The bane of the single and unattached… also for the attached and not exactly into all the rigamarole of flowers, chocolates and a date. Been there, done that.
I’ve done the whole wooing and swooning bit. It’s the mindset of many who have done away with relationship trappings and gone their own way, alone; either by circumstance or by choice.
Living life on your own terms sounds logical and practical. Others think they should find someone to be with, so you need not grow old alone. If our lives were lived out like film noir with its own original soundtrack, then it most probably contains (any of) these 10 wrenching anti-Valentine tunes that not only tug at your heart strings, but will give you a stroke, cardiac arrest and heart failure.
(In no particular order)
– J. Geils Band
The Magnum Opus of anti-Valentine sentiment. It’s a complete summation of the rise and fall of relationships and why you should never get into one. From the same band that gave you that 80’s gem about poring through girly mags ogling the ladies in the Centerfold, how could it not be, with lyrics like this:
“You love her, but she loves him and he loves somebody else, you just can’t win and so it goes ‘til the day you die, this thing they call love, it’s gonna make you cry.. I’ve had the blues, the reds and the pinks, one thing for sure…” (You know the rest.)
I USED TO KNOW
You meet someone. You fall in love. You get to know what this someone really is about. You fall out of love. You split. They become a song title. It’s a “he said, she said” song, where singer songwriter Gotye splits the vocals with Kimbra, singing about how she “cut him off” and “make out like it never happened…” while she sings about how he “screwed me over” and “had me believing it was something that I’d done….” It’s direct, forthright and brutally frank. You just know that these two aren’t getting back together again. Ever.
GO YOUR OWN WAY
– Fleetwood Mac
This painful paean of break up and rejection was written by singer guitarist Lindsey Buckingham inspired by his crumbling relationship with singer Stevie Nicks whom he had been dating for years. It’s a personal documentary of the difficulty of breaking up with the singer in your band, and having to write songs let alone hits, rehearsing and playing these songs with her, night after night, year after year. Chalk it up as a successful curse.
YOU OUGHTA KNOW
– Alanis Morissette
A song with more bitter than a bile duct. Written by Alanis with producer Glen Ballard, “You Oughta Know” is a biting diatribe of a scorned lover who persists on stalking her ex and her replacement whom she sees as “an older version of me,” then bringing up their past shenanigans, asking him if his new flame would “go down on you in a theater.” Kinky sarcasm for a girl unable to move on, left with all the overweight emotional baggage. A lot of scornful ladies will take to this tune like fish do to water, or the frying pan.
ROLLING IN THE DEEP
This may sound like just another one of those done-me-wrong songs, but Adele’s 2010 “Rolling In The Deep” was more about redemption and not just regret. This midtempo tune builds into a scorcher where Adele pulls out all the stops and bellows not only her lungs but her heart out as well. She has said that the song was written after her break up with a boyfriend, and a personal f-you, after being told that her life would be boring and lonely if she didn’t stay in the relationship. Thank God for small mercies, and hit singles.
The song has endured since its introduction in 1960 via the Everly Brothers, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, Jennifer Warnes and Jim Capaldi, but it struck gold with Nazareth’s take in 1975, taking it to the Top 10, both on the hit charts and a hit to our hearts.
“Love hurts, love scars, love wounds, love marks
Any heart not tough or strong enough
To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
Love is like a cloud, it holds a lot of rain
Love hurts, ooh love hurts…”
Straightforward. A direct hit to the jugular. Classic beerhouse rock that’ll have you moping in your drink while your heart crumbles into a million miniscule pieces.
NOTHING COMPARES 2 U
– Sinead O’ Connor
Methinks after-the-breakup songs carry the most pain. Filled with both remorse and regret with a steaming hot side dish of guilt, songs such as this hit the hardest and stay with us the longest.
Such is (the late great) Prince’s sentimental ode “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Originally performed as a bluesy number with guitar riffs and even a sax solo, Sinead’s stripped down backbeat version upped the abandonment level several notches higher. Its memorable music vid even saw the Irish singer with a tear rolling down her cheek during the song’s powerful ending.
LOVE WILL TEAR
– Joy Division
A post-punk classic of gargantuan proportions. The upbeat tempo belies little of the pain and anguish of its words. Even its pounding martial beats couldn’t drown out the sadness of singer Ian Curtis.
“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…”
It isn’t hard to see the absence of cheerfulness, down to the band’s ironic moniker. So distraught were these words that the singer committed suicide. Though Curtis was epileptic and often depressed due to anxieties brought on by many band-related fears and his impending divorce, Joy Division’s music and this song speaks volumes.
– The Everly Brothers
This list ends with a classic. My earliest musical memories were comprised of two of my beloved grandmother’s favorites. The Beatles and The Everly Brothers. So, it’s only fitting that this ballad has both sentimental and heartrending value. I was obviously too young to yet understand the grief and anguish of a love gone bad, but the sadness was so evident.
“We used to have good times together, but now I feel them slip away
It makes me cry to see love die, so sad to watch good love go bad…”
Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I was probably better off with the latter. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. But, it’s also been said that a life hasn’t been well-lived unless you’ve loved, somewhat Prefab Sprout-ish when they sang ‘life’s not complete ‘til your heart skips a beat.’
Ah, love. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.
But, Valentine’s day… methinks I can do without.