Songs for Post-Breakup Blues
June 5, 2005 10:10 PM   Subscribe

WhyDoesItHurtSoMuchFilter: Recently, my boyfriend of about 3 years broke up with me. Apparently not because of anything I did, but because he needs to "sort some stuff out" (which apparently means jumping into the arms of another man in under a week, but I digress). Unfortunately, I'm still madly in love with him. Oh, and we're roommates. Anyway, I'm looking for songs that I can buy from iTunes Music Store to express the mixture of sadness / betrayal / anger / hopelessness / listlessness / general malaise / etc. I'm feeling. Do you have a mixtape for the dumped?

I'm looking for two types of songs; those by which to wallow in self-pity (for now), and those by which to feel empowered (for later). Bonus points for musical selections which meet both those criteria.

Examples for Wallowing:
Dry Your Eyes by The Streets
MMMBop by Hanson (don't laugh)
The Blower's Daughter by Damien Rice

Also, sorry for using Ask Metafilter for venting. I'm just... ugh.

(Hint: To get the iTMS URL, find the song in iTMS, right-click, and select "Copy iTunes Music Store URL. This is not mandatory (obviously), but it will help me quickly spend money, which also helps ease the pain... Thanks!)
posted by chota to Human Relations (52 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I know, I know; how uncouth to be the first post to my own question. But I just wanted to post some topical reading from AlterNet.
posted by chota at 10:20 PM on June 5, 2005

You absolutely cannot do better for Category 2 than Ben Folds Five, Song For The Dumped.
posted by toddshot at 10:27 PM on June 5, 2005

Some of the ones I have recently listened to after I wasn't the one.

Bleed Like Me - Garbage
Only - Nine Inch Nails
I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine - Beth Orton
I Will Survive - Cake (must be the Cake version, better than Gloria Gaynor)
She'll Come Back to Me - Cake

Some other not available via iTunes but well worth it.

Something I can Never Have - Nine Inch Nails (the acoustic Still CD version)
The Becoming - Nine Inch Nails (the acoustic Still CD version)
No. 1 Crush - Garbage (off the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack)
posted by karmaville at 10:31 PM on June 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

And yeah, just switch around the genders where appropriate. Good luck chota. It will get better, or so they say.
posted by karmaville at 10:35 PM on June 5, 2005

The Sundays - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. It's melancholy, but in a hopeful way and it really hits the spot when I'm feeling a bit lonely or down.
posted by Astragalus at 10:44 PM on June 5, 2005

I call The Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" my suicide song because I've wallowed in self-pity so much while listening to it, it makes me beautifully ill.

I usually listen to "our song" over and over and over again until I can't stand it. It's cathartic for me. It may just drive most sane people insane.
posted by Gucky at 10:51 PM on June 5, 2005

Your first and third are in my "Consolation Prize" mix CD (my anti-druglivejournal is a __mix CD__), so I hope you like my other tracks:

Wise Up by Aimee Mann, which was sung in Magnolia by characters near their climactic decisions.
Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, but get Johnny Cash's cover.
Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes by Beck, used in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (a great wallowing movie)
Hey Jude, Mark Mothersbaugh's instrumental version from The Royal Tenenbaums
Untitled, the tenth track on the Wonderful Smith album Hello, It's Wonderful
Innocent When You Dream by Tom Waits
Metamorphosis, a piano work by Philip Glass
Pissing in the Wind by Badly Drawn Boy

Those are links to the lyrics. If anything here isn't on iTunes, or you want to try it before you buy it, send me an e-mail. I hope some of these help you.
posted by NickDouglas at 10:56 PM on June 5, 2005

posted by ori at 11:04 PM on June 5, 2005

I once listened to A Letter To Elise by the Cure on repeat for an entire summer. Good for wallowing.
posted by sugarfish at 11:06 PM on June 5, 2005

...also, your question has a one word answer, and it is Smiths, or, if you like, Morissey.
posted by ori at 11:10 PM on June 5, 2005

Andrew Spice -- Pretty Demons

And yeah, move out now.
posted by willnot at 11:34 PM on June 5, 2005

A great wallowing song is "God Damn The Sun" by the Swans. Amazingly, iTunes does have some Swans but not that album. For anger, I'd suggest some Godflesh (maybe Crush My Soul) and for sadness you can't beat some early Cure (Siamese Twins for example). Bear in mind that these suggestions are particularly dark in tone.
posted by cali at 11:36 PM on June 5, 2005

Movin' Out by Billy Joel.
Get the Fuck out of My House by 2 Live Crew.
Get the picture?
posted by mistersix at 12:14 AM on June 6, 2005

People gave me some good responses here...I feel your pain...good luck.

Only time really helps...and move.
posted by schyler523 at 12:15 AM on June 6, 2005

oh, and Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs.

