10 Depressing Classic Songs That Will Make You Cry

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It’s therapeutic to have a good cry. If at least one of the following doesn’t loosen the tear ducts, then you are made of stone! Friendship, love and loneliness are all featured. So, get the tissues ready. It’s not just the lyrics that get to you; it’s those damned minor keys! If you enjoy this list of sad songs and even if you don’t, here are 10 more sad songs to make you cry that will get the water works going.

10. Ebony Eyes by the Everly Brothers

And I knew the heavenly ebony skies had taken my life’s most wonderful prize, my beautiful ebony eyes’.

The duo had a hit single in 1961 with this John D. Loudermilk song, which tells the tragic story of Flight 1203. The narrator has a weekend pass to marry his fiancée but the plane bringing her to him has crashed. Most songs with a spoken part are cringe worthy but our hero (was it Don or was it Phil?)  carries it off with aplomb.

9. Tell Me on a Sunday by Marti Webb

I’d like to choose how I hear the news‘.

Andrew Lloyd Webber teamed up with lyricist Don Black to produce a ‘song cycle’ titled ‘Tell Me on a Sunday’ about an English woman named Emma who emigrates to America and has a series of disastrous love affairs. There are witty observations of a Brit’s view of the US alongside the sad and sometimes angry songs about the relationships. In the title song, Emma knows that she is going to be dumped one day. She would like a little control and wants to be told on a Sunday and in the park. Marti Webb, who also played Eva Peron in Evita on stage, is superb and conveys every emotion.

8. Friend of Ours by Elbow

Love you mate’.

The British band Elbow came together in 1990 but their commercial success peaked with the release of the 2008 album, ‘The Seldom Seen Kid‘. The critical praise heaped on the album culminated in a prestigious Mercury Music Prize. ‘Friend of Ours’, written by the band, is a song about lead singer Guy Garvey‘s best friend, Bryan who died from a sudden illness. The seldom seen kid is a nickname that Garvey’s father gave Bryan. Love you mate is a phrase that Bryan used to say when saying goodbye to his friends. When Guy Garvey quietly delivers that line, he is visibly moved.

7. In My Room by the Beach Boys

Now it’s dark and I’m alone but I won’t be afraid’.

The Beach Boys, under the guidance of Brian Wilson, developed from purveyors of good time surfing songs to beautifully crafted ballads. The 1963 album ‘Surfer Girl’, showing a cover of the boys holding a surfboard, contains a gem with ‘In My Room’. Brian produced the record and co-wrote it with Gary Usher. Teenagers all over the world can identify with the lyrics that identify one’s room as a sanctuary, a place where you can ‘do my crying and my sighing’ and ‘tell my secrets to’. The gorgeous harmonies wash over you like a warm dip in the ocean.

6. Shine on You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd

Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far’.

This is Pink Floyd’s tribute to founding member, Syd Barrett. Written by Richard Wright, David Gilmour and Roger Waters for the 1975 album, ‘Wish You Were Here’, it is a composition made up of nine parts and lasts almost thirty minutes when played in full. Barrett was a tragic victim of mental health problems, possibly caused or worsened by psychedelic drug experimentation. He left the band in 1968 and became a recluse after a brief solo career. He had written many of Floyd’s early songs and was their driving force. The song hails him as a ‘piper‘ and a ‘seer of visions’. The crazy diamond passed away in 2006.

5. Everybody Hurts by REM

When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on’.


Written by the band, the song appears on the 1992 album, ‘Automatic for the People’, and is probably their best known song. John Paul Jones, bassist with Led Zeppelin, was responsible for the string arrangement. The band has said that the song was written with teenagers in mind. The British charity for people seeking help when thinking of suicide, the Samaritans, has used the song for one of its campaigns. It is a song intended to give hope; ‘take comfort in your friends’ and ‘you are not alone’.

4. The Scientist by Coldplay

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry, you don’t know how lovely you are’.

The track appeared on the bands’ second album, ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘ and was released as a single. Written by the band, it’s about a relationship gone wrong. He wants to apologise and start again. The accompanying video shows a car crash in reverse time, illustrating this desire to turn back time. ‘I was just guessing at numbers and figures‘ shows a preoccupation with trying to understand a complex world through science and mathematics. The third album would be titled ‘X & Y’.

3. Exit Music (for a film) by Radiohead

Now we are one in everlasting peace’.

No one delivers a poignant lyric like Thom Yorke. The song was written by the band for Baz Luhrmann’s film, ‘William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet’ and is played over the closing credits. It’s also a track on Radiohead’s 1997 album, ‘OK Computer’. The lyrics interpret the plight of the star-crossed lovers but can be applied to a personal tragic situation. Just like Romeo and Juliet, ‘today…we escape’.

2. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) by John Lennon

I can hardly wait to see you come of age’

This is Lennon’s gift of love to his son, Sean. It is a joyful song and appears here, purely because of the context. Lennon sang to his son every night at bedtime. Sean was five years old when his father was killed. The song was released on the album, ‘Double Fantasy’, three weeks before the murder. The final spoken words say it all, ‘goodnight Sean, see you in the morning’.

