Songs that stab you right in the heart.

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by birchoak, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

    Amesbury, MA
    This thread is for songs that just about bring you to your knees such is their emotional impact. These songs may be inherently sad, all on their own, or remind you of someone who is gone now. Perhaps these songs got you through a difficult time in your life, or celebrate an especially happy memory for you. By all means, muse about your song's personal meaning if you're up to it.

    I have a few.

    1) In Spite of Me, by Morphine. Oh man, this song, this song. It is so hauntingly beautiful, so very sad. Not long after my son was born, I was working in Newburyport, a swishy town over the river from the more blue collar Amesbury. I was ripping plywood with my circ saw and the wind kept whipping sawdust in my face. The customers weren't at home and my boss was somewhere else, so I had the truck doors open to listen to the radio. A lot of things were going through my head: how small and fragile my son was, how my own father had died before I got a chance to know him, what an overbearing ass my boss was, why do we have to die, and so on. In Spite of Me came on, echoing around my little work site and somehow wringing about a gallon of tears out of me before it was over. Not a fluke--just hearing that opening mandolin(?) riff sets me off, every time.

    2) Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, by B. J. Thomas. When I was little, my dad would get sick from time to time and have a bad "episode." It was very scary for the whole family as his behavior would be unpredictable during these fits and mostly we just tried to agree with him and go along with whatever he suddenly wanted to do, like pretending that my mother was dead so he could collect the life insurance on her. One way we could tell that he was sick was he would play Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head on his 8-track, over and over. It's such a painfully cheerful song, but it didn't fit what was happening to my father at the time. He never got better and we finally had to leave him there, in Montana. Every time I hear this song I think of my father, may he finally rest in peace.

    3) Tiny Tears, by Tindersticks. My mother died about two years ago, after a series of strokes that felled her over a ten day period. She was the most important person in my life, always there for me, always willing to listen to any problem I had. She was so alive, so completely there that I honestly thought she had at least another ten years. She was still driving herself around in her silver Buick, staying up late, buying cheesy little presents for my son, always wanting us to visit her, call her, go out to lunch with her. We did, of course, but it was never enough for her liking and I suppose a lot of kids feel guilty about all the times they should have called, should have visited, should have---whatever---and didn't because our own lives got in the way. I was playing the stereo rather loudly so I could hear it while I took a shower. I was alone in the house and at this point in time my mother had lost most of her expressive language, really terrible as that was her thing--talking. I was getting myself cleaned up before I went to visit her in critical care, and I forgot that I had this song on my MacBook. I think I cried as many tears as the shower was putting out, because my number one fan was dying (my mother thought all of my jokes were so funny, and they are not, trust me) and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The way the man sings this song, it's just so powerful and incredibly sad--if I hear this song around other people, I have to leave the room.

    4) Freebird, by Lynyrd Skynyrd. 1978, junior high. The dark gymnasium held our combed and pressed ranks, and it was the same gymnasium where Joey P_______ had climbed the ropes a few weeks earlier and had forgotten to wear underwear that day, unwittingly exposing most of his tackle-and-line all the way to the ceiling. The gym now looked like a haunted house as the light show turned faces crimson, then strobed them white, then pale blue. The evening was almost over before I asked Monica W_________ to dance, a fast dance to some song I cannot remember, and with indifference only a teenage beauty could affect, she drifted out onto the floor without looking back. At first I wasn't sure where she had gone or if she had even said yes, but I eventually found her and performed my most heart-felt, athletic dancing moves in an attempt to impress her. Monica's lush auburn bangs swung as her hips swayed provocatively in her tight brown corduroys, but her green eyes never once met my own. The song ended as suddenly as it had began. Monica drifted away again and was swallowed up by a coven of other painfully beautiful girls. The lights dimmed until the gym seemed a sweaty cave lit by torches, and the unmistakable opening chords of Freebird, organ notes spun into eternity by a Leslie, echoed across the dance floor.

    This was it, the last song, the last chance for every boy to slow dance with the girl he'd secretly fallen in love with, and I frantically peered about trying to spot Monica. The floor was now strewn with teenagers slowly staggering together like lovesick zombies, joined as tightly as the laws of physics would permit. These were the cool kids, kids who could broker the slow dance deal, then coolly meander onto the floor with their prizes in tow.

