There are just some songs that just emotionally resonate with us. Whether it has heartbreaking lyrics, a relatable subject or even just the way the lyrics are sung. Here's a personal list of 11 songs that move me every time I hear them.
(2nd Draft: Edited 11/16/07 7:41 PM)
11.)Mother John Lennon
is one of my all time favorite singer/songwriters and he could sing "Happy Birthday" and I would be moved. But his first official solo album after the avant garde Two Virgins and The Wedding Album is on a whole other level. The rawness of the vocals and lyrics on the entire album are stunning. The opening song, Mother, starts out with clanging bells, and Lennon singing "Mother you had me, but I didn't have you..." It's an extremely emotional song, which becomes even more urgent with his cries of "Mama don't go! Daddy come home!"
10.)Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes
This song has relatively few lyrics, and the subject is simple butBeck
's delivery is so amazing that it becomes very moving. The original by a band called Korgis is a pleasant enough 80's ditty, but Beck takes it to the max. Such a beautiful song.
Possibly the Kinks' best song (in my opinion anyway), Heroes is a tale of Hollywood Boulevard and the stars it makes and spits out in the Los Angeles. "dream factory." "There's a star in every city" Ray Davies declares and goes through a laundry list of Hollywood legends, from Bette Davis to Bela Lugosi to Mickey Rooney, each line as memorable as the last. An incredible song and arguably the best song ever made about the pitfalls of celebrity.
8.)Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 2
Like most songs written by Jeff Mangum
, the song only makes sense in fragments but is no less stunning for that. The most obvious reference is to Anne Frank, who Mangum mentions earlier in Holland, 1945
, in which he sings "and in my dreams you're alive and you're crying". Two Headed Boy Pt. 2 is arguably Mangum's most moving lyrical and vocal performance ever.
7.) Before The Deluge
Jackson's apocalyptic closer to the classic Late For The Sky
has some of the most incredible lyrics of the 70's. He tells tales of basically every type of person, from foolish young dreamers to those who "were angry at the way the earth was abused,by the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power, and they struggled to protect her from them, only to be confused." "Now let the music keep our spirits high" Jackson pleads, and you can carry on, even after all that has gone wrong in the world.
Put this song in the same file next to Beck's no. 10 choice, as songs with simple lyrics and emotional, amazing delivery. Paul Westerberg
has always had a tortured, fragile voice, but on this song he almost seems like he's going to lose his vocal chords. His voice is so expressive it's unbelievable.
was an incredible song, but Cash hits it out of the park with his cover. His voice, nearing the end of his tumoultous life, is so cracked, but so brilliant. He can't hit the high notes but it makes for a better song. The haunting video makes it even more moving.
4.) You Can't Put Your Arms Round a Memory Johnny Thunders
was one of those live fast, die young types. A punk pioneer and heroin junkie, his songs were usually loud and snotty. But here comes Memory, with it's acoustic based sound and introspective lyrics. He sings of loneliness and despair, as well as struggling with his heroin addiction. He never recovered, dying of an overdose in 1991, at the age of 38.
3.)Casimir Pulaski Day
When I used to think about songs relating to teenage death, I usually thought of corny early 60's hits like the insufferable "Tell Laura That I Love Her." However, Sufjan removes the sap and injects poignancy in his tale of a girlfriend dying of cancer. In this song, which I'm not positive if it's based on real experiences, the famously religious Sufjan Stevens
is starting to question his faith. The most surprisingly moving part of the song is the usually nonsensical "da, da, da"s that close the song. Instead of being filler, these supposedly meaningless lyrics are executed in a bittersweet, haunting way.
2.) Strange Fruit
There's not much you can say about this immortal classic. Holliday's tale about lynchings in the Deep South brings out instant waterworks. It's timeless, no matter if those "colored only" signs are gone. The racism of that time still lingers, after all this time.
1.)The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
It might seem strange to have a song about racism written by a white person over a song about racism sung from an African American perspective. Maybe so. But maybe because this song is about one specific person, in a heartbreaking re-enactment. Bob Dylan's lyrics declaring "Take the rag way from your face, now ain't the time for your tears" to the inevitable conclusion "Bury that rag deep in your face, now is the time for your tears" are arguably some of the most moving lines ever written.