful song performed expertly by Bartoli as she voices her bewilderment at the wrongs done her.  "I am a scorned wife, faithful yet insulted.  Heavens, what did I do?  Yet he is my love, my husband, my beloved, my hope."
  • 19)  HE STOPPED LOVING HER TODAY by George Jones  --  OK, one of the ultimate country tearjerkers.  Whoa!
  • 18)  DELIVERY DELAYED by Stan Rogers  --  the first of two appearances of the late great Stan Rogers on this list (and both songs are from the same album concert, as well!).  Here we have an extremely beautiful lyric about birth ("How early is beginning?") paired with a spare guitar accompaniment which suddenly swells to a crescendo as the reaching for love is met with love in return.  Then, of course, there's the added sorrow of Stan Rogers' tragic death in an airline fire.
  • 17)  SILENCIO by Ibrahim Ferrer & Omara Portuondo  --  Two of the stars of the Bueno Vista Social Club duet on this achingly gorgeous song by Rafael Hernandez.  And also, another thing, the song makes my mother cry as well.  "Hush, the lilies and purple flowers are sleeping.  I don't want them to know of my sorrow, for if they see me crying, they will die."  In the film, both Ferrer and Portuondo are crying by the end of the song.
  • 16)  GHOST IN THIS HOUSE by Alison Krauss  --  a song for the dumped (sorry, Ben Folds . . . but your turn on this list will come a little higher up).  The best description in song I've heard of the emotional, mental and physical shutdown that occurs sung in Krauss' ghostly voice.  "I'm living proof of the damage heartbreak does."  I have here the live version simply because a) I can't find the original version at the moment and b) the live version is practically identical.
  • 15)  THE LAST SONG by Elton John  --  the first single which decided Elton John to denote the proceeds for all his future singles to AIDS research.  Used effectively at the end of the fantastic HBO movie "AND THE BAND PLAYED ON".  A brief song that packs a punch describing love and reconciliation.  The brevity of the song arrives and is gone before you know it . . . like the too many who have died.
  • 14)  DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE FROM ME by Frank Sinatra  --  just a sadly beautiful song about heartbreak once again.  Not only Frankie's crushed vocals make this one but also the fact that it was a favourite of my late friend Peg. 
  • 13)  THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES by Queen  --  The quiet acceptance of the passing of time and not to waste it.  Freddie Mercury's vocal is just so contented and happy (coming so soon before his death) and Brian May's absolutely perfect guitar solo in the bridge make this perfect.  And also, the live version sung by Lisa Stansfield and George Michael has the same affect on me. 
  • 12)  LATE by Ben Folds  --  See, Ben, I told you you'd make the list.  One of the most beautiful and sad songs Folds has recorded (and there ARE quite a few!).  This one is his tribute to Elliot Smith and deals with death in general.  All the things he'd like to say to him but it's too late. 
  • 11)  BLACK by Pearl Jam  --  This is my favourite song.  Why is it all the way down at number 11???  Well, because this is a list of songs that make me cry and not my favourite songs, that's cuz why.  It's another song about heartbreak ("I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody else's life but why, why, WHY can't it be mine") and there's just so much power and emotion in Eddie Vedder's vocal as it builds to absolute frantic helplessness. 
  • 10)  IF I COULD REACH YOU by The 5th Dimension  --  this is my nominee for the second saddest song ever recorded.  What's number one?  Keep reading.  Marilyn McCoo's devastating vocal is almost too much to bear as we hear a woman desperately in love with a man who doesn't love her.  "And if I could reach you someway, if I knew the magic it would take to love you good enough on the outside to make you feel it on the inside, maybe I could make you stay."  And the utter bleakness of the final line in the song just tears you apart. 
  • 9)  FIRST CHRISTMAS by Stan Rogers  --  this is my nominee for THE saddest song ever recorded.  And why is it number nine?  Well again, because this is a list of songs that make me cry; some other time I'll do one about the saddest songs ever.  This is again from the same concert as "Delivery Delayed" and I must warn you MOST STRONGLY NEVER TO LISTEN TO THIS AT CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!  It is absolutely NOT a Christmas song and if you listen to it then you'll slash your wrists with mistletoe!  I'm not going to spoil it for you but just listen to all the lyrics carefully; and especially the final verse about the old man which is devastating! 
  • 8)  TIME AFTER TIME by Margaret Whiting  --  I've decided that this is my 4th favourite song of all time.  Having said that, I'm always torn between this version and the Frank Sinatra recording.  It is just the nicest, happiest song about how lucky two people are to have found each other.  Unless, of course, you haven't found someone then the yearning for such happiness will reduce you to tears.  Like me.
  • 7)  WISH YOU WERE HERE by Fleetwood Mac  --  This song has an intense personal reason for being here.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.
  • 6)  I STARTED A JOKE by The Bee Gees  --  An absolutely astonishing song.  How ever did they think of those lyrics?!?!?!?  There's just nothing like it I've ever heard before.  As stated on the "ALL TIME TOP TEN" podcast, Robin Gibb's son came home and listened to this song after his father's death and dissolved into a pool of tears.  How can a song be this sad and this funny at the same time?!?!?!  I just can't describe what's going on in this song.
  • 5)  NO PLACE TO FALL by Townes Van Zandt  --  this song gets me from the very first verse.  "If I had no place to fall and I needed to, could I count on you to lay me down?"  Perfect blend of lyrics with a tune conveying the same thing as the words.
  • 4)  ASIMBONANGA by Johnny Clegg  --  this is a song Clegg recorded back in the 80's referring to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in South Africa.  The title means "you were here but now I don't see you anymore"; in other words, you're one of the "disappeared".  However, the version that REALLY gets me is not the original but the live version performed at the 46664 concert in 2002 with some tentative but heartfelt help from Peter Gabriel.  There is this one shot of a woman in the audience singing along and crying that destroys me!
  • 3)  LIVE LIKE HORSES by Elton John & Luciano Pavarotti  --  this song makes me cry because it offers hope that someday I'll actually be happy.  I'm a natural pessimist so I need songs like this.  One day I hope we'll be able to break free of those old iron fences and run happily towards the sunny, open vistas.  I'm frankly living for that day.  This song soars! 
  • 2)  I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS by Joe Brown  --  performed by Joe Brown with his humble ukulele at the close of the "CONCERT FOR GEORGE", this song is just so heartbreakingly beautiful and simple; that coupled with the association now with the death of George Harrison.  This song means to me now something totally different from it's original intent:  while those who have died are no longer here with us, I'm still able to see them in my dreams".  This performance of this song never fails to reduce me to a snivelling wreck.
  • 1)  NO MORE DRAMA by Mary J. Blige  --  this is my second favourite song behind "BLACK".  It came out when there was A WHOLE LOT of drama going on in my life and I was pretty much a shredded mess!  It represents the yearning for the horrendous drama to stop finally and a chance to be actually happy and content.  This song reduces me to uncontrollable sobs because of the power of Blige's vocal performance; particularly if you ever get to see her do this live on the Jools Holland programme.  A stunning performance.
So there you have it.  And now that I've rather bared my soul with this list, I'd love to hear what songs make YOU cry.  No need for an entire list of 25 songs but if there's one particular song (or 2 or 5) that make you cry, why not leave it in the comments section?  I'd love to hear about it.


James wellyousaythat said...

Rebekah Del Rio-Llorando (Crying) -Mulholland Drive OST
Gets me every time

Cerpts said...

What a performance!!! Thanks for that one!

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