    To my everlasting horror, there was Monica, pasted to Brad S_________, jaws working as they attempted to bite each other's lips off, the rear pockets of Monica's corduroys bulging with Brad's groping hands. I remember the pockets because there were pink hearts sewn onto them, probably by Monica herself, and I could not take my eyes off those hearts even as Freebird wound up into its screaming guitar finale (the rules of slow dancing dictated that you kept slow dancing, no matter how fast the song eventually got). She had picked Brad, or Brad had swooped in and got her, and she probably didn't even know who I was. When my mother came to pick me, I refused to talk about the dance, answering her enthusiastic inquiries with "Fine," "Yes," and "Nothing, Ma" in a shell-shocked monotone that I hoped would repel any further questions. I wanted to go to my bedroom, shut the door, and be alone as I relived the horror of that night's dance over and over again.

    5) Freebird, by Lynryd Skynrd. 1983, senior year. It was the last song of the last dance of high school. On pure impulse, I asked Sabrina S________ to dance. I barely knew her, but something made me approach and ask her to slow dance, and I was astonished when she took my hand and led me onto the floor. She had long brown hair that fell in thick curls past her shoulders and lay against the front of her dress, an expensive gown in a blue so dark it was almost black. She was very beautiful, in a shy, elegant way that most of the boys overlooked in their moth-like attraction to the voluptuous, overbearing blondes that ruled the school. She had large, brown eyes, full lips, and was as tall and slender as a ballerina.

    I put my arms around her and she folded herself into me, body pressing against mine. Before I could process what was happening, she was kissing me, softly and urgently, with an abandon that made me wonder if she had mistaken me for someone else. We had no classes together and I wasn't sure if we'd even spoken. But Freebird continued to wash over us, and I willingly surrendered to what I now understand to be an out-of-body-experience. I didn't think about grades, or whether I was cool or not. I didn't think about how I would pay for college, after my father had died so suddenly. I held Sabrina and she held me back, and for ten minutes I knew nothing but joy.

    I know not where Sabrina is now. Perhaps she is happily married, with a child, as am I. Wherever Sabrina is, my heart still skips a beat when I hear Freebird, and I remember holding her in my arms on a warm spring night, 35 years ago.

    Whoa, that was some sad stuff! Okay, it doesn't have to be that sad--a song can simply move you--I tried to give you a few examples and maybe I got carried away. Doesn't matter; let's hear from you!
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
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  2. avionic

    avionic " Black Knights " Eagle Keeper Subscriber

    Fort Dodge, Iowa
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
  3. doodledog

    doodledog Active Member

    central Florida
    Silver Bells. My Mom’s favorite Christmas song. She’s been gone 10 years now.
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  4. spicer

    spicer Super Member

    Enya...'If I Could Be Where You Are'
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  5. thomo57

    thomo57 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Sydney, Australia
  6. jbrainey

    jbrainey Always had more dogs than bones Subscriber

    I get my mail in Tennessee
    A simple bluegrass song about a tree and what it observed long ago.



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  7. Audiovet

    Audiovet Well-Known Member

    Pretoria, South Africa

    I am ashamed to acknowledge that I do not know all the songs you mention, my 'niche' in music being rather different.

    But I respond here because of your honest, moving narrative. I notice that you also do photography and writing; I wish I could see some examples - not surprising! Your parents can be proud of you. Thanks!
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  8. Farmhand

    Farmhand Super Member

    Tall Buildings by John Hartford.
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  9. bobsvinyl

    bobsvinyl Painfully Aware Subscriber

    Milford, NH
    The Beatles had the ability to emotionally involve you in their songs. Well written, intelligent lyrics and hooks that would keep it in your memory. In My Life always affects me when I hear it.

    Simon and Garfunkel do the same thing to me. America and Sounds of Silence are at the top of my list for their material.
  10. kirk57

    kirk57 Some guy on the Internet Subscriber

    Chicago's North Shore
    Thanks for the opportunity to bring everybody down!

    These first ones deserve special mention because they are about actual events in the writer's lives:

    Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
    About Ian Curtis' marriage coming apart (at least in part his fault, to be honest)
    He hanged himself shortly before the song was released.

