Saturday 16th December 2017
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What song(s) always give you the chills?

I had so much fun working on my GOACA playlist that I’m about to start another, and today, when I was listening to the first and “The Only Living Boy In New York” came on, I was totally transported. I’m curious: what song or songs never fail to reduce you to a weepy mess?

Posted on October 13th, 2017 161 Comments

161 Responses

  1. c.c. says:

    Without fail, Last Kiss-cover version by Pearl Jam

  2. Hilary says:

    Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bleecker Street”. It was used to great and effect at the end of an episode of Mad Men and has given me feelings ever since.

  3. Lak says:

    Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” – so beautiful.

  4. Caroline says:

    It’s on your list:)
    Wise up.. Aimee Mann
    Gets me every time!

    Also at my moms Memorial service a couple years back,
    we had a singer sing “Bridge over troubled water” because she loved it.
    And everybody at the service, mostly over 70 or 80 years old sang along..
    Gets me even now as I’m writing this.
    Quite a moment.

  5. y.k. says:

    California Dreaming.

  6. Susanna says:

    “Naked as We Came,” Iron and Wine

    “Romulus” and “Casimir Pulaski Day,” Sufjan Stevens

    “Pale Green Things,” Mountain Goats

    “River” and “A Case of You,” Joni Mitchell

    Almost anything by Nick Drake, it’s too hard to choose…

    • Alexa says:

      “Casimir Pulaski Day” does it to me, too.
      And “Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      We have the same musical taste, Susanna. I was just thinking about Joni Mitchell this morning and realizing how torn-up I’ll be when she goes. “A Case of You,” “Blue,” “River,” …I’d forgotten about “Casimir Pulaski Day,” tears me up and reminds me of my 16-yr old niece who died of leukemia at home. Also, the song she chose for her funeral, “Lord of the Dance”(An old Shaker hymn sung to the tune of “Simple Gifts.”).
      And “Laundry Room,” by The Avett Bros.

    • Dawn says:

      Casimir Pulaski Day by Sufjan Stevens–just added to my playlist before my trip to Italy to visit my daughter. My mom passed while I was there and as we flew home I listened to this on repeat.

  7. Joan says:

    The Weight-The Band
    Sweet Baby James-JT
    You’ve Got A Friend-Carole King
    Sweet Jane-Lou Reed
    Heart of Gold-Neil Young

  8. Debra says:

    Corny, I suppose, but true: Desperado – The Eagles

    • DeDe says:

      Have you heard The Langley Schools Music Project ever?? It’s a recording of a public school choir (grades 1-6, I think) in the 70’s singing a variety of pop songs as part of some experimental music thing they were doing in that school district then. There’s a version of Desperado sung by a little girl on there that’s truly beautiful. Also, a full choral version of God Only Knows, which is another weeper for me, come to think of it (their version, not the original so much!) The entire thing is amazing – the album is called Innocence and Despair. I think it’s on YouTube.

      • Cory says:

        OMG I LOVE the Langley Project! Those recordings are amazing – I love that you know it!! A gymnasium full of Canadian kids with a four-track performing the hits of the day as taught by their enterprising substitute music teacher – brilliant. It really is the best version of Desperado, but I love the upbeat ones too – Help Me Rhonda and Saturday Night are pretty exciting. (Their spirit lives on in that great kids’ chorus from PS22 on Staten Island.)

    • KimFrance says:

      I’m with you on that one, Debra, corny or not.

  9. Sarah says:

    Stardust by Willie Nelson
    It’s a Hard Rain a-Gonna Fall by Leon Russell
    To Love Somebody by Karl Blau

    I guess I’m a sucker for cover songs that bring a whole new angle to the lyrics.

  10. Sarah says:

    Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley. Ugh, just thinking of it makes me get all the feels.

  11. Eloise says:

    “Mister Bojangles” made me sob when I was about 6 years old and I don’t think I’ve heard it without tearing up since. And Glen Phillips’ (Toad the Wet Sprocket) “Go” has me bawling every single time.

  12. Mary says:

    Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure. Reminds me of my great love David who couldn’t get off the junk so he ended it in the only way he knew how. Twenty yrs later I still miss him a bunch.

  13. Tammy says:

    “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley

    And along Eloise’s train of thought: I cried my eyes out at about age 6 or 7 when I heard “Yesterday Once More” by The Carpenters.

