“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
― Maya Angelou
When they tell me "magic doesn't exist," I cannot help but turn to music. I think of the great wizards who with each note of an orchestra, twang of a guitar, and plucking of a violin, pull on my heartstrings. I recall all of the majestic pieces art has created and I cannot help but see music as pure, undiluted magic.
Even if your days are gloomy and your soul is weary, there will always be a song out there that will save you. You know there is a sad song waiting to be listened to that will unleash a chain of reactions, and amid the tears, you will find solace, satisfaction, and relief.
This magical effect music has on us has inspired scientists to investigate its mysterious powers. All conclusions lead to one irrefutable truth: music has the power to cure sorrow and bring a smile to a face. Here are a few songs that will weave a nostalgic atmosphere around you, they are ideal for lying down in bed, closing your eyes, and letting the pain flow in the shape of tears.
“Hurt” – Johnny Cash
In 2002, country legend, Johnny Cash launched his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. In it he presented a series of covers reinterpreted in the style that characterized him. Among the many themes, you find the moving and touching version of "Hurt" from Nine Inch Nails. It has a simple arrangement and his piercing voice will break your heart.
“Back To Black” – Amy Winehouse
Back To Black is the second and last album of Amy Winehouse. It was hailed by the critics since her music was the perfect balance between soul and R&B. The moving lyrics and the sweeping melody makes "Back To Black" into an anthem of the British singer and composer. It is a dark melody, and her smokey voice is filled with despair. This song will leave you with a lump in your throat and all those pent up emotions will well up in your eyes.
“Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles
Revolver was the album that drew a line between the classical style and experimentation that would take The Beatles to the top, as one of the most important bands of all time. In this album, we find a gem, "Eleanor Rigby," one of the most melancholy themes of their discography. A dark music with a string arrangement that creates feelings of anguish. The lyrics that are woven around reiterate its status as a mournful song.
“Gloomy Sunday” – Björk
Composed in Hungary in the 1930s by Rezső Seress and László Jávor, "Gloomy Sunday" has acquired a reputation as the suicide anthem in this European country since at that time many suicide notes would include fragments of this song. In 1941, Jazz singer, Billie Holiday, popularized it in the US after modifying the lyrics, making it less hopeless. There are many versions and all maintain that aura of sadness, however, we have to concede that Björk interpretation is incredibly moving.
“Someone Like You” – Adele
In 2011, Adele launched her album 21 and the rest is history. "Someone Like You" became a global phenomenon and the anthem for all brokenhearted. Scientists have noted that this particular song caused sadness and tears due to the repetition of a note called appoggiatura, which creates lows and highs in the brain, unleashing the emotions.
"The Drugs Don’t Work” – The Verve
British scientist, Harry Witchel, carried out an experiment to find the saddest songs in history through a mathematical formula that measures heart frequency, breathing, and body temperature while listening to sad songs. This study concluded that the saddest song of all time is "The Drugs Don't Work" by The Verve. Richard Ashcroft wrote this song after the death of his father.
"Men don't cry" is a farce and with the passing of years this anachronistic saying has become obsolete. The PRS for Music institute in the UK carried out a study to discover which are the songs capable of making men cry. They concluded that the following songs will make any man shed some tears:
“Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
Emotive piano, endless guitar arpeggio, a voice that is a step away from breaking, and lyrics that remind us of every hurt. All of these elements make "Everybody Hurts" one of the most painful and greatest songs of the past decade. Ellis Rich from PRS for Music points out that the frustration this song evokes is difficult to put into words, which makes people cry.
“Hallelujah” – Leonard Cohen
A dark, heartfelt song that generates a feeling of suffering and pleading. “Hallelujah” of Leonard Cohen takes us to these moments of tranquility, hope, and at the same time submerges us into the waters of sadness with each note. Listening to the best years of Cohen will tear your soul apart.
“Tears In Heaven” – Eric Clapton
"Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
'Cause I know I don't belong here in heaven."
We are undone by the time Eric finishes the first question. This is one of the saddest songs in history, he composed it in 1991 in honor of his four year old son who died after accidentally falling from the 53 floor of a building. With time this song became an anthem to remember a special person who is no longer by our side.
“Streets Of Philadelphia” is the first rock song that broached the subjects of AIDS and was part of the soundtrack of Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks. This is a heartrending testimonial of the experiences of suffering AIDS, and the physical, social, and emotional upheavals that come with being HIV positive. This song will take a piece of your heart, leaving you forever empty.