1. Hurt by Johnny Cash

Everyone I know goes away in the end’.

‘Hurt’ was already an outstanding song when Nine Inch Nails recorded it for their album, ‘The Downward Spiral’. Written by band member, Trent Reznor, the lyrics tell of a life of regret, ‘I will let you down, I will make you hurt’. Johnny Cash can be forgiven for taking such a personal song. This is a song about pain, something Cash was familiar with. He recorded it towards the end of his life for his album, ‘American IV: The Man Comes Around’. The voice is frail and full of emotion. The accompanying video, which shows a montage of his life, is exceptional.  Cash did something magical with this song and we are beholden to him.


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96 Comments

  1. Number one almost pissed me off because I thought you weren't going to give Trent credit for it.

    But I do agree, Cash sounds as if he's uttering his last words almost.

    Just how it should sound.

  2. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton. Honestly, I love this list but that should have been #1! I don’t think there’s a time I’ve heard it that I haven’t cried.

  3. Hurt is the only song that gets me, and not the Cash cover version. Good to god trent reznor. He gets me time and time again. Cash im afraid to say doesn’t have trent’s balls. I don’t see him saying the things that need to be said to get me gone. And the instrumentals are nothing compared to NIN’s. NIN’s are way more powerful.

  4. Coldplay-Politik, made me cry.
    the harsh and powerful intro of the song then the slow music coupled with Chris martin singing beautifully. That really gets you…

  5. You COuld Be Happy by Snow Patrol. I can’t even listen to the intro without bursting into tears.

  6. Never went to church by The Streets.

    It’s about his dad passing away.

    First time i heard it i burst into tears in the middle of a packed train.

  7. Saw Rub, a lonely one on

    Josh Groban – You raise Me Up
    Mj – Little Susie
    Bee Gees – Be Who You Are
    Eels – Elizabeth In The Bathroom

    • This list is crap. Only 2 that affects me:
      Last Kiss – Pearl Jam
      The Grave – Don Mclean

  8. Radiohead – Videotape
    Radiohead – Last Flowers

    Those songs espicially in the Basement sessions, can be fond on youtube.

  9. Not necessarily in order, but here’s my list.

    1. Stormy-The Classics IV
    2. The theme from the 1966 French film “A Man and a Woman”
    3. “Hungry” and “Kicks” -Paul Revere and the Raiders
    4. Willow Weep for Me-Chad and Jeremy
    5. You and Me Against the World-Helen Reddy
    6. Bluesette-Various Artists
    7. Summer Wind-Frank Sinatra
    8. Nothing But a Heartache-The Flirtations
    9. Dirty Water-The Standells
    10. In the Rain-The Dramatics
    11. Don’t Cry Daddy-Elvis
    12. Wives and Lovers-Jack Jones
    13. Ask Any Girl-Diana Ross and the Supremes
    14. A Girl Like You-The Rascals
    15. Summer Samba-Walter Wanderley

  10. Call me by Shinedown, Accoustic version of rapture by hurt, in this river by black label society.

  11. Just for the fun of it. Listen to the fourth movement of Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and see how you react. This is what I want to hear as I die in my sleep…..

  12. I feel like a heartless fool but I havent cried to one of these songs…I don’t know why…

  13. THe one song that always makes me cry is “Tell My Father” from the musical “Civil War”

  14. I Loved Her First, The Theme For Halo 3, Dance With My Father, Call Me, Friend Of Ours, Snuff,
    The Scientist, Hurt, Slipped Away, You Could Be Happy, Last Of the American Girls, Walk,
    Daddy Is Dead, Hold On, Fix You, Hungry, The Love Theme For The Godfather, She Is Gone,
    Never Thought I Would Lose, Don’t Cry, Lost My Girl, Crazy Jerk, Tell My Father, Sheets,
    Dumped Into Sadness, Betrayed By My Boyfriend, Mama Come Home, A Man And A Woman,
    Dirty Cleanse, Wounds That Never Heal, Extraordinary Pain, I Love You, The Weeping Willows,
    And My Favorite Yet Most Sad Song I Know Is The Pain How Mom And Dad Died.

  15. For me it’s not the lyrics, it’s how beautifully they are sang and these two brings me to tears.
    Lisa Kelly – You Raise Me Up
    Kate Voegele – Hallelujah

  16. I have two words for you, “Cats in-the-cradle”, never played it without tears. Teardrop – Jose Gonzales, from House episode when Wilson’s girlfriend dies, is also nice.

  17. How is Wind Beneath My Wings never mentioned in this list or in any of the comments? C’mon people!! That one gets to you like no other

  18. When I hear Jeff Buckley sing Hallelujah,my eyes start tearing up lol It happens every single time :’)

  19. My top 10

    10. Precious child by Karen Taylor Good
    9. Hurt by Christina Aguilera
    8. Vienna by Billy Joel
    7. Wish you were here by Avril Lavigne
    6. Because of you by Kelly Clarkson
    5. Goodbye yellow brick road by Elton John
    4. Concrete Angel by Martina McBride
    3. Slipping through my fingers by Abba
    2. Never grow up by Taylor Swift
    1. Somewhere out there by Linda Rondstant