  14. DeDe says:

    There have to be more than just these two, but Nina Simone’s cover of Where Does the Time Go and Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors.

  15. Cola says:

    In This World by Sean Alan. It was used as the ending credits for an episode of Better Things – one of the most brilliant shows out there. The lyrics pretty much sum up everything about being a mother/ partner/ friend. Also, California Dreaming. Now and forever.

  16. susan piver says:

    “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke always causes me to burst into tears. It is magic.

  17. Diane says:

    Alone Again Naturally by Gilbert O’Sullivan
    This song is so sad and true I think that’s why it reduces me to tears every time.

    Song for You-Leon Russell
    A beautiful but sad love song

  18. Jill says:

    Field of Gold by Sting. There’s also a beautiful versio of it that came out around 9/11 but I can’t remember the name of the female artist that sang it.

    • Jana says:

      Eva Cassidy did a beautiful version of Fields of Gold–released in 1996 (I think?), the same year she died of melanoma at age 33.

    • Jenny says:

      Sting’s “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” always gets me. It’s a brutally honest depiction of divorce and how little a role he has in his kids’s life now.

  19. SC says:

    Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles

    When the Stars Go Blue – Ryan Adams

    Thirteen – Big Star

    Back To Black – Amy Winehouse

    Feeling Good – Nina Simone

  20. Mary Alice says:

    Redemption Song, Bob Marley

    How To Save a Life, The Fray

    Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Willie Nelson (I’m choking up even as I type this one)

  21. Michelle says:

    (Don’t You) Forget About Me, by Simple Minds. It’s so angsty and wonderful and reminds me how fleeting time is. *tears up*

  22. Frances says:

    Boulder to Birmingham – Emmy Lou Harris – brings me to tears every single time

    Blue Sky – Patty Griffin – gives me chills in a more uplifting way – it’s soaring!

    It doesn’t get me every time, but I have a vivid memory of being in high school, driving in my car, listening to Paul Simon’s The Obvious Child, and feeling chills and tears simultaneously. It was thrilling.

    Kim, if you haven’t listened to the Song Exploder podcast episode featuring St. Vincent talking about New York I think you would really enjoy it.

  23. moi says:

    “Lake Charles” by Lucinda Williams
    “Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey” by John Mayer

  24. Kate says:

    Zombies — This Will Be Our Year
    Sam Cooke — Change Is Gonna Come

    They’re hopeful but not naive. I listen to them when I need hope.

  25. kj says:

    Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt.”
    And “Watching the Wheels” by John Lennon.

  26. sarah d says:

    God Only Knows, covered by David Bowie.
    it was playing in my car when i drove up on a car wreck in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington. Traffic was slowed and there were people standing in the road, watching their car burn. Like something out of a movie.

  27. kates says:

    Maybe a bit of the cornball facto but especially in these times,
    Nanci Griffith- From a Distance gets me every time!

  28. Meg says:

    Elvis Presley Blues by Gillian Welch

  29. Elle says:

    Some of these are new to me – thank you!

  30. Andrea says:

    “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder

  31. ed says:

    Oh, the Langley School Project gets to me too.
    I also think the Beatles’ Blackbird is very moving.

  32. lydia says:

    running up that hill — kate bush, or preferably the chromatics cover. the line “there is thunder in our hearts” speaks to me in so many different ways

  33. jpete says:

    Lake Song (The Decemberists)
    Our House (CSNY)

  34. Jackie says:

    “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell. Especially the later version – her voice carrying the weight of all those years…

  35. Susanna says:

    Oh, and how could I have forgotten…”Landslide.” Stevie Nicks, now and forever.

  36. Joyce says:

    People Have the Power–Patti Smith

  37. Tammy says:

    Wild Is The Wind, the Bowie version (and of course the Nina Simone version, too). Always a sucker for sad love songs.

  38. Andrea says:

    Here Comes a Regular — the Replacements.
    Ship Without a Rudder — the Lemonheads.
    For Emily whenever I may find her — Simon and Garfunkle
    Because the Night — Patti Smith or Bruce Springsteen

  39. Francine says:

    There are so many I’ve not heard of, so thank you!

    Ok here’s my top 3.

    The Living Years, Mike & The Mechanics (if you’ve lost a dad, this hits hard)

    For the Good Times, Al Green (a killer after a breakup)

    I Shall Be Released, Nina Simone (need I say more?)

