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The Music of Miserablists

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inspired by Man Ray's "Tears" (flickr/image munky)

Music elicits all kinds of emotional responses – including those that call for a tissue. Today, we’ll speak with musicologist David Huron and writer Amanda Stern about why certain types of music can draw tears – and why some people seek out music that makes them mourn.  


David Huron and Amanda Stern

Comments [146]


No Rain by Blind Melon is a fave.

Jan. 18 2012 05:08 PM

Juliana Hatfield's acoustic version of "My Darling" only available on the CD single of "Spin the Bottle." The "electric" version on the following album "Only Everything" does nothing emotionally compared to a girl and just her acoustic guitar on the original. It feels so intimate, like you're sitting in the room with her, especially when you hear the stool she's sitting on creak as she leans to play. It's worth the search. Another great girl and a guitar song; Maria McKee's "If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags)" off the "Pulp Fiction" Soundtrack. Had that one on repeat for a whole night after a sad experience.

Jan. 12 2012 09:19 PM

'Jean' by Oliver. Thanks for all the posts; got some new material now!!!

Jan. 12 2012 08:40 PM
Amanda Stern from Brooklyn, NY

Hi all, I was the guest on yesterday's crying show. The version of the Mark Eitzel song that played on the show yesterday I've never heard before, and ironically, made me feel...indifferent. Had I known there was another, I would have been specific. But, I didn't, so, I'm doing it now, for you. Here is the version of the Mark Eitzel song that breaks my heart (but, doesn't necessarily make me cry). The song starts at 0:44 and the part that rips me up is at 2:38. - The Decibels and Little Pills (prepare to clutch your heart at 2:38)

Thanks for listening yesterday. For such a sad theme, it was really fun.

Jan. 12 2012 08:33 AM

the motels: "only the lonely" & "suddenly last summer"

Jan. 11 2012 11:27 PM
Anne from Westchester

Topic really struck a cord for many (sorry, couldn't resist). I'm a 50's boomer who's been searching for songs to resonate with my feelings of the moment since early childhood: To feel and to REALLY feel and then to let go of the feeling. When I was a small child I'd try to find a song to make me feel better if I was feeling blue (Pebbles sang the song in an episode of "The Flintstones"). During various times in life some songs worked. My emotion yearn for a matching song to amplify, magnify and identify with my emotional world. Glad there's research being done; sounds tremendously interesting. 'Come down in Time', (Elton J); Various Cat Stevens; Judy Collins; 'how to save a life' by The Fray;
To snap out of a blue mood when ready from today's generation: 'Be Okay' by Ingrid Michaelson

Jan. 11 2012 11:02 PM
cory from nyc

I wonder if I'm unusual in that I like to find myself crying (or at least tearing) at stuff from the punk/post-punk/pop punk scene that is also a little upbeat and anxious, such as Joy Division's "disorder", Silkworm's "libertine" album, Husker Du's "everything falls apart", etc. ... it's the mixture of restraint, confusion, anxiety, desperation and anger that i think captures the best popular bands...

Jan. 11 2012 10:45 PM

Dance With My Father / Vandross
Can't Help Falling in Love / Elvis
Mendocino / McGarrigles

Jan. 11 2012 10:45 PM
mikey D from new york

donnie darko soundtrack song Mad World Greg Jules

Jan. 11 2012 10:42 PM

I was 18, sitting at my college dorm desk, writing course-work and was flabbergasted to be crying, just from hearing Mozart's Flute Quartet (I don't remember which one).

Jan. 11 2012 10:40 PM
Suzanne from UWS

Angel from Montgomery - Bonnie Raitt or Bonnie Raitt/John Prine version
Angel Band - Stanley Brothers or The Wilders version

Jan. 11 2012 10:39 PM
A Prizant from Brooklyn

Elliott Smith's beautiful "Waltz #1" makes me choke up every time.

