Songs That Make Us Cry

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

So many issues ultimately come down to a chicken-or-the-egg controversy. For example, do we cry because sad music causes tears to flow? Or is it more that we get in such a funk that we play music we know will cause the waterworks to kick into high gear?

Some music makes me weep, and sometimes it is the same music that sends other folks into crying jags. But it gets complicated. Some songs that are sure to send many folks running for a box of tissues have no effect on me. I’ve read that Adele has done wonders for the sale of Kleenex, but she doesn’t get a sniffle from me. And I’m an easy weeper.

I just read an article that tries to explain why only some music makes us cry. If you are interested, the article is by NBC News, and here is the link: //

What songs—if any—make you cry? I vaguely remember an earlier discussion on Trail Baboon that got into this. One surprising finding was that there is a song about a boat (of all things) that makes Baboons bawl. I’ll admit to being one of them. Here is an interesting You Tube video. It has an unusual intro that is worth listening to:

My strong hunch is that another song that makes me cry is one that also affects other Baboons. I think I’m the person who introduced Dale Connelly and Tom Keith to Eva Cassidy. I sent them a CD and a note to say that her songs make me cry, especially this one:

Of course, Cassidy died far too young, and I’m sure that is part of her impact on me.

I have long admired the special ability of Bonnie Raitt to sing what I call “heartbreak songs.” She sings many songs that involve a compassionate person talking about heartbreak in terms that seem utterly authentic. For me, heartbreak songs coming from Bonnie Raitt have more credibility than they could have from any other singer. I was touched when Raitt admitted, in a Scott Simon interview, that singing one of those songs in concert has a serious physical and emotional impact on her. As often as she has sung them, when she delivers one of those songs she is left drained and has to turn to other kinds of music in order to recover. Here is one of my favorites:

Some songs are so sad it isn’t a wonder that they make us cry. As a teen I learned to be careful where I was when I heard a song about a dead dog. So it is hardly surprising that a song like this next one would make people cry:

I mean—Clapton is singing to his dead kid, wondering if they would recognize each other in heaven! That’s pretty emotional stuff! (Pardon me while I blow my nose!)

One of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard was written by a very funny and impish guy. But I have it on good authority that this song also moves many people:

Seeing other people cry can make us cry. Here is an interesting example of that:

And—just to keep this post from being too heavy—here is a song so over the top and manipulative that I can’t imagine a normal person crying after hearing it. There is sentiment . . . and then there is maudlin weepy excess. A song that was designed clumsily to yank our heartstrings was one of Elvis Presley’s early hits. And here he is . . . with a bit of a spin. This is actually the (now dead) comedian Andy Kaufman singing one of Elvis Presley’s sappiest songs:

I need a tissue! No . . . after that one, I need a shower!

What (if any) songs make you cry?


48 thoughts on “Songs That Make Us Cry”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Well, as a “heart on my sleeve” kind of gal, everything makes me cry. Emmy Lou Harris seems to have the key to that, especially. She, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt did two Trio albums, both favorites of mine. On a tender-hearted day, I have been known to weep through both of them.

    Nice to have you back in the author’s seat Steve. We missed your voice during your move. It is nice to know we have a Tear Jerker List specific to Baboons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While at the gym I had a chance to look at my playlists of favorites:

      Emmy Lou: Boulder to Birmingham
      Willy Nelson: Always on My Mind
      Lyle Lovett: If You Needed Me
      Eva Cassidy: Fields of Gold (just because she sings it so achingly–just wipes me out)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Over the Rainbow- Eva Cassidy; How Great Thou Art- Sam Robson; Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral- Baylor University Wind Ensemble; My Favorite Spring- Tom Paxton; The Circle of Life- Sam Robson; You Take My Breath Away- Eva Cassidy; Whitney Houston’s Version of the Star Spangled Banner at the1984 (88?) Super Bowl; Taps at any veteran’s funeral; One Day I’ll Fly Away- Sam Robson; Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, 4th movement; Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony–various places in the piece but especially the fourth movement at the end; Respighi’s Pines of Rome, 4th movement (noticing a pattern here? 😉 );

    There are many more that slip my mind at the moment. Sometimes it all depends on my mood. I will note that sometimes I cry at the sheer beauty of the music, not because it makes me sad.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Chris, for reminding us that “classical” music also has the power to move us. I think the first time I wept during a classical music concert was when I heard Beethoven’s Opus 132, his famous string quartet in A minor. There are some folks who think that is not only Beethoven’s most sublime achievement but the most devastatingly beautiful chamber music ever composed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll have to revisit that piece and pay closer attention. Yes, classical music, especially symphonic music for me, is often the most moving because of the range of volume, power, and sounds that a full orchestra can achieve. But chamber works can easily achieve those moments too.



