A Word to the Wise – By Chad Williamson


The songs that make me cry
I once read that there were only two appropriate times for grown man to cry – at the birth of his first child and at the end of the movie “Rudy.”
While those are both very fine reasons to drop a tear, this is by no means an exhaustive list. The idea that crying is a reaction reserved for women is ridiculous. I cry all the time. Who cares? It’s not outright weeping, but I routinely get a good case of onion eyes.
Any number of things can make me cry, both happy and sad tears. I have teared up from pride over an accomplishment of my daughter, or because I have witnessed an act of true compassion or because I watched a person overcome something remarkable. I have cried from grief, but I would say the majority of my tears in adulthood have not been the result of sadness. My emotional moments tend to come from being overwhelmed by observing human perseverance.
I have cried over movies, usually involving sports, but it rarely happens. The reason for this is that I avoid movies that I know will make me emotional. Why would I pay money to be immersed in the blackness of a fated-to-fail love story or watch a person bravely battle a disease? If cancer is involved in the movie, I’m out.
Another of my rules about movies – no dogs. Period. Never, ever, ever watch a movie about a dog. Nothing rips my guts out like a dog dying in a movie. Sure, the dog might be alive at the end, but why risk it.
But unlike movies, where I chose what to watch, songs on the radio often blindside my soft spots. They sneak up on me while driving and the windshield wipers can’t swipe away those drops.
There a few selections that come on that are guaranteed to get me: (Let me say that I can’t stand any song that seems written specifically to elicit tears. For that reason Lee Brice’s I Drive Your Truck and Luke Bryan’s Drink A Beer won’t make this list.)
-That’s My Job by Conway Twitty. A song about a father explaining that he will always be there to help his son, regardless of the situation. The final verses involve the father dying and the boy knowing that honoring his father is his “job.”
-You’re Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins. It’s a song about people always looking ahead in their lives and not appreciating what is happening in the present, even if the current events are challenging. At some point, you will look back on your life and realize “these are some good times, so take a good look around.”
-My Little Girl by Tim McGraw is a song about him watching his daughter grow. The tune is undefeated in misting me up. And, it’s one dang verse that starts the emotions every time – “Sometimes when you’re asleep I whisper ‘I love you’ in the moonlight at your door. As I walk away, I hear you say ‘Daddy love you more.’” -Honorable mentions go to Colin Raye’s Love, Me (If You Get There Before I do), Lonestar’s I’m Already There, Sara Evans’ I Could Not Ask For More, Darius Rucker’s It Won’t Be Like This For Long, Eddie Money’s I Wanna Go Back, Diamond Rio’s One More Day, Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father, Kenny Rogers’ Through The Years, and (since any shred of masculinity walked out of this column many paragraphs ago) Bob Carlisle’s Butterfly Kisses.
Which brings me to the two worst, or best if you choose to look at it that way.
Country singer Kenny Chesney gets the honors for having the most titles that get me choked up, but one stands far above the rest. His songs The Good Stuff, Anything But Mine and That’s Why I’m Here are certified to put a lump in my throat, but There Goes My Life will have tears running down my face. In certain situations I can’t even listen to it. It’s about a young man who learns he is going to be a father and all he can see are his “dreams going up in smoke.” Obviously that isn’t the case, and later in the song his daughter is packing up her car to leave home. “She hugged them both and headed off to the west coast. And he cried ‘There goes my life. There goes my future, my everything. I love you. Baby good-bye.” Facing the fact that my daughter is heading to college next year, and reading those lyrics, I had to step away from my computer while writing this. To be able to connect so specifically to an emotional, human situation, actually an entire arc of life – that’s great song writing.
The last one is a weird one because it’s not a sad song at all – Good Morning Beautiful by Steve Holy. It’s just a song about a guy waking up to his girl’s face. He sings about how she changed his life and how his day is better simply because she is there.
Good morning, beautiful, how was your night?
Mine was wonderful with you by my side
And when I open my eyes to see your sweet face
It’s a good morning, beautiful day
I used to sing this song to my daughter every morning when I woke her up in her crib. Almost like a reverse lullaby, singing quietly so I didn’t startle her awake. I would continue singing it as I carried her out to her breakfast. I know the song is conceptualized as being from a man to a woman, but if you are a father and can’t imagine yourself singing that to your baby girl, we are very different people.
The song is personal to me. It always will be. That crib is long gone but that song will always take me back there.
The faint sound of a breathing baby. A blade of hallway light cutting the carpet. The lingering, clean smell of baby powder and the first flicker of blue eyes. Good Morning Beautiful.
-Chad Williamson is the managing editor at the Journal-Tribune.

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