Jan. 11 2012 10:37 PM
Jennie from NYC

I forgot to add: "Both Sides Now" Paul Young version and "Grow Old with Me" by John Lennon

Jan. 11 2012 10:36 PM
Shawn from Detroit

Hallelujah sung by Jeff Buckley

Jan. 11 2012 10:32 PM
Dee from Brooklyn

Ave Maria always makes me well up.
Also, sometimes it's just one line of a song, such as "...and even though it all went wrong..." from Leonard Cohen's Halleluiah

Jan. 11 2012 10:32 PM
Jennie from NYC from Upper West Side

The music from the TV show LOST
"Ordinary Miracle" by Sarah McLaughlin
"The Long & Winding Road" by The Beatles
The theme to the Godard film "Contempt"
"Through the Years," Kenny Rogers
"Tonight, Tonight" Smashing Pumpkins
"Let Me Get What I Want, This Time," Morissey
Ennio Morricone's soundtrack for "The Mission"
"The Promise," Tracy Chapman
"Can You Feel The Love tonight," Elton John
"Too Beautiful For Words," "I'm Here" and other selections from the Broadway production of "The color Purple"
"Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music
"Be Not Afraid" - Catholic folk song
"Let There Be Peace on Earth" church hymn

Jan. 11 2012 10:29 PM

'Angie' by the Stones

Jan. 11 2012 10:25 PM
Michelle in Brooklyn

Almost any song by Jeff Buckley can evoke instant tears! Last Goodbye and Lilac Wine are two that come to mind.
He had such an amazing and haunting voice.

Jan. 11 2012 10:24 PM

Al Brown - Ain't no love in the heart of the city

Jan. 11 2012 10:24 PM
jay from brooklyn

Nine Inch Nails - "Hurt"

Jan. 11 2012 10:22 PM
Irene from NYC

So many of American Music Club's songs get me teary, but not necessarily what your guest chose. I would have picked "Chanel No.5," "Blue and Grey Shirt" (actually most of the "California" album) or "Will You Find Me?"-- always get my eyes a little moist.

Focusing on other artists, here is a smattering of songs that summon the waterworks:
The Beatles - "You've Got to Hide your Love Away"
Miles Davis - "All Blues" or "Blue in Green"
Gary Higgins - "Unable to Fly"
Debussy's "La cathédrale engloutie" or "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune"
Chopin Piano Nocturnes
Radiohead - "How to Disappear Completely"
Isaac Hayes - "Walk On By"
The Trolleyvox - "Whistles in Church"
Loudon Wainwright III - "Your Mother and I"
Shirley Collins and Davy Graham - "Pretty Saro"
Vince Guaraldi Trio - "Christmastime is Here"
Aaron Copland - "Quiet City"
John Fahey - "Finale"
The Left Banke - "Dark is the Bark"
Nick Drake - "River Man"
Sandy Denny - "The North Star Grassman and the Ravens"
Richard and Linda Thompson - "Pavanne"
XTC - "This World Over"
Strauss - "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (The full tone poem really moves me)

Jan. 11 2012 07:50 PM

I'm Not That Girl - Wicked
You'll Never Walk Alone - Carousel
Bring Him Home - Les Miserables (Colm Wilkinson)
Once We Were Kings - Billy Elliot
Anthem - Chess
Far From the Home I Love - Fiddler on the Roof
Little Lamb - Gypsy (Laura Benanti)
I Am What I Am - La Cage Aux Folles (Douglas Hodge)
Here Alone - Little Women
Back to Before - Ragtime (Marin Mazzie)
The Impossible Dream & Reprise - Man of La Mancha (Richard Kiley and Joan Diener)

Moonlight Sonata - Beethoven
Fur Elise - Beethoven
Bolero - Ravel
Peer Gynt (Morning Mood) - Grieg

Ay Fond Kiss - Fairground Attraction
Killkelly - The Green Fields of America
Fear a Bata - Talitha Mackenzie
Lass of Aughrim - Beth Patterson
A Boat Like Gideon Brown - Great Big Sea
How Can I Keep From Singing - Enya
The Mary Stanford of Rye - William Pint & Felicia Dale
Auld Lang Syne - The Tannahill Weavers

Reasonland - Antje Duvekot
Don't Think About Her When You're Trying to Drive - Little Village
What'll I Tell My Heart - Dinah Washington
I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt

Jan. 11 2012 06:41 PM
Jeff in Brooklym from

This song was used in the TV Show "Popular" - also helped with the plotline but even to this day it brings a tear to my eyes.

also The Warheads' "No Longer" - discovered it on a podcast I was listening to on the subway. Not sure what happened but I lost it right there and then. Moved me bigtime.

Jan. 11 2012 05:58 PM
Gwyn from Wall Street

I found myself crying at the song "Brother" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros while I was on the train. It was the first time I was ever hearing it and it reminded me of my siblings, which at the time I was missing very much. I couldn't stopp crying and people started to avoid looking at me. I've tried to listen to that song several times and haven't been able to get all the way through it without crying.