      1. Good question. Never thought about that way. Might be more “tearful because the ending is so powerful and/ or beautiful. There are often certain notes or chords in a piece that choke me up. Maybe because an ending is perfect and we so rarely get treated to anything close to perfect in life. 🙂

        Chris in O-town


  3. Hallmark commercials used to make me teary but I haven’t encountered one for years. Not many songs I can think of make me actually weep. Two that do are both on the same album, sung by Priscilla Herdman and based on words by Australian Henry Lawson (sorry about the ads attached):


    1. Great, Wes. Herdman has the kind of voice required to deliver a thoughtful, moving song.

      Your selections remind me that I used to be bowled over by that gorgeous “Spoon River” as sung by Claudia Schmidt. (Who did the harmony vocal? Gorgeous!)


  4. I tear up whenever I hear the Mozart variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, as daughter was a Suzuki Music student and they played the Twinkle variations all the time.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. there is a video (i think its cbs of vladimere horawitz playing in russia at age 90 or something and after his standing ovation he comes back and his encore is a childs tune maybe shumann? gets me everytime too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a mess – or is there some better single word to describe us easy criers? Almost anything by Eva Cassidy, including Somewhere Over… Also Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over… Certain children’s songs that Joel liked (hell, almost anything that Joel liked). “Cabaret” sung by Liza. A theme from Brahams’ 3rd Symphony, and from the movie “The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” – from a Mantovani album given my my first boyfriend… Eric Clapton’s acoustic Layla.
    Will no doubt think of others through rest of day.

    There are also folk dances where the music can bring me to tears if I let them.


  7. I’m more likely to shed tears over a piece of music that’s really beautiful than a song with sad lyrics. There are some exceptions. This one by Kathy Mattea really gets to me.

    And I’ll never know how Steve Goodman could sing this one live:

    I love Steve Goodman’s voice, and the combination of humor and nostalgic observation in a song like Old Smoothies chokes me up too.


  8. And then there are the songs that you know are going to make you cry but you wish they didn’t. Honey I love you by Bobby Goldsboro and that darn Unicorn song from my youth. I don’t even remember who that was done by. But they both made me cry every single stupid time!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. As with tim’s fondness for “You Are My Sunshine,” sometimes we are affected by music that special associations. Two songs from the soundtrack of Gosford Park used to get to me because they were associated with a doomed affair.

    When my mother died, my father was picking music for her memorial service. I suggested that “The September Song” might be good, as it was reflective and it was “the” special song my parents shared. My dad said, “No, I always loved that song. But your mother couldn’t stand it, as it was too sad for her.”

    Which left me with another reason to cry when I hear that song. It seems sad that his special song wasn’t hers.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Good stuff today kids.
    That ‘EmmyLou’; I’ve always liked that song. But I have trouble with songs and getting the true meaning behind most of them. I just don’t. Mostly cause I’m not listening…so….there is that.

    But this song, this one does it for me.


  11. Oh, and speaking of classical, ‘Scheherazade’.
    I remember milking cows and MPR would play that, It would get to the 2nd movement or the very end of the last movement and I’d have to pull the milking units off and just stand under the radio and let the music wash over me.
    Such powerful music!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Too many songs to mention them all, but John Prine’s Lake Marie , for one. Also Connie Dover’s The Summer Before the War.


  13. I have a very hurtful mom/dad/sister and I have a song for each of them that they don’t know I have because they don’t care about people they hurt. Because of you- Kelly clarkson, Hello- Adele to my sister and, Say Something- to my dad byJason Aldein.
    I listen to them every once and awhile to shed my tears and try to remember that it wasn’t my fault. Therapy I guess


  14. Turn Around
    Turn around and you’re two, turn around and you’re four, turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door…..etc. sob, sob, sob


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.