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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Break-up Songs

I've been working on this project for quite some time. In my own notes, I have some research/blurbs/etc. collected, but I'm going with the bare bones approach here for brevity's sake. The list is still largely incomplete (and will always be a work in progress); nevertheless, in an effort to capitalize on the wide-ranging music knowledge of the internet, I'm going to put down what I have and see what boomerangs back to me.

In setting out to begin this project, a major goal was that these songs should run the gamut across genres and time periods as well as the varieties of breakups (i.e. angry breakup, reluctant breakup, sad breakup, heart-rending breakup, gleeful breakup, eff-you breakup, mistaken breakup, etc). Additionally, while I've always been partial to the great lyrics crafters myself, I realize you can't always put a well-written song above a song that just sounds sublime. In other words, sometimes melody and harmony trump poetry. Who is Bernie Taupin without Elton John (and vise versa)?

Before I start, it should probably be mentioned somewhere that the top breakups albums of all time are: Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan, Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, and Grace by Jeff Buckley. Beck's Sea Change is a relatively recent sleeper and may be seen in similar light one day, and Joni Mitchell's Blue should probably be towards the top of any list. I may be forgetting some...

On to the list [Click on song title for youtube video, click on year for song's lyrics]. . . .

5/8/08 Update: Fixed many of the broken links that were taken down by Youtube.

"It was all over then; the terrible thing was that we yet had to go through the formal motions of dissolving it; we had, as humans do, to lay blame, to kill each other a bit, to pick up the pieces and move on." --- A Fan's Notes, Frederick Exley, 1968

Top 150 Breakup Songs of All Time

1. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley [Leonard Cohen], Grace, 1994
2. Late for the Sky - Jackson Browne, Late for the Sky, 1974
3. Reelin' in the Years - Steely Dan, Can't Buy a Thrill, 1972
4. Tangled Up in Blue - Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1975
5. You're a Big Girl Now - Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1975
6. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, 1965
7. I Haven't Got Anything Better to Do - DeeDee Warwick, All the Love That Went to Waste/I Haven't Got Anything Better to Do*, 1973
8. The Weakness in Me - Joan Armatrading, Walk Under Ladders, 1981
9. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor [Prince], I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, 1990
10. (You Were) Always on My Mind - Willie Nelson [Brenda Lee], Always on My Mind, 1982
11. Tyrone - Erykah Badu, Live, 1997
12. For No One - The Beatles, Revolver, 1966
13. I Can't Stand the Rain - Ann Peebles, I Can't Stand the Rain, 1974
14. Operator - Jim Croce, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, 1972
15. Diamonds & Rust - Joan Baez, Diamonds & Rust, 1975
16. It's Too Late - Carole King, Tapestry, 1971
17. Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye - Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1968
18. I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford) - Elton John, Rock of the Westies, 1975
19. Silver Wings - The Knitters [Merle Haggard], Poor Little Critter on the Road, 1985
20. Hasten Down the Wind* - Warren Zevon, Warren Zevon, 1976
21. I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Marvin Gaye, In the Groove/I Heard It Through the Grapevine, 1968
22. Caroline No - The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, 1966
23. Guess I'm Doing Fine - Beck, Sea Change, 2002
24. A Case of You - Joni Mitchell, Blue, 1971
25. At This Moment - Billy Vera & The Beaters, At This Moment, 1981 then 1986