Jan. 11 2012 05:41 PM
Todd Gilleland from Metro Detroit

Phillip Glass - String Quartet #3 (Mishima) - esp. 4th Movement "Closing"
Brian Eno - An Ending
Frederic Chopin - Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2
Willie Nelson - Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??

Jan. 11 2012 04:07 PM
Randy from Westchester, NY

Where's the audio online for this show???
The audio link is the segment about "War on Drugs", not this subject!!!

Jan. 11 2012 03:52 PM
Danielle from NYC

Bridge Over Troubled Water, Aretha Franklin
Landslide, Stevie Nicks/Dixie Chicks
Wild Is The Wind, Nina Simone
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland
Adagio for Strings, Barber
Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer, Stevie Wonder
La Mamma Morta - Maria Callas
Bibo No Aozora, Ryuichi Sakamoto
Das Rheingold: Vorspiel, Wagner
A Song For You, Donny Hathaway
Bookends, Simon & Garfunkel

Jan. 11 2012 03:05 PM
Rebecca from Michigan

Malaguena- especially any piano version.

Leonard Cohen gets me out of a funk. I may be sad, but at least I'm not that guy!

Jan. 11 2012 03:05 PM

lennon&mac : "the long and winding road"
peter nero : "theme from summer of '42" [film]
paul mauriat[spell?] "love is blue"

Jan. 11 2012 03:00 PM
Kelsey Vaughn Thomas from Detroit Michigan

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out-The Smiths
Georgia on My Mind-Ray Charles
Crushed-The Cocteau Twins
All That You Are-The Cinematic Orchestra
How is Feel To Love Someone Like You-Kelsey Vaughn Thomas
Here Comes The Fool-Peter Gabriel
Love Changes- Mother's Finest
Top Of The City-Kate Bush
Life's What You Make It-Talk Talk
Dissolved Girl-Massive Attack
Anything by Erik Satie most of the time

Jan. 11 2012 03:00 PM

melanie: "candles in the rain"
joan baez: "diamonds and rust"

Jan. 11 2012 02:56 PM

A few "children's" entertainment weepers:
Howard Shore's soundtrack to "The Snowman" ("Walking in the Air")
"I'm Going to Go Back There Someday" by Gonzo ("The Muppet Movie" soundtrack, 1979)

Jan. 11 2012 02:54 PM

louis armstrong: "what a wonderful world"
the moody blues: "tuesday afternoon"[long version]
it's a beautiful day: "white bird"
angela bofill: "the voyage"

Jan. 11 2012 02:53 PM

Sting's Dancing with the Missing, about the desaparacidos, never fails to make my eyes well up. George Harrison's All Things Must Pass often does the same.

Jan. 11 2012 02:51 PM
Chris Wall

Elvis Costello's "So Like Candy" off his Mighty Like A Rose album. Just get choked up thinking about it.

Jan. 11 2012 02:49 PM
Mike Radeos

"Apron Strings" by John Entwistle of the Who, in his second solo album entitled Whistle Rhymes. Of note is the plaintive guitar played by Peter Frampton a few years before Frampton Comes Alive.

Jan. 11 2012 02:46 PM
Rae from Westfield, NJ

A song that always gets me is "Still You Turn Me On" by ELP. Just kills me!

Jan. 11 2012 02:45 PM

Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti does it everytime. I don't understand a word. It's just the voice and melody.
Adio for Strings was always a favorite, but after I heard it two days after 9/11 on the BBC Proms it goes straight through my heart.

Jan. 11 2012 02:44 PM
Bashi from 32mi West of NY,07869

Great show as usual.Please spell "faringialized."

Jan. 11 2012 02:43 PM
Tim from Manhattan

"Wash Me Clean" as sung by kd lang

Chopin "Prelude #4 in E Minor, Op. 28/4"

Donizetti "Una furtiva lagima" from L'Elisir D'Amore

"Stardust" as sung by Nat King Cole

Have a good cry!

Jan. 11 2012 02:42 PM
Katie from BK

"I Just Don't THink I'll Ever Get Over You" Colin Hay

Jan. 11 2012 02:42 PM
bee from brooklyn

You've played Joe Strummer's version of Redemption Song, even sadder / more effecting to me is Strummer singing it with Johnny Cash on the Unearthed boxed set that came out after both Strummer and Cash's deaths. It is incredibly moving and amazing , in and of itself, but to think of both of them , gone now , maybe possibly singing it together in some kind of heaven - always gets me weeping.

