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March 30, 2010

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: What are the best breakup songs?

i can't tell whether this dude is happy or sad. or angry. what do you think?A personal confession: One time after a nasty breakup in college, I played "It Makes No Difference" by the Band on loops, hundreds of times. That song's a gut-wrencher. Today, Owl Meat tackles breakup songs in all their guilt, rage and glory:

Breakup songs come in different varieties. I think they can be categorized by the five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Maybe you could speed things up by matching your music to the stages. I blame my lingering emotional dysfunction on improper musical programming after my last breakup. Yeah, that's it.

There is so much material that I wouldn't dare suggest the best. It's a very personal choice. Right now, I'm about as happy as I get, so I'm having a hard time coming up with examples.

Oh happy day. I don't need to access my own emotional history, because will do it for me. So paralyzed by grief that you can't connect any music to your mood? to the rescue with their "mood" function ...

Today I am feeling, let's say, playful. Allmusic lets me know that wry, whimsical, silly and freewheeling are similar moods. Good to know. Allmusic suggests Desi Arnaz, Uncle Kracker, Louis Armstrong, Nelly, and the Beach Boys. For songs it suggests "Balloon Man" by Robyn Hitchcock, "Atomic Dog" by George Clinton, "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants, etc. Interesting.

I scoured the emotions related to the stages of grief on and picked out these highlights:

Denial – Uh oh, this is just a river in Egypt for Allmusic.

Anger (Way too easy) – Metallica, Dead Kennedys, Elvis Costello, Public Enemy, Pixies, Guns N' Roses, the Stooges, Ministry

Bargaining – No luck

Depression (Sad) – Albums: Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks; Joni Mitchell, Blue; George Jones, Cup of Loneliness; any Smiths; any Leonard Cohen

Songs: Gram Parsons, "$1000 Wedding"; Mazzy Star, "Fade Into You"; George Jones, "He Stopped Loving Her Today";  The Carpenters, "Superstar"; Roy Orbison, "It's Over"

Acceptance (Calm/Peaceful) – Bread, Anthology; Young Marble Giants, Colossal Youth; The Doobie Brothers, Best; Van Morrison, Moondance;

Richard and Linda Thompson's album "Shoot Out the Lights" may be the best breakup record ever. First, it covers all five stages of grief. Second, it was written and recorded while they were breaking up. It's fearless and daunting. "Wall of Death" is one of my favorite songs from it.

I agree that Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" is a powerful album. I also like shoe-gazer bands like Mazzy Star and Slowdive when I want to wallow in it. isn't completely compatible with the stages of grief model, despite having 200 different moods. Still, you might want to check it out the next time you are bittersweet, melancholy, fractured, plaintive, or yearning.

Can you imagine that your job is to assign moods to thousands of songs for

Now it's your turn. What kind of music have you turned to when the fat, naked baby smacked you around?

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:34 AM | | Comments (63)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


Eamon - F*** it (I Don't Want You Back)

I'm not really usually that angry after a breakup. It's just a hilariously awful song that says f*** a lot. Which tends to make me feel better.

I tend to go with "good riddance" in the form of "Don't Think Twice" (from my youth) or the Eagles" "I'm Already Gone."

Reel Big Fish- You Don't Know

Top 3 songs about breaking up:

1. Song for the Dumped - Ben Folds Five
2. I'm Walking Away - Craig David
3. It's Over Now - Neve

Elliott Smith - You're Just Somebody that I Used to Know
Headphones - I Never Wanted You

Angry-ish, I-don't-give-a-[hoot]-about-you break up songs.

Song Is Over - The Who

Fishbone - Lyin' Ass [Female Dog]
Frightened Rabbit - Backwards Walk

Hurt and Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails

I'm looking through you


While this is a crappy song, "Don't Go Away Mad" this lyric from the Motley Crue braintrust is nice..."Girl dont' go away mad, girl just go away."

Just wanted to give you props for mentioning two such great songs as $1,000 Wedding and Wall of Death in the same post!

If you're feeling silly and ironic: Take it on the Run by REO Speedwagon

Old School: Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac

Still good: Santa Monica by Everclear

Awesome: I Will Survive by Cake

Go out and dance with your girls:
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor

REALLY ANGRY GIRL: You Oughta Know by Alanis Morisette

Makes me cry every time: I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt

I haven't had a real heartwrenching breakup in a while, but I'm with Liz, Eamon's pottymouth breakup song is a classic. My college roommate and I both went through rough breakups around the same time and we used to put that on top volume and dance around our dorm room. One time I got so jazzed listening to it that I yelled "[my ex's name] has a small penis" out of our 8th floor dorm room window at the LaPlata Beach Quad below. Awesome. Very, very classy.

Lost Cause by Beck. Doesnt get better than that.

