Sad boi playlist: this is the best music to cry to

Tyler Sabloff | Contributing Writer

The best sad songs will make you cry. Tunes like “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd and “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton are designed to bring tears to your eyes. But what happens when the tears come first? Everybody gets the blues sometimes, and in those times, the best cure for the blues is a little bit of the blues, or Drake, or Joni Mitchell or whatever is your personal sad time music. It is important to have those songs that you rely on fit right in with whatever feeling of despair or sadness you’re having. These aren’t just sad songs, they’re “sad boi songs.”

Sad boi song (noun): A piece of music which one resorts to listening to when upset or distressed to help deal with emotions in an angsty and sometimes melodramatic way.

This term is gender inclusive. Anyone can have a sad boi song; boi does not equal boy. Whatever these specific songs may be varies from person to person. Everyone has their own choice sad boi songs. Below, I’ve listed a few excerpts from my personal sad boi playlist and why they are included:

“It makes no difference” (from “The Last Waltz”)

The Band

Rick Danko’s voice is the embodied sound of heartbreak. His haunting vocal delivery, Robbie Robertson’s harmonic treble guitar and the sax solo from Garth Hudson combine into a truly beautiful yet devastating song. Even if you aren’t feeling down, this song never fails to bring out the tears. The version from the concert film “The Last Waltz” in particular has the members of The Band squeezing every last tear out of their instruments.

“Helpless” (or basically any acoustic song)

Neil Young

While electric Neil Young may be the loud, hard rocking “Godfather of Grunge”, acoustic Neil Young is basically the ultimate sad boi. The vast majority of his acoustic tunes have an overbearingly dark, depressing mood, often embracing melodrama on songs like “A Man Needs a Maid.” “Helpless” serves as probably the best example of this, with its feeling of futility as blatant as the title would suggest. The version of this song also from “The Last Waltz” with Joni Mitchell shows Young at the peak of his emotional delivery (and with quite a large cocaine rock lodged in his nostril, I might add).

“Astral Weeks” (Full Album)

Van Morrison

Oft described as a “song cycle” and a “stream of consciousness,” “Astral Weeks” as an album is best experienced as the sum of its parts rather than separately. Van the Man veers into deeply impressionistic, mercurial lyricism that makes it next to impossible to fully grasp what he’s getting at. At the same time, his words ring out as clear as day, connecting with feelings of isolation, angst and depression on an almost molecular level. Something about his exceptionally intimate delivery falls perfectly in with times of self-reflection.


John Lennon

Like the therapy that inspired the entirety of the “Plastic Ono Band” album, this song is a primal scream, casting out everything phony and forsaken. It’s the kind of song that, in your darkest moments, makes you just want to toss out everything in life and start anew. Nothing about Lennon’s writing and delivery is tiptoeing around. “God” is an impassioned howl, tearing down everything in its path. Its message of casting away everything and self-reliance is emphasized by its penultimate line, “I just believe in me.”

“LA Drone/Immigrant Song” (followed by the rest of the “How the West Was Won” album)

Led Zeppelin

This is always the last song on my sad boi playlist. “Immigrant Song” serves as a smack in the face to snap me out of all the moping. The stun-gun urgency of the octave jumping riff is the perfect kick in the butt to tell you to “get over it.” It makes you get up off the floor and attack the next day with the ferocity of a Viking deity. This song and the “LA Drone” interlude that precedes it is usually enough to do the trick. However, for those really rough days, the relentless fury of the rest of the two and a half hours of the album should be more than enough.