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5 Tiny Desk Concerts That Will Literally Make You Cry

Yusuf/Cat Stevens performed "Father and Son" at the Tiny Desk on Oct. 26, 2014.
Image credit: Susan Hale Thomas


Like any good live show, Tiny Desk concerts tend to generate a lot of feelings. With no fancy lights or extra amplification — just performers and a crowd, with hardly any distance between them — emotions can run high.

So if you look around the room when a Tiny Desk is being taped, you’ll usually see a Bob Boilen-patented mix of joy, surprise and delight on people’s faces. But the intimacy and intensity of Tiny Desk concerts also mean that, sometimes, we’ve been known to cry at a particularly moving set. (Some of us more than others.) Of course, those tears can be caused by a variety of things, from the powerful emotions within a particular song (for example, every song by Julien Baker) to the stories an artist tells during the performance (like Rev. Sekou’s recollections of being in Charlottesville, Va. during a white nationalist rally). When I asked my colleague Lars Gotrich which Tiny Desk made him cry, he gave a somewhat surprising answer: soprano Barbara Hannigan. “Seeing that level of mastery and emotion wrapped up in one performance,” Lars told me, “I was overcome.”

So if you’re in need of an emotional outlet today, check out this playlist of Tiny Desk concerts hand-selected to bring on the tears. (And if your coworkers ask what’s up, feel free to send them the playlist – or, you know, just tell them it’s allergies. It’s always allergy season somewhere.)


Tiny Desks In This Playlist

• Julien Baker (read more)
• Yusuf/Cat Stevens (read more)
• Bernie and The Believers (read more)
• Rev. Sekou and The Seal Breakers (read more)
• Barbara Hannigan (read more)

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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