Well, well, well. Here we are in mid-August already. How did that happen? The Finn and I spent a blissful two weeks on vacation, but have sadly now returned to the daily grind. Y’know, I always laugh when I hear people say that they would keep working if they won the lottery because they like to keep busy, need to feel productive, blah blah blah. Like, are you for real? There are about a MILLION things I can think of that I would do if I hit the jackpot. Actually, my current life dream is to be able to sit around all day watching & blogging about ‘80s teen movies. There are SO MANY good ones!! Teen Wolf, for one (which I seem to be obsessed with lately). The Lost Boys, License to Drive, and Dream a Little Dream (all starring the two Coreys). Better off Dead (John Cusack) and Real Genius (Val Kilmer), only two of the best movies of all time. A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (River! *sob*) And I haven’t even gotten to any of the John Hughes (“a genius of our time”) classics.
Sigh. If there’s anyone out there reading this who wants to pay me to write about masterpieces of ‘80s cinema* such as these, please do let me know. I LOVE THE ‘80s SO MUCH.
*Yes, I do realize that some of these are regarded as fairly terrible movies, but that is only because the general public obviously has no taste.
Anyway, what better way to celebrate the return to reality with a dose of morose songs celebrating the death of love? Yes, that’s right — I am finishing off my list of favourite breakup songs. Here are the next five:
Pictures of You – The Cure
So, here’s the thing I love about The Cure. Nobody writes a better bleak love song than Robert Smith, right? Well, I read a book about them (to be reviewed here) and it turns out that all the songs he wrote — mostly gloomy numbers full of despair, loss and longing — were inspired his wife, Mary, who he met in high school and is still married to. This kind of blows my mind. I mean, The Cure’s songs are SO depressing, you feel certain they were written by an individual who has just had their heart shattered. Totally not the case though! By all accounts they are quite happy together.
Anyway, this is one of my favourite breakup songs — in fact, it’s one of my favourite songs in general. It’s gorgeously gloomy and suffused with the expansively lush melancholy that The Cure do so well. It is probably the prettiest song in the world to cry your eyes out to. I may or may not have locked myself in my room and listened to it on repeat after a particularly bad breakup in high school. Ahem.
Most heartbreaking lyric: “If only I’d thought of the right words / I could have held on to your heart”
Yup, after a breakup it’s always so tempting to think that if you had said or done something differently, the other person’s feelings (or yours) wouldn’t have changed. This is rarely true though. The end of a relationship is usually caused by a thousand tiny cuts rather than one dramatic slash. Such is the nature of human existence. We are more often killed slowly by the mundane than annihilated swiftly by the extraordinary.
One – U2
True story. The summer I was fifteen, going on sixteen, I dated a boy for about a month. Everything was going along swimmingly, or so I thought. Then I showed up at a party one night and he broke up with me. Even worse, his ex-girlfriend came to the party to make sure that he did it, because they were getting back together. Yeah. Needless to say, that party kinda sucked. Sidenote: I still know the guy in question and he is an absolutely LOVELY person. It is, in fact, possible that he’s reading this story right now. If so, no hard feelings, my friend (obviously :)). I only mention this story in order to explain how my irrational superstition towards this song (and subsequent identification of it as a breakup song) developed. About an hour before the party, I was at a friend’s place getting ready and ‘One’ came on the radio. Out of nowhere a thought popped into my head which was “X is going to break up with me tonight”. I had no idea where this thought came from and I laughed it aside, dismissing it as nonsense. But you guys, IT TOTALLY CAME TRUE. It’s like I had ESPN or something (if no one gets that reference I sound like a total ditz right now). Anyway! That episode in & of itself wasn’t enough to make me wary of the song…but then it kept happening! Every time I would randomly hear ‘One,’ whatever relationship I was in at the time would IMMEDIATELY IMPLODE. In my mind, ‘One’ became the relationship death knell. It got to the point where I couldn’t even listen to the song any more. However, you will be happy to know that I have made my peace with ‘One’ and am getting back to enjoying it for what it is, i.e. a gorgeous song by one of my favorite bands.
