Crying is the most basic response to sadness or pain. It’s safe to say that we’ve all cried at some point, and that we all need to cry sometimes. It’s no wonder that crying or weeping is something that poets and lyricists often write about. Crying is relatable and expressive. There have been many songs about crying in the history of music, and they’re a mixed bunch. Some sound happy, and some are depressing. Either way, there are songs about crying that just get us in the right emotional state—whether that’s sad or lonely or just pained. These songs validate the deepest of feelings, and they’re awesome to say the least. Here’s a list of 20 incredible songs about crying to help you emote and maybe even let the tears out.
1. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
There’s no sadder fate than death, which is ironic because we all die at some point. Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven is a classic. It doesn’t talk about crying outright; but it does mention that once we’re in heaving, we’re no longer going to have to deal with tears. It’s a beautiful song with such a morbid existential idea. Tears in Heaven reminds us that the only time we have is now, and that maybe we shouldn’t spend so much of it crying all the time.
2. Don’t Cry – Guns N’ Roses
This is a work of musical genius from the one and only 80s rock group Guns N’ Roses. Don’t Cry is characterized by Axl Rose’s piercing vocals, but the lyrical topic of crying gets you in the gut. The singer tells us not to cry because there’s heaven looking out for us—even after that heavy breakup or loss. Memories are still there to be treasured.
3. Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons
Although this song is not the most profound lyrical piece of music, we all know the repeated verses that say, “Big girls don’t cry.” Franki Valli and The Four Seasons have created a timeless song here, and it’s one that almost everyone knows and can sing along to. It’s as catchy as a song could be. There have been many references to this song in pop culture, and there’s even another song on this list with the same title.
4. Cry Me a River – Justin Timberlake
We can probably count Justin Timberlake’s hits on one hand, but that’s okay because that includes Cry Me a River. Timberlake sings about betrayal on this song, something to definitely something to cry about. Burned bridges are no joke, and Timberlake sings this song with such passion and gusto that you feel his intention. Cry Me a River is a great song to dedicate to someone who has hurt you in the past. Burn that bridge, or not; it’s up to you.
5. No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
How many good things can we actually say about a song? Or a musician for that matter? Bob Marley gave us so many wonderful songs to enjoy, and we’re glad he gave us one about crying too. No Woman, No Cry is a treasure. It’s a song about remembering. It’s a song about knowing that everything will definitely be alright. The Fugees remixed the song in 1996. It was good, but it wasn’t great. The original was a masterpiece of anthemic proportions. It’s one unforgettable song.
6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles
Performed by The Beatles, this song was actually written by George Harrison. He wrote the song about his time in India, where he and his bandmates had been studying meditation. The original track of this song actually only feature Harrison on vocals and acoustic guitar and McCartney on harmonium. This was Harrison’s original intention for the song, but While My Guitar Gently Weeps will undergo several changes until it became the track that most people are familiar with. Interestingly, Eric Clapton actually played lead guitar on the track though not credited. Clapton and Harrison were good friends.
7. Let Her Cry – Hootie & the Blowfish
Let Her Cry is probably Hootie & the Blowfish’s best song. The lyrical work here is also the band’s best. The song talks about a person who’s in love with a woman struggling with addiction. It’s an intimate song that many people can relate to. It’s a song about learning to let go, a truly difficult thing to do in life.
8. Teardrops on My Guitar – Taylor Swift
This song was the beginning of it all for one Taylor Swift. Swift wrote Teardrops on My Guitar about an unrequited high school crush, Drew Hardwick, and the pain she felt about it all. Who would’ve thought that over a decade later Swift would capitalize on the same formula and make a fortune for herself? Although Teardrops on My Guitar doesn’t even sound remotely close to any of the music Swift makes now, it’s still one of her best.
9. Emotion – Bee Gees
We’re talking about the original Emotion song by the Bee Gees, but we should mention that the Destiny’s Child version is just as great. Emotion is another classic that was bound to be remade by other musicians because of how great it is. Known for their hypnotizing harmonies, the Bee Gees does magic in this song. We hear them sing cliché after cliché here—cry me a river, tears on my pillow, etcetera. But there are lines that have become heartache cliches because of the song. Just the chorus alone is genius: “In the words of a broken heart/it’s just emotion that’s taken me over/tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul.”