Jan. 11 2012 02:41 PM
Elizabeth from New Jersey

Here are a few:
Kiri te Kanawa, Songs of the Auvergne
Parts of Enigma Variations
Shenandoah, Bill Frisell
Stand by Me, Ben E. King
Goodnight, You Kings of New England (soundtrack to Cider House Rules), Rachel Portman

When I get too sad, I play the blues and that cheers me up no end.

Jan. 11 2012 02:41 PM

ralph vaughan williams' "fantasia on a theme by thomas tallis", tears and chills

Jan. 11 2012 02:41 PM
MJ from Rockaways

The two that come to mind are "New Year's Day" by U2, and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John. This is especially a problem when I am driving and listening to the radio - I have had to pull over and have a good sob on occasion. I have also noticed that I can sometimes listen to these and a number of other songs without crying, but if I try to sing them, I dissolve in tears.

Jan. 11 2012 02:40 PM

"Bachianas Brasileiras #5" by composer Villa-Lobos, especially the cello/piano arrangement without the soprano voice. Hauntingly beautiful, but it makes me so sad I almost can't listen to it anymore.

Jan. 11 2012 02:40 PM
Sara from New Providence, NJ

He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones

it will make you cry in your beer - that's what country music is for!

or Buddy Holly - just because the songs are so beautifully crafted.

Jan. 11 2012 02:39 PM
KJ from NYC

Time for another Spotify Soundcheck Playlist, Joel! Kudos on all your previous ones.

Jan. 11 2012 02:39 PM
Robert from NYC

Elvis Costello's cover of What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Jan. 11 2012 02:39 PM
Sarah from CT

For me, Bon Iver's For Emma, For Evermore, in the winter with snow Everywhere is great crying!

Jan. 11 2012 02:39 PM
Mike from Manhattan

Shostakovitch quartet #3. The initial sadness (I think it was written as a tribute after the death of a Jewish musician friend of the composer) is transcended by the playful sketch of the subject himself with kelzmer-like harmonies. Without thinking about the background, it is the combination of the profound sadness and the humane transcendence that moves me to tears.

Jan. 11 2012 02:38 PM
Rick Morris, r.e.m films from Englewood, NJ

When you talk about music and tears you have to mention Jackson Brown's Fountain of Sorrows and Celine Dione's, Song for You

Jan. 11 2012 02:37 PM
John from NJ

Two songs come to mind and they are dramatically different. One is 7 Spanish Angels by Ray Charles and Willie nelson. Another is Listen to My Heart by Nancy Lamott.

Jan. 11 2012 02:37 PM
Debbie from Long Island

Gymnopedie by Erik Satie

Jan. 11 2012 02:37 PM

certainly Ute Lemper's version of Nick Cave's 'Little Water Song'

There is nothing sadder than a woman being murdered by drowning

Jan. 11 2012 02:37 PM

"societys child". not so much musically,but for the sadness of the lyric,talking directly to me, about racism. i had a breakup, that was induced to a great degree, by societal pressures, revolving around racism.

Jan. 11 2012 02:37 PM

TAPS, Amazing Grace, bagpipes.

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM

morrissey & the smiths during my high school days. misery loves company!

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM

puff the magic dragon" and John Denver's " Annies' Song" make me cry every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
Andrea Perlman from Brooklyn

Lady antebellum, "I need you now".

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
Karin from Highland Park, NJ

"Cosmia" by Joanne Newsom
"Beautiful" By Aimee Mann
"Green Grass" by Tom Waits and many songs by Tom Waits
"Sweet Old World" Lucinda Williams

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
Ruby from LI from Long Island

Radiohead = Melancholy. That's why I love them. When Thom Yorke's voice breaks at the end of "Let Down" it gets me in the gut every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
constance dejong

Goreki's Third Symphony with Dawn Upshaw singing...takes you way down.

Tom Waits makes moving an otherwise banal song, There's a Place For Us.

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
Philip from Copiague, NY

The Band - "Unfaithful Servant" at the mandolin solo - wow - If you've ever been laid off from a job you liked, that song at that moment wrings out the tears.

