10 Songs That Make You Cry

Music is such a part of daily life for me. And there are certain songs which arouse deep emotions in all of us. Songs that make you cry or tingle with emotion might consist of both sad and romantic songs, or evocative haunting instrumental music.  

Songs that make you cry

As the tribute band “Echoes of Pink Floyd” began to play the final encore, and revealed the open notes of Comfortably Numb, which the audience had been waiting for with great anticipation, it almost brought the house down.

It’s a sad song about life, but I think people interpret lyrics differently depending on their own life situation and legacy  that they want to leave, maybe, and this song is open for interpretation.

I thought Comfortably Numb was about drugs, but apparently not.

The haunting strains of the melody filled the entertainment centre with poignant sound and I’m sure the lyrics of this evocative song stirred up thoughts and emotions meaningful for everyone.

Why we like songs that make us cry

What makes a song meaningful for us? Why do some songs make us cry and others don’t? Why do we like sad songs?

I think it has a lot to do with nostalgia and sentiment. There’s power to a great song which is capable of bringing back moments from the past. A song connected to a sad moment, or turbulent teenage years perhaps, a painful break-up or poignant moments we’ll never get back.

Right now as I’m sitting at the computer playing Comfortably Numb on Spotify, Dave Gilmore’s guitarlicks are making me uncomfortably numb as I appear to have writers block.

The emotions are bubbling, but the words I want to write seem stuck in a deep dark cellar, due to tears in my eyes mostly!

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Sad Songs and a Pink Floyd tribute band

We went to see Echoes of Pink Floyd, a 6 piece band, at Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre. It’s a beautiful facility and hosts many bands, plays, concerts and events throughout the year. In WA many people think that living outside of Perth in the regions must be boring, but the regions do some things really well (like countryside, beaches and no traffic jams) and we are certainly not starved of entertainment.

However, this was not the iconic Pink Floyd we went to see. This was not a big stadium experience with the colossal machine that goes with it to build those mammoth shows.

“Why would you want to see a tribute band?” a friend asked. “Especially if you’ve seen the real thing?”

I thought about this, and when the band began playing I understood why. You see, the riffs and guitar solos and words brought back such strong emotions and I appreciated the talents, commitment and enthusiasm of very talented musicians paying tribute to their heroes.

No it wasn’t Pink Floyd and the huge machine that creates the big stadium, high energy, crazy lights hows and amazing stage effects for an audio visual orgy but it was a really fun evening and it stirred in us so many memories and a renewal of how much Pink Floyd’s music is imprinted on our history.

It also made me think about songs that make you cry, and which music from my lifetime has had an emotional impact at one time or another.


Songs that give us goosebumps

Sometimes a song can give us goosebumps – you know as soon as the opening strains begin that you’re going to have to stop and pay attention, but sometimes it can go even further. There are some songs that make you tingle all over and stir strong emotion and bring back memories of a place and time, or songs that just make you ‘feel.’

For Dave it’s instrumental pieces such as Local Hero, which will make him feel upbeat, whereas something like the theme tune to Inspector Morse will make us both go a bit dreamy. Bach’s Cello Suite No1 will almost move Dave to tears – almost! And music like Mars from Holst’s Planet Suite or Jupiter we both find really rousing.

Pachabel’s Canon I find deeply moving and The Four Seasons played by Nigel Kennedy, absolutely uplifts me.

10 Popular songs that make you cry and arouse emotion.

Then I got to thinking about popular songs which arouse emotion, and while there are so many, there are some which stand out for me.

Some of these include:-

  1. The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel I think has some of the most recognisable sounds and lyrics in modern music. It became an accompaniment to the Vietnam War and the melodies are as haunting today for me as they were about 40 years ago. (Was it THAT long!!)
  2. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd – “So you think you can tell Heaven or Hell”. Woah! David Gilmore’s vocals bring up an essentially sad train of thought connected to my youth, and terrible acne and acute shyness!
  3. Father and Son by Cat Stevens – the lyrics and the melody are tearjerking. It looks at the bond between a boy and his father – universal and stirring themes.
  4. Candle in the Wind by Elton John. Originally penned of course for Marilyn Monroe it became even more of a tear jerker when Elton  played it at Diana, Princess of Wales funeral. [Aside: My Mac autocorrected Candle in the Wine to Candle in the Wine. Dave said he thinks this computer knows me better than I know myself!]
  5. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley or Leonard Cohen who wrote it. The anguish in Jeff’s voice about love that’s gone stale gets my heartstinrs tingling – and it’s all the more poignant because Jeff died too young.
  6. Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. I didn’t know but this was adopted by The Samaritan’s Charity and was originally written for anybody who contemplates suicide. We all hurt. It’s a song that maybe saves lives.
  7. Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash – gets me going every time, and also, I Walk The Line –  I’ll never forget the way Joaquin Phoenix looked at Reese Witherspoon when he sang this song in the movie about Johnny Cash’s life. That gave me goosebumps!
  8. Light my Fire by the Doors – the anthem which I played solidly on my Walkman when I was backpacking and travelling overland from Bangkok to Bali in 1983 – it’s the song that reminds me of when I first met Dave.
  9. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton – inspired by personal tragedy, written about the death of his 4 year old son. Who doesn’t feel sad listening to Claptons’ song?
  10. Jupiter from Holst’s, The Planets –  I’m not in any way nationalistic, but part of this hymn was put to words as our children’s school anthem and I’d have tears in my eyes every time they sang it in assembly. When I hear it now I’m immediately transported back to a place and time.

What are the songs that make you cry or tingle with emotion?

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Showing 10 comments
  • Alison Hop Hing

    Just listened to Jupiter…remember it from my childhood, it gives me goosebumps, so beautiful!

  • Christie Hawkes

    The songs in your list create that emotion for me as well, as does Stairway from Heaven. I also get emotional when I hear Dido’s The Day Before the Day and Grafton Street. I don’t get teary, but I do get a rush of emotion from “Glorious” by Macklemore–possibly from watching the video of his grandmother.

    • Johanna

      Great additions Christie, thank you. I’d forgotten Dido’s The Day Before the Day – goosebumpful one 🙂

  • jodie filogomo

    What a great list, Johanna!!
    The only thing about these kinds of songs, is it messes up my mascara….LOL!!
    Cat in the cradle is one of my faves!!!

    • Johanna

      Haha Jodie – that’s a good point! Oh love Cat in the Cradle too.

  • Yvonne Hellyar

    I am finding Ed Sheeran to be the weep-meister. He certainly knows how to give people ‘the feels’. Perfect, Castle on the hill, Thinking out loud, Supermarket flowers, Save myself…..and the list goes on. Sometimes I think he understands women better then they understand themselves.
    Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty never fails to bring on the nostalgia and top of the list is Fire and Rain by James Taylor.

    • Johanna

      Hi Yvonne, oh how could I forget dear Ed – yes weep-meister extraordinaire. Oh Baker Street, now that’s a rave from the grave … haven’t heard it in ages but it reminds me of my party-going days as a 19year old!

  • Lynne Stanley

    Music is such a joy in my life. It can lift my mood if I’m feeling down. George Michael and Elton John singing Don’t let the sun go down on me, actually gives me goosebumps. Led Zeppelin rendition of Stairway to Heaven, and Frank Sinatra’s It’s been a very good year. These are all special to me.

    • Johanna

      You’ve picked some great ones there Lynne 🙂 How did I miss Stairway to Heaven on my list? 😉 It was always a late night singalong, and for me campsite rendition when I was backpacking around Australia back in 1983. Ahh, the memories.

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