I’ll Cry Instead – 5 of Cups
A Hard Day’s Night, 1964
How does it feel to have someone you love break up with you? You’re likely to feel some mixture of sadness and anger. That’s what we hear expressed in “I’ll Cry Instead”, a country-tinged John composition from the soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night. The song didn’t make the final cut of the movie because the film’s director Richard Lester replaced it with the far more upbeat “Can’t Buy Me Love”.
As was typical of John’s macho and fiery personality, the grief experienced by the song’s narrator is infused with plenty of anger. “I’ll Cry Instead” is about what he’d like to do with that anger. In the first verse he says he’d like to “get locked up today”, suggesting he’d like to take out his frustrations by getting into a fight. In the second verse, he wants to get back at his former love by “making her feel bad somehow”. And in the third verse, his plan is to get revenge on her by “breaking hearts all around the world” once he recovers from the pain. For the time being, however, all he can do is cry.
This song about the despair of loss corresponds to the tarot’s 5 of Cups card. When drawn, this card encourages us face and mindfully work toward healing a situation of grief in our lives. According to the Five Stages of Grief Model, developed by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there’s a natural process we go through during these trying times in our lives. The first stage is characterized by denial. But once that denial cannot hold up any longer, we move into the stage of anger, nicely expressed in “I’ll Cry Instead”.
It’s worth noting that during the two bridge sections, the song changes from major to minor key. This change represents the singer having lowered the protective armor of his anger to openly express his pain. The anguish climaxes with the line “I’m gonna hide myself away”. But then the song changes back to the more upbeat major key as he sings, “but I’ll come back again someday”. It’s an optimistic expression of hope, followed immediately by the warning to “hide all the girls.” He’s put the armor back on; his anger has once again given him the strength to carry on.
This song offers a lesson about the grieving process. It shows us the protective role that anger plays as we get over the shock of loss, bridging the way to eventual acceptance.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder that’s bigger than my feet
I can’t talk to people that I meet
And if I could see you now
I’d try to make you sad somehow
But I can’t so I cry instead.”
This is song #57 of the Beatles Song Tarot Project. Click here to learn more about this magical, mystical trip through the Beatles catalogue.