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
Kate Bowling

" Hello in There " by John Prine
one of the saddest songs I have heard!

Jan. 11 2012 02:36 PM
Darren in NJ from The Garden State

"Trapeze Swinger" by Iron and Wine got me ballin' my eyes out last year as I reflected on a broken relationship. Wow! I can still remember that -- a good healthy cry!

Jan. 11 2012 02:35 PM
Jeff from Hillsborough

Fix You by Coldplay makes me cry every single time. I think of healing

Jan. 11 2012 02:35 PM
orla from manhattan

Ques for your academic/expert, pls. Why would someone normally very emotional (namely, me) never be moved to tears by music?

Jan. 11 2012 02:35 PM

I one time started crying at the gym when they were playing Lil Wayne's "How to Love"

Jan. 11 2012 02:35 PM
H. from Queens

All these songs have brought tears to my eyes, at one point or another listening to them:

- Little Wing - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
- More than a Feeling - Boston
- Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
- Betcha By Golly, Wow - The Stylistics
- Show Me - The Pretenders
- That Sunday, That Summer - Nat King Cole
- Pride (in the Name of Love) - U2
- Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love) - The Main Ingredient

Jan. 11 2012 02:35 PM
pk from NYC

Mahler's 9th--1st Movement
Jess Stacy's solo--Sing, Sing, Sing--1938 Benny Goodman Concert at Carnegie Hall
Glenn Gould's 1981 Goldberg Variations

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Kristen from Detroit, MI

'Father and Son' by Cat Stevens makes me cry everytime, another example of a song that swells. Even though I am a female, this song always makes me think about my relationship with my own father.

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
donkey at the disco (sad edition)

bob seger's "still the same" seemed to be the background music for the funerals for 3 close family members and a family pet. so i can't help but get teary eyed each time i hear it till this day.

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
chad from nyc from new york city

Eric Clapton's tears in heaven

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Jamie from CT

The original version of the song "Idiot Wind" by Bob Dylan has the most mournful harmonica solo ever recorded. The version that ended up on the album(Blood on the tracks) is a much more upbeat version but this original really illustrates the pain of Dylan's first divorce and it's the sort of song anyone can listen to and associate with their own experiences of lost love.

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Stephanie from nyc

Jeff Buckley's version of 'Hallelujah'.

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Lee from Manhattan

My sister sent me a CD last year called "Songs That Make Me Cry." Top of her list? Mad World by Gary Jules & Martha by Tom Waits. Brilliant.

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
marcoz from new jersey

Pachelbel's Canon is so weepy for me. It all began years ago as the background music to a commercial for a race track with horses galloping, and I just had to track down the music and I found it, and ever since, sobs.....

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Bee from Weehawken, NJ

Ripple by the Grateful Dead
I had it played at my brother's funeral as he was a musician and fond of the Dead.
"Let there be songs to fill the air."
"If i knew the way, i would bring you home."

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM

The one song that sends me to tears is "Acadian Driftwood" by The Band. I'm not French Canadian in the slightest, but it is so effective because of the honesty and sadness of the true story it tells. It gives dignity to a very overlooked part of North American history.

Jan. 11 2012 02:34 PM
Meg from CT

Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter"

Jan. 11 2012 02:33 PM
donkey at the disco (sad addition)

bob seger's "still the same" seemed to be the background music for the funerals for 3 close family members and a family pet. so i can't help but get teary eyed each time i hear it till this day.

Jan. 11 2012 02:33 PM
marc parrilli from Rockland county

for me, the crying songs are Brahm's German Requiem, Faure's Requiem and Mahler's soundtrack music for Death in Venice. Can't rtemember all the pieces but its a good way to discover Mahler.

Jan. 11 2012 02:33 PM
Xavier from Metro Detroit

Kate Bush "Cloudbursting". For some reason I tend to always sing this song out-loud and by the end I'm in tears.

Jan. 11 2012 02:33 PM
David Masello from Manhattan

Is there a difference between sad-sounding songs and those that are merely beautiful? What is it about music that is beautiful that makes it sad? I listen to Puccini or Bellini arias, sung by the likes of Callas or Corelli, and I can actually weep. And that's without having any idea what the Italian lyrics are actually saying. But I recognize the melodies as beautiful.

Jan. 11 2012 02:33 PM

How about an old Broadway classic like "Carousel". The music elicits so may emotions.