Landslide always makes me cry...
posted by schyler523 at 12:19 AM on June 6, 2005

anything by Aden
posted by psychobum at 12:42 AM on June 6, 2005

Another previous Breakup Music AskMe thread.
p.s. Elliott Smith
posted by obloquy at 1:26 AM on June 6, 2005

For those calm, drunken, sleep-it-off times, grab these albums:

Goldfrapp - Felt Mountain
Brian Eno - Music For Airports
Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthroughs
Sigur Rós - ( )
A Silver Mt. Zion - He Has Left Us Alone But Sometimes Shafts of Light Grace The Corner of Our Rooms
Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks

It helps more than you would think. Here are some sad songs to throw on repeat:

Elliott Smith - Needle In The Hay
The Smiths - Asleep
Bonnie Prince Billy - I See A Darkness
The Cure - Lovesong

My empowering album was Jane Doe by Converge. It might be too much for you. It was totally unlistenable when I first got it, but after a hellish breakup and a look at the lyrics to "Heaven In Her Arms", I had an outlet. Put on this album and exhaust yourself somehow. Pushups, running, whatever. You'll feel better afterwards.

Alternatively, try Cursive's Domestica or The Good Life's Album of The Year.

For just plain happier music, try:
The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike!
Junior Senior
(some of) The Magnetic Fields
The Rapture

...That's all that comes to mind immediately. Hang in there.
posted by rfordh at 1:28 AM on June 6, 2005

Song for the Dumped -- Ben Folds Five
posted by lazywhinerkid at 2:04 AM on June 6, 2005

The full self-titled CD by Stretch Princess. It's got that great wistful "yeah, sucks, but everything will be OK in the end" sound to it.
posted by SpecialK at 2:11 AM on June 6, 2005

Roxy Music - Editions of You
posted by anagrama at 2:37 AM on June 6, 2005

I second Sigur Ros - try Agaetis Byrjun. As it's sung in a made up language you can imagine the heart-breaking songs to be all about you and your exact problem. The same kind of applies to the Cocteau Twins [it is in English but god knows what Liz Fraser is going on about] but may I suggest that you listen to them when you're on the way back up, as their music is slightly more optimistic.
posted by meech at 2:50 AM on June 6, 2005

Dare I suggest 'I will Survive' Gloria Gaynor - still kicks ass.
Anything by Leonard Cohen but remove sharp objects from immediate vicinity. G'Luck.
posted by peacay at 2:52 AM on June 6, 2005

No Doubts....Don't speak.

After listening to Gwen Stefani hopefully you will feel empowered!
posted by Chimp at 3:16 AM on June 6, 2005

Jeff Buckleys Last Goodbye
posted by Chimp at 3:47 AM on June 6, 2005

Fado - a whole genre for your commiseration.

Most 'classic' pop music is happy music with sad lyrics, AFAIK.
In fact much of music is love themed and much of that is about unrequited or jilted love.

Who was the dude in New York that fell in love with a hooker? He did some nice tunes.


Alanis Morrisette - Jagged little pill album
Blu Cantrel - 'Hit em up'
Eurythmics - 'Thorn in my side'
The Swans -'God damn the sun'
The Swans -'Better than you'

The Swans are alway good for this type of thing, but not for the faint of heart:
'I've Got One Thing To Say
Before I Am Drunk Again:
God Damn The Sun
God Damn The Sun
God Damn Anyone
That Says A Kind Word
God Damn The Sun
God Damn The Sun
God Damn The Light It Shines
And This World It Shows
God Damn The Sun'

God damn the sun


'The sun is rising over the buildings across the street
The sun is god's face looking down at me as he cries for what he's done
I will survive my life if I close my mind to all the things
I could never, never, never, never, never, never be
You used to be there when I'd cry, though you'd not see fit to comfort me
I don't need you anyway, and I'll never call you back to me'
Song for the sun
posted by asok at 3:51 AM on June 6, 2005

Here's my break-up songs mix (of the wallowing variety), as also posted here.

Sea Change- Beck
Song for the Dumped- Ben Folds Five
This One's Gonna Bruise- Beth Orton
The First Cut Is the Deepest- Cat Stevens
Wicked Game- Chris Isaak
The Scientist- Coldplay
River- Joni Mitchell
Landslide- Fleetwood Mac
Missing You- John Waite
Divorce Song- Liz Phair
Nothing Compares 2 U- Sinead O'Connor
Untouchable Face- Ani DiFranco
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart- Wilco
Romeo and Juliet- Dire Straits
posted by picklebird at 4:02 AM on June 6, 2005

This totally seems to get asked about once a month-- anyways, here's a breakup mix I made once:

