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What Songs Made You Cry?

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Yeah, we’re doing this. 

We’re talking about songs that moved us to tears.

Too personal? Too embarrassing? Maybe it would help if I got things started.

I’ll begin by saying that the number of times that I have cried at movies or while listening to music is alarmingly high.

I’ve cried twice at songs:

since I began writing this.

It’s OK. Let It Go always gets to me, too.”

Sometimes it’s triggered by a scene, a lyric or a situation that would understandably make anyone cry, such as the end of Old Yeller, or a song being played at a funeral. But other times it doesn’t make any sense at all.

I think that maybe my crying mechanism is just broken.

I once started getting teary-eyed during a direct-to-DVD Barbie video, for no logical reason whatsoever.

I remember my daughter looking at me in disbelief as she scornfully asked “Dad, are you CRYING?” 

Kids show no mercy. None.

Well, that wasn’t fun to admit, but there, I said it.

One of my most memorable experiences regarding a song that induced tears is a shared one, and it goes back to 2002.

A couple of Chicago-based rock critics, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis had a show called “Sound Opinions” on a local rock station, where they would talk about music.

A novel idea back then, before the onslaught of podcasts on the topic. The show eventually moved to NPR and is still going.

One day, they were discussing the newly released Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips, and then they played the song “Do You Realize??” and I loved it right away.

I went out to Tower Records and bought the CD.

I played the song for my wife and the two of us just stood there together and wept as we listened to it. The striking musical arrangement, the vulnerability in Wayne Coyne’s voice, and a unique and touching reflection on life and love unlike anything we had ever heard in a rock song all combined to just emotionally bowl us over.

Flash forward to 2021 for a song on the completely opposite end of the musical spectrum that brought on the waterworks.

And made for an awkward online experience.

Tom Breihan of Stereogum.com, in a little column called “The Number Ones” had reached the year 1987 in his quest to review every #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from its inception in 1958 to the present.

An avid reader for a couple of years, I had been waiting patiently for some time for him to get to “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” by Whitney Houston. And when he finally did, my over-the-top enthusiasm for the song came pouring out in the comment section. Here’s what I posted that day:

I am going to say that this is not only Whitney’s best ballad, but maybe one of the greatest ballads of all time, period.

I know it’s going to be off-putting and overbearing for some folks that she blasts a major portion of the song in chest voice at a ground shaking volume, but the fact that she goes all out practically non-stop until that last tender, wistful “didn’t we almost have it all” is what makes the song hit me so hard that I can barely get back up.

Every last drop of the emotions and memories of an epic love and the hopes to somehow capture the magic again come flooding out of her voice with a heart-wrenching, almost unbearable force. I’m literally sobbing as I am listening to it.

No, not many should attempt to pull this off, but Whitney did it to stunning perfection, and the fact that she is no longer with us just makes it that much more tragic and haunting to hear her voice majestically soaring into the stratosphere.

It’s past the point of me even having to say it, but I’m giving this a 10. Call it overwrought schmaltz and I’m taking my ball and going home. I’ve already cried like a baby so I might as well act like one too.

I knew going into that day that it was unlikely Tom would like the song much at all. And predictably: his dismissal was swift and thorough. Having been familiar with the comment section’s reaction to previous Whitney ballads, I also had an inkling that at least a few of its inhabitants would be repelled from the song, probably for the very same reasons it lured me in.

That also turned out to be true, only the negativity was far more relentless and rampant than I was expecting. I became more and more self-conscious about what I had shared as the beatdown continued throughout the day.

A sampling:

There were a handful of folks that spoke favorably of the song, so I was not alone on an island.

There were others (led by our tnocs.com editor/webmaster/chief cook and bottle washer here, mt58) that kindly offered to join me on that island and keep me company, even if they didn’t care for the song.

“I could use some company. Wilson hates techno.”

Still, it felt weird to be so moved by something that was derided by so many.

In retrospect, I understand that we don’t always get to consciously choose what hits us the way it does, and the same song may cause a completely opposite reaction from somebody else.

There is no shame in crying over a song under any circumstances, whether others relate to it or not. We feel what we feel.

So let’s talk about songs that have made us cry for whatever reason. Feel free to share your stories, pass around the virtual box of Kleenex, and let it all out.

Oh, and one last thing-

I recently watched the official video for what is being plugged as “the last Beatles song”.

There are numerous reasons to be cynical about the whole thing, and would John have wanted any of this?  I can’t imagine he would.