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM
mark from nj

It just takes one line, from 'Heart Like a Wheel', by the McGarrigle sisters:

'What I can't understand -- Oh, please, God, hold my hand -- is why should this be happening to me?'

Does it every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM

Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits and Starry Starry night that I just cried to last night after I told my children that a song was written for Van Goghs painting.

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM

"Little Willow" by Paul McCartney (on the Flaming Pie album), a song written to comfort a child's grief after the loss of a parent. Particularly moving, considering McCartney's wife Linda died not long after this album.

I know it's not hip to like McCartney tunes, but if you can't be moved by this, then I shoudl shed a tear for YOU.

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM
Peter from Brooklyn

"Sleep Baby, Sleep" Jimmie Rodgers. Totally otherworldly yodeling

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM
Paul I. Adujie from Elmont, NY

Songs which make me cry?

Redemption Song by Bob Marley!

It fits with my politics too!

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM
Michal from Manhattan

Simon and Garfunkel's "Only Living Boy in New York". Every dang time. I've elicited pitying comments on the street while listening to that one.

Jan. 11 2012 02:32 PM
micaelady from Brooklyn, NY

ADELE - Someone Like You - makes me sob every time!

Jan. 11 2012 02:31 PM

Pogues - "Thousands are Sailing"

And, Rolling Stone's cover of "Just My Imagination"

Ok, I'll stop now.

Jan. 11 2012 02:31 PM

The theme from Black Morpheus, original movie track

Jan. 11 2012 02:31 PM
Chris from NJ

Auld Lang Syne, every time. And bagpipes, anytime.

Jan. 11 2012 02:31 PM
Monica from NYC

Pachebel's Canon induces crying every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:31 PM
Darren in NJ from The Garden State

"Accidentally Like A Martyr" - Warren Zevon and "If You See Her Say Hello" - Bob Dylan

Jan. 11 2012 02:30 PM
Becca from williamsburg

most songs by sarah Mclachlan

its not fair that they used her face and voice with pictures of hurt animals on that animal rights commercial!

Jan. 11 2012 02:30 PM
Emily from jersey city

for me, it's all about lyrics. Pink Floyd's "when the tigers broke free" does it to me every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:30 PM
Jeff in yonkers

Dot Allison's "Tomorrow Never Comes" is crushing.

Jan. 11 2012 02:30 PM
Bill from New Rochelle

Dear MP10006

Try the far better original, by Tracy Nelson, Mother Earth.
Give a listen too, to Tracy's Down So Low too. You'll wipe out.

Best to you

Jan. 11 2012 02:30 PM

U2's "Bad" from Unforgettable fire - gets me sooo down.

Jan. 11 2012 02:30 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Ground Zero

I'm amazed you guys haven't used the term "emotional catharsis", nor referred to the fact that one of the most important functions of the arts are to give private emotions of non-creators vicarious expression.

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM

Actually, the entire Sunday at the Village Vanguard album. Or, for that matter, all of Bill Evans/Paul Motian/Scott Lafro material.

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM
DAN from Manhattan

Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 anybody? It makes "Adagio for Strings" sound like "Zippity Do Dah".

Also, many Smiths (There is a light that never goes out)

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM
Wyatt from NYC

Just Be Simple by Magnolia Electric Co.

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM
Walter from Manhattan

Mahler, Symphony #5, Adagietto movement
Jo Stafford, "Shenandoah"

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM

Tom Rush's version of "Child's Song"

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM
Susannah Laskaris from Brooklyn, ny

This song is SOOO SAAD and produces waterworks everytime - a "must play" song for today's show:
"Holding Back the Tears"; by the band, Simply Red.

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM

for me A Rose for Emily by the Zombies is the saddest song on earth. They took a somewhat creepy and sad Faulkner story, distilled it down to its most basic elements, paired it with a stark arrangement and it makes me cry every time...

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM
Marie from NYC

Alone Again by Calexico

Jan. 11 2012 02:29 PM
Andrea from Philadelphia

Nico's version of "These Days" and The Beatles' "I Will" always make me cry.

Jan. 11 2012 02:28 PM
Brad from NYC Area

Like I said back here on 12/5/11:

"Why does some music make me burst into tears, even when I don't understand the lyrics explicitly?

I feel like I'm meeting an angel who is in the process of saving my life.

ex: "Hide and Seek", by Imogen Heap"

...You know, I thought about it.

