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Tear Jerker / Elton John

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Turn ‘em on, turn ‘em on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on
They reach into your room
Just feel their gentle touch
When all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much
—"Sad Songs (Say So Much)"

Nobody can ever accuse this singer/songwriter of only doing happy-go-lucky songs.

  • "Empty Garden", his tribute to the recently slain John Lennon. It's beyond words, mostly because his are so perfect.
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  • "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" is pretty powerfully Tear-jerking.
  • Other Elton John songs that can make the trick are "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and "Sacrifice".
  • Perhaps more so than "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" would be "Goodbye" from Madman Across the Water. That song's not even two minutes long and it can still be hard-hitting.
  • Then there is "Daniel", which becomes even more of a Tear Jerker when you learn its about Vietnam War veterans.
  • And then there's his version of "Circle of Life".
  • "Skyline Pigeon", about someone trapped in a broken marriage and longing to be free. The solo piano performance at the funeral for Ryan White is especially sad.
  • "Rocket Man" is definitely another one, especially when Fridge Logic sets in and you understand how lonely the man in the song would be.
  • "Candle in the Wind", both the original 1974 version dedicated to Marilyn Monroe and the 1997 version dedicated to Princess Diana, can really hit some people right in the heart. In the original, he states that he never knew Marilyn personally but still feels sympathy for her, while the later version was inspired by his friendship with Diana in real life. He sounds on the verge of tears on the last chorus in the later version, and he performed it at her funeral.
    • When performing the song at Diana's funeral, Elton needed to use a teleprompter for the lyrics; not only were his emotions still raw, but the lyric change was still new to him - he didn't trust himself to not shift back to the original version. He remarked later that if he had sung "Goodbye, Norma Jean" there, his career would be finished.
    • Tellingly, he's refused to ever perform the song ever again unless requested by the royal family.
    • As for the original, as poignant is the version recorded in 1987 for his Live in Australia live album. It introduced a new generation to the song, and the woman it honored. While the original never charted in America, the live version hit number 6.
  • Then there is "American Triangle", written to commemorate Matthew Shepherd.
  • The epic intro "Funeral for a Friend" could also be one.
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  • "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", especially when you know the story behind the lyrics. If it doesn't affect you then...
  • "Tiny Dancer" is a triumphant tear-jerker.
  • There are also "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", "I Feel Like a Bullet (in the Gun of Robert Ford)", "One More Arrow", "Song for Guy", "Ticking", and "The Greatest Discovery".
  • "The One" is of the "Tears of Joy" variety, and Elton himself says that when he first sang it in the wake of events in his life (among other things, sobering up) and his acceptance of who he really was, Taupin's lyrics really hit home.
  • "Harmony".
  • "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"
  • "The Last Song"., which was written with Ryan White in mind, and Taupin ended up giving the lyrics to Elton shortly after the death of Freddie Mercury. Elton said he had cried throughout writing the music for it.
  • Even "All the Girls Love Alice" is sad despite being an upbeat song.
  • This verse from "Levon" - because it conveys the feelings of one who wants to explore the world, escape their bubble, and yet they stay behind while everyone else goes on their merry way:
    Levon sells cartoon balloons in town
    His family business thrives
    Jesus, blows up balloons all day
    Sits on the porch swing watching them fly
    And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus
    Leave Levon far behind
    Take a balloon and go sailing
    While Levon, Levon slowly dies.
  • "Indian Sunset", which was sampled for "Ghetto Gospel" several decades later.
  • "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" and the accompanying video. The song is Elton looking back on his life and apologizing, because he never really knew love; he was just singing along to the words. And the video... That's a whole other Tear Jerker in itself.
  • Portions of Elton's Blue Moves album, once you understand the Reality Subtext behind it. note  "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", "Someone's Final Song", "Chameleon", "Cage the Songbird", "Between Seventeen and Twenty", "Tonight" — the album is full of Tear Jerkers.
  • "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" is wonderfully poignant.
  • "Carla/Etude/Fanfare/Chloe" from The Fox, certainly the "Chloe" part.
  • "Your Song." Word has it that he and Bernie Taupin challenged themselves to write a heart-wrenching love song without actually using the word love. And they succeeded.
  • "Nikita" was allegedly a revolutionary Tear Jerker during the Cold War; the music video, despite its quirkiness, is similarly heartbreaking.
  • "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" very likely already qualified as this for many people, but it acquired a whole new resonance when it was used for a scene in Almost Famous where Kate Hudson's character overdoses on quaaludes and champagne.
  • "Cold as Christmas (in the Middle of the Year)" can be this. There's just something about the lyrics and Elton's performance that screams 'tired and weary' in just the right way to get the waterworks started. A Break-Up Song par excellence.
  • His 2018 commercial for John Lewis, showing how his legendary career was started by his mother getting him a piano for Christmas, with a message that some gifts can have a bigger impact on the entire world than anyone could imagine. Made all the more meaningful by coming shortly after his retirement, giving the impression of him giving us one last message as a reflection on the meaning of his life and career.


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