One of the most basic expressions of human emotion is crying. It’s no surprise, then, that music has quite a few songs about tears and crying. Here’s a sample of ten different songs about crying, tears, and/or sadness.
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“Crying in the Club” – Camila Cabello
The debut solo single of Camila Cabello, this pop-dance smash hit is emblematic of one of the most important parts of crying: the catharsis of taking out all your stress, sorrow, and/or anger in the form of tears.
Cabello described this song as being about the healing power of music, crying at the same time as dancing all night long in the club.
“Tears in Heaven” – Eric Clapton
Moving on to a darker, more tragic song about tears and crying, Eric Clapton’s world-famous 1991 acoustic ballad, “Tears in Heaven” was written shortly after Clapton’s son, Conor, died.
The song was meant to channel the absolute sorrow, as well as the healing power of music, of losing a loved one, especially one that was so young he might not truly recognize his father in Heaven.
“Crying” – Roy Orbison
One of the earliest kings of rock ‘n’ roll, Roy Orbison, is the master of the blues. Early bluesy rock songs were all about crying, particularly about lost lovers and the one who got away.
The aptly named “Crying” is a perfect example of this, and one of the more obvious songs on this list; but it’s a great song.
“When Doves Cry” – Prince
Jumping now to the ’80s, the late Prince has one of the most successful hit songs about crying, “When Doves Cry”.
The song, written for the film Purple Rain, is a midtempo dance tune about the confusion brought about by numerous love affairs and estranged parents.
“Feasting on the Flowers” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
One of this song’s lyrics is “last thing I remember there were tears of blood and just not mine / any other day and I would save you from this cold decline”, expressing the guilt that lead singer Anthony Kiedis feels over his friend Hillel Slovak’s death due to them both being addicted to heroin and enabling each other’s vices.
The tears of blood being a powerful metaphor for extremely potent sadness resulting from the death of a loved one, this song is an indirect, but evocative example of a song about crying.
“The Sky is Crying” – Stevie Ray Vaughan
This blues track explores the literal and figurative meaning of the song’s title, a song about a horrid thunderstorm being emblematic of the singer’s mood from not seeing his lover in a long time.
A bit on the nose for songs about crying, but it’s a beloved blues standard that absolutely meets the criteria for the best songs about crying.
“Cry Baby Cry” – The Beatles
Sometimes you cry for no reason, especially if you’re a baby. While you’re (probably) not a baby reading this,
The Beatles’ “Cry Baby Cry” puts a spin on popular nursery rhymes and their surreal nature. Most of this list has been about tragedy and heartbreak, but if you’re looking for a more light-hearted song, this is a great choice.
“No Woman, No Cry” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
Taking a different route on this list, when we look at classic reggae tunes, you can’t go wrong with “No Woman, No Cry”.
Bob Marley fans are no stranger to this beautiful song. The song, gently telling a woman to not be sad, is a chill tune about crying.
“Cry Me a River” – Justin Timberlake
A more pointed song against a stifled ex-lover, Justin Timberlake’s hit track might not be the best to listen to when you are down in the dumps, but if you’re looking for a different view on crying, look no further.
“I’m So Blue” – Michael Jackson
Finally, we have Michael Jackson’s classic depressive song “I’m So Blue”.
There’s not a whole lot of complexity to this choice, it’s a song about a lost lover and the pain felt from that separation, sung soulfully by the King of Pop.
“Cry Little Sister” – Gerard McMahon
This theme song from the blockbuster 1987 film The Lost Boys reached number 15 on the Billboard 200 charts.
It has since been covered for sequels to The Lost Boys as well as by artist Marilyn Manson. McMahon, who both wrote and performed the song, has said that if he had seen the movie before writing the song he probably would not have written it.
He explains that he wanted the song to convey a rejected youth yearning for a family, not focus on vampires. Nonetheless, it has become a true Goth classic
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” – Fergie
Songstress Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas released this song on her 2007 debut album, The Duchess. The pop ballad reveals the pain, difficulty, and then the strength and growth of deciding to move forward from a romantic relationship that isn’t working out.
