Jim Adams does a great job in discussing Greg Kihn’s motivation in writing “The Breakup Song,” which has long been on my list of favorites. It illustrates the depression aspect of the grief someone can feel after the end of a relationship. The narrator is sad as he watches couples dancing together while he sits alone. “And now I’m staring at the bodies as they’re dancing so slow…”
No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” (written by Gwen Stefani and Eric Stefani) is also a homage to the sadness we feel as someone leaves us. We’re tired of talking about the inevitable, wasting more useless words that failed to mend things. Just go. Don’t explain further. “And I don’t need your reasons; Don’t tell me ’cause it hurts…”
But sometimes we feel more anger than sadness, right? There are a lot of breakup songs that explore the angry aspect of grief. A perfect example of this is “You Oughtta Know” by Alanis Morissette (with Glen Ballard co-writing). She’s steaming mad! She sarcastically wishes her ex happiness with his new girlfriend. “And I’m here, to remind you of the mess you left when you went away…”
Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is another angry song. He fantasizes how his ex will end up miserable same as he is now. “When tears come down like falling rain, You’ll toss around and call my name.” We want to believe our exes will end up sorry they dumped us, don’t we?
Denial is another aspect of grief we may feel as our world crashes around us. Eric Clapton’s “Promises” is about this concept. (Brandon Casey and others are listed as the writers.) At the beginning of the song, Eric says to his ex that he doesn’t care if she never comes home “’cause I don’t love you and you don’t love me.” He discusses why it’s better they’re apart and that’s fine. But by the end, he admits he would still love her if she’d love him back.
Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man” is about denial. Look, he knows she’s in pain and couldn’t deal with a relationship, but none of that is his fault. It’s all due to her exes and baggage. He’s willing to explore that with her, but remember… he didn’t do anything! “And although this is a fight I can lose, the accused is an innocent man.” As we know, however, it takes two…
What about bargaining? Yep, we also find this aspect of grief represented in song. “Baby Come Back” by Player is an example of bargaining (written by John Crowley and Peter Beckett). He begins by pretending he’s fine and having fun alone (denial), but soon he admits he is miserable and wants her back. “Baby come back, you can blame it all on me; I was wrong, and I just can’t live without you.” If only she’d give him another chance, he’ll take the blame for the things that went wrong. (How many times have we heard this though? 🤣)
“We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles (written by Lennon and McCartney) is another good example of bargaining. Just give us a chance, he pleads. He goes on to mansplain about how life is short and there’s no time for fighting, okay? Just see things his way, for cryin’ out loud. Geez!
Then there’s acceptance. You know it’s over and you accept it, even if you’re still sad or mad. You’ve quit denying nothing is wrong and you’ve stopped bargaining for a re-do. It’s done and you have to move on. How about “Last Song” by Edward Bear? (Larry Evoy wrote it.) He’s still sad, but he’s done writing songs about her and done hoping she’ll return. “This is hard for me to say, but this is all that I can take.” Yeah. Enough!
Finally, one of my favorite songs about coming to terms with a breakup is Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” written by Per Hakan Gessle). “It was all that I wanted; now I’m living without. It must have been love, but it’s over now.”
On our way down a new path…
These songs illustrate the 5 stages of grief: anger, denial, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. The stages can last a long time, and you can experience them in any order, including revisiting some you thought were finished. Emotions aren’t linear! And there are many other feelings that can occur too. Guilt, shame, fear, etc. I read that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed the 5-stage model to help explain the process of grieving over the death of a loved one. They may not apply as well to the end of a romance (and are apparently out of “scientific” favor altogether, but like whatever). I think they do help to illustrate the roller-coaster of emotions that can plague some of us when a relationship dies.
I hope you enjoyed reading this relatively long post written for Mindlovemisery. It was yet another insomnia-fueled ramble.
Please feel free to add your favorite breakup songs in comments. 💔
©️2020 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.
Images from Pexels and Pixabay.