A Playlist of Songs I've Cried to in Public
Art by Kirsten Hemrich
A few months ago, our very own Iris intern and my personal style icon, Laura Hinnenkamp, shared with us a number of places she has cried in public. I loved this piece, mostly because I had never felt comfortable letting people know I was very much a crier in public spaces. But f*** that because I am a huge crier. I used to never let myself cry, but after I sat and cried outside of Coupe’s last spring because I took three shots of Fireball in no less than 7 minutes and threw up in a bush, I realized that shame was absolutely out the door. I let myself cry anywhere now. So after reading about Laura’s own experiences, I was inspired to write my own piece about crying in public, but this time I wanted to set it to music. So I have curated a list of songs that have been my own soundtrack for crying in public, complete with the places and situations in which they were played.
by Manchester Orchestra
This song hits me hard. This is the song that I played when I realized that I had been rejected by someone who I thought was the best thing that could possibly happen to me, but who was a ham sandwich of a person when it came down to it. I thought I really liked this person. Maybe it was just lust, but nevertheless I felt something for him, and he just didn’t want me. Like he told me to my face, “I don’t want you,” and I was like ok, well, sister like wtf is wrong with me. I know I’m a good person with like a 9/10 personality. And people have told me I’m attractive, like cool people that a lot of other people like and respect their opinions. My mom once said I had really pretty natural features, so what else do you want from me? But no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can’t make other people like you the same way you like them. What makes this even worse is that this song came on while I was in the Dunkin Donuts drive through and the man working the window asked me if I was ok and I just had to be like “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just happy about my iced coffee.” He thought I was a freak then and there. But whatever. I kept crying.
Visions of Gideon
by Sufjan Stevens
Ok so have you ever seen anyone bawling at a Bank of America? Well, get ready because I have just walked into the room. Why am I crying? Oh I don’t know, because this song is absolutely beautiful, and I’m thinking about how my 18-year-old self deserved so much better than my stupid high school boyfriend. He was a TROLL, and not in the same way I’m a troll and cute, but like a troll who always made me feel bad about myself and one time told me that his mom thought I “wasn’t as pretty as his old girlfriend.” Hm, ok, that’s definitely what you are supposed to tell your girlfriend the week before prom. F*** off. Ugh, I want to take 18-year-old Maddie to Madewell and let her try on every pair of jeans and tell her she looks amazing in everything. And I want this song to play in the background and I want us to just both be sobbing.
by Rich the Kid
I know what you’re thinking. Damn, you’re really out here crying to a song like this? Yeah, yeah I am. And not only am I crying to this song, but I’m at Boylan crying to this song because once again I’m just way too drunk to function and I don’t know where anyone is, and on top of that I dropped my phone and it has SHATTERED for the third time this year so f*** you Apple.
By the Way
by Red Hot Chili Peppers
So this is yet another song that might have you thinking, ok, not really a tear jerker. But let me explain myself. This is the song I cried to in the CVS parking lot because I was 17, I had just had sex for like maybe the fourth time ever, and the boy had to run in and buy Plan B. What was I supposed to tell my mom? Did I even need to tell my mom? I wasn’t even sure what Plan B was made of. Could I go to cross country practice on Monday or was it going to leave me incapacitated for days? I didn’t really know, but I just knew I had to take it or I was going to have a weird surfer baby, and I didn’t want that for myself at 17. I just wanted to pass AP Calc. But instead I had unprotected sex. Idiot.
I’m Shipping Up to Boston
by Dropkick Murphys
Hm. Yes, interesting. I cried to this song because some woman in the Boston Logan airport had just yelled at me for being on my phone while she was trying to pass me in the terminal. I was just trying to text my aunt that I had arrived, and I was going to walk outside and wait for her. But this woman said, “Get the fuck off your phone and pay attention. I’ve got a kid that needs to pee behind you.” I couldn’t say anything because Boston scares me. Name a movie about Boston, besides Fever Pitch, that doesn’t scare you. The Departed: scared. Mystic River: scared. Good Will Hunting: not scared, but heartbroken. This wasn't the first time I cried in the Boston Logan airport, and it probably won’t be my last. I put this song on because it really just felt right, and truthfully it’s a bop.
by Florence and the Machine
I cried to this song in the lobby of a Century 16 theater after I watched Terms of Endearment by myself on a Wednesday. This theater used to show old movies on Wednesdays. I was a sophomore, I had four friends, they were all terrible, and none of them wanted to go see this movie with me. So I decided ok, well, I’ll drive myself (I had gotten my license only a month before) and go see this movie because I really don’t like my friends anyway. The movie is amazing, but it’s just incredibly sad. Like so sad you ugly cry in front of all eight other people in the theater. So I needed to take a minute after the movie, listen to my song, collect myself, and drive back home in my 1997 Dodge Intrepid.