But did I get misty eyed hearing the song for the first time, and seeing those old images mixed in with current footage? 

Why yes.

Yes, I did.

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rollerboogie

Music is what brought me here, but I do have other interests. I like ill-advised, low budget movies that shouldn't even be close to good, but are great, and cats too.

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cstolliver
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November 20, 2023 5:51 am

Great job, RB. Since we’ve already had this discussion re: Whitney’s ballads at SG, I’ll just say that we both have our ballad from that CD that touches us (mine is “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”) and I don’t recall either getting a warm treatment from the commentariat, so I do have some empathy for you there.

As to other songs … as a longtime “China Beach” fan, I will always associate Michael McDonald’s “I Can Let Go Now” with the series’ conclusion, which brought out the tissues. Eva Cassidy’s take on “Over the Rainbow” has done so, too.

Other lump-in-the-throat moments: I mentioned a little while back a recent spate of country songs dedicated to fathers or grandfathers (Cole Swindell’s “Dad’s Old Number,” Scotty McCreery’s “Five More Minutes”). In a similar vein, without the specific dedications, I find Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos” quite moving. It since has been used at a funeral of a friend’s son and now will always be connected for me.

cstolliver
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November 20, 2023 7:33 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

That was recently sung at a memorial for a friend of mine, as well.

thegue
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November 20, 2023 4:34 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Roller, you need to explain the logo on the shirt in the frame at the top of your article!

mt with another Easter Egg!

Virgindog
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November 20, 2023 6:37 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Gotta ask. Was it?

Sorry. My real question is which band?

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 20, 2023 12:53 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Thank you for the kind words!

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 20, 2023 6:51 am

I’ve certainly cried from my fair share of songs.

Even when I was a child, “Amazing Grace” and “Rock of Ages” could often get to me.

“Do You Realize” is one. The Cure’s “Pictures of You” is another. “Hope There Is Someone” by Antony & the Johnsons is another.

Sally Shapiro’s “I’ll Be By Your Side” took on new power when I was in a 5-year long distance relationship. And when I felt some strain in my marriage a few years back, I actually broke down to Timmy T’s “One More Try.”

So I get you, RB.

(I’m also always on a pro-Whitney island, even if that song didn’t turn on the faucet)

mjevon6296
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November 20, 2023 4:59 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Count me as another “Do You Realize?” cryer as I have done it several times if I allow myself to think about what I am listening too. (Last time was about two weeks ago when I got to see the Lips play it live one more time.)

Last edited 7 months ago by mjevon6296
cappiethedog
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November 20, 2023 6:02 pm

“Hope There is Someone On”, yeah, that affected me. It turned up in a Sarah Polley film called The Secret Life of Words. That voice, one of a kind, like Roy Orbison, I thought, but androgynous like October Project’s Mary Fahl. As Antony, he(now she/they) also nailed the Leonard Cohen song “If It Be Your Will”, which was already sad. Anohni could make “Rock Me Amadeus” sound sad.

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 27, 2023 7:34 am
Reply to  cappiethedog

When I saw her live, she played “I Wanna Dance With Shania” to the tune of Whitney’s smash hit, and it was funny and charming, but somehow she also managed to bring out a genuine sadness.

LinkCrawford
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November 20, 2023 7:39 am

Music is funny that way. There are definitely some songs that in the right frame of mind will result in tears. Songs that come to mind:

“Time” – Alan Parsons Project
“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” – Barbara and Neil
“Cat’s in the Cradle” – Harry Chapin
“Shannon” – Henry Gross

It’s usually songs of regret of something not done that get to me the most. Undoubtedly a deep-seated personal fear. But a couple others come to mind.

“Sweet Love” – Anita Baker

That one because I associate it so strongly with my mom…probably more than any other song.

“TSOP” – MFSB (the 12″ single)

That song more than once has brought tears, just by it’s overwhelming power of sound. It’s one of the few songs that I can think of that do that.

BUT seeing music live is more powerful, and can draw stronger emotion out of a song than hearing it alone. Hearing Genesis tribute band play a faithful rendition of “Cinema Show” brought tears of happiness that I was getting to hear the song live for the first time. When I saw 87 year old Herb Alpert live last year, I was surprised how moved I was by “This Guy’s in Love”, a song that I like, but don’t love. I think the tears were again, just the happiness in having that moment with Herb and the rest of the fans.

I’m sure that there are more, but I can’t think of them now.

thegue
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November 20, 2023 4:36 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

Aww, shoot Link…

You all know my relationship with “Cats in the Cradle”.

