Songs (And More) That Make Me Cry

One of the markers of the current decade of my life has come in my emotional response to the stories around me. It is not an entirely new occurrence to find myself tearing up during a sad movie moment or a particularly moving song, but where my younger self would resist such feelings, in my 30s, I am now more frequently affected and have all but surrendered to the wave of emotions.

While still living in Bridgman, I would make my commute to Niles while listening to podcasts. One of my favorite shows was The Moth, a podcast released by the storytelling organization of the same name. The Moth draws it’s title from the insects attracted to the porch lights where founder George Dawes Green would gather with friends to spin tales and share the human experience. He brought the concept to stages around the world and to the ears of listeners on the Internet, helping people average and extraordinary share their stories. The most affecting of these, for me, is the story of comedian Anthony Griffith titled “The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times.” In the story, he tells of the period in his life when he experienced the parallels of career success, being asked to perform his comedy on The Tonight Show, while simultaneously suffering the biggest loss of his life in his young daughter’s failing fight with cancer. Between Niles and Bridgman, there’s a patch of country road next to an apple orchard where I stopped and sobbed while listening to the story that still draws a tear when I pass today.

In the earlier days of my relationship with my fiance, Kristin, we watched a movie titled Sarah’s Key. Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner and based on the novel of the same name by Tatiana de Rosnay, it follows a modern-day journalist researching the story of a young Jewish girl in German-occupied Paris in 1942. With an obvious amount of difficult content, the events told through a child’s eyes hit me particularly hard and I remember, for the first time with another person, allowing myself to cry at a film without an attempt to mask it.


This leads to the television show, Parenthood. Though I am more known for watching science fiction and fantasy such as Firefly, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Supernatural or crime-filled dramas such as The Shield, Boardwalk Empire, and The Sopranos, I somehow found myself sitting with Kristin and binge-watching the entire Braverman family drama. Such an effect was felt from the show that it is the subject of my newest podcast series, where I will be discussing my connection to the episodes and how many times each one caused me to shed a few tears.


Of course, we cannot forget music. Some songs draw tears due to the lyrics, while others because of the memories they bring.

I think first of a song known originally not for making me cry, but for having that effect on my coach and friend, Ron. I was drawn to him not only because of the outdoor adventures I would find while joining up with his college classes and tour groups, but also because he unashamedly wears his heart on his sleeve. On a journey toward rock climbing and rafting in West Virginia, it became known that John Denver’s “Country Roads” was known to bring a tear to his eye and it became tradition to load it into the jukebox at any opportunity. Now, thinking of adventures past and those we are still having, the song has the same effect on me.


I will leave you with what is likely the most emotionally affecting song I know, “Murder In The City” by The Avett Brothers, from their EP “The Gleam II”. The song approaches with a dark tone, opening with lyrics “if I get murdered in the city,” but it is actually a message of love, hope, forgiveness, and, ultimately, family. By the time Scott Avett is urging you to “make sure my sister knows I loved her,” the tears have come.


Which songs or stories give you your own emotional reactions? Let me know and tell your tale by emailing me at