Cheeseburger in Paradise
by Jimmy Buffett
LET ME EXPLAIN MYSELF BEFORE YOU ROAST ME YET AGAIN. This was the song that was playing at the end of my debutante presentation while I was in the bathroom with my head halfway down the toilet because I had several gin and tonics that evening and no food. I’m on the floor of the bathroom of the Corpus Christi Country Club in a wedding dress, wearing a chinstrap of mascara because I’m SOBBING. There’s vomit on my dress, and I’m not quite sure what the hell the dry cleaning bill is going to be. Instead of helping me out, rubbing my back, or letting me know that it was going to be fine, my sister is taking pictures of this. This banger comes on, and it is the only thing giving me comfort at rock bottom.
Sea of Love
by Cat Power
I cried to this song at an HEB, a grocery store chain in Texas, when I thought about coming back to UVA while I was home for winter break during my first year. I love this song a lot. I first heard it in the movie Juno, and I cried then, too. I was examining yogurts, this song came on my phone, and I cried. I cried in the dairy aisle of the HEB on Robert for 5 minutes straight. And my old math teacher, Mrs. Mader, saw me. I avoided eye contact with her so it was ok. I had a terrible first semester at this school, and I didn’t want to go back. Initially when I called my mom from my dorm room and asked her if I could transfer to a school closer to home, she replied, “Call me when you have a real problem,” and hung up on me. I wanted to stay in Texas where it was warm, where I knew people, and where I could shop at HEB. But I thought about how much I would hate myself if I gave up, if I didn’t give it at least one more semester and put myself out there. Embrace what made me uncomfortable and give UVA a real chance. So I stayed, and I’m glad I stayed because then I found Iris.
You are a Tourist
by Death Cab for Cutie
I saw this song performed live with a real orchestra, and I cried in the Moody Theater in Austin. I sound like a huge poser or whatever, like one of those characters from Portlandia who is just way too hipster for their own good. I’m aware of that, but it was a really moving experience. Like, I really felt the music there, and I think it’s special when you can feel music like that. I was truly present and in the moment, and I think about this a lot when I go to see live music. I saw another band in Austin, The Head and the Heart, and while I didn’t cry at this concert, it moved my heart. And I never feel my heart move, honestly. This experience of being in your own body and just being content with where you are there in space in time is incomparable to any other feeling. Nothing really mattered because Death Cab for Cutie was playing and I was 14 and it was one of the best things to happen to me in a really long time. So I cried.
Love Ain’t Enough
by The Barr Brothers
I cried to this song at the Art Museum of South Texas because I thought I loved someone and I was going to have to leave him. And in hindsight I don’t think I loved him at all. I think I just liked that he gave me a lot of attention and was tall. But that’s not really what love is about, as I’ve come to discover. Still, it was sad at the time and I cried about it. I thought that this was the most heartbroken I would ever be about someone. Like, was anyone ever going to let me hold their hand in public ever again, or was this it? How was I going to know I would ever feel something for someone else? And then my boss came over (I was interning there at the time), and asked me why my eyes were so puffy, and I told her I slept in my contacts. Ok, well, I don’t wear contacts and I never have, so then I cried even more because I had just lied to my boss. Overall it was a C+ of an afternoon.
by Sylvan Esso
This is a fresh cry. Oh, well, hello who is that young woman bawling in a gas station on the side of Highway 86 in North Carolina? Oh yeah, it’s me. I’m crying because I’m exhausted, my credit card has been declined, and all I want to do is buy a Red Bull and a moon pie. I’m also crying because I’ve just left my sister in Chapel Hill, and I have to go back to Charlottesville where my room is a disaster, and I have a midterm the next day that I haven’t studied for at all. So yeah, I’m going to fail college at this point, because one test worth 15% of my grade is certainly going to determine the fate of my entire undergraduate career. I’m f***ed, I have no Red Bull, and no moon pie.
So, there you go, just some songs I have found myself crying to in public. If you take anything from this piece, I hope it’s this: let yourself feel something, because feeling nothing is truly awful. And set it to music, too.