Love songs are a dime a dozen, but breakup songs are especially moving when you’re recovering from a failed romance. Looking to cry it out? We’ve compiled a list of 10 love songs that are guaranteed to make you sob.
Drown in My Own Tears—Ray Charles
The title just about says it all, doesn’t it? That’s why this song, written by Henry Glover and made famous by Ray Charles, found itself on the top of our list. Like any good blues tune, it evokes a powerful (and pitiful) image of the heartbroken literally drowning in misery. Aretha Franklin and Etta James are among the many artists who have recorded versions of this classic song that will have some listeners crying “just like a child.”
Breakdown Moment: If you don’t think you’ll be home soon/I guess I’ll drown, oh yeah, in my own tears
Walk on By—Dionne Warwick
As if being dumped isn’t humiliating enough, having your ex see you suffer when you should be acting like everything is fine is almost worse. That’s the message behind Dionne Warwick’s “Walk on By.” If Dionne’s voice doesn’t make you choke up, the thought of your ex leaving you on the street to cry probably will.
Breakdown Moment: Make believe that you don’t see the tears/Just let me grieve in private, ’cause each time I see you, I break down and cry
I Go to Sleep—The Pretenders
Whether this song alludes to death, a long-distance relationship, or a breakup, the Pretenders recorded one of the greatest tunes to wallow in. Written by Ray Davies of the Kinks and performed by his then-partner Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, “I Go to Sleep” calls to mind Hamlet’s lament: to sleep, perchance to dream.
Breakdown Moment: Each tear that flows from my eye/Brings back memories of you to me
Against All Odds—Phil Collins
This song may rank number 10 on the cheesiness scale, but those are exactly the kind of songs that speak to a broken heart. “Against All Odds” was written during Phil’s divorce and embodies the helplessness and desperation that comes when you are a complete victim of the breakup.
Breakdown Moment: How can you just walk away from me, When all I can do is watch you leave?
“Halah,” the opening track from Mazzy Star’s debut album, She Hangs Brightly, describes a complicated breakup in which intense sadness and abandonment are intertwined with feelings of relief and liberation. In her dreamy voice, Hope Sandoval, the band’s vocalist, asks for closure from her significant other but also begs for reconsideration.
Breakdown Moment: Before I close the door, I need to hear you say goodbye/Baby, won’t you change your mind?
I Will Always Love You—Dolly Parton
Released by Dolly Parton in 1974 and rerecorded by Whitney Houston in 1992, “I Will Always Love You” is the ultimate breakup ballad. Listeners can seek solace in the song’s I’ll-step-aside-with-grace sentiment and also in the fact that the tune was inspired by Dolly’s own broken heart. At least we know she’s been there.
Breakdown Moment: And I wish you joy and happiness/But above all this, I wish you love
Nothing Compares 2 You—Sinead O’Connor
Sinead O’Connor’s breakout hit captures the anxiousness and desolation of a breakup so well that it even had her crying in her video. Prince penned the song that sheds light on one of the cruel ironies of a breakup: you are free to do what you want, but all the joy is sucked out of it.
Breakdown Moment: Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling/Tell me baby, where did I go wrong?
Ain’t No Sunshine—Bill Withers
Whether this is a song about a completely unstable relationship or a man obsessed with a woman, the ache expressed in Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” is nearly palpable. We can all relate to the fact that he knows (and knows and knows) the relationship is wrong but he just can’t walk away.
Breakdown Moment: Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone/And this house just ain’t no home anytime she goes away
For No One—The Beatles
In a tie with “Yesterday” for saddest Beatles breakup song, “For No One” made the list for its profound insight into a relationship that has long been over. This second-person tale tracks a couple’s mundane daily routine that essentially disguises the fact that they are living a lie. One person has disengaged, or “checked out” of the relationship, leaving the other to wonder where the love went.
Breakdown Moment: And in her eyes you see nothing/No sign of love behind the tears
Walkin’ After Midnight—Patsy Cline
Ever experience a breakup so gut-wrenching that you had to do something—anything—to keep your mind off of it? That’s precisely what Patsy Cline is singing about in “Walkin’ After Midnight.” From her lyrics, we get the distinct feeling that Patsy has not only a bad bout of the blues, but also a severe case of insomnia.
Breakdown Moment: I walk for miles, along the highway/Well, that’s just my way of saying I love you
With all of the love songs out there, we know we’ve just scratched the surface. What love songs make you sob?