  40. Liz says:

    Cedar Lane by First Aid Kit and I’d Have to Be Crazy by Willie Nelson

  41. Kat says:

    Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” was playing when I realized that it was time to put my cat, Daisy, to sleep. She was curled up in my lap staring at me with those perfect eyes that still make me weep when I picture her.

    THEN, the Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was playing at the vet when the procedure happened. I was like, seriously world?????

    Both songs still reduce me to puddles after 10 years.

    • S. says:

      My after the vet, laying on the couch to cry and hurt, go to is Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. It’s not the lyrics — which are wonderful but don’t quite speak to this loss. It’s the feel of the whole thing. The love that loves to love to love…

  42. EW says:

    The Rose, Bette Midler….gets me every time

    I’ve always had a notion to specify it be sung by a full gospel choir at my funeral

    for motivation, The Wheel by Jerry Garcia…a little pep talk

  43. Francine says:

    GAH, I have three more!

    I cannot forget…

    – Got You Under My Skin, Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons
    – Layla, Unplugged version, Eric Clapton
    – I Will Survive, CAKE

  44. MAC says:

    Fast Car, Tracy Chapman.
    Anchorage, Michelle Shocked.
    Ho perso le parole, Ligabue.

  45. ceejay says:

    Awesome post. For me, Seasons of Love from Rent. Reminds me of all the sweet wonderful young men and women with AIDS who died way too young and tragically when I was a medical resident in San Francisco in the 90’s; so many deaths , so glad that is over.

  46. Tamara WINAWER says:

    Landslide (Stevie nicks)
    Thunder road (Bruce Springsteen)
    You can sleep while I drive (melissa ethridge)
    Fire and rain (James Taylor)
    Cats in the cradle (harry chapin) – can’t believe I’m the first to mention that one…

    Gotta stop or I’ll need 10 more comment boxes….

  47. Stacy says:

    Learning to Fly, Pink Floyd. It’s so damn emotional!

  48. shannon says:

    Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
    First Day of My Life- Bright Eyes
    Angie- Rolling Stones
    The Waiting – Tom Petty (sort of odd but “You’re the only one that’s ever known how to make me wanna live like I wanna live now” gets me every time.)

  49. Jill says:

    Radiohead – Black Star:

    “I keep falling over I keep passing out when I see a face like you”

  50. Sandra says:

    Everyday People, Sly and the Family Stone
    Side of the Road, Lucinda Williams
    Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel
    I’ll Be Seeing You, covered by Francoise Hardy and Iggy Pop

  51. Jennifer says:

    Sara Bareilles covering “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is gorgeous, haunting, and brings out every nuance of sadness in that song and I CAN’T GET ENOUGH!

  52. Marissa says:

    Strangers by the Kinks!

  53. Heather says:

    “The Ship Song,” by Nick Cave. Once it was playing while I was driving, and I had to pull over, I was sobbing so hard.

  54. Kristin says:

    This Woman’s Work- Kate Bush

  55. Cascadia says:

    The Band Played Waltzing Matilda- The Pogues. Maybe the saddest song ever.

    The River- Bruce Springsteen. I’m been huge fan of the Boss for decades, but didn’t think much of this song when I was young. I just needed to stop being so young. 🙂

  56. Christiana says:

    Really for “Girls of a Certain Age”: “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
    Also: “The River” and “Factory” and “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen
    Also: “Stay with Me Baby” by Lorraine Ellison
    Also: “Unforgettable Fire” and “Love Comes Tumbling” by U2

    • Dana D says:

      OMG…Christiana you nailed it!

      I was reading through this, thinking…I love so many of these, and then there are the ones I don’t know and want to play and then…

      I’ll add Springsteen’s “Walk Like a Man” and then quite a few from the other Bruce, Cockburn.

      And Patty Griffin does it to me, also. “Long Ride Home” and “Nobody’s Crying.”

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      “Killing Me Softly”…Roberta Flack.

  57. S. says:

    So many of the above, and more. But the most recent thing to cut right through me is Kate McKinnon singing Hallelujah on SNL on Nov. 12 last year. It was Hilary to us, all of us who loved her and whose souls were just so crushed right then. I still listen to it on particularly bad Trump days — makes me feel worse but also less alone.

