Ah, the breakup mix. Is there anything quite so classic (cliché?) as sitting home alone in your underwear with the lights out eating ice cream out of the container while listening to sad music after a breakup? No, no there isn’t. In this edition of Mike’s Mixology I bring you the ultimate breakup mix for if you are sad, depressed, lonely and longing. It might not be a very happy mix, but it gets the job done. As long as that job is making you cry and sing along with some sad songs.
Track 1. “Last Night I dreamt that Somebody Loved Me” by The Smiths
So it is not really a breakup song per say. It is mostly just Morrissey singing about how nobody will ever love him (probably because he is a huge ass). Still it works, and is a nice way to ease us into the heartbreak and loss that will follow. The minute long intro works well in this situation as well at the start of the mix.
Track 2. “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson
This song has been covered by numerous people in various genres, but I think this one works the best. Nelson acknowledges that it is his fault that the relationship ends, but he still wants to let her know that he still thinks of her. Charming and sweet, it is hard not to feel for the guy.
Track 3. “Crown of Love” by Arcade Fire
“I carved your name across my eyelids.” Wow. That is some deep devotion right there. Helpless devotion makes this a great love song, but for me I have always heard it more as a breakup song than anything else. It ends with hopeful music, but we all know that is probably bullshit.
Track 4. “Nothing Compares 2 U” Sinead O’Connor
Classic. Prince wrote it but it is unquestionable that Sinead owns it. Aimless wandering, unwanted freedom, this song has all the classic elements of a breakup. The fact that it sort of made Sinead crazy helps the song even more.
Track 5. “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley
If your eyes are still dry after this song you clearly don’t have a heart. Or you have just totally cried all your tears out. Wanting to give up everything, including your life, for just a little more time with your love is a classic sentiment that has never been rendered so perfectly anywhere else.
Track 6. “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5
If things don’t get more upbeat you will just be totally destroyed by the midway point of the mix. This is easily the happiest sounding song on the mix, but the lyrics hit just as hard as anything on here. It is also easily one of the greatest songs ever written, so that helps.
Track 7. “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s
Getting the hell out of town is a well used plan to get over a relationship. It almost never works, and the Go-Go’s know that. Add to this my long standing crush on Jane Wiedlin (a crush I have recently gotten over seeing pictures of her now [long blond hair does NOT work on her]) and this has to be on the mix.
Track 8. “Losing You” by Solange
Yes, it sort of sounds like a party is going on. But between Solange’s longing voice and the melancholy of the synths it is pretty clear what this song is really about. Bonus points for the great music video and her sweet dance moves.
Track 9. “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
I am loading the middle of the mix with danceable tracks because “dancing the pain away” is a long theme in music and pop culture. I have never really found it to be that effective, but then I am not at all a dancer. Unless I am really drunk. And drinking the pain away is a whole other thing. Great song though, and we really needed a few classics on this one.
Track 10. “Cold War” by Janelle Monae
Yeah, she is by no means the first to equate love and war but specifically calling it a cold war is a great move. There are no actually shots fired, but there can be no doubt as to the feelings. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are fighting for, but we often fight even harder then.
Track 11. “Dry Your Eyes” by The Streets
The most brilliant line in this song is probably “I’m not gonna fuckin’ just fuckin’ leave it all now.” Never has the anger, impotence, and inarticulateness of heartbreak been better put into words. The fairly useless “friend voice” of the chorus is perfect as well.
Track 12. “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” by The Shangri-Las
My absolute favorite of the ’60s girl groups. Nobody captured teenage melodrama better, and if there is anything that reduce an adult to teenage melodrama it a breakup. Nobody has ever had better spoken word parts in songs that these ladies as well.
Track 13. “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams
Or how to make a banjo sound depressing. He talks about wanting to be with her while stating all the awful things she did to him. Yeah, that sounds like love right there. Even though stealing records might be a totally unforgiveable crime.
Track 14. “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This song has the distinction of being both one of the greatest prom songs as well as a powerful breakup anthem. Which is a pretty neat trick. It has always felt more like a breakup to me though, and it hits insanely hard. Right in the heart.
Track 15. “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver
If you spoke only Swahili you would still instantly recognize this as a song about a lost love. The lyrics add, but a certainly secondary to the feeling in the voice. Plus the story about it being written after a break up which saw Justin Vernon retreating from the world in a cabin only makes it better.
Track 16. “One More Hour” by Sleater-Kinney
There are two female vocalists on this song. It is about their breakup. Can you even imagine being in a band with your ex, much less having to sing this amazing song with her ever night? The way their voices play off each other shows why they dated, the lyrics tell of why they stopped.
Track 17. “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men
At this point you have listened to about an hour of sad songs about how much you are still in love with someone who trampled all over your heart. If you can make it through this pure ’90s uber-melodrama without cracking a smile about the whole ridiculousness of everything your heart is truly broken. But seriously, the spoken word part of this song might just be the most absurd thing ever recorded.
Track 18. “I Don’t Want to get Over You” by The Magnetic Fields
Time for some reality. Heartbreak is, in a strange literary sense, a good feeling. We fetishize it and allow those going through it latitude we would not otherwise give. The part in this song about wearing black and reading Camus is so perfect you forget that you probably didn’t even know who Camus was until you were in your 20s and then probably pronounced it wrong.
Track 19. “Woke Up New” by The Mountain Goats
Guess what? The world is not going to end. Life is going to go on. The rest of the world didn’t even notice that your life as you knew it ended. It affected, at most, about 20 people and really only 2 of them need to make major changes. John has no idea what he is going to do without her, but he knows by the end that the answer is just keep living. In a few days he will make the correct amount of coffee, the house will seem less strange and maybe he will get a pet to talk with. The important thing is that while the future is uncertain, it is not totally unknown. You just need to get ready for it.
This was a fun one to make for me, just because I am a big fan of “old sad bastard” music. Some of these songs still hold quite powerful memories of certain people for me, but they are all in their own way cathartic and enjoyable. The funny thing is this mix actually probably reflects my musical tastes more than last week’s, and the whole point of that one was to show off my musical tastes. Wow, just two weeks in and already I am totally screwing this up.
Join me next week(ish) as a make a mix of country music for a friend who doesn’t like country music. And no, it will not just be Johnny Cash/Hank Williams/other people that everyone loves. That would be cheating. I will probably include one each of their songs though, I am not an idiot. Any suggestions/comments/feedback/whatever would be appreciated as always. See you next week(ish).