Tell me your go-to songs that make you cry.
June 29, 2014 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I feel many emotions when I am listening to music - happiness, melancholy, goosebump-y, etc. - but I rarely find albums that can bring me to tears. I just bought a Non-English album that brought me to (mostly joyful) tears many times; the experience was almost cathartic. Please give me songs (in any language, or even without any singing) that provoked a strong emotional response in you the first time you heard it - I'm talking powerful feelings like awe, joy, sadness, etc. that would make you tear up or outright cry. Details inside.

The song can be in English, but any and all recommendations are welcome. It seems I can concentrate on the music more closely if there are no native lyrics, which in turn makes me feel more. Orchestral and choral music seem to push my buttons; the album that inspired this question features songs sung in multiple African/Asian/European/South American languages.

Of the Asian countries, I am especially interested in Japan. So, Japanese songs would be much appreciated. I'd prefer songs that make you cry not because of any nostalgia factor, but because you're overwhelmed by the song itself.

(The album I listened to is Christopher Tin's The Drop That Contained the Sea - highly recommended!)
posted by Kamelot123 to Media & Arts (123 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
"I Don't Know What It Is" by Rufus Wainwright always makes me cry. I don't know why.
posted by xingcat at 7:27 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

La Ritournelle by Sebastien Tellier, particularly the mix by (the usually avant garde and caustic) Mr. Oizo.
posted by capricorn at 7:30 PM on June 29, 2014

"I Drive Your Truck", although it's a goddamn cheap shot and I hate it for that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:33 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Beloved Wife by Natalie Merchant. I literally cannot make it through this song without crying.

Natalie Merchant said this about the song, "My grandmother fell into a coma in 1983, and my grandfather would sit with her for hours and hours. She passed away, and three days later he did too. He willed himself to go with her."
posted by dotgirl at 7:33 PM on June 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

Sigur Ros, Staralfur
posted by dbiedny at 7:38 PM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am generally not romantic at all, but "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Deathcab for Cutie always makes me cry.
posted by radioamy at 7:40 PM on June 29, 2014 [10 favorites]

It's not sad, really, just overwhelmingly earnest, but This Must Be The Place always makes me tear up. Bonus crouton-petter weepiness points for watching the video and contemplating just how much he loves that goddamn lamp.

It sounds, though, like you're looking for stuff that will bring you to tears from the sheer beauty and cathartic force of the music alone, with no emotional influence from the lyrics. That's harder, and I think probably a lot more personal. Dvorak's Bagatelles does it for me, but I don't expect it would for anyone else.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:46 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sullivan gets me every time.

Blue star to gold.
posted by cog_nate at 7:46 PM on June 29, 2014

Nulla in mundo pax sincera often has that effect on me, for reasons unknown.

This live performance (self-link) from Jason Webley after the death of a friend of his pretty reliably gets me, too.
posted by hades at 7:50 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

My goto tears is always Jane Siberry & KD Lang, Calling All Angels.
posted by Bron at 7:50 PM on June 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Death Cab for Cutie's What Sarah Said
posted by sephira at 7:54 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

People with real educations about classical music will look down on me for being sentimental, but...
The "Flower Duet" from Delibes' Lakmé has been ruined for me by being used in an airline commercial, but it used to give me chills.
The "Albinoni" Adagio in G minor, later found to have been composed by Albinoni's biographer Remo Giazotto in some sort of fit of fraud, is a beautiful, stirring piece.
And you can't lose with the Carmina Burana. (No need to link that, because there's a million billion versions online.)
posted by gingerest at 7:55 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also get real weepy over songs that are especially soft, small, delicate and sort of tentative. Washington Phillips's I had a Real Good Mother and Father (especially the wordless falsetto chorus) and Rickie Lee Jones's cover of Comin' Back to Me both totally slay me.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:56 PM on June 29, 2014

Vienna Teng's City Hall.
posted by maryrussell at 8:03 PM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Elliott Smith generally, Between the Bars specifically.
posted by domnit at 8:09 PM on June 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Bonnie Raitt, I Can't Make You Love Me.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:09 PM on June 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

