Play What? Play This! Playlist
This week: Heartbreakers
Relationships end. It’s a painful processes envied by none. Yet perhaps it begs the age-old, albeit trite, question: is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? Sure, that question may have faint whiffs (if not a pungent odor) of death, but I think we can extend it into the land of break-ups as well. Whatever your answer, the emotions felt at the end of a liaison are powerful and rough. So then why, you may ask, would you fill a playlist entirely of songs that will illicit such emotions, songs that actively try to break your heart? Is it not amazing that a song can even do that – can stir up such powerful feelings, change your entire mood? These songs may not be ideal for every day, but on rainy afternoons (such as today) are often a fitting time for ruminations and contemplations.
Conway Twitty: “Lonely Blue Boy” – To me, country music perfectly encapsulates heartbreak. The aching voice, poignant lyrics, backing ghostly-wails and pencil thin guitar solos all combine to capture the subject at hand (and heart?). Conway Twitty reflects perfectly in this number, letting the tremolo of the guitar mimic his weeping.
Taj Mahal: “Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes” – Taj Mahal sings of his devotion to the woman he loves. Yet the melody, slow guitar picking, and vacant harmonica all turn this piece of blues into a melancholy masterpiece. If you just broke up with someone, wouldn’t this song simply destroy you?
Arthur Lee and Love: “Always See Your Face” – The Velvet Underground style opening draws you in and snatches you once the slide starts. Late-great Arthur Lee captures the post-breakup craze of constant reminders of your now lost significant other. The horns and brilliant guitar solo also create a triumphant climax, defining the perfection of this song.
Leonard Cohen: “Suzanne” – You are never quite sure what Cohen is talking about, but his descriptions of this woman are truly vivid and enrapturing. His deep drawl of a voice will resonate down to your heart and the minimal instrumentation simply highlights it more.
Bob Dylan: “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” – What would a heartbreakers playlist be without Dylan – especially one which many consider his best, or at least many people’s favorite (including mine).
Tom Waits: “Ol’ 55” – While not specifically about a break-up per se, Waits still manages to make a heartbreaking jam, reflective about his own life. While his voice is usually more whisky soaked and smoky, here the general clarity is all the more poignant for his timeless lyrics.
Talking Heads: “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)” – This is a personal one. I have long considered this my favorite song. Perhaps the only true love song David Byrne ever wrote during his time in his former band, this one makes me miss home, family, California, nighttime, love, airports, and so much more. Sure, these are melodramatic topics, but shouldn’t the point be how personal they are? A favorite song post-relationship-trauma will always be comforting and painful at the same time. In a way, this slot can be filled with any song, for me, it’s “This Must Be The Place.”
Jayhawks: “Blue” – Again, the country twang hits home. This heartbreaker doesn’t even have to be applied to losing a romantic relationship but even simply a friend. Loneliness is pretty broadly defined…
The Zombies: “The Way I Feel Inside” Colin Blunstone’s haunting, echoed voice as the container for this gem is matched with the supporting organ merely at the end to lock the emotions in.
Girls: “Hellhole Ratrace” – This epic tune from the fresh-faced indie rockers gets it just about right. Sick of heartbreak, Christopher Owens tries to transcend out of despair in 6:57 min.
Antony and The Johnsons: “Hope There’s Someone” – This song will make you cry.
Gene Clark: “Tried So Hard” – Before being covered by legendary indie-kings Yo La Tengo, Gene Clark penned this aching tale of a lover leaving. The bouncing acoustic guitar and snare hop the song along, but the true sense of heartbreak in the Clark’s voice is simply undeniable.
Neil Young: “It’s a Dream” Neil Young’s childish voice has the perfect amount of naïveté to cut deep. The lonely imagery is standard from Young, reminiscent of a scene from the old west (without the scenes of bandits and stagecoaches).
Simon and Garfunkel: “The Only Living Boy In New York” – Few songs make me miss New York City and my home more than this one. Even though Paul Simon has a blissful sense of disillusionment throughout, the hi-fi strings and distant backing vocals confuse your now-muddled heart.
- Christian Morrissey
- Christian Morrissey