    Keep Me in Your Heart - Warren Zevon
    Recorded when he was dying of cancer; a farewell song to his loved ones

    Hey Jealously - Gin Blossoms
    Despite the poppy sound, this is a song about Doug Hopkins struggles with alcohol and relationships. He was later fired from the band and committed suicide shortly after getting a gold disk for the song.

    Rehab - Amy Winehouse
    You really should have gone, Amy.

    Song for Emma - Joe Walsh
    Song to Walsh’s 4 year old daughter, who was killed in a car accident on the way to school.

    Help Me Through the Night - Joe Walsh
    Written after Emma's death and the breakup of his marriage to Emma's mother

    Brick - Ben Folds Five
    Just read the lyrics

    Soap and Water - Suzanne Vega
    One of many songs on ‘Songs of Red and Grey’ about the breakup of her marriage to Mitchell Froom. This particular song recognizes how difficult this is must be for their daughter, Ruby.

    As far as I can tell these others are just made up, but still sad tales.

    Indian Sunset - Bernie Taupin lyrics/Elton John music
    Story of the end of a Sioux warrior

    Seventeen Hills - Thomas Dolby
    A fictional account of a man who commits a crime with the only woman he ever loved. She dies when the police chase them down. Told from within the confines of Alcatraz.

    Martha - Tom Waites
    Performed on what sounds like an old broken down piano, Waites sings of a phone call an old man makes to the woman who he realizes, far too late, was the love of his life.

    Suicide Alley - Shawn Colvin
    Woman trying to help someone who is contemplating suicide.

    Moon River - Jerry Butler
    Such a wistful song. 'Someday' is one of the saddest words in the world

    Alone Again, Naturally - Gilbert O'Sullivan
    Did some research and thankfully this is *not* autobiographical!

    She’s Already Made Up Her Mind - Lyle Lovett
    Man takes getting dumped very, very badly.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
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  11. mark warren

    mark warren Music Lover!

    southern USA


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  12. mstrane21

    mstrane21 Well-Known Member

  13. mstrane21

    mstrane21 Well-Known Member

    This is a newish country song that I heard the other day. I don't love the artist's voice, but the lyrics and mood of the song strike a nerve, big time, and take me back to an ex from a long time ago.

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  14. SPL db

    SPL db It's all about the music! Subscriber

    Omaha, NE
  15. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

    Norman OK
    Slow Dancing, by Johnny Rivers always puts a lump in my throat, and often brings tears to my eyes, as well. The effect stems back to some tragic family news which soon triggered a story in my mind that I shall never write. When I hear the song, I'm cast back to that time, more than thirty years ago, with both the real tragedy and the sad fictional story influencing my limbic system to launch into maudlin mode. I like the song fine, but very rarely select it.
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  16. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

    Amesbury, MA
    Audiovet, thank you for your kind words and please, feel no shame--as I write this, my wife's father is being treated for brain cancer. It came on suddenly and while they "caught it", we don't know how long he has. Artie is an ever-smiling, engaging man who ran hot top crews most of his life but had recently retired. He looks like Santa Claus and his gifts to my son have suggested that he may, indeed, be that guy. He played lead guitar in a band and knew every Beatles song, but can no longer do that. It is crushing to see how rapidly health can be taken from a man, and I suppose AK has helped to distract me, hence my wacky threads.


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  17. Hyperion

    Hyperion Roobarb & Custard Subscriber

    Hertfordshire, UK
    Not everyone's cup of tea, but I think lyrics from 'Sting' - like those on his album 'The Dream Of The Blue Turtles' are very moving and thought provoking.

    Even the track titles do it for me:-
    If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.
    Love Is The Seventh Wave.
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  18. ConradH

    ConradH Addicted Member

    Canandaigua, NY
    Dusty Springfield-

    Michelle Shocked- Shaking Hands (Soldier's Joy)

    Michelle Shocked holds her material close, so I don't think there's any preview or anything, but IMO her trilogy of Short Sharp Shocked, Captain Swing and Arkansas Traveler are epic.

    Just random luck that I picked two civil war related songs.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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    VYNULADIKT Active Member

    Northeast Iowa

    Having two sons and now two grandsons, this one gets me. Life passes all too quickly while we're busy making a living instead of actually LIVING!
  20. birchoak

    birchoak Hi-Fi Nut Subscriber

    Amesbury, MA
    I forgot about this one; thank you for bringing it.

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