If you’ve ever liked someone more than a little bit, chances are you’ve had your heart broken or gone through a rough breakup at some point. Even if you’re the one doing the breaking-up, no one enjoys it (unless you’re a bit twisted), and often times both parties walk away feeling pretty shitty about it, at least for a little while. And what’s one of the best ways to cope with your shitty-feels? Music. Music is a HUGE part of my life, for the great times and the lame times, it always feels better to use music as an outlet for whatever you’re going through. Having a good break-up mix can work wonders for helping you get back on your feet, or at least help you deal with your emotions until you feel more able to get back on your (emotional) feet.
What some people may not think of when deciding what to listen to when they’re down-and-out about losing someone is that the songs you choose don’t necessarily have to be about breaking up or losing someone you love. Sometimes music that invokes a lot of emotion can help you get the sadness out of your system without making you dwell on the cause of your pain. I also think that a good break-up mix should have some upbeat songs tossed in, because even though you have every right to be upset, you also have to remember that everything will be alright in the end, and that there are still plenty of things to be happy about. I’ve decided to compile a list of 10 songs that are a good mix of explicit break up songs, and some songs that just make you FEEL, ya know? Hopefully the next time you’re missing someone, this list will help you feel those feels you’re allowed to feel, and let you leave feeling like you a have a little less weight on your heart.
1. Postcards From Italy – Beirut
Not necessarily about break-ups, but definitely a song rife with nostalgia, sentiment, all set on a beautiful ukulele riff, stunning vocals by the talented Zach Condon, and polished off with a perfect horn part. This song brings out the bittersweetness of reflecting on something that no longer exists, a time, a place, a relationship, but somehow manages to keep it happy. It’s good to remember the good times of the relationship–no matter how things may have ended, there’s almost always good times to remember, and you should treasure them.
2. She’s Got You – Patsy Cline
This is one of the explicit break-up songs, guys. But it’s like venting/crying about your problems to your best friend or watching that one rom-com that you KNOW is going to make you cry (it’s alright, you can admit it’s The Notebook), it’s just something that needs to happen at some point to get it all out. From the point of view of a woman still in love with someone who left her for someone else, this will get the waterworks going, even if that wasn’t the reason your relationship ended. It’s alright–have a good cry. You’ll feel a little better.
3. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morisette
It’s time to be pissed off. You don’t even have to be pissed off at your ex, just pissed off at the situation. You’re not happy, damn it, and you’re going to yell about it. Blow off dat steam! Another classic break-up song, and although it may be a bit cliché, it definitely works. Scream along with the queen of angst.
4. I’ll Be Seeing You – Billie Holiday
It’s okay to miss them, guys. And it’s okay to still think of them from time to time. You shared something special. Don’t get sucked into dwelling on how much you’re sad that they’re not around, but you will think of them every so often, and you should be okay with that. Soon enough you’ll be your own person again, and their memory will haunt you less and less. But for now, it’s alright to say “I’ll be seeing you”.
5. For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti – Sufjan Stevens
A song about lost souls and the lonely, this song has often been interpreted as conversations between people and God, between mother and son, etc. I think this song is just one of those songs that makes you feel–it can be left up to your own interpretation. I know the line “I’ll do anything for you/I did everything for you” really resonates with me. It might invite some self-pity in, but I think that there are multiple stages of dealing with a break-up, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling sorry for yourself, at least for a little bit.
6. Westfall – Okkervil River
This song has absolutely nothing to do with breaking up. It was actually written about the 1991 Austin Yogurt Shop Murders (A very sad/messed up story. For those of you who are morbidly interested, I suggest you research it). However, it’s a very emotional piece. It has an meaningful slow build that eventually leads into an all-out, sing-as-loud-as-you-can, play-the-drums-on-your-dashboard emotional release. Feel the feels, guys. Feel the feels.
7. Angel – Aerosmith
Ya need a power-ballad. You just do. This number from Aerosmith really just boils down to “Goddamn it, I miss you, why aren’t you here with me now?”. Like I said, you’re allowed to miss them. And there’s going to be a period in time where you wish they were coming back. And sometimes they do–and sometimes they don’t. But this song is the perfect commiserator on missing your person right then and there.
8. The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth
This song is all about letting go, which, eventually, you will have to do. Again, not necessarily about breaking up, but this song will put you in the mood to sever all ties, throw caution to the wind, and leaving behind everything and being completely alright with that.
9. Beth/Rest – Bon Iver
We’re almost out of the woods, guys. A GREAT feely-feels song. This song just drips with beauty and emotion, as most of Bon Iver’s music does. This song has the perfect mix of sadness infused with an appreciation for the sadness, an acceptance of the death of something you loved. Justin Vernon (Bon Iver frontman) said of the song “And ‘Beth/Rest’ is the death, but it’s a good death. It’s good winter. But it’s a rest; it’s not this final thing. ‘Beth’ seems like this really cool name for a place you just go to be in paradise forever.” Mourn for your losses, children. Grieve. It’s healthy. But accept that although what you had may have been beautiful, there is life to be found in death. Embrace what was, and look forward to what will be.
10. Non Je Ne Regrette Rien – Édith Piaf
This is it. This is the last hoorah. Entirely in French, this classic translates to “No, I Regret Nothing”, and that’s what the entire song is about. Don’t regret your time spent on the relationship. It was meaningful, it was good when it was good, and now it’s over. Sometimes we feel that we have nothing to show for our relationships and endeavors, but there’s always, always something to be taken away from it, even if it’s just to show you what not to do in the future. Be comfortable with your choices, with your mistakes. If you had done anything differently, you wouldn’t be who and where you are today. This uplifting piece is the perfect way to end this mix. What has happened has happened. Be sad, then get over it, and then be content with yourself and your life once again. Here are the lyrics translated into English for you guys. Feel the self-contented power of this one.
No, absolutely nothing No, I regret nothing Not the good that has been given Not the bad, it’s all the same to me No, absolutely nothing No, I regret nothing It is payed, done, forgotten I don’t care about the past With my memories I light the fire My pains, my pleasures I don’t need them anymore I’m done with the loves and all their troubles I’m done for ever I start over with nothing No, absolutely nothing No, I regret nothing Not the good that has been given Not the bad, it’s all the same to me No, absolutely nothing No, I regret nothing Because my life, because my joys today, they start with you
You’ll be alright, guys. We all will.
Art by Laura