If you went through a difficult breakup, we send our condolences and encouragement: you will survive Valentine’s Day. Even if you drown your sorrows in chocolates, drinks, and sweet treats, rest assured that you’ve got company in the post-breakup period: Kelly Clarkson wasn’t the only one to go through a breakup and think about how things were going since her lover was gone.
1. Aretha Franklin
With a funky, upbeat horn line, sweet background vocals, bluesy piano solo and driving riffs, the music sounds like a celebration of dancing in the streets – belying the pleading, apologetic lyrics: “Baby baby, sweet baby / I didn’t mean to run you away / It was pride on my lips / But not in my heart / To say the things that made you stray.”
2. Weird Al Yankovic
In classic Weird Al form, the lyrics parody the hyperbolic lyrics we hear so often in songs of heartbreak, convincing you that the singer experiences an excruciating heartbreak until the hilarious twist at the end: “I feel almost as bad as I did / When you were still here.” The a cappella doo-wop makes sense with that line in mind.
3. Four Tops
Here’s another tune that sounds almost too peppy to express a tragedy of the heart. I don’t know about you, but if someone sounded like they were in this good of a mood, I’d be wondering how much they were really suffering, even in spite of the rich bari sax solo and lines like “I find it hard to carry on / Heartaches are getting stronger / And I can’t hold on much longer.”
4. Fine Young Cannibals
Back in the 80s, the Fine Young Cannibals used era-appropriate electronics along with an enticing drum and simple strum of an electric guitar to explore the everyday reality of what it’s like to get back to life after getting dumped: “My friends at work / They tell me I should get away / Maybe take a holiday / They know I hurt / Everyday, I get in late / Find it hard to concentrate.”
5. Day 26
Day 26 incorporates all the proper elements of modern R&B music into their 2008 take on heartbreak: sweet harmonies against a backdrop of a piano, drums, and synthesized sounds with lyrics that anyone who’s been on the dumped side of a breakup can connect with: “Since you been gone / I just can’t seem to get right / And I miss you more than you’ll ever know.”
6. The Outfield
Released in 1987, this tune epitomizes the sound of rock n’ roll in the 1980s as well as elaborates on post-breakup feelings that know no era. There’s also a moment of sadness in the singer’s words “Since you’ve been gone / Staring at your photograph / And I know it won’t be long / An’ I know you’re coming back.” Most of us have been there, but is that attempt to convince ourselves of reconciliation delusional or just hopeful? You decide.
7. Theory of a Deadman
In spite of the hard rock sound of this 2005 cut, Theory of a Deadman really knows how to use their lyrics to convey the loneliness that ensues when a relationship ends: “Since you broke my heart when you left that day / There’s nowhere to go so just stay with me / ‘Cause since you’ve been gone, I’ve been begging you please.”
The lyrics also reveal a codependent tendency with lines like “tell me you’re not alright / And you needed to come home / (Since you’ve been gone) / To tell me you’re not okay / And you needed me all along / Since you’ve been gone / I need to hear from you.”
Not the words that are necessarily going to win your lover back.
In 1976, Russ Ballard of Argent penned and performed this tune that was later performed (perhaps more famously, but that’s up for debate for you classic rock heads out there). This is truly classic pop rock at its finest, complete with keyboards, synth, and beginnings of the monster guitar world.
Lyrics point to the concept of someone hurting so much that they refuse to take responsibility for their own healing: “These four walls are closing in / Look at the fix you’ve put me in! / Since you’ve been gone, since you’ve been gone / I’m outta my head, can’t take it / Could I be wrong, but since you’ve been gone / You cast the spell, so break it.”
9. Billy Fury & The Four Days
A slow, traditional blues from the earliest days of rock, Billy Fury pours out his heart with a raspy, gutsy voice and a honky tonk guitar and piano trading off licks. The half-point ventures into a fast-paced turnaround – almost makes you think a second track has begun until you listen closely to the lyrics: “Days are so lonesome and my nights are so long / yes I feel so lonely since you’re gone gone gone gone / At night I lie just waiting for you / so tired of crying, so alone and blue / there’s no denying my love for you.”
10. The Rasmus
The B-side of this Finnish group’s 2003 single First Day of my Life, The Rasmus brings the expected elements of post-grunge. Although the song doesn’t begin as a song of celebration – melodically speaking – it breaks into a bright chorus celebrating the freedom that comes when a relationship ends: “Since you’ve been gone things have come so clear to me / just wanna shout cause I’m able to breathe / Since you’ve been gone I’ve been free.”
11. Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders
A great example of a breakup tune from the British Invasion, Wayne Fontana’s mid-tempo B-side to his group’s big hit (Game of Love) plays with sound and volume to give a musical enhancement of what’s going on lyrically, such as in the quiet interlude of “Sitting all alone wonderin’ what to do / Can’t believe it’s happened, it’s not true / What made you leave me alone? / What did I do wrong?”
So whether you’re celebrating your newfound freedom a la Weird Al and The Rasmus or feeling the fierce conviction of winning your love back or even just feeling sad, lonely, and a walking epic sob story, remember these tunes. It happens to the best of us, but rest assured, your heart will go on.
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