10 Songs That Make You Cry

Most movie audiences will be choosing between two big releases for the upcoming holiday weekend: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. If you don’t mind secretly sobbing in a dark theater, and your mom is tagging along (moms really love Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman), you’ll probably find yourself transported to 19th-century France for the adaptation of Victor Hugo’s famous novel. The trailer for Les Mis reveals footage of Anne Hathaway as the ill-fated prostitute Fantine performing a weepy, whispery rendition of the beloved “I Dreamed a Dream.” Whether you appreciate movie musicals or not, the song instantly turns on the waterworks for a lot of people. It’s a heartbreaking lament. This got us thinking about other tunes that call for Kleenex and a shoulder to cry on. For a song to tap into such emotion is an incredibly intimate thing, and not all of the reasons are sad ones. Sometimes the sheer magnificence of a piece of music elicits a few tears. We selected a group of tracks that tend to make people sob. What songs really bring out your cry face?

Jeff Buckley — “Hallelujah”

The late singer-songwriter’s famous cover of Leonard Cohen’s song (Buckley turned to John Cale’s later cover for inspiration) appeared on his 1994 album Grace. It’s an incredibly tender rendition that opens with a gentle chord progression and leads into a raw, restrained vocal. The cover took on another facet of emotional heft after Buckley’s tragic death. Rufus Wainwright perhaps described the power of “Hallelujah” best in The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”:

“I think with that song, as is the case with a lot of Leonard’s work, there are certain phrases that really jump out and hit you in different ways, and mean different things to different people — ‘Learn to shoot at someone who outdrew you.’ I think it’s more about those tiny nuggets of words than any broad meaning, but then once ‘Hallelujah,’ that word, is placed in there, it kind of gathers up all of these elements, which is the essence of existence anyway: There’s no general theme for the world — it’s all little tiny pieces.”