Songs to break your heart

God, I love to wallow. Mostly in misery and the realization that the world is void of affection and nothing is fair and no one will ever love me. Or whatever. And sometimes, when I’m wallowing, I like to make it worse (but kinda better) by listening to songs that reinforce my terrible, terrible world view and the fact that I am cold and dead inside.

There are so many categories of sad songs. There are breakup songs when someone dumps you. Songs when you dump someone else. Songs about unrequited love. Songs about death. Songs about losing your partner to someone else. Songs about misery in the world. Songs about being addicted to something or someone and songs about being unable to break free. Songs about the injustice of love. Songs about not loving someone as much as he loves you. Songs about loving someone you shouldn’t.

Basically, there are a lot of sad songs. I mean, there are good love songs, but if you’re happy and in love? Screw you. Nobody cares.

So here are my sad breakup songs — the ones you listen to when someone has broken your heart. They don’t judge whether you’re better now than you were before (you probably are), or predict what’s going to happen in the future (good things will probably happen). They just let you be sad for a while and think about stuff and then move on with your life.

Finding a good breakup song is more difficult than you would think. Micheal Bolton is too cheesy. Avril Lavigne is too irritating. Lots of artists have excellent breakup songs when it comes to lyrics, but it’s not only the lyrics — it’s the tempo and key and melody and attitude of the recording. These songs should make you cry. For example, Pat Benatar’s “Love is Battlefield” is a great breakup song, but does anyone cry when they hear it? No, because Pat Benatar is too badass to ever be heartbroken for long. When it comes to breakup songs, I’m looking for misery, pain, jealousy and regret. You know, the good stuff.

Sinead O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U”

It’s been so lonely without u here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby where did I go wrong

That painful desperation — when you’re counting the days straight after a breakup — is so sweet on this track. Over a million views on YouTube, because we’ve all been there.

Toni Braxton, “Un-break My Heart”

Un-break my heart
Say you’ll love me again
Undo this hurt you caused
When you walked out the door
And walked out of my life

Bordering on cheesy, and the video’s a little irritating because it implies that they’ve broken up because the man has died, which I would argue is not exactly a breakup, and definitely not what the lyrics are about. But it’s still worth watching just for the fantasy of playing Twister with Tyson Beckford. And the song is top notch. If you don’t cry while listening, you’re probably a robot (which is cool but means breakup feelings don’t apply to you, dude).

The Beatles, “Yesterday”

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Simple, concise lyrics, beautiful strings, Paul McCartney’s voice at its best. It’s a classic for a reason.

Radiohead, “High & Dry”

It’s the best thing that you ever had,
The best thing that you ever, ever had
It’s the best thing that you ever had,
The best thing you ever had has gone away

Is this a breakup song? The brilliance in Radiohead is that, much like Neutral Milk Hotel, the lyrics are so incredible expressive and rich yet open for interpretation. “Don’t leave me high. Don’t leave me dry.” Sounds like a breakup to me.

Nico, “These Days”

I had a lover
I don’t think I’ll risk another
These days, these days
And if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
It’s just that I’ve been losing so long

Regret, doubt, hesitation, the sense of failure when a relationship goes bad. It’s all there in this one, played out with Nico’s unique voice, a plucked guitar melody and strings in the background. Ugh, strings. They make me feel things.

Rufus Wainwright, “This Love Affair”

I don’t know where I’m going
But I do know that I’m walking
Where?
I don’t know
Just away from this love affair

A piano melody in a minor key. Sadness perfected.

Dolly Parton, “Little Sparrow”

I am not a little sparrow
I am just the broken dream
Of a cold false-hearted lover
And his evil cunning scheme

It’s hard for me to believe that ANYONE would ever break Dolly’s heart, because she is an angel from God above and I don’t even believe in God so that’s saying a lot. But there’s this song, and it is cruel and sad and tormented. And this is Dolly singing it LIVE and it’s equally as amazing as the album version.

Coldplay, “The Scientist”

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start.

I feel like this is the one where you’re dissecting the relationship, trying to figure out what went wrong. Also, Coldplay rules; I don’t care what anyone says. They’re on all my top song lists.

Bonnie Raitt, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

‘Cuz I can’t make you love me
If you don’t.
You can’t make your heart feel
Something it won’t.
Here in the dark
In these final hours,
I will lay down my heart
And I’ll feel the power;
But you won’t.
No, you won’t.
‘Cuz I can’t make you love me
If you don’t.

Okay, the cheese factor is high on this one, but if you just listen once….sobs are guaranteed. Don’t be ashamed. You can have a heart of coal and this one will still make you misty. When you love someone and they just…don’t…love…you…back. Ugggghhhhh. Agony in song.

Kate and Anna McGarrigle, “I Eat Dinner”

I eat dinner at the kitchen table
And I wash it down with pie
I eat leftovers with mashed potatoes
No more candlelight
No more romance
No more small-talk
When the hunger stops

And finally, the song that proves you will always be alone and no one will ever love you. Sorry. 😦

Listen to the whole playlist on YouTube here.

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  1. More Sad Songs to Break Your Heart | livinglovingmaid

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