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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

We’ve probably all, for one reason or another, put in our earphones, crawled into bed, and had an extensive crying session. While it isn’t exactly an ideal position to be in, crying can help us process our emotions and express them in a healthy way. It can feel almost relieving to, after an intense and emotionally exhausting period of time, be in our own space and let it out with tears. If you’re like me, you might like to listen to music that you can relate to while you’re going through a difficult time. Here are five songs I like to listen to when I feel like I need a good cry.

  1. To Be Alone Alone With You by Sufjan Stevens (2004)

If you’ve listened to what many believe to be his greatest album, Carrie and Lowell, you know that Sufjan Stevens is a master at expressing melancholy and the ache of grief and loss. While I love the songs on Carrie and Lowell, there’s something about To Be Alone Alone With You  that casts me into ardor. The song’s message is one of great devotion and intimacy–some interpret it as Sufjan’s relationship with another man, others think it’s about his relationship with God. However you see it, I think the song is a beautiful testament to the lengths we go to for love. It doesn’t necessarily always make me sad, but it does always make me emotional.

  1. “Asleep” by The Smiths (1986)

Taking a page out of Charlie Kelmeckis’s book, “Asleep” is one of my favorite songs to turn to for comfort when I’m feeling alone in my sadness. While The Smiths have many other tear-jerkers in their discography, I chose “Asleep” for this list because I think it’s maybe their most relatable. When things feel so desolate and deserted that you feel like your only choice is to dream of somewhere better, The Smiths voice that exact thought to a haunting swing tempo. Somewhat like a lullaby and somewhat like a farewell, “Asleep” is a tried-and-true song that is strangely comforting— as difficult as things may seem right now for me, someone else has been through it before me. 

  1. Cellophane by FKA Twigs (2019)

“Cellophane” is one of those songs I almost can’t bear to listen to unless I’m in the right mood for it. Twigs’ wordplay (“Didn’t I do it for you? Why don’t I do it for you?”) is impressive and thought-provoking, especially with the lyrics seeming so simple on the surface. I think there’s a lot of ways to interpret this song, probably influenced by personal experiences — I always imagined it to be about a relationship you know is going under, a relationship you probably always knew was going to go under, and yet, there’s nothing you can do to save it. That feeling of helplessness is one of the most sickening, and “Cellophane” captures it perfectly.

It’s also important to note another factor that may have influenced this song — The racism FKA Twigs was facing in the media during her relationship with Robert Pattinson. Many of the lyrics allude to a feeling of being judged (“And I don’t want to have to share our love”), and I think it’s important to acknowledge the feelings the artist was experiencing while appreciating the song.

  1. “Sullen Girl” by Fiona Apple (1996)

“Sullen Girl” is just one of the excellent entries in Fiona Apple’s Tidal, so I’m recommending you listen to the entire album as well. Fiona Apple’s lyricism is so beautifully crafted, her voice so even-toned, and the instrumentals so quietly powerful. One lyric in particular sends me into a fervor: “They don’t know I used to sail the deep and tranquil sea/ But he washed me ashore/ And he took my pearl/ And left an empty shell of me.” On Tidal, this song is followed by “Shadowboxer,” which is pretty transparently about a breakup and the pains of trying to maintain any kind of relationship with your ex-lover. Because of that, I always assumed that “Sullen Girl” shared the same subject matter, but as I listen to it more I see it can mean many different things to whoever is listening to it. 

  1. Light and Day” by The Polyphonic Spree (2002)

We’ve explored a foray of very sad songs with very sad subject matters on this list, so this rather upbeat tune may seem like a bizarre entry. However, Light and Day” is probably the most effective song on this list when it comes to invoking powerful emotions in me. The message of hope and endurance has always resonated with me, along with the busy and joyous instrumentals. You may also be familiar with a version of this song from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which of course is a very emotional piece of art in its own right. While it may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tearjerkers, Light and Day” never fails to make me so overcome with emotion that the only way to express myself is through tears. If you listen to any of the songs on this list, I hope you choose this one, as it is the most hopeful and spirited of them all. 

“Just follow the seasons and find the time/Reach for the bright side!”
Whatever you’re experiencing, it can always be helpful to have a work of art or media in your life that you can relate to. Hopefully, these six songs can provide a bit of that relatability and comfort, and, if necessary, be there for you during a good cry.

UC Davis Sophomore passionate about wildlife conservation, social justice, and contributing to a kinder world.