A couple of weeks ago, I was driving late at night on my way home from my girlfriend’s house, and suddenly a familiar song came on the radio. A cover of a Wayne Cochran song from 1961, made famous by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, it was none other than Pearl Jam’s 1999 release of “Last Kiss“. Now, for anyone who has listened to the original Wayne Cochran version, or even the J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers version of the song, you would notice one large difference between those versions and Pearl Jam’s release. The Pearl Jam cover has a huge amount of strength and emotion behind them. The other versions have an odd, uplifting feeling behind them, which when you take the lyrics into consideration, is a bit creepy.
As I’m driving, I start singing along. As I began to sing the second verse, I notice my vision worsening. The road becomes blurry and I began to worry. I was quite tired, but it wasn’t that. I had begun to tear up.
The song talks about a young man who is driving while on a date with his girlfriend, and as he swerves to avoid hitting someone that night on the street, he crashes. When he awakes, he looks for his “baby”. She lays in the wreckage of the crash, her last words to boyfriend are to hold her closely. They then shared their last kiss. While nothing like this had ever happened to me, something just came over me, and even now, listening to the song while I write this article, I can’t help but feel a large surge of emotions. I guess I had never really listened to the words before, I hadn’t taken it to heart.
I reached out to some of my fellow writers and put together this list of “Songs That Make You Cry Every Time “.
The Grace – Never Ending White Lights
Written for Dallas Green (of City & Colour and Alexisonfire), the song was written to lift the sound and tone for the album. The lyrics are essentially about love and loss of an individual and the fear of being alone after the loss of a loved one. “The song really hit home for me when it first came out nearly 10 years ago. One of my neighbours and a good family friend of ours passed away once the song was released. I actually heard it for the first time on Much Music getting ready for the funeral and it brought me into tears.” The song has great lyrics and vocals from Dallas Green. His vocals in the song are so soothing and calm turning the song into an epic, peaceful ballad.
About Today – The National
The song “About Today” was written and composed by The National for their EP Cherry Tree released in 2004. The song was featured in a film called Warrior (2011) starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. I believe this song is about the end of a relationship, how the singer no longer believes they can be with their lover and decides to let them go. They wish they could do something to make it work. And even though the relationship has ended, they wish that they could still be a part of their life in some way. It’s the realization that they are losing someone they love. Throughout the song, singer Matt Berninger’s voice is so distraught and hopeless and the violin in the background adds to the feeling of loneliness that pulls at your heartstrings.
“The first time I heard this song I was going through a rough break up. It embodied the feelings I had about the relationship. About how they were slipping away and there was nothing I could really do about it. The lyrics “Hey, are you awake/Yeah I’m right here/Well can I ask you /About today” reminded me that even though we might not be together, I still wished I could do simple things like ask about about their day.”
Imagine – John Lennon
The song is an original by John Lennon and was released in October 1971. I think the song’s Wikipedia page actually sums the lyrics perfectly: “Its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace, without the barriers of borders or the divisiveness of religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions”.
“During one of the lowest points in my life, this song came on the radio. My husband went to turn down the volume, thinking it might make things worse, but instead I cranked it up. Can’t even explain why, I just took comfort in both the music and the lyrics. 11 years later, I still think of that moment when I hear the song. The circumstances I was in are not a good memory, but the thought of the song itself is. It’s a combination of the melodies, lyrics, and Lennon’s voice that make me love this song. It offers such a utopian concept in a dystopian world; something everyone wants to aspire to but we just can’t seem to get there.”
Answering Machine – the Replacements
This song comes off of the Replacements third album, Let It Be. The band started to try and write more heartfelt songs and less punk-rock music. Finally settling on the post-punk sound we now know and love. The song is really about someone’s loneliness and how difficult it is to reach out. Whether it’s to a lover who’s away from you, an ex or your friends.
“The song really touches on how difficult it can be to communicate with people and how lonely you can feel sometimes. But, what really makes it emotional is Bob Westerberg‘s raw and pained singing, it’s hard not to get sucked into the mind set he was in when he wrote the song. I just love the song because of how raw and emotional it is. Coupled with Westerberg’s amazing lyrics, it’s hard not put on repeat for an hour.”
It Makes No Difference – My Morning Jacket
The Band is sometimes accused of having lost their depth in the later stages of their career, but this song saw Robbie Robertson at his finest moment. A place where both the lyrics and the music capture a universal truth – nothing will ever hurt more than total loss. My Morning Jacket could have covered other classic (more popular) tracks but they slay “It Makes No Difference.” There is no cheer; no respite; just heartbreak. And as the song ends, you’re willing to replay it over and over so that perhaps you can stay trapped in a singular moment. Guitar, organ, drums, bass, vocals and saxophone crash together and there is no stopping. This ‘gorgeous desolation’ is the ultimate artistic expression of hopelessness.
“While the song is about the heartbreak of a relationship’s end, the context shifted for me that day. Jim James breaks into the climatic chorus “… and the sun won’t shine anymore” I completely lose my shit and begin to apologize to the urn that is in the passenger seat. I wipe away tears and drive away from the crematorium, delivering my mother’s ashes to her memorial. A few years have passed, but My Morning Jacket’s cover still makes me picture standing alone in the snow with nothing more than memories.”
Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
The video for this song, just like the music itself, is raw, powerful, and emotional. It’s hard not to feel sentimental while listening to this song and/or watching this video. I think it’s important to let your emotions go sometimes, and music can be the perfect gateway for that.
“I got ahold of a bootleg copy of a Green Day show awhile back. In the video, singer Billie Joe Armstrong began to speak about his father and how “Wake Me Up When September Ends” was about how he died. While he was playing the song, he was crying. I felt his emotions resonating through the song, the track, and into me.”
What songs make you cry? Let us know in the comments!