One of the “holy grails” of songwriting is writing songs that make people cry. Now, there are lots of ways to reach someone through music. You can make them dance, make them think, make them feel… In church music, you can bring the Spirit, too.
Bringing someone to tears, though is like ringing the bell. It breaks downs the walls. It’s visible, tangible evidence that you got through to them. People can dance to songs they don’t like. I know. I’ve done it. People will clap for songs they didn’t like. But I’ve never seen anyone cry for a song that didn’t touch them.
There are a lot of other people’s songs that have touched me that way. And as I get older and more sentimental, that list grows.
Lately, “Growing Young” by Greg Simpson has been getting to me.
“Everybody used to tell me big boys don’t cry
But I’ve been around enough to know that that was the lie
That held back the tears in the eyes of a thousand prodigal sons
But we are children no more, we have sinned and grown old
And our father still waits and he watches down the road
To see his crying children come running back to his arms
And be growing young…”
Not long after we lost our first pregnancy to a miscarriage (after trying to get pregnant for 8 years), Border Crossing put out a song called “She Walks With Candles” about the loss that is felt after losing a loved one to cancer. Now, our little child wasn’t a cancer loss, but the sentiments were the same. I had a hard time listening to that one all the way through for a long time.
Border Crossing’s actually done it a couple of times for me. The other one is “The Other Way Around”:
“There’s a girl in California
Who loves to walk the beach
Feel the wind in her hair
The sand beneath her feet
She smiles at the sun
Smell the salty air
But her eyes have never seen
What she knows is there
Sometimes seeing is believing
Sights we’ve already found
Sometimes seeing is believing
Sometimes it’s the other way around…”
While it’s one thing to cry for someone else’s song, and another thing to see someone cry at your song, it’s altogether something else, when one of your own songs makes you cry.
That’s happened to me a few times. There have been two songs that have been so cathartic and cleansing for me to write that after wrenching them out of me, I sat down and bawled. One of those was “Toy Soldiers”. It’s all about the loss of a friendship. When I wrote it, my friend and I had spoken only a few times in several years. We had both apologized for the rift, but it still hadn’t healed. Writing the song helped me to see what I’d really done wrong, and clean it out of me so that I could really ask forgiveness.
I almost didn’t want to record that one because I felt it was too personal. Not that I didn’t want to share it, but I just didn’t think anyone else would relate to it.
“We’ve made our peace but it’s still not the same, now
It seems we’ve lost the chance to compromise
The dice are still and the battle is over
But through it all I’ve come to realize that
I don’t like fighting in real life
I like Toy Soldiers with plastic guns
With painted on anger
And die-rolled explosions
That stop when the game is done
Toy Soldiers are much more fun”
Another one was a big surprise for me. Usually, one expects a tear-jerker song to be slow, soft and dripping with syrupy sentiment.
But one day I was listening to what would end up being the final mix of “Here in Me”. I was at that stage where I keep spinning it over and over, and each time gets a little louder. If you’ve heard it, you’ll know that it’s a driving rocker, that tells how I feel when the Spirit moves me to action.
Well, this particular day, it moved me again, and I sat there with the song blaring in my speakers, tears streaming down my face, my testimony strengthened, and my purpose renewed.
I’m curious, dear readers, to hear your stories of songs that have moved you to tears. What connected you with the song, what made you feel it so much? Post a comment…