The song quickly gained popularity because rather than being just another breakup song, it went deeper to talk about moving on for oneself, on to bigger and better things. The song was Fergie’s best-selling and longest charting single in the United States.
“Sometimes She Cries” – Warrant
This power ballad was recorded and released by Metal band Warrant in 1989.
The song is about a woman named Missy who feels that she is no longer attractive and desirable since she doesn’t have a lover anymore, even though in the past she had several.
Now she spends her nights crying from loneliness. Lead singer Jani Lane’s expressive voice conveys the emotions of this song perfectly so that the listener feels Missy’s pain and may find a tear or two forming in their own eye.
“Cry” – Michael Jackson
This song appeared on pop singer Michael Jackson’s 10th – and, sadly, final – album in 2001, titled Invincible.
Jackson had a way of singing that transformed him from one of the biggest superstars on the planet into an everyday man sitting in his home singing to himself about whatever was on his mind. “Cry” expresses his concerns about the issues affecting the world and more specifically, people’s lives.
Then in Michael’s unique way, he switches direction to encourage change and unity in order to overcome these issues and make the world a better place.
“The Crying Game” – Boy George
Pop singer Boy George released his cover of the Dave Berry song The Crying Game in 1992. Subsequently, both his version and the original were featured as theme songs in the movie of the same name later that same year.
Boy George’s version soared to the number 15 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, becoming his top solo hit in the United States. The song is a classic heartbreak anthem.
The singer laments that he has been through the sad breakup process so many times now that he’s become an expert at what he calls the crying game.
“Don’t Cry Joni” – Conway Twitty
Country music superstar Conway Twitty wrote and recorded this song with his 16-year-old daughter Joni in 1975. The song is about a young girl, only 15, who falls in love with 22-year-old neighbor boy Jimmy. She writes him a letter asking him to wait for her until she is older.
Of course Jimmy can’t do that, and Joni’s heart is broken. Jimmy moves far away and then realizes he has fallen in love with Joni. He returns home only to find she has moved on and is now married to his best friend.
Both Twitty and his daughter sing the song was so much emotion that the listener can feel their own heart breaking a little.
“Don’t Cry” – Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses released this power ballad in 1991 in three different versions. The song reached the number 10 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The story behind the lyrics showed the world a whole different side of lead vocalist Axl Rose, who had a reputation for being a bad boy with a quick temper.
The story goes that Rose fell in love with a girl the band’s guitar player was dating. When the two broke up, Rose pursued her and she turned him down. As she told him goodbye outside a club, he sat down on the curb and began to cry.
She said to him, “don’t cry”, and then she was gone. The following night, the band wrote the hit song.
“No More Tears” – Ozzy Osbourne
Heavy Metal singer Ozzy Osbourne released this song on an album of the same name in 1991. It hit #7 on the US Billboard 200 album charts.
Osborne, known for his darker lyrics, wrote No More Tears about a dangerous stalker who pursues and tortures ladies of the night in a city’s red-light district.
Osborne once said that even though the controversial lyrics were based on a “dark fantasy”, he personally had no desire to torment or stalk anyone in the way the song alludes to.
“Who’s Crying Now” – Journey
Written by the Rock band Journey, this song was released in 1981 and almost immediately charted at #4 on the Billboard Top 100.
Unlike most songs with a ballad feel, Journey’s frontman Steve Perry says there is really no deep, personal meaning behind the lyrics.
He says he was driving to the band’s drummer’s home in Los Angeles when he “just heard the chorus in his head”, and from there wrote the song along with the drummer.
“When The Children Cry” – White Lion
Glam Metal band White Lion released this power ballad in 1987. It roared to the number three position on the US Billboard Top Hot 100. The song has a deep emotional connection for the band’s vocalist, Mike Tramp. It was influenced heavily by his childhood.
When Tramp was six years old his father abandoned the family, leaving his mother to raise three boys on her own in an unfamiliar country, as the family had recently immigrated to America from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Tramp had written part of the song in his younger years and he incorporated those raw and painful words into the lyrics of When The Children Cry.