Not that you care, but last week, my girlfriend of 11 years and I broke up, which I guess makes me somewhat of an expert on the subject of really good records to listen to if you're feeling the loss of someone today. Like anyone who was with another person for a long enough time, it's nearly inevitable that certain songs, bands or records will remind me of that lost love, so here are five records I most certainly will not be listening to today.
You tend not to think of punk bands as writing break-up records, particularly when said record includes cringe-worthy songs called “Uncle Critic” and “Hetero,” but ALL's major-label debut actually is a great goodbye record thanks to the songs “Breakin' Up,” “Long Distance,” “Million Bucks,” “This World,” “Broken” and “Black Sky.” The irony is, the song “Breakin' Up” isn't even be the best break-up song on this 15-song disc, as that honor goes to “Not Easy,” a song with lyrics that include “I'm fooling myself/I can't live without you/Lay my head down on my pillow and cry myself to sleep/It's not easy being me.”
The Cure, Disintegration
If you're going through a break-up and this record is in your collection (as it absolutely should be), do yourself a favor and hide the knives because this just might be the most depressing album committed to wax. I don't know what producer Robert M. Allen and singer Robert Smith did to make each instrument sound like an individualized suicide note, but they did. This album was gloomy and dark when it was released in 1989, and so far, no other band has ever topped this level of melancholy. Seriously, just thinking about Disintegration makes me want to kill myself.
Hank Williams, The Ultimate Collection
The undisputed heavyweight champion of sad music, Hank Williams not only created country music as we know it, but he also singlehandedly set the foundation for what boys who wear eyeliner call “emo.” When people ask me (and they usually don't) who the most underrated songwriter in history is, I always answer Hank Williams. The legend's ability to pen toe-tappers one minute and the saddest tunes ever the next is a talent no other artist has ever been able to match. This two-disc set includes the amazingly bummer-ific songs “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You),” “I Dreamed About Mama Last Night,” “I Heard That Lonesome Whistle,” “I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “Your Cheatin' Heart,” “The Angel of Death,” “There's a Tear in My Beer,” “Why Don't You Love Me,” “Lost Highway” and “I Can't Get You off My Mind.” But, for my money, there has never been a sadder song than “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Jay-Z, The Blueprint
HOV certainly didn't set out to create a break-up record when he dropped The Blueprint, but the fact that this mega-classic was released on 9/11 will always cast a dark cloud over these songs. Unlike the other bands/artists/songs listed, Jigga takes listeners through a roller coaster of emotions on this disc. The opener, “The Ruler's Back,” announces the MC's return to the throne, a positive pick-me-up for those who need a boost. Then he makes listeners feel awesome about themselves by putting down others when he throws shots at Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nas on “Takeover” before reminding listeners that he is a hip-hop god on “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).” But then Jay-Z really does it when he spits “Girls, Girls Girls,” the anthem that gets every straight man excited about banging lots of chicks. Sean Carter gets a little tender on “Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)” and even feels remorse regarding a past relationship on “Song Cry.” Unlike other rappers, HOV ain't afraid to say he needs a woman when he kicks “All I Need” and sends a shout-out to his mom on “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me).” Then, like a man, he ends the disc with his chin up on the remix of “Girls, Girls, Girls” that is seriously the dopest shit of all time.
Jets to Brazil, Perfecting Loneliness
Sure, singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach might have penned songs that tugged at the heart a little harder during his tenure in Jawbreaker (a.k.a. the best band of all time), but when looking for a cohesive body of total misery, nothing beats Perfecting Loneliness. For starters, the disc is called Perfecting Loneliness. Add the fact that the title track, “You're the One I Want,” “Wish List,” “Cat Heaven,” “Psalm” and “Autumn Walker” are the embodiment of what sorrow sounds like, and you've got yourself one helluva break-up record. Maybe it's just me and what I do, but there's something about the lines “Because I know I can write my way out of this black hole/Back to all the things that I've miss/Sometimes, I wonder if I even exist/Add another line to my wish list” that brings a tear to my eye even when I'm in a good mood, which I have recently discovered isn't often.