A Bittersweet Symphony...

I know a lot of people aren't going to understand this, but I actually kind of like being sad. In small doses. I think it's better to own my emotions, let myself feel them, allow myself a catharsis (usually in the form of intense weeping), and then ride the endorphins that come from a good cry. It's why I treat myself to a monthly PMS-related viewing of The Notebook or Beaches. (Seriously, are there sadder movies out there? I think these films are basically like kryptonite to women. I defy you to watch them and not shed a tear.) So, in the spirit of soaking in the melancholy of my current predicament and giving myself space to feel everything I need to feel to get it out of my system, I decided to make myself a playlist of my favorite breakup songs.

Breakups are no time for showcasing one's taste in music. In fact, it's more of a time to turn to the comforts of the "guilty pleasures" that lurk in the dark corners of your iTunes collection. Sometimes, that's exactly what you need. For instance, nobody does schmaltzy heartbreak anthems quite like Barry Manilow, whose music I inherited a taste for from my mother. For angst and righteous indignation, I turn to my high-school musical heroine, Fiona Apple. This is the kind of music that I save for special occasions.

For my playlist, I wanted to capture the full range of breakup emotions, and take myself on a little musical journey. And then I decided to share it with all of you, because hey, we've all been there. So here you go, Haley's Essential Breakup Songs, organized by emotions, complete with what I consider to be the key lyric from each:

Sadness (The first stage of a breakup)
  • "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" - Colin Hay, Key Lyric: Don't want you thinking I'm unhappy/What is closer to the truth/I just don't think I'll ever get over you
  • "Photographs and Memories" - Jim Croce, Key Lyric: Photographs and memories/All the love you gave to me/Somehow it just can't be true/It's all I've left of you
  • "Love Ridden" - Fiona Apple, Key Lyric: I want your warmth/But it will only make me colder/When it's Over
  • "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes" - Beck, Key Lyric: I need your loving/Like the sunshine/But everybody's gotta learn sometimes
  • "Everybody Hurts" - R.E.M., Key Lyric: Everybody cries/And everybody hurts, sometimes
  • "Foundations" - Kate Nash, Key Lyric: My fingertips are holding onto/The cracks in our foundation/And I know that I should let go/But I can't
Bitterness (It happens, don't deny it)
  • "How's It Gonna Be" - Third Eye Blind (this is actually my favorite breakup song of all time), Key Lyric: I wonder how it's gonna be/When it goes down/How's it gonna be/When you're not around/How's it gonna be/When you find out there was nothing between you and me
  • "Read 'Em And Weep" - Barry Manilow, Key Lyric: Well I could tell you "goodbye"/Or "maybe see you around"/With just a touch of a sarcastic "Thanks"
  • "Barely Breathing" - Duncan Sheik, Key Lyric: 'Cause I am barely breathing/And I can't find the air/I don't know who I'm kidding/Imagining you care
  • "Get Gone" - Fiona Apple, Key Lyric: 'Cause I've done what I could for you/And I do know what's good for me/And I'm not benefiting/Instead I'm sitting/Singing again
  • "Tainted Love" - Soft Cell, Key Lyric: Once I ran to you/Now I run from you/This tainted love you've given/I gave you all a boy could give you/Take my tears and that's not nearly all
Acceptance (Aah, finally)
  • "Some Good Things Never Last" - Barry Manilow, Key Lyric: No matter how hard we try/Some good things never last/But what good is holding on/When you know/That all you can think about/Is letting go
  • "Some Day You Will Be Loved" - Death Cab For Cutie, Key Lyric: You'll be loved/You'll be loved/Like you never have known/And your memories of me/Will seem more like bad dreams/Just a series of blurs/Like I never occurred
  • "Better in Time" - Leona Lewis, Key Lyric: I'm gonna smile/'Cause I deserve to/It'll all get better in time
  • "Don't Look Back In Anger" - Oasis, Key Lyric: Don't look back in anger/I heard you say/At least not today
  • "Cool" - Gwen Stefani, Key Lyric: After all the obstacles/It's good to see you now with someone else/After all that we've been through/I know we're cool
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I didn't share this to solicit sympathetic remarks in the comments, but more to give you a laugh, or some ideas if you're going through some heartbreak of your own. So instead of having a pity party, why don't you share your favorite breakup song? Surely everybody has one.


  1. Here's an oldie: Neil Sedaka: "Breaking up is hard to do."

  2. Sadness: No Doubt, "Don't Speak." Perhaps a little "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" by Poison.

    Bitterness, yet with a bit of acceptance: "I Will Survive." Preferably Cake's version. Definitely Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know."

    Acceptance: Wow, this is really bad. Totally lame.... Little Texas, "What Might Have Been." Another totally lame one..."Unanswered Prayers" by Garth Brooks.

    That's all I have for you off the top of my head. Fortunately, it's been awhile since I've suffered a break up. Give them a try and see if they help the healing process. In the meantime...chin up and cheers to weeding out the unworthy men!

  3. I can't believe I forgot "Don't Speak!" I LOVE that song!

  4. I like to add the stage that falls the day before through the day after the break-up, when I go through and listen to every broken down, recklessly emotional country tunes. Here are a few for the rotation:

    Kenny Rogers - Lucille / Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town

    I'm not exactly sure who ruined Kenny so bad, but this a sad, broken, jaded man. 'Lucille' relates the tale of meeting a woman in a bar, knowing she's married when her husband who "looked like a mountain" walks in and confronts her. The dude thinks he's about to be in a world of hurt when the fella just breaks down and cries. Complete devastation.

    As for 'Ruby', the poor bastard comes back from a war he didn't want to be involved in, he's paralyzed and "non-functioning" and his lady always goes out and cheats on him. In the 'Phipps Hierarchy of Fucked Up', this rates pretty high, right near laughing at children with cancer and kicking puppies.

    Dolly Parton - Jolene

    You show me someone not emotionally wrecked by this song and I'll show you a heartless bastard. The whole song is about Dolly pleading with Jolene to "please don't take him just because you can". Crying yet? No? Alright then, my hand has been forced:

    "You could have your choice of men, but I could never love again"

    Sorry, now get a kleenex and wipe your eyes.

    George Jones - He Stopped Loving Her Today

    This one should be locked away and stored in the vault for the really good break-ups. The sort of parting that changes you permanently and leaves scars so deep, recovery may not be an option. Listening at any other time is detrimental to the psyche. Children shouldn't be able to hear this sort of stuff till they are 18 otherwise it will inhibit any chance at a normal relationship.

    For this gem, a guy is visiting a pal who his whole life has loved one woman. After they parted he never loved another and "kept her picture on his wall". You are pretty much dragged through an emotional hell till you realize this cat is no longer among the living. That's right, kept his word when he said "I'll love you 'til I die". God dammit man.

    Patsy Cline - She's Got You

    I think if given the time I could write volumes on devastating country songs. Country music is sort of like an 18-wheeler and relationships are small, furry animals unfortunate enough to find out what the underside on a semi rig looks like. That said, none do it better than Patsy Cline.

    "I've got your picture that you gave to me
    And it's signed "with love," just like it used to be
    The only thing different, the only thing new
    I've got your picture, she's got you

    I've got the records that we used to share
    And they still sound the same as when you were here
    The only thing different, the only thing new,
    I've got the records, she's got you"

    And now I know what the belly of the Patsy Cline tractor-trailer looks like.