Most heartbreaking lyric: “Did I ask too much / More than a lot / You gave me nothing / Now it’s all I got”
Halah – Mazzy Star
I have always loved this song. Maybe it’s partly because I have a bit of a crush on Hope Sandoval, Mazzy’s Star’s singer. She was a frequent collaborator with The Jesus and Mary Chain, and she has such a pretty voice that works perfectly for introspective, melancholy songs like this one.
Most heartbreaking lyric: “It’s like I told you / I’m over you somehow”
Denial. It’s not just a river in Egypt, my friends. How many times in your life have you held back from telling someone how you feel about them? Put up a front of indifference rather than admitting how much you care? Whether motivated by pride, fear, whatever…I bet it happens a lot more often than you’d think. Why are we so afraid of rejection, of being vulnerable, of not having our feelings returned? Here’s your homework, dear reader. Whoever that special someone is in your life, the next time you see them, tell them how awesome you think they are. Just a little relationship advice, courtesy of your friend Spencer.
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Wow. Never have such bleak lyrics been set to such a pleasingly danceable melody. Seriously, I challenge you not to sing along with the chorus of this song.
Apparently the lyrics were inspired by Ian Curtis’ relationship with and subsequent divorce from his wife. If you haven’t seen Control, the 2007 biopic about Curtis, I highly recommend it as an insightful view into the life of a seriously tortured soul.
Most heartbreaking lyric: um, have you listened to this song? The entire narrative is probably the most depressingly sad thing I’ve ever heard. I think the standout lines though might be: “Do you cry out in your sleep? / All my failings exposed / Get a taste in my mouth / As desperation takes hold.” I mean…the sheer sense of helplessness and obvious self-loathing in this song…yeah, he was a pretty messed up dude.
Wonderwall – Oasis
True story. This song came out in 1995, and I remember the very first time I heard it. I was standing in a bar with my then-boyfriend, and it’s not even a song about the end of a relationship per se, but I remember looking at him and thinking “someday we will break up, and it will devastate me”. I don’t know, maybe that’s when I realized I loved him. Cos that’s love, right? When you realize someone means so much to you they have the potential to rip your heart out? Hahaha of course I am joking, obviously that is far too cynical an approach to life, dear reader! I will tell you the real secret to recognizing true love. Are you ready? Okay. If you find someone who will dance to ‘80s pop songs with you in your living room, and it’s the most fun you’ve had ever, then you should just go ahead and marry them right away. Yes, it really is as simple as that. You’re welcome.
Anyway, as a result of my first time hearing this song, it has always reminded me of a future potential breakup, if that makes any sense. As for the boyfriend in question, fast-forward 8 years and one marriage later and we *did* split up, and it did indeed devastate me, at the time. Coincidentally, the year we broke up, 2003, was the year that Ryan Adams released what I regard as the best cover of this song to date (and apparently Noel Gallagher agrees) on his album Love Is Hell, Pt. 2. It’s like our relationship was bookended by ‘Wonderwall’. I guess there’s some symmetry there, which is comforting in a weird kind of way.
Most heartbreaking lyric: “I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now”
I don’t think this line is supposed to be sad, and it’s kind of bittersweet for me. On the one hand, it seems sad because it makes me think about how lonely it can sometimes feel to be in love. D’you know what I mean? Hopefully, you don’t. It’s like…if you’re lucky, you feel super connected to the person you’re with. But too often that’s not the case, for whatever multitude of reasons that keep people from being able to truly connect with one another. I know, I know, this is indeed a cynical way to talk about love, but sometimes it really isn’t a pleasant experience. On the other hand, I like this line because the amazing thing about love is that even though it’s an emotion that’s been experienced by millions of people throughout the history of time, when it happens to you it really does feel like the very first time anyone has ever felt what you feel, and all you can do is surrender to the all-encompassing enormity of it all. That act of surrendering is at the same time the most terrifying and the most thrilling thing about love. The agony and the ecstasy, if you will.
But what do I know? I’m just trying to figure it out like the rest of you. So tell me, what are your go-to breakup songs? Let me know your stories of love gone wrong, and the songs that helped you through.