Like a lot of people, I love music. I enjoy all kinds of music, but I always pay special attention to the words. It’s the writer in me.Some songs even make me cry. Not just on certain occasions, but almost every time I listen. I think the songs that are most special are the ones that can get to a personal place in your soul. Everyone has a song or two that does this, and here are a few of mine. (I’ll be adding to this list from time to time.)
All of Me
I first heard this on the 2014 Grammy’s and instantly started crying at the beautiful, beautiful words. They represented love. Truly. The kind where someone loves everything about you, even the things you don’t particularly love so much about yourself. The line “your perfect imperfections” really sums up love, the kind that you commit to and can’t always explain.
My hubby and I started both cried at this song. I wasn’t sure if he cried because he saw how much it moved me, or he just liked it all on his own. But wow – what a song. Combine the words with John Legend’s amazing voice and music and you have a song that makes you believe in love so strongly that you’ll cry happy tears at having found it.
Happy, happy tears with this one. The last line is like a prayer to me, “Thank God… redeemed.” I’ve always been a fan of Mike Weaver’s voice, but it really all comes together in this one, the sentiment, the reverence, the spirit…. it moves my soul.
There are a lot of versions of this song, but the one version that gets me is the Jeff Buckley version (below). There is a lot of debate about this song. Especially about the meaning of the lyrics, which have been changed from the original Leonard Cohen version.
People say Jeff Buckley’s performance is more sexual in nature, when the original intent of the song was meant to be more spiritual. I think one reason this song does evoke such strong emotions in people is its a little of both. It’s beautiful and haunting and speaks to the very best and worst of the human soul. I personally lean toward the spiritual side when I hear it.
The lyric that especially gets me is, “It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.” This, to me, sums up how the Christian life is sometimes. God never said it would be perfect here on earth, and yet in our imperfection we are still beautiful in His eyes. As we go through life and deal with hardships and bad things, can we come out the other side victorious? I say, yes. But chances are we are tired after this long journey, we have dealt with more than we should have and our response might very well not be a hearty “hallelujah” but a “cold and broken” one. A hallelujah that surrenders to God and expresses its thankfulness.
Somebody to Love
You may think it’s odd that a song by Queen would make me cry, but there’s some background on it. First of all, it was written as a type of prayer. When you know that, you begin to hear this song very differently from a “pop” tune. Again, the words have a lot of meaning for me with this one. I spent a lot of years working long (long, long) hours at jobs I always hated. I thought it’s what I was “supposed” to do, to get approval and be “a good girl.” As I grew up, I pushed away people who were genuinely nice to me. Instead, I sought out the ones who treated me poorly, and that included jobs and managers as much as it did relationships.
As a result, I was lonely. But I didn’t see the pattern I had created for myself, and it wasn’t until I stepped back enough to let God do His thing that I “got” it. Before I got it, though, I got up every day at the crack of dawn, and put work and other people before my health, my social life, my love life, and everything else. I frequently got down on my knees and would cry with confusion at the direction my life had taken. And while I wanted romantic love, what I really longed for was love and acceptance, the unconditional kind you feel when you finally surrender your life to God.
I’ve documented this many times, but just before my adoptive father died I was beginning to get it. After he died, I still put someone else before me because I thought it was the right thing to do, but I also made sure I moved forward with my own life. A first for me!
All this confusion and sadness is years behind me now. (I have to say that because every once in a while people think I’m sitting here crying and alone. So very not true!) The reason I still talk about all this is that there are people just like me out there who feel like I used to. I want to make sure they know there is a way out of it all and you can live a happy life going forward.
The reason “Somebody to Love” can make me cry now, is because I remember so clearly what used to be. Years before I even met my husband I got it and began to change my life for the positive. But I remember that raw feeling of confusion and hurt, so when I hear these words I can relate to them:
Each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you’re doing to me
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can’t get no relief, Lord!
Can anybody find me somebody to love?
I work hard every day of my life
I work till I ache my bones
At the end I take home my hard earned pay all on my own –
I get down on my knees
And I start to pray
Till the tears run down from my eyes
Lord – somebody – somebody
Can anybody find me – somebody to love?
I hadn’t thought about this song in a long time, and then when I was on my honeymoon, we went to see We Will Rock You. As they sang “Somebody to Love,” I started to choke up. Without having to explain myself, my husband leaned over and said, “I’m here.” It was like he knew what I’d been thinking just by looking at me, like he had felt that way too. I saw the transformation in my life and it brought me to (happy) tears.
“Question” by Old 97s is a happy song, but again, sometimes happiness can be so beautiful there is no way to embrace it all without crying. This song tells a sweet and lovely story, about someone asking a girl to marry him. It brings a smile and tear to me every time I hear it.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this one for me. I’ve talked about my childhood and some of the things my adoptive father did. The thing is, in an alcoholic family, every person plays a part. So it wasn’t just him. I focus on him because he is gone now, but the reality is that it was more than just him. To that end, there is a lyric or two that really touches me in this song:
Oh, you see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made
And there it is in a nutshell. The verbal abuse, the slaps across the face, and the fact that I had nowhere to turn as a girl can be wrapped up in a few simple lyrics. Add to that a haunting melody, and you’ve got a beautiful song that can reach into that hurt you packed away so long ago.
Sometimes songs can just reach you, and they can say it all with a few simple words and melodies. I think it’s a good thing, and if you cry, embrace it.
Susan Baganz says
Wow. I’ve never heard that version of Halleluiah. Liked the Question one- kind of quirky and sweet. Daughter’s tore me up though. My background may not be the same as yours but there are wounds there too and I fear for my own daughter as well. Beautiful, haunting song. Very insightful as well. Thanks for sharing!
That’s one thing about music (and poetry), no matter what your background, there are things we can all pull from it. I like to think that God reaches us in a million different ways and gets us to turn to him, even in different songs like these.