Incredible Musical Performances Always Make Us Emotional

Music has the power to transport us back to lost loves, first meetings, and happy moments. Some artists are able to enhance those emotions by producing dramatic and memorable moments that will stay with their audiences forever.

Today, we look at some of the most emotional musical performances. Here’s what we uncovered about our favorite songs.

1. David Gilmour, “Comfortably Numb”

David Glamour
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The guitar solo on “Comfortably Numb” is considered one of the best of all time. Many Pink Floyd fans point to Gilmour’s live versions, and I would suggest listening to Pink Floyd at Live 8 from 2005. The band had reunited, and the solo on this song is the pinnacle of an emotional evening.

2. Johnny Cash, “Hurt”

Johnny Cash, "Hurt"
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Knowing the Nine Inch Nails version of “Hurt,” I wanted to hear Johnny Cash’s take on it. I hadn’t expected such an emotional performance and how the lyrics took on a whole new meaning. Even now, more than 20 years after the song was released, I find the video challenging to watch.

3. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”

Billie Holiday, "Strange Fruit"
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Fans of the singer claim that Billie Holliday used to close her performances with “Strange Fruit” because it was such an emotional song that she couldn’t follow it. It became an anthem of the civil rights movement, and the lyrics tackle the horrific issue of lynching.

“When the lights came back on, she would be gone, there’d be no encore,” said Loyola University Maryland associate professor of African and African American studies Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead. “She would be off the stage—that was her request—but she wanted to just let the song hang there. And that would be her final statement. And they often talk about how the white audiences would be uncomfortable to clap.”

4. Heart, “Stairway to Heaven”

Heart, "Stairway to Heaven"
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This is one that always gets me in my feelings. Heart performs this classic song in front of Led Zeppelin band members, who are visibly moved. Heart’s version of the iconic “Stairway to Heaven” as “beautiful” and “stunning.”

5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps, “Prince”

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, "Prince"
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Prince isn’t the only musician on this track; he played as part of the George Harrison tribute concert. Tom Petty leads the vocals, but the guitar work on the song is magical, made even more poignant by the fact that Prince has also passed.

6. “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,” Bing Crosby and David Bowie

David-Bowie
Image Credit: Distributed by EMI America, Public Domain/Wiki Commons.

An unlikely combination appeared on the Bing Crosby Christmas Special in 1977. Somehow, David Bowie’s voice worked with that of the old crooner, who passed away shortly after the sequence was filmed. The performance appears every Christmas, and the emotion hasn’t faded with time.

This is another favorite of mine.

7. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?,” Nirvana

"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?," Nirvana
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In this example, we’re referring to the Nirvana Unplugged set from 1994. The fact that Kurt Cobain died so soon afterward adds to the powerful feelings behind those songs.

8. “Blackstar,” David Bowie

"Blackstar," David Bowie
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Almost 40 years after Bing Crosby’s death, David Bowie was saying farewell. Those who didn’t follow his later career that closely would have been shocked to see his performance in the video for the song “Blackstar.” Released shortly before he passed away, Bowie appears thin, gaunt, and unwell.

9. “Teardrop,” Elizabeth Fraser with Massive Attack

"Teardrop," Elizabeth Fraser with Massive Attack
Image Credit: Virgin Records.

“Teardrop” is a beautiful song, and that beauty is enhanced by an incredible version from the Live From Abbey Road TV series. Elizabeth Fraser takes on lead vocals, and one forum contributor confirms that this arrangement gives them goosebumps.

10. “Paul McCartney,” Hey Jude

"Paul McCartney," Hey Jude
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Former Beatles bassist Paul McCartney plays several of his old band’s songs on tour. None may be more iconic than his live version of “Hey Jude,” which prompted an emotional chorus with some 15,000 fans singing along.

11. “Pride (In The Name of Love),” U2

"Pride (In The Name of Love)," U2
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This is another song that is elevated when played live. The assassination of Martin Luther King, on which the song is based, is an emotive subject, but audience participation during live shows takes that emotion to a new level.

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