Virgindog
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November 20, 2023 9:25 am

First of all, I love “Sound Opinions.” It’s appointment radio.

Secondly, I have to go back and see what I said about “Didn’t We Almost Have It All?” I apologize in advance.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried over recorded music, probably because I’m too busy analyzing the chords or the bassist’s choices, but I came pretty close at a Who concert. They did several songs from “Quadrophenia” in a row and ended with “Love Reign O’er Me.” Here’s this story of a guy with mental illness, considering some drastic options, and in the end he just wanted to be loved. There I am, standing in the bleachers at Foxboro Stadium, far from the stage, but it just got to me, y’know? I got all misty eyed.

Also, I’ll get set off by any movie with a dog.

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 20, 2023 10:52 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

Whoa, they actually made a Hollywood film based on Hachiko the dog? And it’s got Richard Gere as the professor? Such a weird world we live in. Great story indeed though.

Reading about it now, it seems that there’s an earlier Japanese film version of the story directed by Kaneto Shindo (of Onibaba fame).I guess I’ve got some watching to do.

cappiethedog
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November 20, 2023 6:08 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

No hyperbole at all, I was close to weeping at the end of My Dog Skip. Tears of sadness. Fluke, on the other hand, left we with tears of joy. If you know nothing about the latter, I won’t explain why, or even delve into the plot synopsis.

thegue
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November 20, 2023 11:15 am

I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful column, you blubbering ole softie!

That being said, there’s more than a few that hit me HARD, and there was a lot going on during Covid. I had this on in the kitchen, getting ready to make breakfast one morning for the family, and I just lost it to this song. Uncontrollable wailing.

https://youtu.be/jJPMnTXl63E?si=w7WTw0uZpVz7E5am

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 20, 2023 11:20 am
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Both Grouse
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November 20, 2023 12:23 pm

Another great topic, RB!

A couple of songs come to mind for me, one studio and one live.

“Other Side of the World” was the first song on KT Tunstall’s first album, and it always gets me. The whole song is profoundly sad, in a typical heartbreak way, but the bridge is what really breaks me down:

“Can you help me,
Can you let me go?
And will you still love me
When you can’t see my any more?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWjZfpUDSIc

Both Grouse
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November 20, 2023 12:36 pm
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There’s only been one time I’ve been moved to tears at a live show, and it wasn’t because it was a sad song. Back in 2015 I had a major stiffie for TuneYards – I had randomly heard and been blown away by “Water Fountain,” and when I learned that she/they were going to play at Knoxville’s Big Ears festival that year, I rolled up all my change and made the purchase.

It’s important to note that TuneYards’ music is way out of the ordinary, practically unlike anything I’d heard before – very percussive and challenging. (There may be an eventual Perfect Songs write-up about it…)

I got there as early as possible and got the closest seat I could. When the band came out and performed, it was just so solid and well-realized, it literally brought a tear to my eye. I was just so proud of her for making it happen.

cappiethedog
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November 20, 2023 6:27 pm
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Merrill Garbus is responsible for Thao and the Get Down Stay Down’s best work. She produced A Man Alive. I think TuneYards is more of a Pitchfork favorite than the mothership. Underrated? There should be a consensus among the music sites, in regard to TuneYards’ greatness. Avant-garde, but accessible.

I get lightly ridiculed for stanning Tobias Jesso Jr. He’s another Pitchfork guy. “Can We Still Be Friends?” makes me emotional. Most of Goon sounds like a tribute to early-period Billy Joel. But the aforementiond track reminds me of solo McCartney.

I love Garbus’ spoken word piece “Why Do We Dine on the Tots?” And “Rocking Chair”. Nikki-Nack is a great album.

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 20, 2023 12:51 pm

Ahem, just gone back to review my DWAHIA comment fearing the worst. As the column has allowed me to say many times, I’m not generally big on ballads (with some exceptions, I’m not completely made of stone). I referred to it as ‘right up there as a reminder of everything I couldn’t stand about her music’.

Many apologies. Whilst I reserve the right to retain my personal negative opinion of Whitney’s songs, it’s not great that the overwhelming effect of those was to bring you down.

I don’t remember being reduced to actual tears by a song. To borrow Bill’s phrase I have been misty eyed and I’ve felt a slight quiver to my lip but nothing to quite tip me over the edge. Nothing to do with feeling that its not right for a man to show emotion. I’ve certainly felt, joy, elation, shivers down my spine and deep sadness at songs but maybe my wiring isn’t quite hooked up to deliver tears.