Wilco's "Hate It Here" could fit into the depression category. I know I played that a lot after I had a bad break up.

But the best part is that it doubles as a really romantic love song. It just depends on how you want to take it.

Hope they play it tonight

You're just a squirrel trying to get a nut!

Best breakup song: Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley (hands down, IMHO)

Not sure if it's the best, but a great breakup album: Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet, which he wrote and recorded right after his divorce.

Slightly off topic, but let me also offer up my favorite breakup movie: Swingers.

Sparky, I love you for that.
'Cause you cold busted!

Against All Odds - Phil Collins (via the break up episode from This American Life,)

Phil Collins? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.....................

"Love the One You're With" by Stephen Stills. That works on many levels for me.

When I'm sad, I like to get in my jammies, eat Funyuns and blast John Denver

"Soul and Fire" by Sebadoh. Look it up - trust me.

I'd also second @shari_tweets and "Lost Cause".

Oh Phil has plenty

Seprate Lives
One More Night
I Don't Care Anymore
Something Happened On The Way To Heaven

Ben Folds Five "Song for the Dumped" is awesome when you're angry. Pounding drums and keyboards. I'm a pretty raging feminist, but who can argue the feelings of a chorus that rages "give me my money back you bitch"

Matthew Sweet has two whole albums that got me through breakups: Girlfriend and Altered Beast

Oasis has a great track called "Married with Children"

Sing, Theresa Says by Greg Laswell and basically anything off Fiona Apple's Tidal.

Claudlaw, admit it! You used to date BA. Also Jen. Or are you all the same person?

Also Neighbor- Especially "Sleep to Dream" if you spit out the words like she does. Not that I ever have...

oooh, neighbor just reminded me of a song I played relentlessly a e few years ago, also Fiona Apple: "Get Gone" off of "When the Pawn..." Every woman ever dumped needs to listen to this.

Ditto on BA's post: the Best breakup song: Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley (hands down, IMHO)
but i also am quite drawn to Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" from my earlier break-ups:

"Hello, it's me
I've thought about us for a long, long time
Maybe I think too much but something's wrong
There's something here that doesn't last too long
Maybe I shouldn't think of you as mine"

It's a sweet but haunting melody, to me.

Classic, sparky. Skip toward the end: "I bought you things you couldn't even pronounce". Great, now I want to go watch that craptastic Don Johnson video with Dweezil Zappa

Nothing beats the Todd.

"Cup of Coffee" by Garbage is just brutally heart-wrenching.

Also "Gone for Good" by Morphine.

And for Elliot Smith songs, I like "Everything Reminds Me of Her." It's like a minute and a half of having your guts torn out.

And pretty much any song from any album by Tindersticks.

'For No One' by the Beatles. Spare and heartbreaking.

'Lost Cause' by Beck. One of the most depressing songs in the world

'Idiot Wind' by Bob Dylan. The whole Blood on the Tracks album but particularly this selection for its' venom

'You Don't Know Me' by Ben Folds for realizing that the relationship probably sucked anyway

"Take It one the Run" REO Speedwagon.. perfect for the cheated upon..

Third on BA's Buckley motion

EXACTLY baltimoregal ;) I haven't done that, um, either.

For the sake of being redundant..:The Breakup Song" Greg Kihn

Jawbreaker: 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Play record and repeat as necessary.

"White Flag" by Dido would work for denial.

Dido, whose birth name is Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong, was called Dido by her parents after the mythical Queen of Carthage. That Dido killed herself, apparently unable to work through the subsequent stages of grief after being abandoned by her lover Aeneas.

And all she really needed was a good break-up song.

Best break-up song you've never heard: A Hundred Years by MuleTheme: "I'd have to live a hundred years to let it go"Best Line: "I could use your body now to take it off my mind"Perfect mix of slow and depressing with a powerful drum and guitar bridge to take out your frustrations. Do yourself a favor and listen to it , then save for your next painful breakup.Best breakup song that might lead to suicide: I Know it's Over by The SmithsBest Line "As I climb into an empty bed, oh well, enough said"Both best listened two over a liter of your favorite liquor.

Three songs stand out:

Don't Think Twice It's Alright--Bob Dylan

Better Off Without You--The Clarks

Sample in a Jar--Phish

I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair

I had two from a recent divorce:
Art Alexakis from Everclear did "Overwheming" for the movie Permanent Midnight. and also Three Doors Down "When it's Over" Both are good F you [lady] songs.

I don't think anyone has ever broken up with me.

Oh yeah, the 5 million voters of Maryland!

Aaaaa, I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry. Time to eat another box of fudgicles, put on my footie jams and play "Love Hurts" by Nazareth over and over.

