Valentine’s Day is that special time of year when a large majority of the population comes together with chalky hearts, cheesy cards, and a greenhouse full of roses. To those people I say hurrah! Enjoy your day, enjoy your significant other—I know that I will. Sadly, a large portion of society will also be alone on the day of love and to those people I lift my glass. I’ve been there… In fact, most of us have been there before—alone, unwanted, betrayed, angry. The list of emotions is vast and numerous—all experience the breakup phase differently.
This list was pulled together from both my history with depression/betrayal/heartbreak as well as my love for all music angry and depressing. I wanted to provide a good mix of emotional music to choose from so there is everything from progressive rock to Irish folk music to metal. I hope that those of you who are happy on Valentine’s day can still find some merit in this list but, honestly, this is really meant for all of you who just want to say “fuck it” to the whole holiday. Enjoy the tunes—dance, headbang, laugh, cry, whatever. Just experience the pure raw power of the list and wallow in whatever emotion you feel.
Track 6 on Facelift (1990)
We should really start this list off strong with a classic 27 years in the making. There are voices in music and then there are VOICES and Layne Staley definitely falls into the latter category. This song about a relationship that is toxic and full of both love and hate is a perfect introduction to this list. By the end of the song, you fully understand what Staley is feeling. The last minute of the song not only showcase Staley’s impressive vocals but also portray the anger and hurt that can be felt in a relationship. Strap in, kids, because this is just the beginning of a very bumpy ride.
*Key Line* - “Try to understand me little girl; my twisted passion to be your world.”
Track 6 on Mer de Noms (2000)
This song has always had an enormous impact on me. It brings me to tears damn near every time that I hear it. It may be the beautiful mix of acoustic guitar and strings or Maynard James Keenan’s wonderful vocals but as someone who has suffered with depression and alienation, this song speaks volumes. Although it has been stated that this song may or may not be about a threesome (I’m serious here), the message for someone who is hurting is obvious. They built someone up, made them feel wonderful about themselves, and the cared more than anything about this person only to be thrown aside without a second glance. If you are sad or feel alone and the end of this song doesn’t get to you, you are dead inside.
*Key Line* - “Apparently nothing at all. You don’t see me at all.”
Track 3 on Where You Want to Be (2004)
This is one of those songs that starts out almost hopeful and ends desperate and bitter—you know, the perfect fuel for an anger-filled Valentine’s Day. It starts off describing a relationship that is on the verge of ending and the singer is realizing that it is going to be awful when it finally happens. Eventually, it ends and we are given great lines like, “Say you have to go. To hell with you and all your friends.” Eventually the song devolves into the singer trying to find anyone to fill the void left by the lost partner and even though he sings “anyone will do tonight,” we can tell that it isn’t entirely true. In the end, he is just screaming, “I’ve got it bad!” We feel you, buddy. Scream away, Fred!
*Key Line* - “Anyone will do tonight; anyone will do tonight. Close your eyes, just settle, settle.”
Track 2 on A Place of Our Own (2014)
Have Mercy will be on this list at least three times because their music is the perfect embodiment of hurt and pain. This song was the first I had ever heard from them and it made an immediate impact. You can truly feel the pain in his voice when he says “I had a life and I had friends and I miss all of them.” This song hit especially hard for me because a friend of mine left home after the destruction of a relationship and he continuously talks of how this song resonates perfectly with him because it describes exactly how he feels. The singer had to leave everything he loved behind because he couldn’t stay where he was and survive emotionally or mentally. It is a wonderful edition to the breakup list.
*Key Line* - “I had a life and I had friend and I miss all of them.”
Track 5 on Razorblade Suitcase (1996)
Once again, we get to see Bush in all their 90’s glory, talking about the destruction of a relationship. Gavin Rossdale backtracks through the entire relationship to try and find where they went wrong: “Slowly move on, how did we get to here?” You can feel his anger and bitterness at the end, screaming “You will get yours!” It is one of those great 90’s breakup songs and it fits so perfectly on this list.
*Key Line* - “What you save is what you lose out in the end.”
Track 2 on American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
This song may be the best cover ever recorded. I LOVE Nine Inch Nails and the original version of this song is incredible. To me, they are completely different songs. Cash’s version was released immediately after the death of his wife and was soon followed by his own death. It is painful and the use of acoustic and piano really adds a darkness. His deep, gravelly voice pulls the emotion out of the lyrics. You can really feel the pain in his voice. While Reznor is also incredibly emotional (and in the context of The Downward Spiral, incredibly brutal and depressing), for my money, Cash just took a great song and expanded on what it could mean. The video just adds to the pain (see the flash to pictures of his wife).
*Key Line* - “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain—the only thing that's real.”
Track 3 on Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence (2000)
Another of those great 2000’s bands, Glassjaw is unique in that their music is all over the map in the best possible way and with one of the most interesting and recognizable vocalists in music, they stand out. This song, complete with clever title, covers a relationship that is toxic but the singer cant seem to move on. He loves her but he also can’t stand to be around her: “I’m glad that you’re here, and sad that you’re near.” It ends perfectly with the line, “I hope you enjoy dying alone.”
*Key Line* - “I’ve bartered tact for wit and I’ve already made up a billion stories about you.”
Track 2 on Clouded (2014)
This Wild Life was another of those bands I had never heard of before experiencing them at Warped Tour. Since then, I have tracked down all of their music and have even met them a few times. They are two guys who don’t look at all how they sound and the music is incredible. This song in particular details the need to get over someone with whom you’ve severed a relationship. Its really a great, understated song detailing the need to move on with your life after the relationship falls apart.
*Key Line* - “I've got to get over it, over it, over right, And over you. I've started to feel, started to heal, and you should too.”
Track 5 on Sigh No More (2009)
There is no better song to show the connection of music and lyrics and pain than “White Blank Page.” This song is the standout on an album that is basically perfect. We start with a depressed tone, asking questions of the person who has taken your love. From there we see a desperate question; “What was wrong with me loving you completely?” Next we see anger and rage at being used and thrown away, followed again by a slightly more frantic question, the same as before. Finally we end with a wonderful interlude belting out a desperate plea to be received again by the person who already hurt them. Listen to how the music follows the tone of the song. It is simply amazing.
*Key Line* - “Tell me now, where was my fault in loving you with my whole heart.”
Track 2 on Hot Fuss (2004)
Very simply a song about realizing that the person you love doesn’t hold the same feelings as you and instead of really understanding what is happening, you try to convince yourself that it isn’t as bad as you know it to be. You only look at the bright side of things, regardless of all the jealousy that is bubbling over.
*Key Line* - “Jealousy, turning saints into the sea, swimming through sick lullabies, choking on your alibis.”
Come back tomorrow for another 10 songs to sob to...
Images - Amazon