Pergolesi, Stabat Mater, opening movement, within seconds it can set me up for a tear flow. It may jump start your lachrymose tendencies to know it is a musical setting of the sorrows of Mary, during christ's crucifixion. If anything it gets dunned for being too blatantly manipulative of the emotions.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:15 PM on June 29, 2014

"Song for Zula" by Phosphorescent. SO SO much.

also "Kolniður" by Jónsi (of Sigur Ros). <3
posted by changeling at 8:16 PM on June 29, 2014

I haven't actually cried for anything in about (checks calendar) 15 years, but "When You Go" by Jonathan Coulton (you'll have to go to YouTube to see it) could probably put me over the edge. Mainly because I think of my pets when I hear it, and the death of a pet was what happened 15 years ago.
posted by MShades at 8:18 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Sight Below - It All Falls Apart

The first track, Shimmer, really gets to me.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 8:19 PM on June 29, 2014

Francis Dunnery, Good Life
posted by the twistinside at 8:22 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

This must be a cosmic sad song day, because I was planning to ask an almost identical question here. It came up for me because I was listening to fado on Pandora and was struck by how sad many (but not all) of the songs are. Putting "fado" into youtube brings up many of the same artists and songs as Pandora, for hours of sad music.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:23 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

And, also, because Japanese music was specified, I don't always cry at Narita Made, but some times I do.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:24 PM on June 29, 2014

Most recently: "No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses because of the voice and the keyboards, I think. And the *emotions*.

All-time: "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers because of the way in which Mr. Withers proves to me that, in fact, there is actually no sunshine when she goes away. The tune is so simple but he makes it feel intense.
posted by Merinda at 8:25 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Luckiest
posted by ainsley at 8:27 PM on June 29, 2014 [7 favorites]

Waiting For Superman by the Flaming Lips. The first time I heard it, it struck a deep cord in me that no song has done so before or since.

Philadelphia by Neil Young. Bruce Springsteen's song off the Philadelphia soundtrack was a huge hit, but this song had me weeping, and I'm not even big into Neil Young.

This version of "For Emma, Forever Ago" by Bon Iver had me crying happy tears, and I'm not even big into a cappella.

I want "In My Life" by the Beatles to be played at my funeral.
posted by princesspathos at 8:28 PM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh my god. "Petals" by Mariah Carey. That is my sadcore JAM. How can someone with such a beautiful voice sound so sad?
posted by spunweb at 8:28 PM on June 29, 2014

Whenever I sing along with "Jupiter" by Hirahara Ayaka, I can't keep my voice from breaking.
posted by wintersweet at 8:29 PM on June 29, 2014

Songs about the passage of time tend to do it to me every time, especially Joni Mitchell's Circle Song.

Even though I find something about her music a little overwrought, Beth Nielsen Chapman's Years, about the nostalgia of going home, does it, too.

Also Red River Shore by Dylan .
posted by diamondsky at 8:31 PM on June 29, 2014

Sympathy, by Sleater Kinney, about the premature birth of one of the group's son.
posted by Gorgik at 8:31 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sinead O'Connor singing Nothing Compares 2 U. Ugh. So sad.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:36 PM on June 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

Afterthought: Haru Yo Koi (admittedly, this is partly because of emotional associations)

I was looking for an example of a *group* doing 詩吟, poetry recitation/singing, because at a live event earlier this year it gave me chills the way Tin's choral arrangements do. However, I can't find anything online. Maybe someone else knows the correct search terms..

Ah Sang's cover of "Mad World". Gah!
posted by wintersweet at 8:37 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nina Simone's rendition of I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free does this to me.
posted by icemill at 8:40 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

She Didn't Have Time, by Terri Clark. That last verse gets me every time.

Naveed, by Our Lady Peace.

