There are some things in life a person simply must do. Sometimes it’s eating a McFlurry at 10:33 p.m. Sometimes it’s throwing darts at a (very ugly) picture of an ex. And sometimes it's just needing to have a good, old-fashioned, horrendous sob fest.
Whether you have something in your life that genuinely jerks tears or simply need to let wild emotions loose for an hour or two, these songs are the sure way to coax those babies to fall — and, like a rampant waterfall, fall they will. The following songs are either overwhelming in their beauty or absolutely heart-wrenching in their despair, longing, and loneliness. Whichever does it for you, we’ve got a song fit for the occasion.
So lay down, plug in, and have a listen. But be prepared for some ugly crying.
5. Of Monsters and Men, "Dirty Paws"
As with all Of Monsters and Men songs, "Dirty Paws"'s whimsical, folksy lyrics and stunning composition completely transform the setting of wherever you choose to listen to it. It sends you to a different time, a different place — perhaps an epic fairy tale, where bees and birds declare war against each other. Not only that, but this song also transforms whatever you’re looking at into something beautiful. And about three minutes in, you feel it. You know what I’m talking about. It. The feeling that life is so magnificent, infinitesimal, and grand at the same time that all you can do is sob. It makes you look at everything as if it were the last time you were seeing it. The tears won’t necessarily be sad; they'll be bittersweet at the realization of life’s eternal, mortal beauty.
Best line: "The forest that once was green was colored black by those killing machines."
4. Iron & Wine, "Each Coming Night"
First off, Iron & Wine. Do they have a song that isn’t spectacular? Whatever they’re drinking, I’ll take two. OK. Moving on.
"Each Coming Night"'s gentle melody and Samuel Beam's soothing voice softly lull the listener in. Most people know someone who’s ailing or has passed away, and this song acts as a plea from that point of view. The song is essentially a letter to the singer’s family and lover, asking them to do things for him once he’s gone. It is all too easy to place someone you know in the words, and even easier to shed some tears thinking about them asking you to do the same. One of the more personal songs on this list, "Each Coming Night" could be the most upsetting; loss is an emotion not to be underestimated.
Best line: "Your face has faded but lingers on / Because light strikes a deal with each coming night."
3. Bon Iver, "I Can’t Make You Love Me/Nick of Time"
Originally sung by legend Bonnie Raitt, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver sang and played this live in-studio, and it’s pretty unbelievable how raw his talent is. By slowing it down, the emotion of the song truly comes through — not to mention the power of his specific set of (insane) pipes. The topic of unrequited love is something everyone can understand, and with Vernon’s heartbroken version, tears will be falling before he hits the chorus. The whole song is so accepting of the loss of love unreturned. But then! The "Nick of Time" sashays on in. If this song were a storm, "Nick of Time" would be the rainbow that follows: The glimmer of hope and happiness of someone who’s near quitting forever, but love found them anyway.
Best line: "I’ll close my eyes / Then I won’t see the love you don’t feel when you’re holding me."
2. Kodaline, "All I Want"
Kodaline is another one of those bands that just shows up and makes you wonder how you ever went without it. A very dear friend introduced me to this song, and I was awestruck. It described me so perfectly I didn’t know how Kodaline did it. Perhaps it’s the almost-a-whisper singing voice, or even the longing lyrics, but something about this song is positively iconic. It could be about someone who left, someone who never came, someone who has yet to come; to each person, the “you” in the song immediately brings someone to mind. The rush right near the end of the song inspires such passion — it screamed at me to write. "All I Want" is the absolute perfect mixture of desire, loneliness, and hope. This one will do some damage, I assure you. And if you’re searching for a little more, watch the music videos. They are equally as upsetting and beautiful as the song.
Best line: "If you loved me, why’d you leave me?"
1. The Cinematic Orchestra, "To Build a Home"
I have so much beef with whoever gave The Cinematic Orchestra the right to release this song. It has made me absolutely sob — really ugly sob — and become the catalyst of my mood on so many nights. Too often I get bored, and decide to get a good cry out. This song gets the job done rather fast. The notes, the lyrics, the instruments — it is all seamless. I can’t even describe what this song does to my feelings (crushes, annihilates, chops, kills, any verb like that would work); it is simply felt. And to every person, it will bring about different memories. For me, it conjures up my childhood home. For you, well, give it a listen. But you might want a tissue.
Best line: "This is a place where I don’t feel alone / This is a place where I feel at home."
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