  58. Julia G says:

    Hallelujah, as sung by Kate McKinnon. (Not kidding.)

  59. Julia G says:

    Ah! I didn’t realize that S., right above me, said the same! Well, I’m glad it’s not just me.

  60. I.M. says:

    There are 70’s singer/songwriters whose whole catalogue of songs can turn me into a weeping mess. (Since Tamara Winawer mentioned him – I’m looking at you Harry Chapin!)

    Here are some other songs that get me every time.

    Nat King Cole – Nature Boy
    Nada Surf – Always Love
    John Haitt – Have a Little Faith in Me
    Janis Ian – At Seventeen
    Tom Rush’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s Urge for Going
    Tom Waits – Soldier’s Things

  61. Danielle Sakundiak says:

    I Wanna Be Adored – Stone Roses

  62. Karin says:

    This Guy’s in Love With You by Burt Bacharach. The perfect combination of joy and heartbreak!

  63. Liz says:

    Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley

  64. Tess says:

    Tom Waits “Tom Traubert’s Blues”. You’ll never stop crying

  65. Sharon says:

    Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone, Bill Withers.

  66. Rebecca D. says:

    The Sundays’ Here’s Where the Story Ends. Makes my heart hurt in the best, nostalgic/painful way.

  67. Terre R. says:

    The Long and Winding Road- Beatles, Meeting Across the River- Bruce Springsteen, A Case of You- Joni Mitchell

  68. Anne L says:

    The one that kills me EVERY SINGLE TIME is Dar Williams’s “The Babysitter”

    • Frances says:

      Bless you for mentioning Dar! Lots of her songs get me, even silly ones like Teenagers Kick Our Butts – it makes me think of the wonderful kids I teach and my own two little ones, all of whom are or will be awesome, difficult, kick-butt teenagers.

  69. Julie Lee says:

    I just adopted a baby so This Will Be Our Year by the Zombies and I Must Be In A Good Place Now by Bobby Charles makes me cry instantly. Long December by Counting Crows and Harvest Moon by Neil Young give me the sentimental sobs.

  70. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    Shawn Colvin’s “Riding Shotgun Down the Avalanche”
    And on a positive note: “California Stars” by Wilco (lyrics written by Woody Guthrie)

  71. Donna says:

    Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain sung by Willie Nelson. Both bring to mind my daughter who died at age 10.

  72. Linden says:

    I love so many of these! And I’d like to add Wake Up, by Arcade Fire.

  73. c.w. says:

    There are so many good ones mentioned.

    I’d add Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need”

    And there are a million jazz songs that do me in––Etta James “At Last” always begins the list

    Patsy Cline..”Crazy” is always good when I’m feeling…crazy.

    Crosby, Still, Nash and Young can send me to a different planet. (I’m that old)

    “Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” EmmyLou Harris, Gillian Welsh, Allison Krause (these three ladies can knock my socks off)

  74. Susanna says:

    Kim, would you consider curating a GOACA playlist for us from these reader selections?

  75. Tracey says:

    So many good ones already, but these two get me…

    Stand By Me, Ben E. King
    Forever Young, by Bob Dylan

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      Oh! “Forever Young” by Dylan was the song my husband and daughter danced their Father/Daughter dance to at her wedding. I was crying.

  76. Laura says:

    This is an amazing thread; thank all of you. I’d have to say:

    Dar Williams’ We Learned the Sea and any of Bruce Cockburn’s live, acoustic versions of Lovers in a Dangerous Time. The original of that one is too driving-80s-pop to really transport or send one trembling, but oh, the acoustic versions …

  77. belle says:

    Aimee Mann wise up
    Genesis In the Air Tonight

    It’s weird but I don’t listen to music as much as I used to. Or maybe not in the same way as I used to.

  78. belle says:

    The Breeders cover of Happiness is a warm gun

  79. belle says:

    Antony and the Johnsons cover of Bey’s Crazy in Love

  80. belle says:

    Tortise and Will Oldham’s cover of Thunder Road
    Springsteen’s Thunder Road
    Coltrane Alabama

  81. belle says:

    Steppin’ out Joe Jackson-total 80’s nostalgia
    When the Sun Dies Betty Carter
    Angel from Montgomery, Bonnie Raitt
    Bob Dylan, Infidels Sweetheart like you. Hell, the WHOLE ALBUM(and I don’t care if you all don’t like it

    Damn, you got me going here.

