Playlist of the Month: Soundtrack to my Tears

It’s been an (ironically) fun week for us, talking about crying and feels and emotions, and where and when and what makes us break down. On the final day of A Cry For Help Week, we’re sharing some of the songs that are trigger tracks, if you will. The songs that either will make us cry when we hear them or if we’re in dire need to let it out, we listen to these tunes to set off a flood of tears. I think everyone needs a go-to list of these kinds of songs, so hopefully this will help you if you don’t have one already! And if you do have these songs in your arsenal, feel free to share your own Soundtrack To Your Tears.

Listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

 Ben Harper – Walk Away

This is the rare breakup song that works if you are the dumper or the dumpee – either you have to walk away because you’re the one calling it quits, or because eventually you have to move on. Either way, now you’re crying while listening to Ben Harper.

Elliott Smith – Between The Bars

You can’t have a crying soundtrack without a little Elliott Smith.  Even happy-ish Smith songs can make me weepy (see, e.g, Say Yes). Between The Bars is like a song from the ugly part of your brain – minus, for me at least, the parts about problem drinking. But the mean narrator in your head has probably said a thing or two about “the things you could do, you won’t but you might” and “the people you’ve been before that you don’t want around anymore.”

Crosby Stills Nash and Young – Our House

This is my wild card pick. Ever since I was a baby who wept every time I heard Hush, Little Baby, unlikely songs have made me cry. My mom thought I hated that lullaby because everything broke, but I could have cared less about the baby from the song and her conspicuous consumption. The melody was just a real downer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve also found Our House to be a bummer. Part is the melody, and part of it is that I was a kid with a really vivid imagination and I’d always picture a young, happy couple from the 1970s hanging up their macrame and tapestries, and I’d know that by now those days are long gone.

Lisa Hannigan – Lille

If you couldn’t tell from Our House, one of the most tear-inducing feelings for me is thinking about how quickly young people become old people and how in the end it’s all just sort of … okay. It’s a happy-sad feeling, like looking at your grandparents’ wedding pictures.

Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland 1945

This song neatly summarizes my theme of “when people live then die then become part of the past, it’s beautiful yet sad.” I mean, it’s from Neutral Milk Hotel’s Anne Frank-themed album. Why do I do this to myself again?


Lua by Bright Eyes;  re: Stacks by Bon Iver; Casmir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens; Marshmallow Unicorn by Rachel Sermanni, … do you want me to keep going? Because I can keep going.

Traci’s Picks

The Last Five Years – The Next Ten Minutes

So, since we’re all friends here, I’m not ashamed to say that I lit’rally have a playlist on my iTunes called “Cry It Out”, featuring songs that I listen to when I want to cry. Pretty much the entire soundtrack to one of my favorite musicals, The Last Five Years, is on said playlist. If you’re not a theater nerd, The Last Five Years is a musical that was off-Broadway in 2002, and has since become a cult favorite. In fact it had an off-Broadway revival last year and next year, you will see me at the movie theater crying into a bucket of popcorn by myself because the movie adaptation, starring Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick, hits theaters. In short, The Last Five Years tells the story of Jamie and Cathy over the last five years (duh) of their relationship. Jamie tells the story of their love in chronological order (starting when the couple first meets), while Cathy tells it in reverse (starting when their marriage ends). There is one song in the show where their timelines intersect, which is their “wedding” song, and that is this one, titled The Next Ten Minutes. Since this is the only song where they’re on “the same page”, we get a rare glimpse of the romance between them, and it’s even more devastating knowing how it’s going to end.

Once the Musical – Leave

I’m telling you right now, there’s one more song from a musical after this, so scroll if you must. I started listening to the Once soundtrack when the Broadway show was gaining popularity and winning awards and all that, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I actually saw the production for the first time. I laughed, I cried, I went another time and lather rinse repeat. This soundtrack is also on my Cry It Out playlist, and Leave is just one of the great tunes off the soundtrack. It’s the first the Guy sings in the show, and sets up a tale of unrequited love that shatters your heart to bits.

Rent – I’ll Cover You (Reprise)

(Last musical song, I promise) I feel like Rent is such a cliche show to say is your favorite, but it pretty much is. It’s the show I’ve seen live the most (like more than 8 times?), and that’s partly because I first saw a touring production of it while in high school, and it comes with sentimental memories for me. Anyways, at the climax of the show, *spoiler alert* Angel dies, and Collins mourns the loss of another AIDS stricken friend gone too soon. Jesse L. Martin does such a good job at expressing the anguish, pain and suffering through every single note in this song, and the fact that it’s a reprise of a song he sings with Angel in the first act, digs that knife in even deeper.

Carrie Underwood – So Small

I mentioned earlier in the week that Carrie Underwood will make me cry no matter what. I think it started when she won American Idol and could barely get through the final song because of her tears of joy. From that moment, anytime I hear her live, it’s guaranteed I will at least tear up. I mean I even found myself crying when she sang her new song at the CMA Awards on Wednesday (to which I reminded myself to write about it for this post). So Small is just one of the tear-inducing tracks, and in the video above, she sings it with our fave the PS22 Chorus. With a kid chorus behind her, the song takes on a whole new level, and I think it’s exactly what Carrie wanted.

The Civil Wars – Poison & Wine

This makes me sad before even listening to it because I mean, RIP The Civil Wars. Joy and John Paul’s haunting harmonies were their signature sound, and it’s prominent in one of their most popular songs, Poison & Wine. Their music was unlike any other act today, and I’m not sure if I’m crying because of the song itself or knowing that we’ll never hear new music from them again.