And Elsewhere, by Sarah McLachlan.
posted by heisenberg at 8:42 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

These three qualify for me based on their lyrical bleakness: These two qualify for me based on the mournful tone of the music itself:
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:51 PM on June 29, 2014

Moments of Pleasure, Kate Bush
posted by Coatlicue at 8:54 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling this won't do for you, because they are very lyrically driven, but I tried to think of ones with evocative music too:

George Jones, The Grand Tour (here by Aaron Neville)

Alison Krauss, Ghost in this House

The Left Banke, Walk Away Renee

Linda Ronstadt, Long, Long Time

Randy Newman, Marie (or When She Loved Me)
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:54 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a couple songs by the National that might fit the bill (or they do for me, at least) -- the song "Sorrow" is the most lyrically driven and didn't hit me much til they performed it live for 6 hours straight last year, and now playing it on repeat a few times always gets me. "England" is currently an itunes commercial, but if that association doesn't ruin you it's very beautiful. Finally, "About Today" is my strongest recommendation -- just close your eyes and let go. (+ a shorter, softer version)
posted by lilac girl at 9:08 PM on June 29, 2014

Me and a Gun by Tori Amos
Breathe Me by Sia
Bird of Sorrow by Glen Hansard
posted by Blitz at 9:11 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Shenandoah by Sissel comes to mind and, from another generation, almost any good "Danny Boy" will bring tears even though I don't often shed tears. John Coltrane's Dear Lord is emotionally profound for me.
posted by Anitanola at 9:17 PM on June 29, 2014

This Woman's Work by Kate Bush.
posted by mamabear at 9:24 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Two recent finds I've been hit by:

Townes Van Zandt - If I Needed You
Gillian Welch - Time (The Revelator)
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:26 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh and since you mention uplifting tears, This Gift by Glen Hansard as well (actually a lot of his music works that way). But for me, the lyrics are usually a huge part of why a song feels a certain way (like all the above), so I don't know if you'll like it if you're not moved by the lyrical element. (I'm also moved by seeing the movement and space of words).
posted by Blitz at 9:31 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Emmylou Harris (via Steve Earle), Goodbye

Emmylou Harris (via Lucinda Williams), Sweet Old World
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:37 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can't Go Back by Rosi Golan.
Tragedy by Brandi Carlile
posted by Robocat at 9:43 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, The Mountain
posted by lydhre at 9:44 PM on June 29, 2014

"songs of love and hate"
by leonard cohen.

i believe the villiage voice review
suggested it come with a razor blade.

haunting and beautiful.
i cry every time.
"last year's man"---woo doggie.
posted by oigocosas at 9:58 PM on June 29, 2014

The first piece of music I really remember bringing me to actual tears is Mahler 8. It's just a truly astounding work of absolute genius and beauty on a massive scale. It's hard not to have a heart-breaking reaction.

It's interesting, I have lots of emotions when I listen to music with words, but they are all much more associative emotions than music without words (for me). It's very hard for me to dissociate memories and such from a pop or folk song; I find it much easier to experience a 'pure' (whatever that really means) emotion from something without language, something where the music is itself the meaning.

The sort of go-to Feel Things MegaHits of classical music tend to be: Adagio for Strings (Barber), Symphony No 3 (Gorecki), Symphony No 9 (Beethoven), Bach Cello Suites, Symphony No 2 (Rachmaninoff), Pines of Rome (Respighi), Rite of Spring (Stravinsky), Brahms Requiem, Sibelius Symphony 5, Arvo Part's Fratres (both personal favorites). The list goes on, but really it's fun to explore. There's so much. In my classical music experience, it always seems that the composers that get folks the most emotionally riled up tend to be Beethoven, Mahler, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Vaughan Williams, Strauss, Wagner - romanticism was all about Big Emotional Expression, so it's no wonder - these composer wrote genuinely epic, sweeping, gorgeous pieces.

A couple lesser known modern works of romantic-esque emotional gravity - Danielpour's Requiem or Urban Dances, Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra, Corigliano's 1st Symphony. But if you're really in the mood for a heart wrencher, I recommend George Rochberg's Ricordanza for cello and piano.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:03 PM on June 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sarah McLachlan Stupid gets me every time.

[edit: the song… not the video… which is entertaining but not cry worthy :) )
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:06 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bernadette Peters singing "Not a Day Goes By."

If you're up for opera:

E lucevan le stelle from Tosca (that's Pavarotti; here are Placido Domingo and Neil Shicoff)

"Kuda, kuda vy udalilis" from Eugene Onegin.