  82. Jackie says:

    “The Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields, particularly the cover by Peter Gabriel. So achingly beautiful.

  83. y.k. says:

    i don’t know why i didn’t think of this at first.
    Michael Stipe sang Ashes to Ashes w/ Karen Elson @ a Bowie tribute. it’s incredibly moving.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      Because Gary Jules version of “Mad World” always makes me think it’s Michael Stipe! So sad.

  84. Cassandra says:

    Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver or anyone else. Immediate tears.

  85. Adrien says:

    Rock N Roll Suicide
    Life on Mars
    his cover of I Know It’s Going To Happen Some Day

    Tift Merritt: Hopes Too High, Broken
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Despair
    Aimee Mann: Wise Up, This Is How It Goes
    U2: Bad, Running to Stand Still
    Ryan Adams: Lucky Now
    Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: Falling Slowly
    Cowboy Junkies: A Horse in the Country

  86. Elisa says:

    Mother of Pearl by Rory Music

  87. Kathy says:

    For Baby, for Bobbie by John Denver
    Darcy Farrow by John Denver
    The first is joyous, the second is tragic. Both are capable of making tears squirt out of my eyes.
    Last Kiss by practically anybody–but lately Pearl Jam
    I first heard a version of it in the very late ’60s or early ’70s while riding with my Dad in our VW Bug. It was the first time I realized a song could tell a story.

  88. Gables girl says:

    Lana del Rey Once Upon a Dream. I have goosebumps thinking about it.

  89. Kelly says:

    More than This, Roxy Music
    Solisbury Hill, Peter Gabriel
    Straight into Darkness, Runnin’ Down a Dream, Breakdown, anything TP

  90. Darcy H says:

    Some that weren’t mentioned:

    Everyday Boy — Joan Armatrading
    Crying — kd lang (cover of Roy Orbison classic)
    Ghost in You — Psychedelic Furs
    Transatlantacism — Death Cab for Cutie
    Call the Days — Nadia Reid
    Under Pressure — Bowie/Mercury (Tears, tears, tears. Such vibrant artists!)
    Song for Zula — Phosphorescent
    Calling all Angels — Jane Siberry and kd lang (kd lang’s restraint is enough to make one weep.)

  91. christine says:

    Little Green, by Joni Mitchell.
    100 years, by Five for Fighting.
    If I’m feeling vulnerable, I have to shuffle past these if they come onto my Apple Music. 🙁

  92. Scoutito says:

    No Gordon Lightfoot?

  93. GT says:

    Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street”
    Clapton’s “Old Love”
    Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were Here”
    Bowie’s “Rock & Roll Suicide”

  94. GT says:

    And THIS cover of “This Guy’s in Love with You” by Sammy Davis, which is sexy, tough, brilliant, vulnerable…did I mention sexy??

  95. MP says:

    “Paddy’s Gone” – Antony & the Johnsons

    “Revelator” – Gillian Welch

    “Strange Fruit” – Nina Simone

  96. Rebecca says:

    Ditto on Song for Zula.. I find that many Nick Cave songs also do it for me. And “Night Windows” by the Weakerthans, a band from my home town…

  97. Terre R. says:

    One more, Back in the Highlife Again – Warren Zevon Version!

  98. Amanda says:

    Oh man, great question. I have too many!

    The Wind – Cat Stevens
    Something So Right – Paul Simon
    That’s Where It’s At – Sam Cooke
    Staralfur – Sigur Ros
    Day Dreaming – Aretha Franklin
    Amie – Pure Prairie League
    Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
    Rainbow Connection – Willie Nelson cover

  99. Tamara L. says:

    Forgiveness – Don Henley
    Hold On – WIlson Phillips
    Night Swimming – R.E.M.

  100. Maggie says:

    Just Breathe – Pearl Jam, playing on the drive home after saying goodbye to my dad.
    Army Dreamers – Kate Bush, puts me in memory of a classmate’s brother, killed in The Troubles. We all had crushes on that handsome, handsome boy.

  101. HOLLY says:

    late to this party, but: Pocahontas by Neil Young

    I will never tire of that song.

  102. E says:

    There are so many great songs here! Would add
    Common People -Pulp
    All the Umbrellas in London -Magnetic Fields