About The Song

Background

“I Count the Tears” is a soulful ballad released in 1960. Though credited to The Drifters, the song prominently features the powerful vocals of Ben E. King, who was the group’s lead singer at the time. The songwriting duo of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman crafted the lyrics, capturing the raw emotions of heartbreak and longing.

The Drifters were a successful doo-wop group formed in the early 1950s. By the late 1950s, their sound began to evolve, incorporating elements of R&B and soul. Ben E. King joined the group in 1958, bringing his distinctive, gospel-influenced vocals. “I Count the Tears” was released on their 1960 album “Save the Last Dance for Me” and became a significant hit.

Musical Style

“I Count the Tears” showcases the emerging soul sound of the early 1960s. The song opens with a simple yet poignant piano melody, establishing a melancholic mood. A steady drumbeat and gently strummed guitar provide a rhythmic foundation. The backing vocals, a signature element of The Drifters’ sound, offer subtle harmony and emotional depth.

However, it’s Ben E. King’s vocals that truly elevate the song. He delivers the lyrics with a raw and heartfelt intensity. His voice cracks with emotion, conveying the pain of lost love with remarkable authenticity. The song builds to a powerful climax, showcasing King’s vocal range and his ability to connect with the listener on an emotional level.

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Lyrics

The lyrics of “I Count the Tears” paint a vivid picture of a man consumed by heartbreak. The narrator fixates on the physical reminders of his lost love, from “the empty chair” to “the picture on the wall.” He finds himself constantly counting the tears he’s shed, a testament to the depth of his pain.

The song explores themes of loneliness, regret, and the yearning for reconciliation. Lines like “Every night I hear your voice, calling out my name” depict the torment of unfulfilled love. The narrator acknowledges his own mistakes, singing “Maybe I was wrong, maybe I was blind,” expressing a willingness to take responsibility for the relationship’s demise.

Despite the overwhelming sadness, there’s a glimmer of hope in the lyrics. The line “Maybe someday you’ll come back to me” suggests that the narrator hasn’t completely given up on the possibility of rekindling the love.

Cultural Impact

“I Count the Tears” was a significant commercial success for The Drifters, reaching No. 6 on the U.S. R&B chart and No. 17 on the pop chart. It solidified Ben E. King’s position as a rising star in the R&B world and further established The Drifters as a leading group in the genre’s evolution.

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The song’s emotional resonance transcended cultural and generational barriers. The raw portrayal of heartbreak resonated with listeners who had experienced similar pain. “I Count the Tears” became an anthem for those navigating the complexities of love and loss.

The song’s influence can be heard in countless R&B and soul ballads that followed. Ben E. King’s passionate vocals and the song’s melancholic beauty set a standard for expressing heartache in popular music.

“I Count the Tears” has also been featured in numerous films and television shows, solidifying its place in pop culture history. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless themes and its ability to evoke strong emotions in listeners.

Conclusion

“I Count the Tears” is more than just a hit song; it’s a powerful ballad that captures the universal experience of heartbreak. The song’s success lies in its simple yet effective musical arrangement, Ben E. King’s unforgettable vocals, and its relatable lyrics. The song continues to resonate with listeners today, serving as a reminder of the enduring power of soul music.

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Video

Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

Na, na, na, na, na, na late at nightNa, na, na, na, na, na late at night
I have counted everyday since you’ve been awayIt seemed like a thousand yearsAnd at na, na, na, na, na, na, late at nightNa, na, na, na, na, na late at nightI’ll sit and count the tears
I have counted all your lies all your alibisI’m a guy believes just what he hearsAnd at na, na, na, na, na, na, late at nightNa, na, na, na, na, na, late at nightI’ll sit and count the tears
She’s gone and found somebody newHe may be happy now but soonHell be counting everyday that she’s been awayIt’ll seem like a thousand years
And at na, na, na, na, na, na, late at nightNa, na, na, na, na, na, late at nightHell sit and count his tearsHell sit and count his tearsHell sit and count his tearsHell sit…and count his tears

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