As a part of the process in studying this song, students researched the Nigerian, African-Brazilian singer-songwriter Seal. Through their research, they composed essays that talked about his childhood, what impressed them the most about his view on life, how they feel his background informed/influenced the writing of the song, and what they believe the most important message of the song was for them. They wrote about what they wish for the JD community to know and take away from their video. Excerpts from some of their essays are included below.
Born to a Nigerian mother and African-Brazilian father, the singer Seal had a tumultuous childhood, enduring an abusive father and foster care. He also endured the auto-immune disease lupus, which scarred his face for the rest of his life. These struggles shaped him to be who he is as a person and a songwriter. Because of these things he experienced, Seal’s music is richly meaningful and socially aware. In “Don’t Cry,” Seal sings about getting through hard times and blossoming as a result of adversity. – Philomena Coles-Carruthers ‘21
Don’t Cry is a beautiful love letter to everybody right now that feels like no one could possibly understand the pain they are feeling. It is reassuring to hear that others feel the same and can be there to lift you up and realize that the hard times we go through as a society can only make us stronger. – Addis Tupper ‘22
The lyrics “Don’t cry, you’re not alone” show how even through difficult times, there will always be someone there for you. Seal’s message in this song can be related to our ongoing crisis in the world today. Even though you may feel completely alone in these times, people will listen to you, and hear your story. Having someone there for you is very important, when contact with other people is limited. There are millions of people in the world right now going through the same situation you are, so never give up on yourself, because there are people out there who know how you are feeling. Know that there is love and support all around you. Though it may seem that this is the hardest time you have ever been through, always reach out, come together, and share love in ways you never would have thought possible before. You are not alone. – Anthony Fico ‘24
The message of “Don’t Cry” was clearly informed by Seal’s life experiences and struggles. The song is meant to serve as an encouragement to not let yourself get down when times are tough and to be gentle with yourself when things don’t go your way. He does not claim that life will get easier and struggles will go away, but reminds us that challenges make us stronger: “My feelings hurt, but you know I overcome the pain // And I’m stronger now…” And most importantly, I think, the song reminds us that we will still be loved. This is something that is so important to remember, especially as we go through tough times in our community: even in the darkest moments, we are still loved, and by holding on to that love and supporting one another, we can make it through to the light. – Emily Ninestein ‘21
Seal is one of many songwriters that prove an important theme that makes songs as powerful as they are. Music is the narration of our lives. It tells the story of who we are, the lyrics describe our emotions and experiences, and the genres recount our inner turmoils that shaped us into the people we are today. “Don’t Cry” is just one example of the experiences that we all share. We might correlate the song with the pandemic, mental health, or any point in our lives where we felt detached or struggled with hope. They might all be different experiences, but the song connects us to the same emotion we share with those experiences. It’s supposed to speak to us, supposed to tell our stories, and help create an understanding that we are not alone. Because at its roots, music is a story and stories are made to connect us. – Bella Avramov ‘21
I am impressed with the things Seal says about his childhood. He had difficulties, but has no regrets. He said that his difficult childhood made him who he is today and talks about not looking back at the past. He also sings and writes about being strong now because of his past. The lyrics of the song show the strength of love and friendship. Living in tough situations helps us to be stronger. -Ntumba Mwepo ‘22.
In these current times, the most important lyric from this song that we must learn to understand is that we are not alone. We should not feel like we are not loved and that no one cares for us because that is not the case. The song tells us that we are stronger than we know and we will get through whatever hard time we are experiencing and will come out stronger and better than we were before. – Ari Tzetzis ‘21
It is very impressive how Seal maintains his perspective on life with the events he has gone through throughout his life. He said, “I don’t regret anything that happened in my childhood. It was all integral to making me what I am today.” – Drew Babikian ‘24