- Pretty much the whole of Automatic for the People.
- There's "Everybody Hurts". Specially the video.
- And "Nightswimming".
- "Find the River" was so emotional that it (along with many of the other tracks on Automatic) sparked rumors that Michael Stipe was dying of AIDS.
- And "Sweetness Follows".
- And "Monty Got a Raw Deal," which is about actor Montgomery Clift, whose career was ruined because it was discovered that he was gay.
- And "Try Not To Breathe." It's about a man who subjects himself to a Mercy Kill rather than endure more suffering. This live version is gut-wrenching as well, with a desperate-looking Michael Stipe rocking back and forth over and over as he sings.
- It gets worse when you realize that his good friend Kurt Cobain, who shot himself after his drug addictions and agonizing spinal pain became too much, died listening to this album...
- "Drive" is about aging and losing touch.
- "Man on the Moon", which is about Andy Kaufman, can result in Tears of Joy.
- Green has some sad songs:
This is my mistake, let me make it good.I raised the wall,And I will be the one to knock it down.
- "The Wrong Child", a severely heartstring-tugging mandolin piece about a child disfigured by burns.
- "Orange Crush" is, according to Michael Stipe, the story of a high school football star who decides to go serve in Vietnam. The recurring line "I've had my fun but now it's time to serve" can be taken two ways: either he's acknowledging that he needs to serve as a way to pay off the carefree life he's led up to this point…or he's resigned himself to the fact that it's now his turn to experience combat…
- "World Leader Pretend" is about struggling with a self-imposed loneliness/isolation.
- "I'm Not Over You", a small song stuck at the end of "Diminished" on Up seems so tortured. Stipe plays the guitar and sings a few lines about a failed relationship. Something in his voice and that half-hearted guitar-playing...
- Possibly the Reality Subtext that this was their first album without Bill Berry as an active member.
- "Let Me In", which is dedicated to Kurt Cobain, is very sad. It can be even worse seeing it live, because the guitar for the song is the actual one Cobain used to own. Heartbreaking.
- There are no drums in the song until halfway through, and even then it's just a quiet tambourine shaking in the background. But the guitar part is huge and distorted and louder than everything else. Throughout most of the track, the numb-sounding Michael Stipe is utterly overpowered by the waves of feedback, creating a disconcerting and emotional effect.
- "Wendell Gee".
- An early song of theirs "So. Central Rain."
- "E-Bow The Letter", which is dedicated to River Phoenix, most certainly counts. Especially the live version featuring Thom Yorke.
- Out of Time gives us "Half a World Away", "Losing My Religion" and "Country Feedback".
- "Country Feedback" is so heartwrenching to Stipe himself that he often faces away from the audience when performing it live. Here it is, one of Stipe's greatest performances -- ever.
- "Welcome to the Occupation" is an extremely dark song. War Is Hell indeed!
- "We All Go Back to Where We Belong," the last R.E.M. song ever.
- "Imitation of Life" is about how Celebrity Is Overrated.
- "Don't Go Back to Rockville" in general, and the line "At nights I drink myself to sleep, and waking I don't care that you're not here with me" in particular.
Tear Jerker / R.E.M.
This alternative rock band has a few tear-triggering songs.