Saturday, 29 July 2006

Break-up songs

For once, Rick Giles has an idea worth borrowing (who would have thunk it?). He's posted a short-list of breakup songs. I think we can do better, after all popular music has a breakup song for every mood, so here's a longer list, which still only scratches the surface:
WISTFUL: The Best of Everything - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"Wherever you are tonight, I wish you the best of everything, In the World, And I hope you found, Whatever you were looking for."

JUVENILE: Song for the Dumped - Ben Folds Five
"So you wanted to take a break? Slow it down some, and have some space? Well fuck you too! Give me my money back, Give me my money back, you bitch."

SONG FOR THE DUMP-ER: I Useta Love Her - Saw Doctors
"So now you know the truth of it she’s no longer my obsession, Though the thoughts and dreams I had of her would take six months in confession. See I met this young one Thursday night and she’s inta free expression. And her mission is to rid the world of sinful repression. Then we had a session..."

HONEST: Toy Love Song - Toy Love
"'Cos when I see you by my side, I wonder if you're suicide, Affects me like I feel it ought to do. Or was our loving just a toy, A crazy girl a stupid boy, Ignoring things that could have made it true..."

SELF-FLAGELLATING: Blue Valentines - Tom Waits
"And it takes a lot of whiskey, To make these nightmares go away, And I cut my bleedin' heart out every night. And I die a little more on each St. Valentines day. Remember that I promised I would Write, you... These blue valentines..."

INDECISIVE: Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
"This indecisions bugging me, If you dont want me, set me free..."

VENGEFUL: Sometimes - The Stranglers
"Somebody's gonna call your bluff, Somebody's gonna treat you rough, Sometimes there's only one way out, I gotta fight!"

DISBELIEF: No You! - Paul Kelly
"I go up and down, And every single sound says, No you! No you! No you! No you! No you, no you, no you!"

FANTASY: I'll Come Running (To Tie Your Shoe) - Brian Eno
"I sit playing solitaire by the window. Just waiting, seasons change, ah hah, you'll see, Some day these dreams will pull you through my door..."

IT'S COMPLICATED: Pale Blue Eyes - Velvet Underground
"Thought of you as my mountain top. Thought of you as my peak. I thought of you as everything I've had, but couldn't keep. I've had, but couldn't keep... Skip a life completely. Stuff it in a cup. They said, money is like us in time, It lies, but can't stand up. Down for you is up."

IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME: It Ain't Me, Babe - Bob Dylan
"You say you're lookin' for someone, Never weak but always strong, To protect you an' defend you, Whether you are right or wrong, Someone to open each and every door, But it ain't me, babe, No, no, no, it ain't me, babe, It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe."

LINGERING RESENTMENT: Pretty as a Picture - Hammond Gamble
"And I'll send you a card for Christmas, one at Easter time, Call and see the children in the summer time..."

"I JUST HAD TO": Ruby's Arms - Tom Waits
"So jesus christ this goddamn rain, Will someone put me on a train, I'll never kiss your lips again, Or break your heart..."

FINALITY: It's Over - Graham Brazier
"See the change, See the way... See that gleam in her eye, Telling you it's all over."

OH SHIT: Stephanie Says - Velvet Underground
"Stephanie says that she wants to know, Why she's given half her life, to people she hates now..."

OH FUCK: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Bob Dylan
"The lover who just walked out your door, Has taken all his blankets from the floor.
The carpet, too, is moving under you, And its all over now, baby blue."

NO HOPE: Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
"When routine bites hard, and ambitions are low, And resentment rides high, but emotions won't grow. And we're changing our ways, taking different roads, Then love, love will tear us apart, again."
There are musicians who've carved whole careers out of break-up songs. Hank Williams for instance:
"Your cheating heart will pine some day, And crave the love you threw away. The time will come when you'll be blue, Your cheating heart will tell on you."
"Did you ever see a robin weep, When leaves begin to die. That means he's lost the will to live, I'm so lonesome, I could cry."
Crieky! And then there's whole albums of 'break-up madness.' Two classics are Nick Cave's 'Let Love In' -- "Love is always having to say you're sorry, And I am, from my head down to my shoes. I'm sorry that I'm always pissed, I'm sorry that I exist, And when I look into your eyes I can see you're sorry too" -- and Lou Reed's black and self-pitying 'Berlin' album, the recording of which was said to have driven everyone mad by its extremes of intensity, and from which come these gems:
UNCERTAIN: How do you think it feels
"How do you think it feels, To feel like a wolf and foxy? How do you think it feels, To always make love by proxy?"

"Now you said that you love us, But you only make love to one of us, Oh Jim, how could you treat me this way, You know you broke my heart, Ever since you went away, When you're looking through the eyes of hate, Oh, oh, oh, oh."

IMMATURE: Caroline Says, I
"Caroline says that I'm just a toy, She wants a man, not just a boy, Oh, Caroline says, ooh Caroline says. Caroline says she can't help but be mean, Or cruel, or oh so it seems, Oh, Caroline says. Caroline says. She say she doesn't want a man who leans, Still she is my Germanic Queen."

BRUTAL: Caroline Says, II
"Caroline says - as she gets up from the floor, You can hit me all you want to, but I don't love you anymore."

"I am the Water Boy, the real game's not over here, But my heart is overflowin' anyway. I'm just a tired man, no words to say, But since she lost her daughter It's her eyes that fill with water, And I am much happier this way."

"This is the place where she lay her head, When she went to bed at night. And this is the place our children were conceived, Candles lit the room brightly at night. And this is the place where she cut her wrists, That odd and fateful night..."

And finally, back again to WISTFUL: Sad Song
"My castle, kids and home, I thought she was Mary, Queen of Scots. I tried so very hard. Shows just how wrong you can be."
And then of course there's the female divorcee's karaoke favourite: I Will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor. And for the bloke with new-found freedom: Bring on the Nubiles, by The Stranglers.

And we haven't even touched opera! Where would we be without Pagliacci's Vesti la Giubba -- " Laugh, you clown, at your broken love. Laugh at the pain which poisons your heart" -- or the passionately optimistic denial of Madame Butterfly's Un Bel Di, Vedremo. And where would opera be without break-ups and reconciliations, and break-ups again!

But in the end, when all you can do is laugh or you'll cry, there's the truly, madly, deeply cheesy:
Breaking Up is Hard to Do, by The Partridge Family. 'Cos you really do have to laugh, don't you. Don't you?



  1. The Breakup Song by Greg Kihn is for when you're sitting in a place all alone watching other couples. And you might not know this one: The Last Farewell by Roger Whittaker. It's for the soldier getting orders to go back home after finding love in an exotic locale. Not exactly rock&roll.

  2. Oh.. your list of break up songs is awesome. Hehehe, I also have my own list both of classic and new songs. Listening to these kind of songs remings me of how brokenhearted I was before, but eventually moved on easily because I've reached my limit of crying already :)))


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