Tear Jerker: The Beatles
Who'd know a band with so many Silly Love Songs knew how to make people cry? Some people have said that "they cried all the way to the bank", meaning that they made money from writing very sad songs. Celebrity Is Overrated indeed.
- "The Long and Winding Road" from Let It Be, for starters.
- Depending on your mood, "Across The Universe" from Let It Be also fits.
- "Eleanor Rigby" from Revolver is a hopeless song about someone who died as a lonely woman. It can especially affect those who also struggle with loneliness and having few (if any) friends. Also, part of what makes Eleanor Rigby so sad is the fact that the strings sound like they're sighing. Both Paul and the instruments sound angry and disgusted that we live in a world where this happens.
"All the lonely people
- Tear Jerking Fridge Brilliance. Eleanor Rigby "... was buried along with her name." Everyone forgot her. A possible exemption could be made for Father McKenzie.
- The chorus especially can do it:
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?"
- Even the version of "Eleanor Rigby" from the The Beatles Anthology, which is just the strings, will haunt you.
- For all the lonely people, at least Eleanor is worse off than you.
- "In My Life" is another one.
"All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all..."
- Then there is "Julia" from The White Album, which John Lennon wrote for his late mother. In the The Beatles Anthology version, he actually starts crying.
- "Here Comes the Sun" from Abbey Road is a particularly bittersweet song, especially when one considers how cheerful the song sounds. However, others may find that the song brings them Tears of Joy.
"Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun''
And I say it's all right..."
- "When I'm Sixty Four" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band may be another one, even if only because it plays over the ending credits of The World According To Garp (which has its own entry in the film examples).
- Russell Brand's version of "When I'm Sixty Four", while considered Narm for some, is heartbreaking for others — because Russell was instructed to sing it as if the answer to "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?" was "No."
- "Hey, Jude" from Magical Mystery Tour — sad melody, and there are times when the lyrics don't quite make it better.
- Paul McCartney has also admitted that the song has Tear Jerker connotations for him based on his relationship with John Lennon. Not only did Lennon praise it as the finest song Paul ever wrote, but when first playing the song to Lennon, McCartney was adamant that he'd remove the line "the movement you need is on your shoulder", convinced it was just a placeholder lyric; Lennon, however, believed that it was the finest lyric in the song and insisted McCartney leave it alone. Since Lennon's death, McCartney admits that he finds it hard to think of that line without choking up a bit.
- According to all four, this song was the absolute peak of the relationship between them all. After "Hey Jude", the group started splintering.
- Also doubles as a slightly heartwarming moment, as Paul wrote it for Julian Lennon after John and his first wife divorced and John was being a bit of an absent dad.
- "Let It Be" from Let It Be, period. Even large, shaven, tattooed men have broken down into Manly Tears hearing this song.
Pollack: ...I think that one is intruigued and also challenged by an ambiguous duality in the message:Petition: May something I want to happen but which might not be forthcoming be allowed to become an actuality.Acceptance: With complete faith and patience in the inevitability of the outcome that is not the one I may "want," I wistfully let go of any desire for that different eventuality, and ask that whatever is decreed by fate to be may happen with all good speed.Our human foible here is to be trapped into the unquestioned assumption that the two prayers above are automatically in opposition to each other. Indeed, the truly sublime appeal of "Let It Be" as well as LVB's Opus 135 is in the extent to which each encourages us toward a vivid foretaste of that blessed state in which both desires converge and become one and the same.
- The version from Across the Universe — done by a single a cappella boy, a gospel choir, and then played over the image of a young soldier's funeral — can be very heart-wrenching. Played over the funerals of the soldier and the boy (the latter of which died in a city riot).
- Try watching this Grave of the Fireflies AMV that uses the song.
- Musicologist Alan W Pollack says it best:
- Across the Universe's rendition of "Happiness is a Warm Gun" can make certain people feel lonely (and even lachrymose).
- Likewise, the film's cover of "Across the Universe" is exceptionally melancholy and depressing.
