Tears for Water

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Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics
Tears for Water Songbook of Poems and Lyrics.jpg
AuthorAlicia Keys
CountryUnited States
PublisherG. P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
November 4, 2004 (2004-11-04)

Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics is a collection of poems and lyrics written by American recording artist Alicia Keys. It was first issued in the United States as a hardcover edition by G. P. Putnam's Sons, on November 4, 2004. Later in November 2005, it was issued in Canada and Europe in paperback format by Berkley Books. The book consists of twenty-seven poems and lyrics to songs from her studio albums Songs in A Minor (2001) and The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003).

The book appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list and has generated over 500.000 dollars in sales.[1][2] Another volume was planned for release in fall 2005.[3] To promote the book, Keys appeared on The Early Show and at Barnes & Noble store where she signed copies of it.[4][5] In 2006, she appeared on the television series Def Poetry Jam, citing the poem "P.O.W.".[6] The book was re-released in October 2018 with a new cover.

Background and release[edit]

It's actually gonna be a collection of my poetry and unreleased lyrics and songs from the albums. It's also connected with stories about what provoked me to write what you read. It's very personal and intense and shows a lot of different sides of me. It's gonna be beautiful, it's a great first book.

Keys, talking about the book to MTV News.[7]

In late 2003, Keys released her second studio album The Diary of Alicia Keys to commercial and critical success.[8] Following was a tour from March to April 2004, The Verizon Ladies First Tour, that she co-headlined with Beyoncé and Missy Elliott.[8][9] In March 2004, it was reported that a dispute had broken out between literary agents Noah Lukeman and David Vigliano, with Lukeman claiming that he had the right over Vigliano to represent Keys for book publishers, possibly delaying the release of the book.[10] In May 2004, it was announced that Keys had signed a deal to publish two books with G.P. Putnam's Sons, "Songbook" and "The Diary of Alicia Keys".[11] The president of G.P. Putnam's Sons, Carole Baron, commented that "It isn't everyday you are offered the opportunity to publish someone as unbelievably talented as Alicia Keys. Her story is as inspiring as it is astonishing, and we are excited to be publishing her story, in her own words".[11]

Keys explained that "[the book] won't be exactly autobiography, but I love to read so much that I want to make sure the story is really powerful, like Catcher in the Rye or one of the books I love".[12] The title of the book is derived from one of the poems, "Love and Chains", which contains the line: "I don't mind drinking my tears for water".[8] In an interview with The Early Show, Keys further explained that:

And when I read that, it resonated in me because I said, 'Wow, I realized at that moment that all of the songs I write, all of the poetry that I write, every way that I express myself comes from some form of my tears, my pain, my happiness, my joy, my frustration, my confusion.' And I drink them for water to be nourished and to survive, in a way.[13]

The poetry slam themed release party for the book was held at the Harlem Grill in New York City.[14] The release party was hosted by Mums and featured appearances by Kanye West, Mos Def and Common.[14]


Critical reception[edit]

Troy Patterson from Entertainment Weekly gave the book a C, stating that "her work would not pass muster in an introductory writing course at a four-year college."[16] Publishers Weekly gave the book a positive review and wrote "nearly half of the book consists of lyrics from her two albums, Songs in A Minor and The Diary of Alicia Keys; while they make a nice complement to the poems, the words feel a bit flat without the blaxploitation beat of "Heartburn", say, or the impassioned vocal delivery of "Fallin'"".[3] The review concluded that "for the Keys completist, however, this will be a compelling book of rock ephemera".[3]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Publisher
Australia[17] November 1, 2005 Paperback Berkley
United Kingdom[26]
United States[27] November 4, 2004 Hardcover G. P. Putnam's Sons
United States[28] October 28, 2018
  • Paperback
  • Kindle


  1. ^ Garner, Dwight (2004-11-24). "Inside the List". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  2. ^ Lafranco, Robert (2005-02-10). "Money Makers". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  3. ^ a b c "Nonfiction Book Review: Tears For Water: Songbook of Poems & Lyrics by Alicia Keys". Publishers Weekly. 2004-10-24. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  4. ^ "Alicia Keys Talks New Book". CBS News. 2004-11-11. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  5. ^ "StarTracks- Nov. 10, 2004". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  6. ^ Norsworty, Cameron (2016-08-29). "Alicia Keys' VMAs Poem Was Met With A Standing Ovation". Romper. Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  7. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2004-08-12). "Usher Returns Favor by Appearing on Alicia's Revised Diary". MTV News. Viacom.
  8. ^ a b c "Alicia Keys Wraps Up Busy Year with Awards, Hit CD, Tour and Poetry Book". Jet. 2004-12-13. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  9. ^ "The Verizon Ladies First Tour Starring Beyonce, Alicia Keys, & Missy Elliott With Special Guest Tamia" (Press release). PR Newswire. 10 February 2004. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  10. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (2004-03-01). "Alicia Keys Hoping to Turn Her Diary into Full-Fledged Book". MTV News. Viacom.
  11. ^ a b Cohen, Jonathan (2004-05-20). "Alicia Keys Signs Putnam Book Deal". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  12. ^ Merritt, Sephanie (2004-03-21). "Soul Sister Number One". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2016-12-04.
  13. ^ "The Poetry of Alicia Keys". CBS News. 2004-11-11. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  14. ^ a b "For the Record: Quick News on Fabulous, Alicia Keys, Courtney Love, Nicky Hilton, Glassjaw, Cream & More". MTV News. Viacom. 2004-11-10. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  15. ^ a b c "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics". WorldCat. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  16. ^ Patterson, Troy (2004-11-05). "Tears for Water". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  17. ^ "Tears for Water, Songbook of Poems and Lyrics by Alicia Keys". Booktopia. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  18. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics". Amazon.ca. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  19. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics" (in Finnish). Booky. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  20. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics" (in French). Amazon.fr. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  21. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics" (in German). Amazon.de. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  22. ^ "Tears for Water: Poetry & Lyrics" (in Italian). IBS.it. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  23. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics" (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  24. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics" (in Spanish). Amazon.es. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  25. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics - Alicia Keys". Bokus (in Swedish). Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  26. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics". Amazon.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  27. ^ "Tears for Water: Songbook of Poems and Lyrics (Hardcover)". Tower Books. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  28. ^ "We're so excited Alicia Keys' re-release of Tears for Water, her poetry and lyrics book with a beautiful new cover, is out in stores! Get your copy today!". Penguin Group. Retrieved 2018-11-15.