Breakup Songs
01. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright, Bob Dylan
02. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Wilco
03. I've Been Riding with the Ghost, Songs: Ohia
03. Yeah! Oh, Yeah, the Magnetic Fields
04. Making Love with You, Old 97's
05. Box Elder, Pavement (or Holly Golightly's cover)
06. Outta Me, Bikini Kill
07. Nobody but You, Lou Reed and John Cale
08. any good version (meaning Cale's or Buckley's) of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
09. Idiot Wind, Bob Dylan
10. Better Off Without A Wife, Tom Waits
11. I Still Miss You, Arab Strap
12. Box Full of Letters, Wilco (Pretty much all of A.M., really)
13. Pamela Brown, Leo Kottke
14. Inflammatory Writ, Joanna Newsom
15. Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais, Serge Gainsbourg
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:48 AM on June 6, 2005 [2 favorites]

Chris Isaac - Forever Blue
Preacher Boy - Entire catalog ("Ashtrays Full of Tears" off of, Crow, I think, is pretty spot on)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:55 AM on June 6, 2005

Ain't No Sunshine When He's Gone - Bill Withers

And I'll 2nd Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs... in a big way.

You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine - Lou Rawls

I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton Version

You Had Me - Joss Stone
posted by abbyladybug at 4:58 AM on June 6, 2005

The Disappointed - XTC
posted by gimonca at 5:21 AM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

And nobody's posted Chain of Fools/Aretha Franklin? C'mon. Chain, chain, chain....
posted by gimonca at 5:22 AM on June 6, 2005

Wow... I posted right before bed last night, and as I'm sitting here brushing my teeth in the morning, there's 33 comments already.

This means I've either struck a chord with a lot of people (you mean this happens to other people?!?!) or you're all just a bunch of rock stars when it comes to music research.

Either way, it makes me feel a bit better. :)

Thanks guys.
posted by chota at 5:41 AM on June 6, 2005

I made an iTunes breakup mix a while back because I seem to go through them somewhat often.
posted by superkim at 6:15 AM on June 6, 2005

fatllama's CD in the last MeFi swap was full of breakup songs... Hopefully he will drop in here.

Here's an old one: Barbara Manning, Lately I Keep Scissors.
posted by matildaben at 7:05 AM on June 6, 2005

meech : I second Sigur Ros - try Agaetis Byrjun. As it's sung in a made up language you can imagine the heart-breaking songs to be all about you and your exact problem.

Actually, this album (save for the song "Olsen Olsen") is in Icelandic. It's not "made up." The album ( ) is in a made up language. Common misconception.

Songs for the OP :
Magnetic Fields : "I Don't Really Love You Anymore"
Mountain Goats : "No Children"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:25 AM on June 6, 2005

It was a pleasure to burn.
posted by mlis at 7:30 AM on June 6, 2005

I will now sell three copies of The Three E.P.s by The Beta Band
I will be alright, I will be alright, I will be alright, I will be all light (forget official lyrics, that's what *I* hear)
posted by Capn at 8:05 AM on June 6, 2005

The first song on my breakup mix - Please Please Please- James Brown. Soulful wallowing at its finest.
posted by Wolfie at 8:48 AM on June 6, 2005

Another good Ben Folds breakup song is Gone (from Rockin' the Suburbs).

Oh, and I can't believe no one has mentioned what must be the ultimate breakup song - You Were Meant For Me by Jewel. Perfect for wallowing.
posted by geeky at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2005

You mention Damien Rice - Blower's daughter. If you like his music and you really want to have a good cry, listen to Insane, The Professor and Lonelily. Any one of those three break my heart every time I hear them.

For a nice vindictive song, try The Other Shoe by the Old 97s.
posted by Happydaz at 9:14 AM on June 6, 2005

Great on repeat with a bottle of red wine in front of you:

Garbage - The Trick is to Keep Breathing

Tori Amos - Northern Lad
Ryan Adams - Come Pick Me Up
Natalie Merchant - Build Yourself a Levee or Frozen Charlotte
posted by hamster at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2005

Try "Songs Not to Get Married To," by Reggie and the Full Effect, if you are young and can handle a little screaming, a little "emo," and a lot of fucking pain, and resentment and bitterness. Seriously, the first "emo" record to be released in the last four years that doesn't make me hate music.

the song "Lost Cause" by Beck (off the previously mentioned Sea Change album) is great.