- "A Day in the Life" is another one. Try to ignore the Lyrical Dissonance and notice how depressing the words actually are. Except for Paul's cheery part, which may be why Paul has been omitting the final verse when he covers this song...
- George Martin had cried when presenting the song in the The Beatles Anthology documentary.
- The most depressing version of the song might be Jeff Beck's instrumental version from George Martin's "In My Life" album — the sad, melancholy beauty of the song is amplified to the point where it's almost tangible.
- "She's Leaving Home" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, an oddity as Beatles songs went (considering their "mischievous kid" personas). Lines from that song, like "We gave her most of our lives... we struggled hard all those years to get by" can be especially heartbreaking. Also, the lines "We never thought of ourselves...Never a thought for ourselves..We didn't know it was wrong..." — showing parents who only meant well, but only drove their daughter away in throwing money at her, and must now go on without her. It can really wrench one's gut. The beautiful strings and vocals can also do it. And the way it ends hits every tender nerve as it fades out.
"She's leaving home...bye bye..."
- Two from Paul on Revolver (besides the aforementioned "Eleanor Rigby"):
- "Here, There and Everywhere", more for the simple vocals by Paul than for the lyrics.
- "For No One", meanwhile, has some of the most depressing lyrics on the album.
"And in her eyes you see nothing
No sign of love behind the tears... cried for no one
A love that should have lasted years."
- "All You Need Is Love" from Magical Mystery Tour. Really. It can be Tears of Joy or sad tears, depending on what your romance life is like.
- When someone (it sounds like John) starts screaming "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah" in the background, it shows how far the band had truly progressed within a few short years — and a fitting tribute to their Mop-Topped selves.
- "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from The White Album can also do it.
"With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
No one alerted you..."
"I look from the wings at the play you are staging
- The acoustic version with string accompaniment in Love too. The strings on the Love version are so breathtakingly, achingly beautiful it's almost too much to take. Then there is that additional verse...
While my guitar gently weeps
As I'm sitting here doing nothing but aging
Still my guitar gently weeps."
- "Blackbird" is another song that can bring on the tears. It was written about the struggle over civil rights in the States. The bird is a "black woman living in Little Rock."
Paul McCartney: Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: 'Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.'"
- "Real Love" from The Beatles Anthology is probably the finest song John had ever written — and the song seems that much more heart-wrenching, when put into the context of his tumultuous life. The Video is also sad in context.
- Everything about "Free as a Bird" from The Beatles Anthology. Everything. John's lyrics are tragic considering he died during the happiest time of his life. Paul's and George's are depressing because they sound like they wish it hadn't ended the way it did. The Wikipedia page has hundreds of depressing stories that can make you cry (which isn't a sentence you expect to say all that often). Then there's the fact that it sounds like John is singing from beyond the grave. Hell, the music video can make you cry — and all it is is hundreds of Beatles shoutouts. (The latter also goes for the Anthology version of "Real Love".)
- "I'm Looking Through You" from Rubber Soul can make one feel sad. It sounds like a fairly cheery song, but the line "love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight" can make one think about the fragility of love. Although, it's actually an angry Breakup Song dedicated to Jane Asher, Paul's then-girlfriend. The line is more of a stealth threat that he'll leave if she doesn't treat him kinder.
- It's hard to listen to "Two of Us" from Let It Be while you're consciously aware that it comes from their final album. "You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead..." And the fact that it's sung by John and Paul at a point when their relationship was collapsing and both were going their separate ways with Yoko and Linda... when you look at the song as a tribute to their friendship, it becomes even more heartbreaking.
- "I Will" gains a level of sadness when you listen closely to the lyrics and realize it's a song of undying love to a woman that "the singer has never met — and maybe never will." "Will I wait a lonely lifetime?/If you want me to, I will..."
- "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" from Help! is about a gay man being made fun of for his sexuality.
- Not made better by the fact that Brian Epstein was gay and the song was written in a time where people were considered swine for being gay.
- There's something also oddly tearjerking about Lennon's mistake, where he sings "feeling two foot small" instead of "tall". Mostly because "small" has more impact than what the line was supposed to be.
