Don’t Cry a Tear – Lyle Lovett

Go if you must go
Turn if you must turn away
Don’t cry a tear for me

Laugh if you can smile
Run if you’re walking away
Don’t cry a tear for me

Shout if you can speak
Sing if you mention my name
Don’t cry a tear for me

Low in the valley
Stand in the wind and the rain

High on the mountain
See the sun shining again

Shout if you can speak
Sing when you mention my name
Don’t cry a tear for me

So go if you must go
Turn if you must turn away
Don’t cry a tear for me

The pain of losing somebody because they have gone from this world to the next can be immensely catastrophic. People have been looking for ways of dealing with grief since time immemorial. Primitive people try to connect this world to a spirit world in which the souls of the departed survive and continue their existence after passing from this realm. Excavations showing elaborate burial rituals show an effort to make a person’s memory persist through death. The same can be said on the other side of the coin, meaning if a person knows he or she is about to die, the confusion and the anger that it produces is something only that person can truly understand.

Sometimes, people can overcome this phase of anger and confusion and will begin to accept that his or her time in this world is about to end. And perhaps the next thing this person would be thinking about is the happiness and welfare of the people he or she loves – friends and family. There are many people out there whose dying wish is fairly simple; that the ones they leave behind move on with life with joy and strength. This is what the song Don’t Cry a Tear by Lyle Lovett is trying to tell all of us.

The song is played in a slow tempo with an acoustic guitar as the main instrument accompanied by a violin. Its melody creates a heart-searing tune that evokes a deep and sullen emotion which makes it a suitable funeral song. The song offers a different perspective on the tragedy of death when it comes to songs because this is one is told from the perspective of the departing one. We often hear about songs for the dead and dirges that relay just how painful it is to lose somebody. However, we don’t often get to hear the thoughts and feelings of the one who’s about to die in a song. Don’t Cry A Tear captures this experience very well since it came from somebody who thinks beyond himself and begins to wish the others who care for him a life of progress and happiness. This could partly be because the speaker of the song already accepted death and knows that there is nothing left to do but to wish others well. It is, at the same time, both a sad and a liberating truth to accept.

The lyrics speak of a kind of departure, assuming the speaker is about to die. There is also a recurring line where the speaker says, “Don’t cry a Tear” saying to not be affected by his passing. The speaker gives advice to the people he will be leaving behind, “Go if you must go/ Turn if you must turn away/… Laugh if you can smile/ Run if you’re walking away”. In here, the speaker is basically telling the one he is giving advice to, to live their life to the fullest and not worry about the speaker. And this is something we all want for our loved ones, for them to be happy, and even more so when we are gone from this world. So, despite the sad tune and the somber lyrics, this song is actually one about hope and the imparting of joy, despite all the sadness and grief associated with a person being gone away for good. Life has so much to offer for the people who would be attending your burial or cremation ceremony, and the thought of it should make us happy, even if we won’t be with them anymore.

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