Maybe Colin Meloy's version of Morrissey's "I Know Very Well How I got My Name" is perfect as well. "You think you were my first love / you think you were my first love / but you were wrong / you were the only one / who's come and gone" (the original Morrissey version is amazing as well - one of his first post-Smiths songs)

Here is part of the mix I made for my Brother-in-law whose wife just left him for another man.
"Lover, You Should have Come Over" by Jeff Buckley

"The Day You Walked Away" by Joel Plaskett ("The day you walked away / I didn't see it coming / It blew the doors right open / and everybody ran / The day you walked away / florescent lights were humming / hmmmmmmmmmmmm - yeah")

"Sea Anemone" by Jets to Brazil - (In which the subject is sitting in a house full of his estranged lover's possessions, possibly contemplating suicide "Now I'm making out the shapes / like the shower rod / can it take my weight? / I will tell you I am fine / I got some news friend / feels like I'm dyin")

And some more positive "Fuck You, I can do this" songs,

"I'm Waking Up to Us" by Belle and Sebastian ("I'm waking up to us / we're a disaster")

"Don't Get Down" by Hayden
"Somebody That I Used to Know" by Elliott Smith
and, of course, no breakup mix is complete without "Positively Fourth Street" by Bob Dylan
posted by Quartermass at 9:49 AM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

Two albums that are really good for dealing with the grieving process:

Pete Townshend's "All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes"
Eels "Electro-Shock Blues"

Good luck!
posted by kimota at 10:07 AM on June 6, 2005

Most fantastic feel-better song I've ever run across: "I'll Be Okay," by Amanda Marshall. Can't give you the iTunes link since I'm at work, though ... but get it, it's definitely worth it.
posted by WCityMike at 10:28 AM on June 6, 2005

Various ideas...

"You Oughta Know" - Alanis Morissette
"I Know It's Over" - The Smiths
"I'm Still Standing" - Elton John (total empowerment)
"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Viola Wills
"Violet" - Hole
"Never Wanna F'n See You Again" - Rich Hardesty
"At This Moment" - Billy Vera and the Beaters
"House We Used To Live In" - Smithereens
"Don't Shed A Tear" - Paul Carrack
"Broken Promise Ring" - The Ataris
"I Wanna Destroy You" - Soft Boys
"If I Can't Change Your Mind" - Sugar
"Helpless" - Sugar
"El Tango De Roxanne" - Moulin Rouge soundtrack
"Without You" - Rent soundtrack
"The Last Song I Will Ever Write About A Girl' - The Ataris
"You Don't Wanna Call" - The Donnas
"Knowing Me Knowing You" - Abba
"Foolish" - Ashanti
"Someday" - Glass Tiger
posted by SisterHavana at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2005

Might seem a bit hackneyed now it's widely regarded as one of the all-time greats but my big break-up happened in 1997 when it was new so... the final three tracks of "OK Computer" (No Surprises, Lucky and The Tourist) were the soundtrack to my "lie down on the floor and feel like dying" period. I still occasionally get a small lump in the throat if I play them when I'm feeling a bit fragile.

Try also: Darker With The Day by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Classic misery.
posted by Decani at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2005

Some (well, maybe most) are repeats, but I can't suggest them enough.

Miss You, Aaliyah
Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes, Beck
Song for the Dumped, Ben Folds Five
Asleep, The Smiths
How Soon Is Now, The Smiths
Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, The Smiths
( + the rest of The Smiths catalogue )
Smoke, Ben Folds Five
Somebody To Love, Queen
Tumbling Down, Venus in Furs
For No One, The Beatles
It's Not Up To You, Bjork
Don't Leave, Faithless
Goodbye, Spice Girls

Also: Consider the idea of moving out. Staying there and having to be metaphorically stabbed with pain every time you see each other will only make it worse. I suggest seeking refuge at a friend's place for the time being... but that's just my opinion. Good luck.
posted by itchie at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2005

chota: If he did indeed wait until he had broken up with you before he fell into the arms of another man, consider yourself fortunate, or at least treated with a modicum of respect. It's likely that this had been brewing for a very long time. And yeah. MOVE OUT.

[/gratuitous unasked for advice filter]

As far as a soundtrack goes, I couldn't listen to music at all for about two years after the last breakup, and instead fell back on radio, which didn't demand so much of me. Remember that whatever you choose to listen to during this time will carry an emotional charge for the rest of your life, and you may not want to associate music you already love with how you are feeling at this moment. So a breakup mix CD might help, but it might also make it impossible for you to listen to, for example, Sigur Ros, ever again, which would truly be tragic (it would be for me, anyway). Just a contrary opinion. All the best, and good luck.
posted by jokeefe at 4:47 PM on June 6, 2005

Good point, Jokeefe, about accidentally killing good songs for yourself. I always leave the mix on through to the turnaround, channeling the sorrow into a resolve to get over it and fix myself (I need my wallowing CD most when I've fucked my own life up). Then the CD becomes a reminder to push on rather than a downer.
posted by NickDouglas at 8:59 PM on June 6, 2005

I recommend Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry by Frank Sinatra, particularly as part of Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely. I got the album when it was recommended in a "Best of Sinatra" article after he went to the big casino in the sky, and I agree with his son who said it's such a sad album, it should only be available by prescription. You may not listen to it often, but it's wallowing music at its most elegant.
posted by deliriouscool at 8:33 AM on June 8, 2005

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