- "Something" from Abbey Road may also count. Frank Sinatra actually called it the best love song Lennon or McCartney wrote, but it's George Harrison's song about his then wife Patti Boyd - who would later go on to divorce him for Harrison's best friend Eric Clapton, who also wrote a song ("Layla") about her. George wasn't exactly cool with it... in fact, he did a cover of "Bye Bye Love" with altered lyrics relating to the situation. The original. His version. He did get over it though.
- "Because" from Abbey Road. Not a particularly sad song in of itself, but the beautiful vocal harmony is tearjerking.
- "Strawberry Fields Forever" from Magical Mystery Tour is a very sad, poignant piece of poetry — and, not to mention, a very personal song for John. The loneliness that comes through can make ones heart ache for him.
- "Yesterday" from Help! can feel like a saddening song.
"Why she had to go, I don't know,
she wouldn't say.
I said something wrong,
now I long for yesterday."
- "You Never Give Me Your Money" from Abbey Road. As a song by itself, it evokes a general sense of wasted life; as part of the Abbey Road medley... brilliant. "One sweet dream came true today..."
- The closing medley of Abbey Road: "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight", and "The End". All three songs defining the end of the band:
You're gonna carry that weight... carry that weight a long time...
- "Golden Slumbers" gives us the lyric "Once there was a way to get back homeward", the most obvious interpretation being that while there was a way back once, that way is now closed off forever, and there is no going back to how things were.
- "Carry That Weight" (the chorus of which is sung by all four Beatles in unison) is viewed as a reminder to the band that the weight of being a Beatle will be with them all their lives...
And in the end
- "The End": Notable in having Ringo's only drum solo with the Beatles, and indeed each portion of the song allowing each Beatle chiming in a solo each. Finally meshing together over a simple piano chord...
The Love you take
Is equal to the Love
- And then wait for the hidden song "Her Majesty", a sweet little ditty that provides the saddest kind of Mood Whiplash ever.
- "Good Night" from The White Album. Although the song itself is usually considered sappy and maudlin, after the emotional rollercoaster that is the entirety of The Beatles, climaxing with the... preceding song, it's just some sort of sweet, simplistic release, restoring your sanity when you need it most. In its own way, it's the perfect closer for the album.
- When Ringo whispers the final lines, it's both a Last Note Nightmare and a tear jerker as it sounds like he really means what he's singing. And there's just something painful about the words "everybody, everywhere... good night."
- The rehearsal recording on Anthology 3 is even more of a Tear Jerker, with Ringo singing against a simple piano backing. And according to the other Beatles, hearing John perform it on an acoustic guitar the way he'd sing Julian to sleep was even more so, but he refused to be recorded singing it.
- George Harrison's solo piece "My Sweet Lord". The lyrics are depressing considering he has passed away, and the rest of the song is chanting "Hallelujah", tambourines, and an acoustic guitar.
I really wanna know you,
really wanna be with you,
- "The Fool on the Hill" from Magical Mystery Tour is extremely sad, both lyrically and musically.
- The Concert for George, all of it. Especially tearjerking since it has Paul and Ringo playing together like the old days in George's remembrance.
- Ringo's last visit to George. George was incredibly sick at the time and could only lie down. Ringo was visiting him and was trying to explain that he couldn't stay because his daughter had a brain tumor and he needed to be with her in Boston. Supposedly, George's last words to Ringo were: "Do you want me to come with you?"
- The other members of The Beatles were very upset when John Lennon passed away in December 8th, 1980 because he was killed by Marc David Chapman. George Harrison was very upset that he had to cancel his recording session.
- At the time, Yoko Ono wrote a tribute song for John Lennon called Goodbye Sadness.
- In January 1994, Paul McCartney was given two tape cassettes by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono that included home recordings of songs Lennon never completed or released commercially. One tape included the songs “Grow Old With Me” and “Now and Then”.
- Both songs can be tearjerkers within themselves, but what makes it worse is that, on said tape, the words "for Paul" had been scrawled hastily in John’s handwriting.