Monday, August 13, 2012

You See Me Crying: 10 Songs that Mess Me Up

So, in my last post I made mention of something that had brought me to tears, and I guess it caught the four people who read this blog by surprise.

The truth is, I'm kind of a crier.

I'm not a bawler.  But it's pretty common for me to indulge a creeper in the corner of my eye at the end of Slumdog Millionaire. Or Philadelphia. Or Hotel Rwanda. Or  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Or Its a Wonderful Life.

(The above list excludes probably my second most shameful crying episode: that time when my wife and I had just started dating, and we went to see Together.....a film that should probably be required viewing for anyone who had ever desired--or regretted their decision--to play music.  I won't spoil the ending, but the climax of the film happens to coincide with its very sudden ending.  And this means that there's no time at all to compose yourself should you happen to burst into tears as the story comes full circle.  

So, unless you can convince your then-new girlfriend that you like to sit through the entire credits of foreign films -- even if you both know you don't speak a word of Mandarin -- well, then, big guy, she's gonna see you cry for the first time.)

((The most shameful crying episode?  Oh, that was when I was in fifth grade, and I saw some  goddamned TV ad, featuring a kid leaving for college as his dog watches him drive away, the poor mutt's tail slowly stopping its wag as a tennis ball drops out of his mouth and rolls down the driveway. For reasons I cannot express today, this broke my heart, causing me to run into the bathroom and sob.  Over dinner that evening, my mother asked me what had been troubling me all night, and I foolishly reenacted the advertisement for her, bringing on yet another sobbing fit in front of the entire family.

I will never forget the look of exhausted confusion on my father's face as he sat in front of his dinner, waiting for me to please shut the fuck up)).

So, yeah: tears are sort of my thing, I guess.  And, so, it got me thinking about the many songs that have been known to make me cry.  Here is a sampling for your enjoyment and mockery:

Elliot Smith -- Waltz # 2


The grandaddy of all tearjerkers, in my book -- and not just because I'll always associate it with Smith's suicide. In fact, I once lived with a guy who was going through a tremendous depression over an unrequited love, and he listened to this record endlessly. 

A mere three years later, I went through a similar patch myself, and I suddenly understood the senselessly defeatist (yet willful) decision to not get over someone.

"I'm tired/I'm tired"

It somehow says so much.

Ain't No Nice Guy  (acoustic) -- Motorhead


Not only is this Lemmy's single most beautiful vocal performance, but damn near every couplet is a depth charge of self-awareness, timed to release only after its too late to change the reality of what a total fucking jerk you actually are.   

Sigur Ros -- Svefn g Englar 


I could not make the first guess as to what this song is about.  But I swear that there are times when I hear it that I wish nothing more than that I'd never had to have left the safety of my mother's womb.

He Moved Through the Faire -- as sung by Sinead O'Connor

For those of use who grew up in Irish households, Sinead knows how to hit that sad, sad note that permeates the best Irish music -- nearly a Celtic blue note, except less sexy and more.....miserable.

Celebrated Summer -- Husker Du

This song's indecision -- bouncing between exuberance, nostalgia and a vague sense of regret --  harnesses an emotional confusion that most people live with throughout much of their teens and even their 20's.  It is a true credit to Bob Mould's songcraft that he captures the sadness and futility of those years most clearly in retrospect. 

I'm supposed to see Mould live in three weeks and its pretty much a lock that I won't survive the middle section of this song intact.

You See Me Crying - Aerosmith

Jesus, do I hate what Aerosmith has become. Even so, this song has such a masterful, hazy, 70's AM radio vibe (god DAMN, that wonderful oboe and those awesome string arrangements!) that you can overlook the ridiculous-even-by-Areosmith's-standards lyric, "cuz my love is like a merry-go-round."  

No doubt about it: this song is unabashed in it's self-pity.  But at times we all need that.

Let It Loose -- The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger might be a conceited jerk, but he has a way of turning some very vulnerable lyrics. That whole half-bridge, "Maybe your friends think/I'm just a stranger/Some face you'll never see no more" section, where his voice becomes thin and exasperated, has always struck me as one of the more honest and sincere vocals in the entire Stones catalog. 

Who ever would have thought Jagger gave a damn about what his groupies thought....much less what his groupies' friends thought?? 

Acetone - Mudhoney

"Oh, Lord what have we become?/We're not fooling anyone"

Nothing is sadder than shame.

Roberta Flack -- Do What You Gotta Do

I found this record in parents' vinyl collection during a sick day in high school.  Long before I'd ever had a girlfriend, after listening to this record I believed that I knew precisely what a breakup would feel like.  This song is so painful, so beautiful, so feminine and so totally dignified in the face of heartache that it crushes me to this day.

I Loves You, Porgy -- as sung by Nina Simone

"Don't let him take me/ Don't you let him handle me and take me off somewhere"

1 comment:

Joe said...

"Plea from a Cat Named Virtute" (sometimes printed Virtue) by The Weakerthans. I had to pull over when it came on All Songs Considered (and not just because of the sad song that preceded it about Robin Hilton's cat dying). There's something about watching a breakup reflected in the unflaggable trust and love of a pet's eyes.

Yeah, we're a couple of tough guys, bro.