I’m Not Crying, Must be Onions Somewhere

Goo Goo Dolls, Iris, album coverLook, I’m not saying that you’re definitely not human if there isn’t at least one song that makes you cry.

I’m just saying that if there isn’t, you may be an android impostor or heartless alien replacement pod person.

Much like there are songs that brighten days, there are more than a few that can bring us down. Or, when we are down, wrap us in their words and rhythms and sooth our saddened souls.

That’s where we’re going today…

A song that makes you sad

Having spent a lot of time being sad over the years, there are a plethora of songs that I’ve indulged in during those low times. Most of those songs don’t exactly make me sad…. it’s more they remind me of being sad. It’s a kind of subtle difference, but it’s an important one.

See, remembering what “sad” feels like can really help keep things in perspective. Barring issues like depression (which seriously skews your ability to perceive the reality of how good or bad things–and you–are), that perspective can show us how far we’ve come from our lowest points.

And, when we are low, it can remind us that there’s a path to being better. It may be along path. It may be an unsteady path, with lots of setbacks and obstacles along the way, but it’s one we’ve all walked numerous times before.

But then there are some songs that hit so hard, the resonate so well with the things about our lives that do make us sad, that they can bring us down a notch or two. Maybe it’s something associated with an ex (“Your” couple song, for example). Maybe it’s what you and a family member used to listen to all the time before they passed away.

Or, perhaps, like me, it’s one that reminds you of sacrifices made and deep feelings expressed that never quite went the way you expected. A reminder of how so very few things are certain in this life… and how, even if it hurts, the risk may be worth it if there’s really something you want… or someone you want to be with.

Back in April of 1998, a movie came out called City of Angels. It was a remake of a film from about a decade earlier, Wings of Desire. It was the story of an angel who literally fell for a human and chose to sacrifice his angelic nature in order to be with her. It’s one of the films, along with Leaving Las Vegas, that proves Nicholas Cage can be a serious actor when he tries.

I was still in college in April of ’98. I’d been there long enough, among good friends, to work through a lot of things and fall for a few people in ways that weren’t disasters. But the arc of that movie captured all of my hopes and fears for what a relationship could be (metaphorically, of course)… and just how cruel and random the Universe could be.

The Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris was the hit single on the soundtrack. It managed to sum up all that same stuff–and more that resonated with me–even better.

It starts right with the first verse:

And I’d give up forever to touch you
‘Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be
And I don’t want to go home right now

And the chorus just brings it all, painfully, home:

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

Even now, nearly 20 years later, it still pulls at… everything.

And it all still rings so very true.

It’s still how I feel.

Perhaps even more so.

Runners Up

  • Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – The real life tragedy that this song tells of never fails to bring some tears to my eyes. Somehow, Lightfoot managed to capture everything that everyone on that shore must have felt knowing their loved ones weren’t coming back. It’s also the first song my Amazon Echo played for me, right after I plugged it in and asked it to play some music. And then followed it up with three more super depressing songs. I’m still pretty sure it’s trying to kill me.
  • Sarah McLachlan, Angel – This song had a sad story to it to begin with. But once McLachlan started working as the spokesperson for the ASPCA in 2007 and it got paired with all the abused animals waiting for adoption… well… get some tissues.
  • Terry Jacks, Seasons in the the Sun – As long as you don’t listen to the lyrics, this song sounds plenty happy. Once you actually do listen to the lyrics… it’s like an onion chopping festival.
  • Elton John, Daniel – We sang this one in elementary school. I kind of credit our music teacher for giving us all a bit more understanding about life and death by doing that… and talking about what goes on in the song (a guy who’s very ill, going off to Europe for a treatment that doesn’t save him). It’s really stuck with me over the years. Doesn’t make it any happier of a song, really. (Granted, if the Wikipedia article is correct, that’s not at all what the song was about… I think the version we were told makes more sense.)
About Kier

I've been on the web since about 1994. I have a background in a lot of things, including a five year stint as a journalist and over a decade of helping people get their message out to the world.

I write on a number of subjects--everything from relationships to personal development to politics and every day life. I hope you get something worthwhile out of it.

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