"O Dieu de quelle ivresse" from Les Contes d'Hoffman

"Ella giammai m'amò" from Don Carlo

(I could do this all night.)
posted by a fair but frozen maid at 10:07 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

While the Waves Crash. This might not count, since it is a song that was inspired by this short comic, They Sit So Still, and I can't listen to one without thinking of the other, but it brings me to tears nearly every time.
posted by Aleyn at 10:07 PM on June 29, 2014

Oh, oh, oh, and not an opera, but a cantata: "Mache dich mein Herze rein" from Bach's Matthew Passion. I cry every time.
posted by a fair but frozen maid at 10:13 PM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Why?'s Gemini (Birthday Song)
posted by hellojed at 10:16 PM on June 29, 2014

Probably lazy, or cheap shots on my part, but:

He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones

Two Seconds by Laura Cantrell

Vincent by Don McLean

There's Nothing Worth Living For by the Violent Femmes

Those last two, I have to be in a pretty shitty mood for them to get to me, though.

As far as non-lyrical, the album 
Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever by Explosions In The Sky has a few places where I get overwhelmed.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:29 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Rose - and the Japanese version Ai wa Hana, Kimi wa sono Tane

Gulf War Song - Moxy Früvous

Iridescent - Linkin Park (seriously)
posted by Small Dollar at 10:33 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do You Realize? -- The Flaming Lips
Aguas de Março -- Antônio Carlos Jobim & Elis Regina
Wicked Little Town -- Gnosis Version
Mothersbaugh's Canon -- Mark Mothersbaugh
Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? -- She & Him
Mishima (Closing) -- Philip Glass
posted by mazola at 10:37 PM on June 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

1. Beyoncé's "Heaven"
2. PJ Harvey's "Grow Grow Grow"
3. Cat Power's "Where Is My Love"
4. Alice Smith's "Do I"
5. Luke Sital-Singh's "Fail For You"
6. Radiohead's "Sail to the Moon"
posted by simulacra at 10:42 PM on June 29, 2014

The sheer terror and then unbearable sadness of Schubert's Der Erlkönig.

(Which, having just looked up Goethe's poem on Wikipedia, I learned has its origins in a Danish tale. WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED?!)
posted by Westringia F. at 11:14 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

The most recent performance to make me feel like my heart was being ripped out and carried away was Dorothea Röschmann's rendition of "Oh, let me weep" by Purcell: skip to 1:34:30 in this video (which I think is online for a limited time; I'm not sure when it will be taken down).
posted by Orinda at 11:40 PM on June 29, 2014

The Luckiest - Ben Folds. I haven't heard this song in years, but the moment I heard the opening chords on youtube I started to cry again.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:43 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Songs that make me cry independent of lyrics:

The choral arrangement of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, Agnus Dei.
Max Richter's On the Nature of Daylight

Songs that make me cry in large part because of music + lyrics:

Antony and the Johnsons' Hope There's Someone
Iron & Wine's The Trapeze Swinger
Jeff Buckley's cover of I Know It's Over (I will admit that I'm not sure this will induce weeping if you don't know Buckley's story, but for me I always lose it when he sings "oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head.")
This Mortal Coil's cover of Song to the Siren

The last full album that made me feel like I went through the emotional wringer was The Antlers' Hospice. Not sure if it will work for you, but good god, did it provoke an emotional response in me. Just a brutally painful depiction of a disintegrating, abusive relationship.
posted by yasaman at 11:47 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Adele's version of Make You Feel My Love.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:52 PM on June 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Chris Bell, I Am the Cosmos and You and Your Sister. Even more heartbreaking in the context of his too-short life.
posted by scody at 12:06 AM on June 30, 2014

You Don't Know Me, Jann Arden

Flowers in December, Mazzy Star
posted by tackypink at 12:13 AM on June 30, 2014

Elbow's One Day Like This gives me the happy feels, and makes me tear up. Also, their song Open Arms about going home after a heartbreak, always makes me cry when I sing it out loud.
posted by gmb at 12:25 AM on June 30, 2014

Not gonna lie, this song, from the soundtrack of a video game.

preferred stale junk rock catharses for my junk soul.
Swans - Can't Find My Way Home
Tsunami - Genius of Crack
Faith No More - Jizzlobber
The Loud Family - Slit My Wrists
Mazzy Star - Into Dust
New Pornographers - Bleeding Heart Show
posted by fleacircus at 1:10 AM on June 30, 2014

Bombay Bicycle Club - Still makes me tear up everytime.

