Friday, April 3, 2015

Break-Up Albums Lied to Me

First, some news: I recently broke up with Sarah, my girlfriend of five years. There was no massive, explosive argument, no unforgivable betrayal from which the relationship couldn't possibly recover; we just agreed that things had run their course and that, while it had been a wonderful experience for both of us, it was time to call it a day.

Obviously, the last week or so has been somewhat stressful (breaking it to my parents was the hardest part), but I was also a little bit excited - believe it or not, this is the first and only break-up I've ever been through, and once things were set in stone (that is, once I'd changed my Facebook status from 'In a Relationship' to 'Single), I was perversely thrilled to finally have an excuse to listen to all of the horribly depressing break-up albums I've accrued over the last decade or so.

"Wait, is that R.E.M.'s Out of Time? Is this idiot trying to tell us that the album with Shiny Happy People on it is 'horribly depressing'?"

A problem, though: very few of pop music's all-time classic break-up albums were written about amicable, still-best-friends break-ups such as this one. As deeply as I want to wallow in these songs, I simply can't identify with the 'fuck you' sentiment of Song for the Dumped....

In fairness, Sarah was usually the one lending ME money.

...or the 'my life is over' claustrophobia of Busted's Without You...

I'm still bellowing along with that chorus, mind.

...or the broken, take-me-back pathos of Damien Rice's best work...

...because none of that is how I'm feeling right now. I love how Nick Cave compares the end of love with the end of life on The Boatman's Call, and I love those albums that equate break-ups with the apocalypse, but thus far, my own break-up experience more closely resembles a Georgia Ruth song:

"And you made a mountain out of me, and I made a mounting storm out of you...and now, my darling, I'll be seeing you around."

Admittedly, I can name quite a few post-relationship songs that look back with fondness rather than anger or sadness; there's The Good Things by Cherry Poppin' Daddies, So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen, For Emma by Bon Iver (possibly, maybe), and so forth. But these are songs, not albums; artists frequently dedicate whole LPs to thorny, angsty splits, but as far as I'm aware, there are no full albums about nice break-ups.

It's strange, really - as much as I enjoy those megableak break-up albums, I feel like my current mood (a heady blend of nostalgia, nervousness, stress, sadness, and that Fresh Feeling the Eels sang about) would provide a far richer palette of emotions for a songwriter to draw from.

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