Songs for the Dumped
April 28, 2015 7:20 AM   Subscribe

If there is Guilty Pleasure, this is Guilty Pain. Dylan admits he’s very self-conscious to find emotional refuge in music that “isn’t even good.” It’s embarrassing to admit that during messy, adult heartbreak we often regress back to adolescence, to the same exact tools (even down to the 9-minute Something Corporate song) that helped us get through it the first time.
--When we are heartbroken, why do we turn to the music we loved as teens?
posted by almostmanda (39 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, "my friend Dylan", not the actual Dylan.
posted by octothorpe at 7:34 AM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to have this thing I called the "Dashboard Confessional Litmus Test," where I would know I was down in the dumps if I heard "Vindicated" and thought "man, I kind of like that song!"
posted by dismas at 7:40 AM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have long claimed that everyone going through a breakup should just be automatically issued a copy of Peter Gabriel's album Us - probably in part because of this very reason. But also because breakups were exactly what Peter was writing about, anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on April 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


When younger, if I was down in the dumps or having a bad time romantically I always found Stevie Wonder (Talking Book, Innervisions era) almost unbearable.
posted by epo at 7:50 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because clearly music hit its peak during my teenage years and has been downhill ever since.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the flip side of the saying that the best music of all time is the music you were listening to when you started having sex.
posted by clawsoon at 8:11 AM on April 28, 2015


Respond to this article with your favorite heartbreak song, or log into Spotify and help us create the ultimate crowd-sourced heartbreak playlist!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:12 AM on April 28, 2015


At first I was like Oh this is silly but then I was like Oh yeah the Postal Service exists.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:12 AM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Joe Tex's The Love You Save is the most amazing breakup song. I wasn't in High School when it came out but I did go through an incredibly dramatic breakup when DeathProof came out so that counts.

Actually that kind of disproves this whole theory perhaps. Fuck it adding it to the list.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:15 AM on April 28, 2015


Sorry for the quad comment just kidding but I just remembered that I have a pop punk playlist full of the Parasites, Weston, and the Smoking Popes that is essentially garbage I'm keeping in a closet in case I ever need it, like a closet full of garbage with a sign on it that says "IN CASE OF BREAK UP, EAT GARBAGE".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:24 AM on April 28, 2015 [5 favorites]




In all fairness, Dashboard Confessional is pretty much scientifically constructed to be listening to when you're depressed. That's why it was made. Nobody has ever listened to Dashboard Confessional when they were happy on purpose.
posted by maryr at 8:29 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


When your teenaged years were the transition from grunge to emo to indie, yeah, they are definitely going to be what you listen to when you are having FEELINGS.
posted by maryr at 8:29 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the ages of, say, ten to twenty, what music you listen to is very important to the shaping of your identity. It defines you.

After twenty, there might be some further development, some widened horizons, some branching out to things other than that old stuff, some embarrassment about what terrible taste you had when you were younger. But that old stuff is still you. There is no escaping it. It's all you were listening to when all your emotions grew in.

And that's why I'm always going to backslide to Siamese Dream, as I have since I was 11. (My third wave ska phase stays firmly in high school, however.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:06 AM on April 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Blood on the Tracks, you philistines.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


"And that's why I'm always going to backslide to Siamese Dream"

Siamese Dream is "the" album of my youth. I was just learning to play guitar when it came out and had a tab book. I learned it note for note, I don't even want to think about how many times I (and my poor, patient mother) heard "Hummer" et al.

When one of the songs randomly shuffles its way in a huge playlist, I'm instantly, instantly transported back to being 13, in my room, rocking out in front of the mirror with my purple Ibanez guitar, Peavey backstage chorus amp and pains of Julie P. breaking up with me via speakerphone with all of her friends in the room.

"soma", which starts ambient and then crushes you with distortion halfway in with a solo of increasing bends that breakup in to feedback, before resolving to an awesome major sound is still impossible to hear without thinking about all my stupid teenage heartbreak and angst.
posted by remlapm at 9:24 AM on April 28, 2015


"Immmmm allll byyyyy myselffffff"

Ugh, Soma is/was perfect. I need to go play along with it, hope I don't cry.
posted by remlapm at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2015


Most of the songs I think of as heartbreak songs are stuff I listened to while I mooned over girls I would (in most cases) never even speak to, much less date, between the ages of 12 and 18 (so 1985-1992). "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel, "Alone" by Heart, "The Power Of Love" by Jennifer Rush...you get the idea.

SO. MUCH. ANGST. Good riddance to all that, my friends.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:34 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the article: "Maybe, but there’s also a neurological reason why music we listened to while growing up — specifically between the ages of of 12–22 — holds a special place in our hearts forever. The growth hormones released during adolescence tell our brain that every experience, including that of listening to a song, is extra IMPORTANT."

This is about running for comfort and has little to do with explicitly with being dumped.

And the important thing here is that it's a regression; if you still listen to Dashboard and SoCo and whatever (and it thus has associations with the person you broke up with) it likely won't have the same effect.

Though I think I'm an outlier for all of this. None of this seems familiar to me.

My most recent break-up comfort song was "We Carry On" (from 2008) after a relationship with someone with whom I had seen Portishead (in 2008). And Spotify has made it incredibly easy to revisit favorite music I have basically moved on from; I have playlists that evoke middle school, high school, college, and so on. I don't listen to them all the time... but much of the important (to me) music of these times is no longer as strongly associated with those eras, being re-purposed for karaoke or the soundtrack to board games or MS-DOS games.