Despite my overall opinion that the Now And Then video doesn’t work, I said last week that the way it ends got me. That was the last time I got the misty eyed quiver.

I think I need visuals to get me to that point. Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt is another. On its own the song is powerful but seeing him in the video with the juxtaposition of how striking he appeared in his younger days against the frail reality of old age and ill health takes it up a notch. And if that wasn’t enough there’s June watching over him and subsequently having both of them pass away within a few months of the video being shot ratchets up the emotion.

The one time I got that feeling live was Leonard Cohen at Glastonbury, 2008, occupying the Sunday afternoon legend spot. The whole set was a highpoint, it had the feeling of a valedictory performance and there was so much warmth from the huge crowd. Hallelujah was the obvious focal point where everyone got to their feet and the waves of applause at the end kept going and going. Leonard reflected back the crowd’s warmth and though remaining modest looked visibly moved by his reception. I don’t recall who was after him on the line up but that was one tough act to follow.

Pauly Steyreen
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November 20, 2023 12:58 pm

I’ve spent much of my life emotionally constipated, with the right song or movie causing an irrational eruption of tears from all the backed up emotions. Only more recently have I started to allow myself to try to feel emotions in the moment and not hold them back (though I still have a long way to go).

It used to be the song that always got me was “Where’ve You Been” by Kathy Mattea.

Now, the song that always gets me is Christine Lavin’s version of “Sometimes” (originally written by Malcolm McKinney and performed by Jonathan Edwards).

https://youtu.be/WU5wpr1jlKU?si=KDUctxrOE2vgBCWh

I have only recently found myself tearing up in joy at hearing recordings of live shows of Beach Bunny. Very different feeling, but still awesome.

Pauly Steyreen
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November 20, 2023 2:15 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I still can’t explain it, but when my family and I saw The Book of Life in the theater, I completely lost it. I wouldn’t consider it a particularly cathartic movie, but I think the dam just burst that night.

So, yes I get the weird and illogical ways you speak ok…

thegue
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November 20, 2023 6:05 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

I once made a list of the worst movies to see on a date. One of them was Passion of the Christ, which my date wanted to see.

Halfway she looked over at me…ARE YOU…CRYING??!!

(me, folded away from her, shielding my sobbing face, sniffled…no…)

I think that was our late date.

Other bad movie dates include:

Shindler’s List
Saving Private Ryan

cappiethedog
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November 20, 2023 6:38 pm
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The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl is a bad date movie.

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 21, 2023 10:37 am
Reply to  cappiethedog

I watched The Holy Mountain, Cannibal Holocaust, and Tetsuo: The Iron Man all in one weekend with my then-girlfriend, and for some reason she decided to stick with me and then marry me.

Pauly Steyreen
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November 21, 2023 12:03 pm

You put her through the crucible and she passed the test. How could she not marry you if she didn’t dump your ass on the spot?

(Kind of a genius move actually — well played sir!)

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November 21, 2023 4:52 am
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I saw “Schindler’s List” in a couple of week period in late ’93 bracketed by “Philadelphia” and “Shadowlands.” All good, all horrifically thought-provoking, and not one of them a date movie.

LinkCrawford
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November 20, 2023 2:01 pm
Reply to  Pauly Steyreen

“Where’ve You Been”! I remember that song. Sweet song.

Unrelated…there needs to be a name for the lyrical structure which tells a story and each chorus is the same, but it has a different meaning relative to the verse it follows (Also see Tim McGraw “Don’t Take the Girl”). It’s definitely used in country music more than other genres.

Last edited 7 months ago by LinkCrawford
Pauly Steyreen
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November 20, 2023 2:05 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

Don’t Take the Girl is a tearjerker in its own right, but a little too on-the-nose for my taste.

I agree — don’t know what that term would be, but I always love when the chorus takes on a new meaning (with the same words) each time it comes around.

lovethisconcept
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November 20, 2023 4:30 pm

I have been brought to tears by more songs than I could possibly list, or even remember. One that stands out for me really clearly, and I am tearing up writing about it, was when I took my daughter prom dress shopping. The realization of how close she was to being out on her own was already hitting me hard that day, and then, on the way home, we heard “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. Absolutely dissolved me.

Another was the first time that I heard “Get Together” by the Youngbloods after my sister’s death. It had always been her favorite song, and I was just overwhelmed by missing her. But, that same song brought a completely different feeling just a few weeks ago. My husband and I were on our way to the wedding of my niece (her daughter), and, once again, “Get Together” was on the radio. This time, it felt like an assurance that everything was okay, and she was giving her blessing. Still had the same effect on my tear ducts, though.