Breaking Up

Michael Nesmith - Different Drum

The Byrds/Gene Clark - I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better

The Rumour - Emotional Traffic

For Anger
The Beatles/George Harrison - Think For Yourself

Harry Nilsson - You're Breaking My Heart


Sparks - D*ck Around

The Smithereens - Only A Memory

Roxy Music - Dance away

Elvis Costello & Nick Lowe - What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding

The Beach Boys - Break Away

Take The Skinheads Bowling
Camper Van Beethoven

Basement Jaxx-Good Luck

Bonus points for being in the anime Appleseed.

Great comments. Thanks guys. This next track goes out to a boy who is surely about to get dumped. This one's for you Michael Steele, the sultry sounds of X-ray Spex.

Great topic, OMG. I guess misery loves company.

There definitely are levels or stages to the the whole getting over it thing. I go through the five stages of grief after finishing a box a Capn Crunch or when it's too late to get a pizza delivered. AAAAaaaaaaaa.... the pain

Thanks, kenny, but I'm not miserable or lovelorn. I just thought it would be a good topic. Besides, I'm happily married to my Japanese body pillow named Snapple.

Owlman, I thought you had your heart removed to make room for more Jamesons. N'est-ce pas?

It's Too late -- Carole King
Hello it's Me -- Todd Rundgren
Already Gone -- the Eagles
You're No Good -- Linda Rondstadt

Hasten Down the Wind by Warren Zevon is heartbreaking. The more popular version by Linda Ronstadt is prettier, but that's not really what you want then, is it?

You can't get much grittier or low down than B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone"

I just heard Art Garfunkel sing Jimmy Webb's song "All I Know". Have a listen if you want to drain your tear ducts. Devastating

Seems you've struck quite a chord here, Ouch My Gramophone.My own Shoot Out The Lights moment came eons ago, albeit on a sappy small suburban scale: we bought tickets together for Fleetwood Mac. then we broke up. then, out of chivalry, stubborn pride, mutual makeup fantasy or whatever, we went to the concert together as an ex-couple, only to find former favorites morph into a mixtape of misery. Go your own way, indeed.

Never got much solace from those slick soul songs that would start:"okay, so your heart is broke", except maybe Smokey Robinson's "I Don't Blame You at All"...
During a time of self-imposed misery I clung to U2's "One" like a lifepreserver;now I can't connect with why ...

"Ridin' in my Car" NRBQ, or now by She and Him
"Amplifier" the dBs
"She's Not There" the Zombies
"Graceland" Paul Simon
"No Regrets" Tom Rush
"Lovin Arms" Kris and Rita
"Girl From the North Country" Dylan
"Hot Burrito #1" Gram Parsons
...and the palate-cleansing comicpunk of "Jilted John" by Graham Fellowes

Personal favorite: "Lake Marie" by John Prine, which combines "indian lore", local TV crimescenes, and grilled Italian sausages into a liberating oblivion of loss...

"Play Crack the Sky" by Brand New
"Answering Machines" by The Replacements

Already Gone - The Eagles

So interesting to see The Eagles "Already Gone" here multiple times. I never thought of it as a breakup song, even though it obviously is. I guess because it seems so light and airy, with the unvengeful punishment of having to eat your lunch all by yourself. I think I just liked the tasty guitar lead.

Mr Gravy-
agree that "Shoot Out the Lights" is a classic of the subgenre: rock band breakup songs,of which John Lennon's "How Do You Sleep?" is best known. i'm a fan of the imploding Libertines' "What Became of the Likely Lads?" which echoes the Jam's "Thick as Thieves"...

XTC has a load of songs both celebrating & denouncing love and relationships, such that I eventually created a mix CD called “XTC Love: For and Against” dedicated to them. I haven’t classified them but here are the two groupings. The anti-love songs can get particularly brutal, usually focused around infidelity.

Great XTC songs denouncing romantic love:
• Your Dictionary
• Snowman
• Dear Madam Barnum
• The Disappointed
• Crocodile
• 1,000 Umbrellas
• I’m the Man Who Murdered Love
• Wounded Horse

Great XTC songs singing the praises of romantic love:
• I’d Like That
• Harvest Festival
• Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her
• Burning with Optimism’s Flames
• All Of A Sudden
• Then She Appeared
• The Loving
• My Brown Guitar
• Stupidly Happy
• You & the Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful

Great list, Patrick Mc. Yeah, Andy Partridge did seem to have a lot of issues. I wonder if things ever worked out for Nigel? Long live the Dukes of Stratosphere

I'm terms of wallowing in misery and rage and heartbreak how coud I have left out Bob Mould, monster shredder, miserablist and Richard Thompson acolyte, and his bands Sugar and Husker Du?

Moving on Up - M People

5 times a day, very loud.... You cannot imagine how much it helps!!! :)

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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