David Byrne has been sharing themed monthly playlists for a while now (previous editions include Indie Pop, Unexpected Covers, and I Am My Own Alogirthm), and for September, he's shared some favorite songs that make him cry. He writes:
No surprise, a fair number of country and alt country songs here. But there are also some heartbreaking soul songs, some contemporary RnB, dance pop and some contemporary singer songwriters. Obviously, to have this effect on us, the song and delivery have to connect to us in ways we can relate to- a tragic accident is not affecting, but a tragic accident that happens as a vet is driving to a reunion with his wife and child, now THAT’S heartbreaking. Dreams within reach, visible, graspable, but then dashed to a thousand pieces. A small business goes bankrupt, not so moving, but the owner being a refugee who overcame impossible odds to achieve this dream -- only to have it snatched away by a rapacious landlord... Now, we’re more engaged. Maybe it’s the specifics that pull us in?
Why do we like this? Why do we luxuriate in sadness and heartbreak? I’ll bet there are way more tragic and melancholy songs than happy ones. Does it somehow paradoxically make us feel better to connect and feel the ache?