26. Kiss and Say Goodbye - The Manhattans, The Manhattans, 1976
27. Sail On - Commodores, Midnight Magic, 1979
28. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt, Luck of the Draw, 1991
29. Come See About Me - The Supremes, Where Did Our Love Go, 1964
30. The Tracks of My Tears - Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Going to a Go-Go, 1965
31. Maggie May - Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story, 1971
32. The Thrill Is Gone - B.B. King, Completely Well, 1970
33. Shadowboxer - Fiona Apple, Tidal, 1996
34. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat - Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde, 1966
35. It's Over - Boz Scaggs, Silk Degrees, 1976
36. Dreams - Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, 1977
37. Last Goodbye - Jeff Buckley, Grace, 1994
38. I've Got Dreams to Remember - Otis Redding, The Immortal Otis Redding, 1968
39. More Than This - Roxy Music, Avalon, 1982
40. Love Is a Losing Game - Amy Winehouse, Back to Black, 2007
41. Crazy - Patsy Cline, Showcase with the Jordanaires, 1961
42. The Great Pretender - Freddy Mercury [The Platters], The Great Pretender, 1987
43. Dancing with Tears in My Eyes - X [Lead Belly], Under the Big Black Sun, 1982
44. Stay (I Missed You) - Lisa Loeb, Reality Bites Soundtrack, 1994
45. Maybe - The Chantels, Maybe, 1958
46. Lovesick Blues - Hank Williams, Lovesick Blues, 1949
47. Train in Vain - The Clash, London Calling, 1980
48. Crying - Roy Orbison, Crying, 1961 then 1987
49. Linger - The Cranberries, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We, 1993
50. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright - Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963

51. For the Good Times - Kris Kristofferson, Kristofferson/Me and Bobby McGee, 1971
52. He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones, I Am What I Am, 1980
53. Against All Odds - Phil Collins, Against All Odds Soundtrack, 1984
54. With or Without You - U2, The Joshua Tree, 1987
55. The Breakup Song - Greg Kihn Band, RockihnRoll, 1981
56. (Take Another) Piece of My Heart - Big Brother & The Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Cheap Thrills, 1968
57. Neither One of Us - Gladys Knight & The Pips, Neither One of Us, 1973
58. Have You Seen Her - The Chi-Lites, (For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People, 1971
59. Tired of Being Alone - Al Green, Al Green Gets Next to You, 1971
60. Different Drum - Stone Poneys, Evergreen Vol. 2, 1967
61. Graduation Day - Chris Isaak, Forever Blue, 1995
62. Somebody's Crying - Chris Isaak, Forever Blue, 1995
63. Can We Still Be Friends - Todd Rundgren, Hermit of Mink Hollow, 1978
64. I Still Miss Someone - Johnny Cash, The Fabulous Johnny Cash, 1958
65. Whipping Post - The Allman Brothers Band, The Allman Brothers Band, 1969
66. White Flag - Dido, Life for Rent, 2003
67. Bye Bye Love - The Everly Brothers, The Everly Brothers, 1957
68. Ex-Factor - Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1998
69. Coming Around Again - Carly Simon, Coming Around Again, 1987
70. Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers, Just As I Am, 1971
71. The Cowboy Rides Away - George Strait, Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, 1985
72. I Want You Back - The Jackson 5, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, 1969
73. Pictures of You - The Cure, Disintegration, 1990
74. Band of Gold - Freda Payne, Band of Gold, 1970
75. She Thinks I Still Care - George Jones, She Thinks I Still Care, 1962

76. Love Hurts - Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris [Everly Brothers], Grievous Angel, 1974
77. Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart, 1980
78. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973
79. You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill, 1995
80. These Days - Nico [Jackson Browne], Chelsea Girl, 1967
81. Walk Away Renee - The Left Banke, Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, 1967
82. So Long, Marianne - Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1968
83. Return of the Mack - Mark Morrison, Return of the Mack, 1997
84. Fountain of Sorrow - Jackson Browne, Late for the Sky, 1974
85. Silver Springs - Fleetwood Mac, 25 Years - The Chain, 1976 B-Side then 1992
86. Alison - Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True, 1977
87. By the Time I Get to Phoenix - Glen Campbell, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, 1967
88. Hit the Road, Jack - Ray Charles, The Genius Hits the Road, 1961
89. If You See Her, Say Hello - Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1975
90. Halah - Mazzy Star, She Hangs Brightly, 1990
91. These Eyes - The Guess Who, Wheatfield Soul, 1968
92. Dead Flowers - The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers, 1971
93. Already Gone - Eagles, On the Border, 1974
94. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years, 1975
95. Angie - The Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup, 1973
96. Hello It's Me - Todd Rundgren, Something/Anything?, 1972
97. Long May You Run - Neil Young, Long May You Run, 1976
98. Silver, Blue and Gold - Bad Company, Run with the Pack, 1976
99. Torn - Natalie Imbruglia [Ednaswap], Left of the Middle, 1998
100. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt, Back to Bedlam, 2006

