The Catharsis Game
Sometimes, there are days when all you need is a musical to lift your spirits, to put a spring in your step, to make you feel like the world can be yours in a New York minute. And other times, all you need is a good song to cry to. This list is about the latter.
Ever since I got my first mp3 player, I reveled in having songs upon songs to sing along to at any lonesome moment. Most of the time, I craved a supremo daydream. “The Wizard and I,” “If They Could See Me Now,” “It’s a Privilege to Pee,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” anything with a good belt and an even bigger personality. But there are other songs. The ones I reach for when the rain is a little heavy and the day drags on. They provide their own sort of respite and trigger just enough tears to make everything okay again. Here are some of my favorites for that purpose, and a few reasons behind why they tug at my heart strings.
1) Something Just Broke (Assassins)
There’s something in the chords of this song that immediately make it memorable. From the first time I heard the opening line, I was wrapped up in the storytelling and knew I didn’t want to be let go. Though the emotions being shared are a little less personal to me, by the end I am enveloped.
2) Another Life (The Bridges of Madison County)
I listen to this song any time I feel like life is moving a bit too fast. The story of a waitress being swept off her feet that ends with the wonder of what’s unknown reminds me that the adventure might be sad for a moment, but it’s not quite over.
3) Pretty Funny (Dogfight)
This song speaks to the child in me who lusts for the confidence he sees in those around him. It allows me just enough of a catalyst to organize my thoughts and work through all the rejection of the world. Then it wipes the slate clean and leaves me with the memory, but much less of the hurt.
4) I Am Changing (Dreamgirls)
Belting, key changes, and a handful of brassy optimism. That’s all one really needs to be moved sometimes.
5) With You (Ghost)
Cassie Levy can sing about bubbles and I’d jump for joy. That talent combined with the phrasing and structure of this song gives me longing I didn’t know I had.
6) Easy to be Hard (Hair)
Sometimes friends don’t always follow through. In those moments, this song can alleviate the blues.
7) Breathe (In The Heights)
Whenever I think I’m not quite reaching my potential and need a little push, this song grabs me by the ear. It tells me I’m not the only one to struggle with disappointment and keeps me pushing for more.
8) Coffee (See What I Wanna See)
“I could use a little help.” The train of life derails and bursts into flames. In the wreckage, a heart continues to beat and finds some solace. That’s a quality I can cherish and be convinced to yearn for.
9) Work the Wound (Passing Strange)
The title says it all. There’s a rawness that is so poetic and alluring. It pushes and pulls and is a rollercoaster of bandaids and tears.
10) Perfect, Finite (Songs From An Unmade Bed)
Any time I wonder what happened to an old flame or spend too much time reminiscing about “could have beens,” this song is the answer I didn’t know I needed.
Look at all that catharsis. There seems to be a new musical theater song for every feeling. Are there any songs that cause a tear or two to roll down your face, but ultimately push you towards a resolution, big or small? I’d love to hear about it below.