Also Finbar Furey - The Lonesome Boatman never fails to give me shivers. I can't put into words what it makes me feel, but it totally moves me.
posted by billiebee at 2:21 AM on June 30, 2014

Postcards from Italy by Beirut RUINS me, every time. The lyrics are kind of nonsense on paper, but every damn time I feel my eyes tearing up, and by the end I feel like I'm in a movie and this is the bittersweet closing theme that's playing as the credits roll on my life.

Part of it is the way the song's constructed. It starts off lonesome and kind of melancholy, and then there's that moment, about half a minute in, when all the other instruments kick in and the sound gets a lot bigger and fuller, like we've just entered a big hall where the band is playing. It makes me think of the scene in a movie where somebody has been looking through a photo album and we hear distant music playing, and then we zoom into one of the black and white photos and suddenly it comes to life and everything is in color and we're right there in the scene... only we're not, because this all happened decades ago and we know we're only seeing the memory of it. The song does stuff like that a few times, where we feel like we're hearing somebody tell us a story of something long ago, and then there's a whoosh and suddenly we can see it all around us, until the music goes quiet and the past is passed again.

Wise Up by Aimee Mann
. This song tells you that life really is that bad, and yet despite the cynicism of the lyrics it's somehow... consoling? You feel like Aimee Mann is kind of holding your hand while you are going through the worst night of your life, but she's not pretending like it's going to be OK. She's just there, sharing the awful truth. I've never even seen Magnolia and this clip still always makes me break down. This song is what despair feels like when it's so total that it comes back around and becomes kind of beautiful. It's leaving the hospital at 3 AM and walking back to your car and just sitting there in the dark, not turning the key.

Garbage Man by the Cramps. This song makes me want to dance and fuck, at the same time. I want to dance-fuck. It is so silly, and so sexy, and it rocks like damn near nothing else. It makes me feel young and sexy and stupid and rotten. It makes me feel like nothing matters but the beat.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:26 AM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you listen to I Dreamed a Dream by Anne Hathaway and don't cry I would have to wonder if you have a heart.
posted by just asking at 4:03 AM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love the Indigo Girls' cover of 'Tangled up in blue' - there is a lot of love and heart in it and it makes me tear up every single time.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:25 AM on June 30, 2014

The adagietto from Gustav Mahler's 5th Symphony is also seriously beautiful.
posted by SailRos at 4:34 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had owned a recording of Bach's Mass in B Minor, and had listened to it many times. But, as one does with music, usually while doing other things, never giving it my full attention. Eventually I was able to attend a live performance — despite having "heard" it many times before, this was possibly the first time I had ever really, completely listened to it. And the Crucifixus absolutely broke my heart.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:44 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

So after lurking here for years and years, this question finally got me to sign up! I love this site and the music questions in particular are some of my favorites.

I have a couple tear-jerkers that no one has mentioned:

Ingrid Michaelson, Giving Up. Specifically the line, "What if your eyes close before mine?" Oof.

Tom Waits, Day After Tomorrow. A really lovely and heart-wrenching antiwar song.
posted by Synesthesia at 5:09 AM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Irma Thomas, "It's Raining."
posted by maxsparber at 5:18 AM on June 30, 2014

Two songs by Australian singer/songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke

Caught In The Crowd - I was both these people in high school and it's a kick in the guts either way you relate to it


Last Day On Earth - About a miscarriage, apparently
posted by Zaire at 6:29 AM on June 30, 2014

My City of Ruins - Bruce Springsteen or the Eddie Vedder cover
Gracie - Ben Folds
posted by daisyace at 6:37 AM on June 30, 2014

It may be a little too obvious, but Adele's Someone Like You is supposedly scientifically proven to make people cry.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:45 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Passage by Vienna Teng
War Was In Color by Carbon Leaf
Cold Missouri Waters by Cry, Cry, Cry
posted by tckma at 7:03 AM on June 30, 2014

Fox in the Snow by Belle and Sebastian.
posted by mamabear at 7:26 AM on June 30, 2014

"Those Were the Days", by Mary Hopkin -- this one always makes me choke-up.
posted by alex1965 at 7:40 AM on June 30, 2014

