Can You Love the Music You Love After a Breakup?
So, my girlfriend and I just broke up. Coincidentally, or maybe because April is just a shitty month, the inverse happened to Camille Standen, who wrote a piece for Noisey about how her shattered relationship ruined all the songs she used to love.
I can relate, but I wouldn't say my favorite songs have been ruined. Hearing The Temptations sing "My Girl" -- with that lyric, "I've even got the month of May" -- just fucking tore me up, but otherwise I seem to be okay, and the music in my rotation hasn't changed much.
Music is always sweeter at two points in a relationship: The start and finish. When you first meet, it's like rediscovering The Velvet Underground, and when you break up, it's like rediscovering what The Velvet Underground actually sang about. Who loves the motherfucking sun, indeed.
That's not to say I'm not incredibly broken up -- only on the inside! Believe it or not, I have feelings, guys! But I think I'm handling things well. Resisting the temptation to publicly shame The Girl, it's more important for me to realize I no longer have to consume my time and energy attempting to make someone happy who can't even make herself happy.
Music is getting me through this. Without it, I'd probably be getting drunk and calling her at two in the morning. Instead, I'm just getting drunk. Maybe you're going through a breakup as well and would like some album suggestions for breakin' on through to the other side. And, hey, Camille, if you're still available, maybe you'd like to go on a date. I can totally introduce you to some music that'll make you smile again (wink, wink).
LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Friday, I was listening to 93.9 when "All I Want" came on and I saw a car spin out, clip five other cars, and crash on the other side of the road. This is relevant because a) it was terrifying and kind of insane, and b) it made me realize my problems could be a lot worse.
But suddenly I realized that This Is Happening is a breakup album, in a few senses of the word. Released almost a year before the band called it quits, it hints at giving up, moving on, picking up the pieces, and starting over. Happening is also really beautiful and sad and tears you up inside and brings you back at the end with "Home." Coincidentally, that's the title of a song I can never, ever listen to again. Fuck you, Edward Sharpe. I hope you get cancer.
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Weird choice, right? But I lost my virginity to this album. I was, you know, getting ready for the moment because I knew it was coming. I wanted to put on some music and wanted something that I had no prior association with.
Like, you want it to be sentimental, but you don't want your very first lovemaking music to be The White Album because you already have a thousand memories attached to that. So I chose something I had never listened to before. A friend had dumped his iTunes onto my computer and, whatever, it seemed good enough.
I never knew I was going to fall so head over heels in love with this album, even as I fell out of affection with that very first girl. Best of all, it has no fucking songs about romance, unless you interpret it pretty broadly, so it's like a palate cleanser. Spin this record and it'll pick you right up, a high-water mark before your next breakdown.
The Mars Volta - Amputechture
I have never met a girl who likes The Mars Volta. I used to tell myself that I found one, I would marry her on the spot. Of course, my ex hated them as well, so this is like, I dunno, my Led Zeppelin IV (another album she didn't appreciate). What I mean is, this is like a soundtrack for riding a motorcycle and smoking cigarettes and being independent and all the stuff girlfriends don't like you to do. When you put on Amputechture , you can sit back, relax with a beer, and go, "Oh, this is what it's like to be single again. Meh, making my own choices ain't so bad."
Matchbox Twenty - Mad Season
A breakup is a process. It comes in waves and it's a lot like the model for grieving. Denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and you accept. It spells DANDY (BTW, the Dandy Warhols are also good breakup music, but I talk about them enough as it is), and feeling dandy is what it takes to someday feel normal again.
That said, everyone needs a breakup album that is totally lame and that will cause most people to laugh at you if you admit to appreciating it. Mad Season is mine, something I've treasured since I was too young to understand what love or music was really all about. I would say it's a guilty pleasure, but then, I don't feel guilty and I don't feel pleasure, especially when "If You're Gone" comes on. Fuck, I'm a mess.
Interpol - Antics
No one has any idea what Interpol songs are about except Interpol, and that's what makes Antics such a dear album. I've loved this band since a flush of hormones turned me into a man, and it's never once let me down. Because of its ambiguity, I can associate it with practically any situation in my life and, therefore, it's gotten me through more bullshit than any other record, and it continues to do so.
Funny how "Length of Love" has meant literally 100 different things to me. Before, it was optimism; now, it's bitterness. And unlike certain romantic tunes, it doesn't wear out so easily, if at all. I suspect it never will and I will be listening to this album when I'm nearing death. "Take You on a Cruise" and "C'mere" will take on dozens of new interpretations with each changing season of my life.
And though ending a nearly two-year relationship with someone I truly, deeply, madly, and willingly loved hasn't been easy, I don't regret the time I spent with her, and I'm not against love. Things just don't work out sometimes and you can't prevent it, just like that car accident.
I'll just leave you with these lyrics from Interpol's "Public Pervert": "If time is my vessel, then learning to love may be my way back to sea."
Love on, friends.
Troy Farah is single and super good-looking and will make you mix CDs at troyfarah.com
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.