Sometimes, we all need a good cry.
Maybe we are grieving, and that too-familiar feeling, like a swollen fist in the chest, nudges at us. Or maybe we’re breaking up with someone slowly or quickly. Maybe the news is just too, too much and we need to let the sorrow out.
And sometimes, we just need to feel the heartbreak of being alive, of loving and being mortal, of knowing that all things pass.
Here are three songs that bring me to the center of sadness, then float me out again tired, but ever-so-slightly mended.
Sleeping at Last ~ Saturn
This song brought me to tears on a random Friday afternoon while I was scrubbing dishes and scraping crumbs. But don’t let the spare, haunting music and lyrics fool you—it is certainly a song of grief, but like the best works on loss, it’s also a love song about life.
Helpless ~ Neil Young
I first heard this song two days after my brother’s death. I was 24 and smashed by shock. I hadn’t slept since I’d heard the news that I’d never see my baby brother again. This song came to me like a gift breeze. It coiled around the shredded muscles of my heart, and helped me to finally cry.
The song kept me company afterwards, becoming the theme song of my loss. To this day, sixteen years later, when I hear it unexpectedly, I can feel the rawness of my grief in my bones, mingling with the beauty of the strings. It’s like a bittersweet homecoming for me, a time travel.
Keep Me in Your Heart For Awhile ~ Warren Zevon
I dare you not to shed a salty tear when you listen to this song. Songwriter Warren Zevon wrote and recorded it as he was dying of cancer, and it plays like a message from the grave. His lyrics and vocals are simple and accessible. Knowing he created this song about his own impending death is haunting—and inspiring.
A good sad song can break your heart, but also be a visceral way to connect with the life’s inherent sadness.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: nkashirin at Flickr