Into My Arms by Nick Cave
posted by ashtabula to opelika at 8:04 AM on June 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is going to expose me as the awful, sentimental hillbilly who's blubbery over his kid that I am, but "Daddy, What If" by Shel Silverstein destroys me. Like a lot of Silverstein things, it seems like it's headed one way, then it twists in the knife. The original version, recorded by country legend Bobby Bare with his son Bobby Bare, Jr. can seem a bit dated. But the remake that Bobby Bare Jr. did with his daughter sounds great.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:04 AM on June 30, 2014

i'll get booed for the obvious cheap shot, but Harry Chapin's Cats in the Cradle kills me with its sad lyrics every time.
posted by smokyjoe at 8:14 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our Town by Iris Dement. When I sing along I can't get through the last verse. I think about small towns in the plains and the midwest, populations dwindling as the kids run off to the city, leaving behind an aging population to watch their world decay and eventually disappear.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:55 AM on June 30, 2014 [6 favorites]

Sanvean by Lisa Gerrard often makes me cry. The lyrics are in her made up glossolalia like language but the emotion behind her singing always gives me feels.

Guyamas Sonora by Beirut also makes me feel wistful and weepy.
posted by Lapin at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2014

James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" gets me every time. His voice in some of the lyrics just sounds to me like it's on the verge of breaking.
posted by xenization at 10:10 AM on June 30, 2014

It Can't Rain All the Time by Jane Siberry.
posted by misseva at 1:09 PM on June 30, 2014

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...pretty much any version.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by IfIShouldEverComeBack at 2:18 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Peer Pressure - Jon Brion Yeah, its only a minute long, but it's mentally mapped into the most melancholy parts of Eternal Sunshine.
posted by dstryrk at 2:25 PM on June 30, 2014

Know me well by Roo Paynes - the lyric "When I think about my past I see our loved you many years before you came, In my hopes and my dreams with the wax and the moon wane..." just kicks me in the guts!
posted by Middlemarch at 2:29 PM on June 30, 2014

June 18, 1976 is a song by David Bazan that always gets me. It tells a short story about a new mom who gave up on life.
posted by tacodave at 3:21 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

oh my god, how could I forget: Don McLean, Vincent (Starry Starry Night). I heard this on the radio at my parents' house a few weeks ago and had to leave the room to compose myself. My dad said he remembers me hearing this on the radio as a child and breaking into mournful sobbing even then.

Not nearly as emotionally devestating, but another one from the same period of my childhood that still gets me a little choked up: Elton John, Rocket Man.
posted by scody at 3:26 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Balmorhea - Lament

on (youtube) on (spotify)
posted by fizzix at 3:33 PM on June 30, 2014

I Walk By Your House by Reigning Sound, for something melancholy and longing.

The Crane Takes Flight by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, on the other hand, fills me with hope that I can conquer doubt and find a perfect niche in life. It's one of my favorite happy songs.
posted by Turkey Glue at 5:44 PM on June 30, 2014

When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2.
posted by Aunt Slappy at 5:54 PM on June 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing the "as with rosy steps..." aria from Handel's Theodora, recorded at Glyndebourne in 1997.

Tears are splashing on the keyboard... I had no idea any music could do what this piece does to me...
posted by jamjam at 7:46 PM on June 30, 2014

Came here to post Antony and the Johnsons' "Hope There's Someone," but it appears yasaman beat me to it. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, and though the lyrics are incredible, I'm sure it would work just as well if you did not know a word of English.
posted by sidi hamet at 7:56 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Frank Sinatra singing Send in the Clowns
posted by jasondigitized at 8:01 PM on June 30, 2014

Another: Klaus Nomi's version of Purcell's Cold Song.
posted by scody at 8:12 PM on June 30, 2014

Seconding "Cat's In The Cradle." I can't listen to it without crying.

Adding "The Letter" from Billy Elliot: The Musical. Had me sobbing in the theater.