10. When Doves Cry – Prince
Prince created a revolution with his music. When Doves Cry was such a revelation. It showed us ultimately what kind of artist Prince was. This song was the first single from the Purple Rain soundtrack, which won Prince an Oscar for Best Original Score. The same song won an AMA for Favorite Soul/R&B Single. If that doesn’t tell you how great this song is, nothing wil.
11. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina – Madonna
When Madonna was cast to play the coveted role of Evita Perón in the 1996 film, Evita, many people were skeptical and downright dismissive. Madonna would go on to prove everyone wrong. Although the soundtrack would only be nominated for awards, Madonna would actually go on to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical for her role.
12. Cry – Mandy Moore
These days, Mandy Moore is more an actress than a singer, and we believe it all started when she played the role of Jamie Sullivan in Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. Jamie was a singer in that film, so naturally we got some good Mandy Moore songs from the soundtrack. One of those songs is Cry, a beautiful ballad about memories and about the meaning of tears in the context of love. Cry exhibits Moore’s vocal capabilities so effortlessly; it’s one of her best songs.
13. It’s My Party – Lesley Gore
It may be the stubbornness or the relatability of it all, but Lesley Gore’s It’s My Party is the song that we all can use. Sometimes it’s absolutely okay to make it all about you and whatever you want to do, especially if it’s your party. The song itself is about infidelity, but most people actually don’t get to remember those parts of the song. The only part that really sticks to our heads is the chorus: “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to/cry if I want to/cry if I want to/You would cry too if it happened to you.”
14. One Last Cry – Brian McKnight
One Last Cry is 90s R&B at its finest. Who could ever forget the smooth and incredible vocal stylistics of Brian McKnight? Who didn’t cry to this song after a broken heart? Enough questions here. Let’s just remember how great McKnight was and his songwriting and delivery. If you’re old enough, you can reminisce all your 90s heartaches while listening to this song. Give it one last cry and then move on.
15. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me – Culture Club
The 80s is such a unique era in every way, and the Culture Club is very much a big part of why and how. There’s no one else like Boy George, and the music his band created were as unique as they were. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me has become a cult classic. Even those who know nothing about the Culture Club will know at least some parts to the song.
16. Don’t Cry Out Loud – Melissa Manchester
This list wouldn’t be complete without a 70s power ballad. Released in 1978, Don’t Cry Out Loud needs a remake today. It’s a brutally honest song with a gorgeous melody. Manchester sings, “Don’t cry out loud/just keep it inside/and learn how to hide your feelings.” How many of us do this on a daily basis? There’s an anthem to your pain, and it’s this song.
17. When She Cries – Restless Heart
80s country group Restless Heart may have been forgotten by many, but their song When She Cries, is much remembered today. Although it isn’t the type of country music that Nashville is known for today, there was a time when Restless Heart and their songs were the standards. When She Cries is a gentle song about love and caring. It’s a song about love even in the most trying of times. The message of the song is so simple and the melody so well done; there’s absolutely nothing but perfection in this song.
18. I Don’t Wanna Cry – Mariah Carey
Reminiscent of the 90s Mariah Carey, I Don’t Wanna Cry is a power ballad that showcased her incomparable talent. Many of us miss the Mariah Carey from back then, but we’re glad we have songs such as this to look back to. This song is about love, loss, and letting go. It’s the age-old story of how love works most of the time. If we’re lucky, something sticks along the way. But there are times when the hurt is so relentless that all you can do is say that you don’t want to cry anymore. What a perfect song for heartbreak, this one is.
19. I Started a Joke – Bee Gees
Is it really surprising that there’s another Bee Gees song on this list? Absolutely not. The Bee Gees is known for their songs on love and pain; I Started a Joke is just one of those. Many people have wondered what this song was based on, but it’s really a general take on taking things too far. The joke was made and it hurt everyone. But the joke comes back around at times, and that’s when it really hurts. This song is simply a work of lyrical genius.
20. Big Girls Don’t Cry – Fergie
Fergie’s gotten a lot of bad talk about her songs and live performing ability throughout her career. However there’s one thing that we know Fergie did right for sure, and that’s this song, Big Girls Don’t Cry. Released amidst a slur of pop and R&B ballads in the mid 2000s, this song managed to stand out because of its catchy melody and Fergie’s good vocal work. It’s a good song about finding and fixing yourself first before being with someone else. There are times when we have to put our big pants on and just blink the tears back. Big kids don’t cry; they just get it done.