Pauly Steyreen
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November 20, 2023 5:43 pm

I have a memory of my son, age 9, singing “See You Again” in the backseat of the car while it was on the radio in his sweet and slightly off-key pre-pubescent voice. He’s going to graduate from high school pretty soon, but that memory gets me, and the song always reminds me of that moment.

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November 20, 2023 5:08 pm

I can include “Cat’s in the Cradle” and “Do You Realize?” on my list too along with several of you.

Unexpectedly, I cried during a Fleet Foxes concert a couple of years ago when they played “Blue Spotted Tail”. The concert-goer beside me (who I did not know) gently patted me on the back which was of great confort at that moment.

As a Bruce fan, I have also been known to tear up at “Girls in Their Summer Clothes”. To me, it is a reflection of getting older and not being relevant to “the youth” anymore. I was around 40 at the time it came out and I did some soul-searching at that time and realized I could relate. (And even more relate today!)

Phylum of Alexandria
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November 20, 2023 5:52 pm

Shoutout to tears from overwhelming beauty due to a perfect matchup between music and scenery.

Like this song and others by Sigur Ros, perfect for walking through softly falling snow:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlPtmws131o

cappiethedog
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November 20, 2023 6:13 pm

Bruce Springsteen’s spoken introduction to “The River” and the song itself makes me cry every time.

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November 21, 2023 9:16 am

The one that gets me all the time is “Everything I Own.” Knowing that David Gates wrote it about wanting just one more time to talk to his late father hits me hard even now, more than 15 years after my Dad passed. It’s presented as straightforward as possible to avoid sappiness, yet it’s devastating for me to hear and not get emotional every time it’s played.

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November 21, 2023 5:33 pm

I’m skipping “tears of joy / bliss” when listening to a song, ’cause that’s all the time…

Songs I remember crying to as a child:
“She’s Out Of My Life” – Michael Jackson
“Love On The Rocks” – Neil Diamond
“I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” – Gonzo (from the Muppet Movie)

Not too many as an adult, but Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” got me teared up the first time I heard it, as did “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt.

Another great article, Mr. Boogie

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November 22, 2023 8:46 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Luke Combs didn’t do a bad job performance wise, but where he failed (in my opinion) was in changing a couple of words. Tracy starts with “is it fast enough so WE can fly away, WE gotta make a decision”, moves on to “STILL gotta make a decision”, and ends with the devastating “is it fast enough so YOU can fly away, YOU gotta make a decision”. Luke bizarrely sticks with “we can/still gotta” throughout the whole song, which completely muddles the emotions of the story arc that Tracy created so well. Everyone praises him for keeping “checkout girl”, but fails to notice those lyrical changes that are more important to the power of the song itself.

Last edited 7 months ago by Aaron3000
cappiethedog
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November 21, 2023 8:02 pm
Reply to  blu_cheez

“The Rainbow Connection” used to be our unofficial state song. But then, our head football coach June Jones and superagent Leigh Steinberg rebranded my alma mater’s image, changing the school’s nickname from Rainbows to Warriors. It was the nail in the coffin for Kermit the Frog’s banger. The year prior, the Hawaiian version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Oh, What a Wonderful World” played over the closing credits of Meet Joe Black, and seemingly was everywhere.

They stopped playing “The Rainbow Connection” at all the low-mid-major sporting events. And that’s a crying shame.

ThinkMusicPhilly
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November 22, 2023 2:42 pm

I am trying to think of some more, but I guess it is just one main song for me. I am not averse to crying (just ask a few Bluey episodes), but songs don’t typically do it for me. Partially because I tend not to pay too much attention to lyrics. Anyway, the one is one I shared here recently commenting on the dog article:
Eyedea & Abilities – Hay Fever

A few others get me close, mostly due to my regret in fucking up my marriage (which is fortunately still intact).

Cat Power – Sea Of Love (my wife walked down the aisle to this one)

Saul Williams – Surrender (A Second To Think)
This line in particular:
I want nothing more / than to be here with you / if you fulfill my dreams / will that fulfill you too

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November 22, 2023 4:04 pm

Great stuff, rb. I know I’m late to the game. It’s my son the guitarist making a video of various photos of himself with Oliver, our bull terrier, and playing an acoustic version of ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ across it after we had to put Oliver down. Kills me.

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