I shudder to think what I'll regress to.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:35 AM on April 28, 2015


For me, I've always used albums as more of a musical sacrifice after a breakup. I'll sit and listen to song after song by some artist - it’s almost always one artist and one album - and no matter how much I used to enjoy that artist, by the time I'm ready to move on all the music is so tainted by the memories of the breakup itself that I can never stand to listen to it again. It's a necessary sacrifice to the cause, but I do wish I could still listen to Elliott Smith.
posted by ZaphodB at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Actually, upon reflection, the last time I was having some kind of romantic difficulty, I was actually swinging in between The Avett Brothers and Paloma Faith, neither of which was even active when I was in my teens or even my 20's.

....so I guess it's possible to teach an old dog a new jam.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:19 AM on April 28, 2015


Yep, the early-to-mid 90s - not coincidentally, when I was in college - were fertile times for breakup music. Us is just one long cry of breakup agony sprinkled with moments of transcendent beauty.

Annie Lennox? No More I Love Yous? Fatal. Goodnight Elizabeth? Hell, even Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews were in on it.

It's funny, the first time I came across Dashboard Confessional (in my 30s), my first thought was, this is EXACTLY the music I would have cried myself to sleep over in my teens, had it existed. That and that it's probably best it didn't.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:29 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is there a better album to listen to after a breakup than Shoot Out The Lights by Richard and Linda Thompson?
posted by octothorpe at 10:37 AM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm hoping I'll never need a romantic breakup song again but I often run to the music of my high school and college years when I'm feeling low. Conversely, when I have a friend breakup, which I still unfortunately occasionally do, I tend to want to drop whatever music I strongly associate with the ex-friend. I'm currently going through that with the most recent Decemberists album, which wasn't grabbing me anyway but now has some emotional associations I'm finding hard to get over.

The other thing I like when I have the sads is music with strong associations from sad moments in roleplaying, but I'm a nerd like that.
posted by immlass at 10:42 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Annie Lennox? No More I Love Yous? Fatal.

Here's the original
, FWIW.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2015


For me, I've always used albums as more of a musical sacrifice after a breakup. I'll sit and listen to song after song by some artist - it’s almost always one artist and one album - and no matter how much I used to enjoy that artist, by the time I'm ready to move on all the music is so tainted by the memories of the breakup itself that I can never stand to listen to it again.

Yes! I lost Sainthood by Tegan and Sara to this, I'm still upset about it.
posted by almostmanda at 11:42 AM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Death Cab for Cutie has a new album out, just sayin'.
posted by Corinth at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have an enduring love for the Pixies because I went to see them live (on their reunion tour) right as my far-past-its-expiration-date relationship was disintegrating and I discovered the wonder of being unburdened by the baggage of another.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2015


Anything by the self-pity mope trifecta of American Music Club, Mark Eitzel, and Red House Painters.
posted by blucevalo at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Blood on the Tracks, you philistines.

"You're an iiiiiiiiiidiot babe. It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe . . . "
 
posted by Herodios at 12:38 PM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


What a bizarre concept.

When I'm heartbroken, I'm thankful that Beck wrote the best cryin'-heart-broke-down album for sadlistening in 2002, when I was 34, and the thought of trying to shake out that high lonesome feeling by returning to my collection of mixtapes of The Residents, Nina Hagen, Snakefinger, Tones On Tail, and...well, other stuff for herky-jerky disaffected erudite teen faggots mashed under the thumb of the Doom Cotillion of Saint Reagan just seems, odd. I don't know much about heartbreak from my teen years because the kind of heartbreak available to me was more often of the whole-world-sucks variety than of the kind that straight kids could access.

By the time someone did manage to break my heart in 17 places, I put a rather slight song on the iPod, set it to loop, and listened to "Worry About You" approximately twenty thousand times, starting from the moment when I watched him from the balcony of an empty apartment as he pulled out of the parking lot in his little black truck, headed west, and just kept heading west until he wound up back home where some dreamers forever dream the golden dream. I swam in Sea Change, wallowed in Mouse On Mars singing that the end was near, and took Annie's "Bitter Pill" over and over.

Of course, as Armistead Maupin points out, because of the old order that's swiftly fading, our queer teen years got pushed back into our twenties and thirties, when we finally get to do the stuff that everyone else did in high school, so maybe it's all true.
posted by sonascope at 2:49 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Saves The Day's "Can't Slow Down" is my #1 go-to album for breakups.

I'm surprised American Football isn't mentioned. Their album is pretty much quintessential breakup emo music.

Let's just forget
Everything said
And everything we did
Best friends and better halves

Goodbyes
And the autumn night
When we realized
We were falling out of love

There were some things
That were said
That weren't meant
But were said

Like we never did
Not to be
Overly
Dramatic

I just think it's best
'Cause you can't miss what you forget

So let's just pretend
Everything and anything
Between you and me
Was never meant

posted by gucci mane at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here are some of mine:

The Go-Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane
Michael Penn - March
The Field Mice - Snowball
Able Tasmans - A Cuppa Tea and a Lie Down
posted by elmono at 3:16 PM on April 28, 2015


Gotta tell you, this doesn't work if you were the kind of extremely nerdy teenager who never listened to the radio and was instead really into musical theater. The soundtrack to Sweeney Todd is many things, but a great breakup album it is not.
posted by darchildre at 4:15 PM on April 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wow, I just discovered an entirely new level of shame upon reading the words "9-minute Something Corporate song" and instantly both knowing what that is and hearing it in my head.
posted by threeants at 8:25 PM on April 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Try Rent, darchildre.
posted by maryr at 10:04 PM on April 28, 2015


"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:36 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Billie Holiday-Baby I don't Cry Over You . :)
posted by Picollecta at 8:01 AM on April 29, 2015


Or, maryr, Les Miserables. The name pretty much tells you that it's for angst-filled teens, or people re-living what it's like to be an angst-filled teen.
posted by clawsoon at 6:04 PM on April 29, 2015


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