101. Until You Come Back to Me - Aretha Franklin, Let Me in Your Life, 1973
102. You Got Lucky - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Long After Dark, 1982
103. Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gayle, We Must Believe in Magic, 1977
104. Why - Annie Lennox, Diva, 1992
105. The Scientist - Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2002
106. Promises - Eric Clapton, Backless, 1978
107. Don't Speak - No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, 1996
108. Separate Ways - Elvis Presley, Burning Love, 1972
109. Un-Break My Heart, Toni Braxton, Secrets, 1996
110. You Were Mine - Dixie Chicks, Wide Open Spaces, 1998
111. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, 1949
112. I Can See for Miles - The Who, The Who Sell Out, 1967
113. Please Do Not Go - Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes, 1982
114. Yesterday - The Beatles, Help!, 1965
115. Fool Hearted Memory - George Strait, Strait from the Heart, 1982
116. Got to Get You off My Mind* - Solomon Burke, The Rest of Solomon Burke*, 1965
117. Memphis, Tennessee - Dave Berry, Memphis, Tennessee, 1963
118. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go - Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1975
119. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference - Todd Rundren, Something/Anything?, 1972
120. I've Been Loving You Too Long - Otis Redding, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, 1966
121. The Chain - Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, 1977
122. Boys Don't Cry - The Cure, Boys Don't Cry, 1979
123. Who's Sorry Now - Connie Francis, Who's Sorry Now, 1958
124. Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold) - Dan Seals, Won't Be Blue Anymore, 1985
125. When Will I Be Loved - The Everly Brothers, When Will I Be Loved, 1960

126. Please Come to Boston - Dave Loggins, Apprentice in a Musical Workshop, 1974
127. I Fall to Pieces - Patsy Cline, Showcase with the Jordanaires, 1961
128. Be for Real - Afghan Wigs [Leonard Cohen], Beautiful Girls Soundtrack, 1996
129. When You Were Mine - Prince, Dirty Mind, 1980
130. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway, 2004
131. After the Love Has Gone - Earth, Wind & Fire, I Am, 1979
132. Lover's Cross - Jim Croce, I Got a Name, 1973
133. At My Window Sad and Lonely - Billy Bragg & Wilco, Mermaid Avenue, 1998
134. The Winner Takes It All - ABBA, Super Trouper, 1980
135. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin I, 1969
136. Walk on By - Dionne Warwick, Make Way for Dionne Warwick, 1964
137. I'll Miss You - Ween, Beautiful Girls Soundtrack, 1996
138. Smoke from a Distant Fire - Sanford-Townsend Band, The Smoke from a Distant Fire, 1977
139. I'm Not Supposed to Care - Gordon Lightfoot, Summertime Dream, 1976
140. Accidentally Like a Martyr - Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy, 1978
141. Lush Life - John Coltrane with Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, 1963
142. Black Is Black - Los Bravos, Black Is Black, 1966
143. Miss Misery - Elliot Smith, Good Will Hunting Soundtrack, 1997
144. She's Got You - Patsy Cline, Sentimentally Yours, 1962
145. Life on a Chain - Pete Yorn, Musicforthemorningafter, 2001
146. Hungry Heart - Bruce Springsteen, The River, 1980
147. Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground - Willie Nelson, Honeysuckle Rose, 1980
148. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain - Willie Nelson [Roy Acuff], Red Headed Stranger, 1975
149. We Just Disagree - Dave Mason, Let It Flow, 1977
150. Foolish Games - Jewel, Pieces of You, 1997

