Sep 282009

Although we’re familiar with claims to the effect that “There’s no crying in baseball!” we’ve seen evidence to the contrary. The same goes for all the other macho athletes out there. They’re way more sensitive than we’ve been led to believe.

I got to wondering about his this might apply to rock ‘n roll. In an artform the prides itself on free and deep expression, can you cite times in which rock ‘n rollers have cried in public, especially onstage, after a riveting performance? Non-rockers who can manufacture a solitary teardrop during the final arpeggio of a tender ballad don’t count. Sorry, Christina Aguilera fans. I’m talking real rock ‘n rollers, or even singer-songwriters who’ve long been established as residents of Rock bins across the world. For instance, has James Taylor ever cried at the conclusion of “Fire and Rain?”

If ever there was a time for rock ‘n roll tears I’d think it would be a landmark farewell show, like The Last Waltz. However, I’ve seen that film at least 100 times, and I don’t recall anyone shedding even a solitary tear. There were some puffy eyes, but wasn’t that the coke crying? Likewise, I don’t recall anyone crying in the otherwise super-sensitive Metallica group therapy movie—my own tears as a viewer excluded. Now that Metallica documentary allowed for some rock ‘n roll teardrops. (Mad props to Townsman shawnkilroy for reminding me of this touching scene.)

I don’t recall Freddie Mercury ever crying onstage. Are you telling me not even Freddie Mercury could muster an onstage tear?

Even off stage, in those VH1 Behind the Music episodes, do we ever see a member of Aerosmith crying over the wasted years before the band’s sobriety and return to the top of the charts?

Surely I’m forgetting an obvious instance of a rock ‘n roller crying on (or even off) stage.


  17 Responses to “No Crying in Rock ‘n Roll?”

  1. BigSteve

    This is not onstage, but this post reminds me of the story about the discovery of Lloyd Price and the weepy delivery on Lawdy Miss Clawdy:

    Art Rupe arrived in New Orleans in the early months of 1952. “I made an announcement on the Okey Dokey radio show that I was looking for talent. There was one little recording studio there in the French Quarter. I was having my auditions and I was getting ready to come back. I felt I had failed. They all sounded very amateurish. Lloyd Price was the last one to audition. He was rehearsing and rehearsing, and chewing up the clock. Finally, I said to him, ‘Look, kid, if you don’t get yourself together, I’m splitting.’ He literally began to cry, and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll listen to it.’ And he sang ‘Lawdy, Miss Clawdy.’ I should say he cried it. The kid got to me. It was very emotional. I canceled my plane trip and spent four or five days there.”

  2. BigSteve

    Johnny Rotten starts crying when he talks about Sid’s death in The Filth and The Fury.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    Not onstage or immediately post-performance tears, but I’ll take them, BigSteve. Anyone else weepy? Did Clapton weep onstage while singing “Tears from Heaven” on the GRAMMYS?

    Good Lloyd Price story. I saw him as part of an oldies show at Atlantic City with E. Pluribus Gergely many moons ago. He was great, all decked out in a ship captain’s jacket and hat.

  4. I didn’t see it but someone had to shed a tear at the Concert for NYC following 911. My money is on Billy Joel after NY State of Mind.

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    Man, Gergles must have looked SHARP in his Daryl Dragon outfit!

  6. pudman13

    You must hear the Bill Clint album CRYING OF A GENERATION. Unbelievable.
    This is all I could find online, unfortunately:

    There are two other songs on the album in which he breaks down into tears.

  7. Dave Mustane and Lars Ulrich cry together in the Metallica documentary.
    It’s pathetic.
    That whole movie is pathetic, and I love it.

    Christie McVie cried every single time she played her somber number from Rumours. Eventually she quit touring and the band because of it.

  8. Mr. Moderator

    I forgot about Mustane crying in the Metallica doc! Definitely a highlight of that film. I was weeping right along with them.

    Christine McVie crying live is EXACTLY what I was hoping to uncover. Can anyone locate a clip of those onstage tears?

  9. I present Mr Don Covey singing Where Are You Now.

    Skip to about the 2:22 mark for the “crying”.

    Go to the 1:45 mark for for some absurd and totally awesome vocal hijinks.

  10. There some watery eyes in the documentary Anvil, which is a great film by-the-way–Half-Spinal Tap, Half-Some Kind of Monster

  11. BigSteve

    It’s not rock and roll, but Steve Earle made Nancy Griffith cry on Austin City Limits by singing this song about Townes Van Zandt, Fort Worth Blues.

  12. I can’t believe I remember this, but back on RTH Chess, Mr. Mod once posted a Randy Newman concert review from the ’70s, written in the Phialdelphia Bulletin by John Kolodner. It describes Newman tearing up, unable to finish “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” so soon after the death of Gram Parsons. You can still find the article through Google, though I don’t think it’s linkable.

  13. I remember watching a VH1 Behind the Music on that wonderful rocker..

    Leif Garrett..

    I believe he sheds some tears while he is talking about the coke-fueled car crash he got into and crippled his best friend, while his best friend is sitting there beside him listening to the story.

    A touching moment indeed….

  14. Mr. Moderator

    OH MAN, OATS! I’d totally forgotten about that. I’ll see if I can dig that up. It’s definitely worth investigating.

    Yes, mickavory, I remember that Leif Garrett moment.

    Who says there’s no crying in rock ‘n roll?

  15. The video has been removed from YouTube, but I posted a (now dead) link to it in a previous post. The video for Elvis Costello’s “I Wanna Be Loved” features genuine tears streaming from the Beloved Entertainer’s eyes. According to E.C.’s commentary on the video, this was a genuine reaction to his environment and the events leading up to the video shoot.

    Anyone else seen this?


  16. meanstom

    Forgot all about that video. I cried when I heard that song too. ‘Elvis,’ I cried, “this blows!’

    Adam Ant cried in a video as well, probably around the same era.

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