You know what song I hate? "You Are My Sunshine."
OK, fine I don't hate it, but I physically cannot make it through that song without crying, thus rendering me a little bit afraid of it's power. It's like a mule-kick to the chest. You know how some people say there's a sonic level that, when you hear it, you'll uncontrollably crap your pants? Well, "You Are My Sunshine" makes me emotionally crap my pants.
And like most emotionally treacherous things in my life, I blame my mom for this. (I'm not hating on my mom, she is just the source of most of the things that make me show feelings in public. This is actually a good thing.)
I couldn't have been more than around five years old, when my mom explained death to me. We had just watched a movie, which one I don't remember, all I know is that one of the characters died.
I then proceeded to ask my mom one of those questions that I'm sure all parents dread, "Mom, am I going to die one day?"
My mom, not one to sugarcoat anything, simply answered, "Yes. We are all going to die, darling, but it's nothing to be afraid of."
I started to cry. It was that bittersweet moment in which I understood my own mortality, and even worse my mom and dad's.
When I sobbed that I didn't want to ever be alone, and that I was scared, my mom, in a moment of uncharacteristic quiet tenderness said to me, "Darling, you'll never be alone, just because you can't see someone you love, doesn't mean they're not with you. We all have to die, but we don't all have to go away."
And this is now officially the weepiest post I've ever written.
Then, to cement a Pavlovian response, and permanently ruin me at weddings, children's parties, and when watching "Sharon, Lois and Bram's Elephant Show," she sang, "You Are My Sunshine" to me.
This is the part that gets me:
The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
And when I woke dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried
No matter where I am, no matter how upbeat the singer makes the song, I get to that verse and all can think about is all the people I love most in the world being ripped away from me, never to be seen (except in my dreams) again.
And yes, I know there's a more "bitter" version of the lyrics to this song, specifically the second verse (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, "if you leave me to love another," etc.), but I didn't know that fun fact until the damage was already done, so it's like a different song to me.
I don't know if some chemical reaction happened in my brain 20-something years ago that made me exceptionally sensitive to music, but nothing reduces me to tears faster than a good ol' "time is fleeting, hold on to the ones you love" type song.
I've cried in the car, in dance classes, in restaurants, in doctor's waiting rooms, at high school dances, in department stores -- if they play maudlin music there, I've cried there.
Over the years I've collected a sort of "no fly zone" of songs that, unless I'm in the mood for a gooey, satisfying, cry, I turn off or plug my ears against as soon as I catch the first few notes.
Here they are in no particular order of torture. I don't really claim to know the deeper meaning to most of these songs, I just know they render me useless. I dare you to listen to them and not get a little misty-eyed.
Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell
"Both Sides Now" has found it's way into my life several times when I'm at a crossroads. Growing up, moving on, both the end and beginning of relationships. It's one of those "grabbing at sand" songs, as my best friend and I say, that makes you want to hold onto all the good and the bad in your life, as tightly as you possibly can.
Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost but something's gained
In living every day
I've looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I Will, Paul McCartney
"I Will" was my husband's and my first dance song at our wedding. We've never really had "our song," but when the DJ played this song and we started awkwardly swaying to the music, my Grinch heart grew three sizes and shit got REAL.
I won't go into all the schmaltzy details, but when we first said our "I love you's" a thousand years ago, he unintentionally paraphrased the below lyrics. So in my head it became "our song." And then there was all this stuff about how he was a little lady bug waiting on a leaf for little lady bug- Louise to fly home to him one day…
Commence vomiting now.
Who knows how long I've loved you?
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will
For if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same
House at Pooh Corner, Kenny Loggins
When I left St. Louis for Big Scary Los Angeles, somehow this song came on when I was saying goodbye to some friends. I sobbed uncontrollably, and continued to cry intermittently for almost three days. There were some bees buzzing around my moving truck, and I was reduced to a snot-bubbly mess. To me, it's the ultimate "leaving childish things behind" song. We grow up many times throughout our lives, but sometimes I hear "House at Pooh Corner" and I mourn the passing of all that innocence.
Christopher Robin and I walked along
Under branches lit up by the moon
Posing our questions to Owl and Eeyore
As our days disappeared all too soon
But I've wandered much further today than I should
And I can't seem to find my way back to the wood
So there's my soft, mushy underbelly. I wrote this post in an outdoor seating area, outside one of my favorite hole-in-the wall Korean restaurants. As I sniffled and coughed through the writing of this, the tough looking construction worker-local guy at the next table tossed me a sympathetic "It's gonna be okay" look a few times over his kimchi fried rice.
I bet he's a "House at Pooh Corner" kind of guy.
What songs make you unapologetically teary?