I recently watched a YouTube video about ‘Top Ten Songs that Make You Cry’. I have to say that I was baffled by most of the choices, but I guess it’s a personal thing. The two main things against me crying at songs are:
- I’m British (stiff upper lip and all that)
- I’m Male (big boys don’t cry!)
I suppose it’s down to conditioning through many generations. Our tear ducts work perfectly fine. It’s just for most of us they don’t get used very often!
But things are changing, I would say for the better. No self-respecting U.K. X-Factor contestant, male or female, is afraid to shed happy tears when they qualify for the next stage of their journey. So maybe the ice is melting. And maybe there is hope too for the middle-aged generation of British men like me.
To prove my point, I stumbled on a song that gets me tearful every time I hear it. Even reading the lyrics gets me emotional. It just somehow resonates with me. Reading the YouTube comments, I’m not the only one that feels like this.
The way it brings my emotions to the surface in a calming way, allows a cleansing and healing process to take place. And through it, my spirits are lifted.
So sometimes, big boys do need to cry!
The song is ‘Big River’, written and performed by Jimmy Nail. Jimmy is a British actor/singer who is synonymous with his home city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne on England’s North East coast. With this song, he weaves a story that is deeply personal, together with a lament for times past, and concerns for an uncertain future. But as the song finishes, Jimmy sounds a note of positivity, that the spirit of its people will see a once mighty city restored to its former glory. His heartfelt vocals combine with the haunting guitar work of Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler.
One of the reasons I connect with this story is that I come from a former coal mining area. Now, all the pits are closed and most of the heavy industry has gone for ever. It isn’t just the economy that is suffering, it is the local identity. Four generations of my own family, including myself, worked at one of the local pits, Mansfield Colliery. The story for me is both historical and personal.
Like Jimmy’s big river, I hope my hometown of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and the surrounding area will rise again. And in a way that looks to the future, while still honouring the traditions of the past.
It’s not the industry that made the people, it’s the people that made the industry.