Also "Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:58 PM on June 30, 2014

Thought of a few more: Nina Simone's version of Ne Me Quitte Pas (by Jacques Brel) puts me on the floor. Also, on the instrumental side of things, Adagio in G minor (attributed to Albinoni, but actually by Giazotto -- interesting story here) is very powerful.
posted by scody at 11:40 PM on June 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

OMG, yes, I am just thinking about the opening phrase of Nina Simone singing it and my chin is already quivering.
posted by Westringia F. at 12:28 AM on July 1, 2014

Inside and Out - Feist
Mirrors (full version)- Justin Timberlake
Wicked Little Town - Hedwig (as stated above, Gnosis version is terrific)
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac (just something hits my 27 year getting older woman self)
Looking for Romance - Disney's Bambi soundtrack
These all make me teary and break my heart and feel really good, simultaneously.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 1:18 AM on July 1, 2014

Some People's Lives by Janis Ian. It's so spare. Even the first parts of piano send me into crumpling sobs.
posted by mochapickle at 6:41 AM on July 1, 2014

> Our Town by Iris Dement. When I sing along I can't get through the last verse.

Oh, me too! I've ended up a choking, blubbering mess twice at Wolf Trap on account of Garrison Keillor leading the audience in it. Which reminds me of the other thing that has made me bawl there...

So, PHC always comes to Wolf Trap on Memorial Day weekend, and we always go to the untaped Friday show. Beyond the awesomeness of PHC itself, it's a very interesting show because there's a sort of balance to be struck between the pacifist/progressive texture of the show, its mild "midwestern" avoidance of any strident politicization, and the fact that it's in [ok, near] the nation's capital on Memorial Day. War always figures into it, both seriously and humorously, along with a restrained, somber patriotism.

Anyway, one year he did his thing -- greeted DC, let us howl like wolves, talked about summer and Memorial Day, led us in the national anthem, told stories of young people going off to war... and then slid seamlessly into This Is My Song [lyrics, set to Sibelius' Finlandia Hymn, which is heartbreakingly beautiful already!]. I came to pieces before the end of the first verse. Still do.

(And now if you'll excuse me, I have a Diplomacy game to attend to. Spring 1902 orders need to be issued, and some of those other lands have skies much bluer than mine.)
posted by Westringia F. at 4:03 PM on July 1, 2014

Nathan Fake's The Sky Was Pink (the ~4:51 original track, not any of the remixes) does that to me.

Also, I don't know if you'd count this as nostalgia but the entire album Geogaddi by Boards of Canada makes me really emotional.
posted by yaymukund at 4:19 PM on July 1, 2014

Nick Drake-- Pink Moon for evoking a crushing sentimental nostalgia for a brief moment of my life fading into the "long ago", and Day is Done for good old fashioned weeping for mortality. That was the song playing in the car on the way back from the funeral of the first REALLY important person in my life to die.

And what's weird is that everyone I talk to about those songs seems to develop similar associations.
posted by norm at 10:49 PM on July 1, 2014

The Smiths - "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want"

Johnny Cash - "Hurt"
posted by joethefob at 11:54 PM on July 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pancho and Lefty - as sung by Townes van Zandt, not the slick Willie Nelson version.

Also lately God Only Knows off of Pet Sounds, not sure what's up with that.
posted by dismas at 4:37 AM on July 2, 2014

Roberta Flack's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face always gets me.
posted by sciapod at 8:09 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also: Cat Power's "The Greatest"
posted by simulacra at 8:41 AM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jill Sobule's "Rock Me to Sleep"
posted by a fair but frozen maid at 7:15 PM on July 2, 2014

Iron and Wine's cover of "Love Vigilantes"
posted by inertia at 10:16 AM on July 3, 2014

inertia's excellent suggestion reminds me: Grant Lee Philips's covers of Age of Consent and So. Central Rain.
posted by scody at 11:20 AM on July 3, 2014

Touré Kunda: Nidiaye
posted by nangar at 5:32 AM on July 4, 2014

"Far away" by Rod Stewart does something to me. Not sure why, but it does.
posted by TaylorHannigan at 7:37 AM on July 4, 2014

The Long Winters: "The Commander Thinks Aloud", which is about the space shuttle Columbia.
posted by themissy at 4:26 AM on July 6, 2014

Neil Young: It's a Dream

Willie Nelson: Moment of Forever
posted by bgrebs at 1:33 PM on July 11, 2014

Celine Dion's cover of Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father.
posted by pimli at 5:47 AM on July 12, 2014

Beethoven's Große Fuge. Play it loud
posted by fritillary at 8:04 PM on July 18, 2014

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