Most of the time for me, it's the sound of The Awesome or The Transcendent,

& not really Melancholy, Brooding, Heartbreak, etc.

Jan. 11 2012 02:28 PM
Natasha from Manhattan

Umbrellas of Cherbourg -- I will cry through entire movie. I don't know exactly why. Even someone humming the music will bring tears to my eyes.

Jan. 11 2012 02:28 PM
Arielle from Manhattan

"Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word" by Elton John. Tears every time. Oy Vey.

Jan. 11 2012 02:28 PM

Lot of Paul Westerberg's songs do it for me too

Jan. 11 2012 02:28 PM
Paul I. Adujie from Elmont, NY

Songs that make me cry?

Symphony #9 (Largo) Herbert Karadjian

Send In The Clowns

Jan. 11 2012 02:27 PM
Andrea from Philadelphia

Nico's version of "These Days" and The Beatles' "I Will" always make me cry.

Jan. 11 2012 02:26 PM
Anna from tribeca

How about Gloomy Sunday? There are endless variations

Jan. 11 2012 02:26 PM
Nathan from Angouleme, France

Back on the Chain Gang by the Pretenders

Jan. 11 2012 02:25 PM
ted in atlanta

Gordon' s a great sad songwriter, but Syd Barrett usually intrigues me and makes me laugh? Unless I think of the real issues that ended his career?

I made a few CDs for my nephew and put a few sad songs on there. One was a Chris Isaak, though it was Forever Blue - and a few others that made me emotional were North Dakota from Lyle Lovett and the other was Nursery Rhyme of Innocence from Natalie Merchant.

And Eitzel is a great tragic songwriter, good call.

Jan. 11 2012 02:25 PM
Paul I. Adujie from Elmont, NY

Songs which make me cry

1. The First Time I saw Your Face by Roberta Flack

2. Africa Is Where My Heart Is by Mariam Makeba

3. Saving Private Ryan

Jan. 11 2012 02:25 PM
Robots Need to Party from NYC

For me, Cat Stevens Father and Son gets me, it starts in the chest and spreads from there. Also, as cliche as it is American Pie can do choke me up pretty easily.

Jan. 11 2012 02:25 PM

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis,
Ralph Vaughn Williams

Jan. 11 2012 02:24 PM
Francesca from East Northport, NY

How about Albinoni adagio in G? Gets me every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:22 PM

When I was in college I'd sing with my face into the big KLH speaker with Linda Ronstadt singing Love Has No Pride, and make myself cry. I loved how intense the emotions felt to me as a (I guess melodramatic) kid.
One day by boyfriend walked in, caught me in action and reacted SO jealaously. He was sure that I was singing about someone else. But no - I was young, happy and had never been dumped. I just loved connecting with that pitiful dramatic sadness.

specifically the bridge...

I've had bad dreams too many times,
to think that they don't mean much any more.
Fine times have gone and left my sad home,
friends who once cared just walk out my door.


Love has no pride when I call out your name.
Love has no pride when there's no one left to blame.
I'd give anything to see you again.

I've been alone too many nights
to think that you could come back again.
But I've heard you talk: "She's crazy to stay."
But this love hurts me so, I don't care what you say.

Repeat chorus


If I could buy your love, I'd truly try my friend.
And if I could pray, my prayer would never end.
But if you want me to beg, I'll fall down on my kneews;
asking for you to come back...
I'd be pleading for you to come back...
beggin for you to come back to me.

Repeat chorus

Jan. 11 2012 02:21 PM

I use music to get a good cry going on a regular basis.
I'm trying to get rid of some pent up anger right now, and it really helps.

One song I use is "Shenandoah" by Jo Stafford from her "American Folk Songs" recording. The arrangement by Paul Weston is so beautiful.

Also the piece, "In The Arms of the Beloved" by Richard Danielpour.

Jan. 11 2012 02:20 PM
nancy from Fanwood, NJ

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. After calling each other repulsive names, she says, " took my dreams from me when I first found you." He answers, "I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can't make it all alone, I built my dreams around you."

Jan. 11 2012 02:19 PM

Mr. Won't You Please Help My Pony by Ween gets me every time.

Jan. 11 2012 02:19 PM
siouxan from Bronx

Roy Orbison's "In Dreams."

Syd Barrett turns on the water works for me too.

Jan. 11 2012 02:16 PM

Lucinda Williams - "Ventura" from the Live at the Fillmore album.

