Sunday, April 29, 2007

Songs to Make Me Cry... For the Wrong Reasons

AKMA has a post today linking to the AV Club's list of songs that make them cry. As a lifelong crier, I don't want to denigrate any such list too much. I'm moved to ask, though, why they all seem to be by men.* Really? even when it comes to tears, men are the only ones worth citing? I thought that was supposed to be women's special domain.

It took 25 comments even to get Joni Mitchell in there at all. Hello? River? the remake of Both Sides Now? her cover of Hallelujah? pick any grouping of Joni's music and you'll find a tearjerker.

Here are my 18 tearjerkers, then, to counter the men's. Yes, they're mostly women. Yes, there are repeat artists. Yes, all that is partly on purpose and partly because that's what I actually listen to.**

1. She's Saving Me - Indigo Girls. This is the song that has most consistently made me cry over the longest period of time.
2. I'll Miss You Till I Meet You - Dar Williams. I'm never sure whether she's singing this for an ex, or a dead friend, or a dead ex. I don't really care - it's heartbreaking either way.
3. Don't Lay Down - Catie Curtis
4. Tangled-up Puppet - Harry Chapin
5. Leavin on a Jet Plane - Peter, Paul, & Mary. I wept for months after leaving camp one summer, listening to this song over and over.
6. Hallelujah (I don't care whose version, really - mostly I listen to either Joni's or Rufus Wainwright's)
7. Fields of Gold - Eva Cassidy's version
8. River - I came to this song on the Indigo Girls' version, but Joni Mitchell's version works equally well
9. Hurt - but again, I don't really care whose version. Cash's and Reznor's are heartbreaking in different ways.
10. Fighting Chance - Melissa Ferrick
11. Don't Cry Anymore - Catie Curtis
12. Fields of Athenry - my version is by One of the Girls, but I'm sure there are more commercial versions out there.
13. Fatherless at 14 - Kendall Payne.
14. Hold On - Sarah McLachlan
15. And So It Goes - Billy Joel
16. American Tune - Paul Simon
17. Untouchable Face - Ani Difranco
18. Language or the Kiss - Indigo Girls

*Admittedly, some of these aren't bands I know at all. Maybe there are women in them; maybe one or two is even primarily/exclusively composed of women, though I doubt it. I still don't see anything that makes women artists visible.

**And, no, I'm not even letting myself use musical theater tunes, which could be their own 18 songs.


AKMA said...

The AV Club list was dominated by white men -- I tried to keep that in view when nominating personal additions.

Beth said...

And mine is certainly dominated by white women. My music selection has very, very little racial diversity in it - that's an area where I'm only just beginning to branch out. I've noticed it, but I don't have much else to offer here yet.

I'm continuing to edit my list slightly as I recall others (your comment got in very early, AKMA!), but that's serving more to reduce the number of repeat artists and less to diversify the selection. It's still a fair split between queer and straight white women, with a few white men that I just couldn't keep off the list.

I may also post my list of musical theater tearjerkers in the next day or two, now that I'm started down this path. I'll be interested to see whether that list ends up any more diverse (and if so, whether by character or composer) than my current list.

Tripp Hudgins said...

Okay, none of this makes me cry.

"My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs" makes me cry. So does Randall Thompson's Alleluia. I don't think I have ever cried because of a pop song.

The young fogey said...

It took 25 comments even to get Joni Mitchell in there at all. Hello? River? the remake of Both Sides Now? her cover of Hallelujah? pick any grouping of Joni's music and you'll find a tearjerker.

The title track of Blue.

Anonymous said...

That's funny! I was actually listening to Les Misarables last night. The closing scene where Fantine and Eponine appear always makes me cry. Big time!

Some women artists (not bands though) that I would add from my list:

1) Beth Nielson Chapman -- "Sand and Water"
2) Tori Amos -- "Winter"
3) Kate Bush -- "This Woman's Work"
4) Alanis Morisette -- "That I Would Be Good" (wasn't feeling particularly "good" when I was listening)

and my guilty pleasure...
5) Kelly Clarkson -- "Because of You"


PPB said...

Ah, you know that She's Saving Me is about Emily's deceased sister, right? Makes it more of a tear jerker. I'm thrilled to see Catie Curtis song on your list, too. I love her.

Anonymous said...

Dolly Parton
Coat of Many Colors