Adele – I Can’t Make You Love Me / Make You Feel My Love

Of course Adele is on this list. Her music is a sure fire way to let it all go. When SNL does a sketch about how your music makes everyone cry, you know it’s true. And while it’s like Sophie’s Choice picking one Adele song that makes me cry, I decided to go with a song that basically makes me cry anytime I hear it, which is I Can’t Make You Love Me originally by Bonnie Raitt. So combine that track with Adele and you have emotion central.


Ugh so many songs, it was really hard to narrow down, but here are two that came real close to making the top 6!

Demi Lovato’s cover of Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love: Like all songs Demi sings, she puts so much power in it, but you can tell she’s signing this from personal experience, and I get the chills every time I listen to it.

Brett Dennen’s version of Hard Times (Come Again No More): This song came to my attention via Parenthood, so obviously it makes me cry.

Playlist of the Month: College Party Jams

When we think about March, we think about March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day, and spring break. And you know what all of those things have in common? College parties! Those days, there were certain songs that would come on at the bar or a party, and everyone would stop what they were doing and start singing and dancing. The kind of jams that made everyone say “that’s my jam!” Here are our top party jams from our college days:

And check out the whole playlist on Spotify!

Traci’s Picks

Sound of Settling – Death Cab for Cutie

I’d like to preface these song choices by saying I went to a liberal arts college. Like the kind of college where the Princeton Review ranks it in the top 5 for best theatre, most LGBT friendly, hipster types. Emphasis on the latter. Our school is notorious for the amount of hipsters and their love for indie bands. In saying this, my teenybopper self was influenced by my indie music-leaning friends. During my semester studying abroad in the Netherlands, a few of my pals were looking into traveling to Barcelona, Spain for a Death Cab concert. I admit I wasn’t really a fan of theirs, but I knew a few songs, and thought it would be cool to see an American band play in Europe. So we went, and it was awesome, and this song became one of our anthems throughout the semester.

La Vie Boheme – Rent

Again, we went to a theater school. Sophomore year, my friends and I went to see the Rent movie, and it was a big deal. Like everyone had an opinion on it. Needless to say, Rent is the Titanic of the theater world, as in everyone has seen it and/or knows the music. There were many a night when La Vie Boheme would come on and I wasn’t the only one who knew all the words.

Forgot About Dre – Dr. Dre and Eminem

Speaking of knowing all the words, I kill at this. Like, I will sing it at karaoke (as seen in a previous post). But my friends and I (specifically my friend Ryan) would each take a part and throw it down. How can you not get hype with the first few beats of this song?

Leavin’ – Jesse McCartney

Our school has a ‘study abroad’ program in Los Angeles, which two of my BFFs took part in. So spring break senior year, I visited them out here for the week, and this music video had just come out. We got so obsessed with it that we played it on repeat throughout the duration of my visit.


playing jmac in sync

Folgers Theme Song

Um this sounds like a really weird pick, but there was a period of time Sophomore year that we got hooked on this jingle and played it all the time. All. The. Time. Plus, it’s sung by Rockapella, the official a cappella group of the 90s.

Molly’s Picks

Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey

This is part of a larger category of classic rock anthems that every generation of college kids seems to adopt. Other picks in this vein include Jesse’s Girl, Centerfold, Roxanne, Small Town, Paradise City, Can’t Fight This Feeling… if it was included on the As Sold On TV Cd “Monster Ballads” in the 90s, or was by a one-word 70s/80s band like Journey or Foreigner, you played it, you loved it, and everyone, from freshmen to elderly townies, sang along.

All These Things I’ve Done – The Killers

I should probably clarify that I was in college from 2004 – 2008. Our college dance bar, which a friend-of-a-friend described as “going into a closet with 30 other people, turning the music way up, then shooting yourself in the foot” (read: it was awesome), used to play this towards the end of every night. I don’t know why. It was usually right before “These Are The Days” by Natalie Merchant, which two different sororities warred over as “their” theme song. I can’t explain what makes this such a great party song, but it’s really fun to sing and dance along to.

One More Time – Daft Punk

I need to blow my cover here. Before I was the well-educated and classy lady I am today (ha, just kidding…) I lived in a college party house. It probably deserves its own post. If nobody in our group of friends had announced a party for the night, then it was at our house. My roomies were four unusually funny and beautiful ladies who had a beer pong room, a bar that we built ourselves, and a pretty decent stereo. One More Time was almost always on our playlist, because it got everyone doing ridiculous dance moves that are named for household chores (mowing the lawn, putting away laundry, sweeping the floor…).

Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too – Say Anything

Our party mixes were a weird assortment of oldies/classic rock, current top 40 hits, filthy hip-hop, and whatever indie stuff we were into at the time. I was lucky to have friends who loved finding new bands and music, so there were always fresh additions to our playlists. My college crew was especially into any song that was horrifically dirty, particularly if you could illustrate it with disgusting interpretive dance moves. This one – and many others by Say Anything, like Every Man Has A Molly (which everyone always sang at me) and Alive With The Glory Of Love- fit the bill. I have fond memories of singing this really loud on our street on the way to the bar, with my sincerest apologies to the “real people” who lived next door to us.  The songs have nothing to do with each other, but on one of our mixes this was right before Jude Law And A Semester Abroad by Brand New, which was always fun to sing tauntingly to whomever had a significant other abroad that semester.

School Spirit – Kanye West

I needed just one song to illustrate my college-aged love for hip hop, and this was the most collegiate. Kanye factored heavily into our playlists and power hours, and I still feel like dancing when Gold Digger comes on. Another favorite was The Gray Album, a mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ white album.