Bill Evans - "Alice in Wonderland" from Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Tom Waits - "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You"

Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah"

Violent Femmes - "Good Feeling"

Donovan - "Catch The Wind" (the really mellow version)

Just to name a few

Jan. 11 2012 02:15 PM
Bill from New Rochelle

A song that BOTH makes me sad, and also gives me chills, is the appropriately named "TIL I DIE" by Brian Wilson.

Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber can do it too,.

Jan. 11 2012 02:15 PM
SS from Queens from Queens

Beethoven's "Eroica, Symphony #3" I don't know why it brings tears to my eyes, but I become so emotional when I listen to it, especially live.

Jan. 11 2012 02:14 PM
Peter K

Why do the BLUES work? The lyrics are typically dripping with self-pity ("my baby left me," "nobody loves me," etc.)...yet the songs are strangely compelling, even uplifting and fun. Why?

Jan. 11 2012 02:14 PM

Tammy Wynette's "No Charge" definitely makes me cry. I used to think it was a sweet song, but then I heard it after I had my children and instantly started crying!!!

Jan. 11 2012 02:13 PM

the fiddle song "Ashokan Farewell" ... it seems to go deep into the emotional part of my brain

Jan. 11 2012 02:12 PM
Mark from Westchester

I'm gonna take you way back......wandering the dorm, brokenhearted, "Nights in White Satin" the most appropriate of backdrops.

Jan. 11 2012 02:12 PM
Hal from Brooklyn

Memory is very closely associated with emotion.
A song that makes me cry is associated with emotional events.

Jan. 11 2012 02:11 PM
johng from Georgia

My vote for the saddest single note in rock music goes to the initial guitar break in Big Brother's Ball and Chain. Seven seconds in.

Jan. 11 2012 02:11 PM
david from NY

"Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch. "The Straight Story" - "Twin Peaks" amazing

Jan. 11 2012 02:11 PM
Matt Opal from Ann Arbor, MI

I don't know how sad the song is, but I shed a tear or two while listening to Tie Me Up! Untie Me! by mewithoutYou the other day. John Wayne Gacy, Jr. by Sufjan Stevens always elicits some emotions as well.

Jan. 11 2012 02:10 PM
Kevin from Manhattan

I was recently reflecting on the Songs that Give You Chills episode and thinking of songs that make me react more strongly than others, so today's show is a fitting complement to the December show. Without fail, the following songs always induce goose bumps and a certain sadness/melancholia for me:

Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings" (especially in the cinematic context of "The Elephant Man" and "Platoon")

Simon & Garfunkel's "Old Friends/Bookends" medley (that sustained note by the string orchestra during the transition to the solo acoustic guitar ending ALWAYS gets me)

Vivaldi's "Guitar Concerto in D"

Interestingly enough, it seems that orchestral arrangements invoke more sadness in me. I'm curious to see if today's guests touch upon that phenomenon.

Jan. 11 2012 12:15 PM

I'm a big fan of emotionally affecting, cathartic art... but what's weirder, that I've never actually cried in response to art, or that sometimes I feel like that makes my reaction to it inadequate, like I'm incapable of feeling it enough?

Jan. 11 2012 12:14 PM

@barent: To be fair, mood generally isn't the focus in hip-hop - but have you heard Kanye and Drake's last two albums, or Lil B's "I'm Gay" album? All very moody, affecting music, but still very much hip-hop.

Hell, even 2Pac's classic Dear Mama is proof it can be done:

Jan. 11 2012 12:08 PM

i think a lot of people today have been conditioned to stay in perennial party or giddy mode. i remember, when radio was worth a damn-[love you npr,but you're not equiped to replace the great FM stations of yesteryear] -and we had torchy,painful stuff, that helped us process grief or transitory melancholy. hip-hop, does not really have the capacity to establish either a rhapsodic crest,or a gut bucket blues basement, down and out emotional grind. this is not about being anti-hip-hop,i'm not. truth be told, i don't too much seek it out either. to me,it's sonically limited, and yes "the roots" and others,are great. but it's still locked into a format,that's hard to break out of. this sort of discussion can't really happen,because taking on hip-hop,however thoughtfully,is,and will probabably always be, a social,racial,political,historical,musicologic,third rail,hornets nest, issue. which i'm sensitive to,though i find exasperating, at one and the same time.

Jan. 11 2012 09:55 AM

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