Breakup Songs: The Victim Edition (Part 1)

Posted on June 7, 2012

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Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.

– T.S. Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

You trashed my heart, and you trashed my couch (foto@me)

So, you got dumped. Well at least there are some pretty awesome songs you can listen to! What is Life, anyway, without lots of breakups, breakdowns and breakouts. Here at your friendly local Pop Pony, a pathos-ridden soundtrack has been put together for you to dramatically savour those tragic moments. Because I love you, even when he, she or they no longer do.

Also, we know that there are breakups, and there are Break.Ups. Feelings of Parting run the gamut from “oh well… SKANK” to permanent irreparable emotional trauma, depending on context and scenario. I don’t really know all of them, but here are some breakup songs that would hopefully offer solace to a wide-enough range of sufferers.

Enjoy, with fried Mars Bars and a tub of ice cream.

1. Scenario: They Were Always Gonna Leave Anyway (aka stop thinking “I told you so”, assholes)

So she’s dumped you, and tonight you’re slouched over a sad pint, a sorry, sodden lump. You’ve been involved for the past 5 years with this too-young/ too-loud/ too-inappropriate skank, against the advice and behest of your friends/ grown and disgusted children/ ex-wife/ mother. You’ve lost everyone’s sympathy. Perhaps even your own. You knew she was a manipulative little bitch but you stuck around cos she was kind of hot and you’re kind of a loser.  Hey, order a double – one for your pain, and one for your humiliation.

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Even the title of this sad, tired John Prine ditty, “Yes, I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You”, sounds resigned to loserdom. The twangy bluesy country fits perfectly with John Prine’s monotonous vocals for a suitably gloomy, depressing feel. It’s the perfect soundtrack for those who’ve lost the will to even hold in their beer bellies when chicks walk past.While the sad sod in the song might still be clinging onto the last vestiges of his relationship – “If this date were to be our last…”, frankly, there are no illusions where this ship is sailing to.

Looks like I had my fill
Guess I better pay my bill
When I started out I only meant to have a few
Someone just said that you left town
I better get a double round
And yes I guess they oughta name a drink after you

Sigh. Another of the same, Mr Barman.

~

2. Scenario: The One is short for “The One That Could’ve Been But I Guess Wasn’t”

You did all you could. You thought (s)he was the one. You met all the friends. You may have even met a family member or two. It was at least 3 years or more. You lived together. You used the L word. You wondered what your kids might look like.  You probably knew this was coming, but it still hurts so much. You had a life with each other and now you find yourself with so many shapeless days, so many empty spaces, and a painful person-shaped hole everywhere you look.

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Oh well, time, and all that. Pinback’s “Boo” starts off seemingly irrelevant, about a last-man-standing type of adventure/ thriller tale, but it is slowly revealed that their protagonist is actually stranded on a desert island of grief and loss far from the reach of any salvation. There is some hope of healing – “Someday, I will sail again/ To a distant shore, far away” – but that is eclipsed by a yawning, abyssal black –

Isn’t there anyone?
Inside this leaking submarine
The hull is closing in
The water is above my ankles
Now that I still can’t get you off of my mind
I don’t think that we can pull this one off
We shall see, time will tell
What is time and why does it
Taste like salt water inside of my mouth?

And because I have a somewhat embarrassing weakness for soppy Chinese ballads, here’s something  I like to think of as the simpler, more homely take on this category.

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Unfortunately Show Luo’s “Gao Xiao” mv, like many Chinese ballad mvs, is all banana-drama-rama-mama knock-you-over-the-head obvious. I’M SAD! I FROWN!  I KICK THE WALL! However, I think the lyrics are pretty sad and spot-on about longing for the familiarity and security of a long-time love while vainly convincing yourself you’re so much better off now you can go for Beer Pong Nite without any angry pouting. Here’s my crappy translation of a few lines:

“That tube of toothpaste is grinning at me/ Mocking me for not being able to finish using it/ I sleep when I want/ I party when I want/ I’m so glad there’s no-one to nag at me/ I accidentally bought an extra set of plates/ I forgot there’s no-one else dining with me… I’m fooling around/ Disguising my jumping heartbeat in the clamour of the party (ok man, I’m gonna stop here, this is a shit translation.)

~

3. Scenario: IT HURTS IT HURTS I HATE YOU (but please come back?)

This is dedicated to all the NSICs (Never Saw It Coming) out there. You get to play 2 songs if your ring was sent back to you in the mail. Hang in there, mate, and stay away from the the drunk-dialling!

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Pulp’s “Bad Cover Version” is one of my all-time favourite songs, breakup or not. The lyrics are boss. Jarvis Cocker is boss. He has a patent on the bitter and downtrodden like no-one else has. Only witness:

Aah, sing your song about all the sad imitations that got it so wrong
It’s like a later “Tom & Jerry” when the two of them could talk
Like the Stones since the Eighties, like the last days of Southfork.
Like “Planet of the Apes” on TV, the second side of “‘Til the Band Comes in”
Like an own-brand box of cornflakes: he’s going to let you down my friend.

That is the roiling self-loathing of a post-rebound simmering over a dawning realisation of the magnitude of one’s loss, and the growing fear of never getting over it. (Also, the mv is 87 shades of awesome. It’s a fake “Band Aid”-style vid of a bunch of “stars” doing a Pulp tribute. AS THEY SHOULD.)

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Radiohead’s “Thinking About You” is of the same ilk, a quieter and less dramatic version of bitterness, anger, disbelief, accusation and incredible hurt.

Been thinking about you, your records are here
Your eyes are on my wall, your teeth are over there…
What do you care?…
What do you care when the other men are far, far better? All the things you got,
all the things you need
Who bought you cigarettes,
Who pried the company to come and see you, honey I’ve been thinking about you, so how can you sleep?

Yeah, how can you?

~

4. Scenario: Huh. He Did Have Shit Shoes, Yunno.

For those lucky enough to have brudders and sistahs who staged a successful intervention – validating the shit out of you – well, good on you! Righteous anger and bratty proclamations are the pillars of self-worth. Pump your fist in the air, and tell yourself that (although you got unceremoniously dumped) that loser was, like, SO not worth it anyway.

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K, Outkast’s “Roses” is a bit of an obvious one, but if you fall into this category, I think you’d appreciate obvious shit.

Must take me for a geek a quick way to eat
A neat place sleep, a rent-a-car for a week, a trick for a treat
Now go on the raw sex, my AIDS test is flawless
Regardless, we don’t want to get involved with all them lawyers
And judges just to hold grudges in a courtroom

Well, the lyrics are funny. And of course:

I wanna see ya support bra not support you!

Hehehe. Btw, great mv too. (Paula Abdul!!)

Elsewhere in this category is this bad boy:

This is seriously hilarious to me. It sounds nice and surf-boy cute, but like the people who sprout these jaw-dropping stupidities, them baby blues are the windows to a superlatively egocentric soul. This is for the ones so deserving of their dumped-ness – “Said some things I know I should never have said/ Did some things I hope you’ll forgive and forget” – that they can’t even be bothered to hide their guilt – “I’m not here to beg you or apologise” and their lame attempt to manipulate their exes into taking their sorry asses back. “I’m sure that no-one knows me better!”

~

(to be continued)