While it’s easy to pay attention to love songs when you’re not in love (isn't that what being 12 is about?), you don’t necessarily care about break up songs unless you’re broken up. So what follows is a list of break up songs I have direct experience with. Thank goodness the last one was in 1991!
The first person I ever broke up with freshman year in high school listened to Purple Rain non-stop afterwards on his walkman. I guess that line “It’s such a shame our friendship had to end” was what got him. My friends called him a drowned puppy. I felt a little bad. I still love that song.
I don’t really remember any song from my next break up, but I do remember that he gave me Chicago XVII for Christmas. Was “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” on that one?
The next one was a guy who communicated through notes, which consisted solely of song quotes, and tapes he made me. When we broke up, I got a blistering tape of Marillion. Harsh! I immediately threw it away, despite the fact that I did like “Lavender” and “Kayleigh”. I just didn’t want to listen to them if they were supposed to be about me!
For that guy, I guess “Careless Whisper” was my guilty feeling song. Oh, and in his yearbook I did write quotes from two songs (anonymously!):
Memories may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember,
We simply choose to forget.
But it’s the laughter we will remember
When we remember
The way we were.
Don’t let the past remind us
Of what we are not now
Do you think he knew it was me? ;)
Then was the guy who couldn’t tell the Beatles apart. Good riddance!
Then, let’s see, I ended going out with Purple Rain guy again between high school and college. We did the long distance thing until he broke up with me over Easter weekend when I was home from freshman year in college. Guess things evened out in the end. The only thing that saved me was Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled first album, which had just come out. For those of you who only know her from her recent adult contemporary work, her first few albums are quite bitter and rocking. Just what the doctor ordered! In my more generous days, I also played Chicago’s “Feeling Stronger Everyday”, but that was more for me than for him.
Finally, we have the soundtrack for the “friends with benefits”. I guess you can’t really call those breakup songs if you were never really together. Two of my favorites for that were Suzanne Vega’s “Knight Moves” (Do you love any, do you love none, can you love 20, can you love one, do you love me?) and the Cowboy Junkies’ “Cause Cheap is How I Feel”. Both are excellent for sitting in the dark and crying in your beer.
Billy Bragg’s “Greetings to the New Brunette” is a great “moving on” song. And Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” (forget Whitney’s version exists!) is heartbreaking – it makes me cry whenever I hear it, especially when she sings “and most of all I wish you love.” And Phil Collins doing “Against All Odds” is still an amazing song. If that’s just too un-hip for you, you can listen to the Postal Service’s cover of it. Great song, either way.
A friend of mine got divorced right when that Alanis Morrissette album came out, you know the one with “You Oughtta Know” on it. I guess it was very cathartic for my friend.
I can’t wait to hear your favorite break up song stories! C’mon, relive your exquisite pain!