Idiot Wind - Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1975
Baby Blue - Badfinger, Straight Up, 1971
Love Has No Pride - Linda Ronstadt, Don't Cry Now, 1973
Goodbye to Love - The Carpenters, A Song for You, 1972
Abandoned Love - Bob Dylan, Biograph, 1985
The End of the World - Skeeter Davis, The End of the World, 1963
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, 1977
Blue - LeAnn Rimes, Blue, 1996
Bell Bottom Blues - Derek and the Dominoes, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970
The One You Love - Glenn Frey, No Fun Aloud, 1982
She's Gone - Hall & Oates, Abandoned Luncheonette, 1974
D-i-v-o-r-c-e - Tammy Wynette, D-i-v-o-r-c-e, 1968
You're the One - Paul Simon, You're the One, 2000
Lost Cause - Beck, Sea Change, 2002
When Susannah Cries - Espen Lind, Red, 1997
Old Love - Eric Clapton, Unplugged, 1992
Used to Love Her - Guns N' Roses, G N' R Lies, 1988

The Love I Lost - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Black & Blue, 1973
I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations, The Temptations Wish It Would Rain, 1968
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor, Love Tracks, 1979
Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer - Stevie Wonder, Where I'm Coming From, 1971
All in Love Is Fair - Stevie Wonder, Innervisions, 1973
Lately - Stevie Wonder, Hotter Than July, 1980
A New England - Billy Bragg, Life's a Riot with Spy vs. Spy, 1984
Goodbye to You - Scandal, Scandal EP, 1982
Things Change - Dwight Yoakam, A Long Way Home, 1998
Fast As You - Dwight Yoakam, This Time, 1993
Ain't That Lonely Yet - Dwight Yoakam, This Time, 1993

Black - Pearl Jam, Ten, 1991
Femme Fatale - The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground, 1967
Sun Kil Moon - Carry Me Ohio, Ghosts of the Great Highway, 2004
Missing You - John Waite, No Brakes, 1984
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere - Dwight Yoakam, This Time, 1993
Heartaches by the Numbers - Dwight Yoakam, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., 1986
Turn It on, Turn It up, Turn Me Loose - Dwight Yoakam, If There Was a Way, 1990
4th of July - X, See How We Are, 1987
Blue Valentines - Tom Waits, Blue Valentine, 1978
Bad Liver and a Broken Heart - Tom Waits, Small Change, 1976
Ruby's Arms - Tom Waits, Heartattack And Vine, 1980
Still - Commodores, Midnight Magic, 1979
Funny How Time Slips Away - Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson with Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass, 1980
Go or Go Ahead - Rufus Wainwright, Want One, 2003
El Amor De Mi Vida - Warren Zevon, The Wind, 2003
The Grand Tour - George Jones, The Grand Tour, 1974
Somewhere in My Broken Heart - Billy Dean, Young Man, 1991
So Sad About Us - The Who, A Quick One (Happy Jack), 1966
Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter - Herman's Hermits, Introducing Herman's Hermits, 1965
(I Hate) Everything About You - Ugly Kid Joe, As Ugly as They Wanna Be, 1991
Maybe It's Just Me - Butch Walker, Letters, 2004
Best Thing You Never Had - Butch Walker, Letters, 2004
Since You're Gone - The Cars, Shake It Up, 1981
Hard Habit to Break - Chicago
D'yer Maker - Led Zeppelin


mike watson said...

id like to add Charlie Robisons "sunset boulevard" to this list--it may not be as everyman as alot of the songs on the list, as it sounds like he's maybe telling it from a star's POV--or maybe it's the POV of someone who wants to be a star--decide for your self--all i know for sure is its one of my favorites--im a fan of mr. robison's work for the most part--although when i found out he's married to one of the Dixie Chicks his stock dropped a bit---oh well, there's no accounting for taste........

Chris Wesseling said...

Not bad. I just checked it out . . . I'll have to give it another lister or two, but no doubt I've got some major updating to do on this list. If it wasn't such a massive time burner, I'd be able to stay more on top of it.

But as usual, good song suggestions are always appreciated. I don't think you've ever led me wrong before. . . .

Meow Opre said...

Oh.. your list of break up songs is awesome. Hehehe, I also have my own list both of classic and new songs. Listening to these kind of songs remings me of how brokenhearted I was before, but eventually moved on easily because I've reached my limit of crying already :)))

A.E. Harstad said...

Because there's nothing more fun than posting comments on long-abandoned blogs to be stumbled upon at some unknown time in the future, I'd also recommend "Wild World" by Cat Stevens for inclusion.