Not too long ago, I broke up with my girlfriend/fiancée of nearly nine years. I’d never noticed that puppies’ souls are black and that rainbows are evil semicircular reminders that other people are actually happy, but it seems my broken heart allows me to see the truth. For the foreseeable future, my posts will be noticeably lacking my female [everything] companion.
As you might imagine, I’m listening to terribly depressing music right now. The Cure, Elliott Smith, Slayer—all the dark melodic matter that usually festers silently in the remote corners of my portable devices’ insanely small hard drives.
What better way to distribute some of my gut-wrenching emotional pain than a top 10 list of the best breakup tunes in music history? I made it a dirty dozen for good measure.
Enjoy my virtual mix tape from hell, you filthy voyeuristic cannibals.
12. “I’ll Be There for You,” Bon Jovi. Was it Socrates or Jon Bon Jovi that said, “I can promise you tomorrow, but I can’t buy back yesterday”? Powerful stuff.
11. “Just Because I Do,” My Morning Jacket. This song/band just lends some credibility to an otherwise rather embarrassing list of tunes I own.
10. “Screaming Infidelities,” Dashboard Confessional. The ultimate I-know-you’re-sexting-with-some-creep-who-doesn’t-love-you-like-I-do song. The singer’s tempestuously whiny voice inspires unfettered, misdirected rage, which feels good.
9. “Dammit,” Blink-182. At least this depressing ditty is somewhat upbeat. I may be too old to be listening to a song that avers “I guess this is growing up,” but I’m pretty sad right now so get off my back.
8. “Picture,” Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow. What an awful song. It’s so bad I cried. Several times. Damn, I’m still crying.
7. Silence. Deafening, excruciating silence.
6. The National medley: “Lucky You” –> “American Mary” –> “Start a War.” “Walk away now, and you’re gonna start a war.” The next shot in said war could, in fact, be a mildly embarrassing blog post from your ex.
5. “Umbrella,” Rihanna. The breakup song for gracious, mature partners ending long-term relationships on an amicable note. Not for me, but nonetheless a nice approach to romantic schism.
4. “Brokedown Palace,” Grateful Dead. A wonderful dirge that reminds me of my college days, when I was too inebriated to care when I lost my girlfriends.
3. “Faithfully,” Journey. If I were a rock star, I would use this song to apologize to my wife for being a rock star. I’m not a rock star, and I don’t have a wife, so this to me is just an awesome power ballad.
2. Wilco medley: “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” –> “Radio Cure” –> “Hate It Here.” My boy Jeff Tweedy knows some pain. No better medicine for the wicked woman-inflicted wounds.
1. “Already Gone,” Kelly Clarkson. Poor Kelly. Every song she’s ever written is about a terrible relationship ending. I hope for her sake all the songs are about the same relationship. It’s embarrassing that this song lives on my iPod, but I’m gambling here—hoping my future wife reads this and realizes that I’m open-minded, sensitive, and just the right amount of weird.
Bob Dylan knew romantic agony via the persistent cock-block of Joan Baez, and his warbling off-key delivery accentuates the desperate mood of his forlorn listeners. The granddaddy of all breakup songs falls outside the Top 12, on a plane of its own. Lucky 13 is “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”:
So long, honey baby. Where I’m bound, I can’t tell. Goodbye is too good a word, babe, so I’ll just say fare thee well. I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind. You coulda done better, but I don’t mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time. Don’t think twice, it’s alright.