Humans are demanding creatures. We need purpose, companionship, love, and regular distractions from the recurring disappointment that is life.
As we now find ourselves cast adrift in the vast limbo between major religious holidays, we begin searching for a day with minutely more significance than every other which surrounds it and is, essentially, exactly the same. So where do we look? Jesus? Overkill. Some major sporting event? Don’t go there. Pancakes? It’s been done.
Love? Bingo. Everyone loves love, right? Hence the appeal of Valentine’s Day –twenty four hours specifically designated to loving love. Yay. Don’t get me wrong, love is the best thing in the world –until the shit hits the fan.
Upon breaking up with someone, you become acutely aware that every single song, film, poem, book and basically the vast majority of any expression ever expressed boils down to love –or the lack thereof.
When nursing a broken heart, this drove me fucking insane. I listen to the radio –a lot. Due to this fact, I developed a repetitive strain injury in my index finger from frantically switching stations.
Every time inane chit chat gave way to someone conveying their emotions through the medium of song, I couldn’t take it.
This was doubly annoying as I adore music –we’ve been through a lot together but, not unlike my ex, we needed some time apart. To most, Video Killed the Radio Star. To me, they could’ve worked it out through couples’counselling. Damn you, Buggles.
During my recuperation I found solace in Joe Duffy. I knew where I stood with him –the government was incompetent, the weather was crap, the economy was worse and, in general, everyone hated each other. His show highlights the fact we’re doomed and embraces it.
Once the initial, almost unbearable ‘Oh God, every song reminds me of you’pang begins to subside, music can prove extremely helpful in the heart healing process.
Breakup songs are cathartic, wonderful things –and, as Taylor Swift will testify, economically viable entities. The songstress, at the tender age of 23, has made a career largely based on lambasting her errant exes through catchy little pop ditties. A lady doesn’t kiss and tell, but by God she will dump your ass and sing.
Swifty is a relatively new recruit to the scorned singers’club. Odes to lovers past are as old as music itself. Roy Orbison’s Heartbreak Radio is essential listening whether or not your lady done gone and left. Janis Joplin’s cover of Piece of My Heart is one of the most gut-wrenching songs every sung. Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone by Bill Withers drips into the ear canal like poisonous, bittersweet honey.
The heartbreak genre has taken on various forms throughout its existence, quite notably morphing into a behemoth in the ‘80s. Note to self: excess hairspray can lead to excess heartbreak (or perhaps vice versa). Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again on My Own and Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler are particularly stellar examples of this.
Those inclined to line dance their way out of a love rut, had to wait until the ‘90s to find some solace. By God, their patience was rewarded. Billy Ray Cyrus signed, sealed and delivered on that. There are countless heartbreak tunes You Oughta Know from that decade.
Modern break-up songs tend to centre around expletives and the repetition of the word ‘ever’–just not at the same time. Whatever your taste in music, someone’s got your back. And let’s face it; New York City didn’t burn down to the ground when your significant other walked away.
All I know is; my ex-box was no Atari and I can once again listen to the radio without ending up sporting a rather fetching finger cast. My rehabilitation is complete.
Valentine’s Day is a great idea in theory, but then again so was the mullet –and we all know where that got us.
So, if presented with the option again, what would I choose –sanity or company? The jury’s still out.