Music, and especially the lyrics that go along with it, can stir the emotions like nothing else. Words can be so powerful, that we react by shedding a tear or two, even if we don’t want to. I’ve listed a few songs that seem to bring about strong emotions, and they do that for many different reasons. They’re not always about unrequited love, or lost love, although most are since we all share that human experience at one time or another in our lives. However, some songs can bring out feelings for a host of different reasons. Let’s explore some songs and lyrics that have the effect of making us tear up upon listening.
“Un-break My Heart” by Toni Braxton. On a personal level, I had a very good friend whose husband left her, rather cruelly, after ten years of marriage and three children. This song came out right around that time, so it will always remind me of what happened to her and the pain I saw her endure. It’s heart wrenching to listen to Toni sing the lyrics to this song. She’s begging her man not to leave her in all this pain and out in the rain. She’s telling him the nights are so unkind, and wants him to bring back those nights when he held her. She’s pleading with him to take back that sad word goodbye and to please come and kiss her pain away. You can tell her pride is gone and she does not care if she looks weak. Her only goal in life is to have him back. She wants him to un-break her heart, but it sounds like her heart is broken beyond repair. On one little happy note though, my friend eventually found another man, a better man, so it was he who un-broke her heart and not the mean man who broke it in the first place.
“Praying For Time” by George Michael. This particular song is chock full of emotion, but has nothing to do with love between a couple. Even though this song was out several years ago, it seems to be relevant for the trying times we’re all facing today. He’s spot on when he talks about how the rich declare themselves poor and how most of us are not sure. It’s sad when he sings about how God has stopped keeping score, since somewhere along the way, he let us all out to play while he crept out the back door. He goes on to say that he can’t come back because he has no children to come back for. I’m not a very religious person, but the thought of God leaving us during all this mess is a scary thought. The toughest part of this song to listen to is when George says it’s hard to love when there’s so much to hate, and that we’re all hanging on to hope when there’s no hope to speak of. That’s why he says that maybe we should all be praying for time. I don’t know about you, but by the time this song ends, I’m pretty much feeling devastated.
“The Hardest Thing” by 98 Degrees. Now this is a song about a man who is torn between two women. I know we shouldn’t be feeling sorry for him, but the words to this song bring out just how much it hurts for him to walk away from one and go to the other. He tells it to “the other woman” straight that there is someone else who loves him and trusts him and that he’s made up his mind that he’s going back to her. But in the meantime, he’s saying to himself that it’s the hardest thing he’ll ever have to do is to look this “other woman” in the eye and lie and tell her he doesn’t love her. He goes on to say, with a choked voice, that it will be the hardest thing for him to show no emotion when she starts to cry. Now tell me that didn’t choke you up, just a little, even though he’s probably a cad.
“Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt. This is a break-up song, but clearly James is still very much in love with his woman. It’s a simple song, with some very powerful lyrics. He first tells us that he saw the end before they begun, which leads us to believe he loved her more than she loved him. In the chorus, he calls her his lover and his friend and that’s she always been the one for him. He says it with such sadness in his voice, that it gets to me every time. He goes on to tell us he would have loved to have been the father of her child and to have spent a lifetime with her. Such love. He even says he cannot live without her. He says he will mend his heart in time, but at the end of the song, he cries out that he’s so hollow, over and over again, which tells us just how much he’s hurting.
“Jolene” by Mindy Smith. Mindy is very jealous, but not in an angry way at all. She’s frightened beyond belief that this hottie Jolene is going to steal her man, and she’s pathetically begging for her not to do that. I think every woman can identify with being in that situation at one time or another in their lives. In this song, Mindy is acknowledging how beautiful Jolene is and admitting that she cannot compete with her. She also tells Jolene that her man sometimes calls Jolene’s name at night, which can’t be a good thing for Mindy’s self esteem. She asks Jolene to please not take her man, just because she can. In other words, it’s a given that if Jolene wants him, he’d be easy to get. I feel bad for Mindy and hope she wins this battle.
“Comforter” by Shai. Why is it that when someone takes sympathy on you, it makes you cry. When they look at you with such sadness in their eyes, you just can’t help but collapse into that feeling. That’s what the guy from Shai does to this girl in this song. First of all, the guy acts like he really wants to listen, so he asks her what her boyfriend did to make her cry this time. He says he knows the bad boyfriend cast a shadow on her heart, but he tells her that he will bring back her light. How poetic and beautiful is that statement? We should have known, but the guy from Shai had an ulterior motive all along. While she’s crying in his arms, he tells her that deep inside his heart, it was he who should have been her man all along. So at this point, everybody’s crying.
“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. I remember watching a clip on TV where Gwen Stefani was singing this song in front of an audience in another country. You should have seen all the girls crying their eyes out in the crowd. It was like each and every girl remembered that time when they realized their man was slipping away from them. Gwen says “don’t speak” because she doesn’t want to hear him say the words that he doesn’t love her anymore and that it’s over. She admits she can see their relationship dying. She says that with her head in her hands, she’ll sit and cry. Gwen has such an adorable crybaby voice, that you just can’t help but get caught up in her pain.
“Beth” by Kiss. It’s the classic tug of war between the girlfriend and his guy friends, but this guy friend is worse because he’s in a band. His girlfriend Beth is calling him and wanting him to come home, but he tells her he can’t because he and the boys are playing and they just can’t find the sound. He tells her it will only be a few more hours, but she’s probably heard that before. She tells him she feels so empty and that he’s always somewhere else instead of with her. I feel bad for Beth. He says he thinks he hears the guys calling to him and he has to go. If only Beth had that kind of power to take him away. He ends the call by saying he hopes she’ll be all right. And remember when he said it’ll just be a few more hours? Well now he’s saying that he and the boys will be playing all night. You can be sure Beth is using a few tissues.
“Tonight I Wanna Cry” by Keith Urban. The scene is a picture of wallowing self-pity and it’s sad. The guy is alone in the house, the volume on the TV is turned down so it’s quiet, there’s pictures on all the walls of his ex and him in happier times, and he’s sitting there with a big ole bottle of wine in his hand. I think we know what kind of night this poor guy is going to have. He says to himself that he’ll never get over her just walking away from him and he knows it’s going to hurt bad before it gets better. Being a guy, he admits he never lets his feelings show. But the contents from that bottle of wine is kicking in, and he knows he is just drunk enough to let go of his pain, just this one time. He says to let it fall like rain from his eyes, because tonight he wants to cry. I’m getting all teary-eyed just writing this.
“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. These lyrics remind us that we’re all human and that we all experience hurt and pain in our lives. There was a video to this song that I remember well. It was so clever how it portrayed the collective suffering of us all. It was during a huge traffic jam on a highway, and you could see into everyone’s car. It showed each individual and their unique reason for being hurt in their lives. People’s angst come from all different directions, from being verbally abused, to not having your love being returned, to angry yelling, to frustration and fear, and beyond.
The lyrics in these few sampling of songs are so simple, yet so revealing that we all share the drama of human emotions. And it is surprising sometimes which songs, which lyrics, which things in general make us want to cry.