February 13, 2008

Well bless your bitter, bitter broken heart

Poor Marat. When I started thinking about the songs I wanted to post for Valentine’s Day, instead of a lovey mix like last year, I suggested to my friends Duke and Bruce that our joint post be on bitter, brokenhearted songs that make you want to slit your wrists in a bathtub. Not that I am planning on that tomorrow, or that I recommend that course of action to anyone (dear god) — but the first mental image that came to mind was this one from the painting The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. I clearly remember having to memorize this painting’s stats for freshman year of college art history class. Sitting in the dimly lit room, looking at slides of art, hearing a lecture on it from a great prof — still one of my favorite activities ever, to this day I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

So Marat was actually assassinated, but look how tragic he is. If you feel tragic and Marat-like this February 14th, these tunes are for you. They’re the kind that gouge your insides — the other function of music for when you don’t want it to make you feel the warm Hallmark fuzzies.

As I mentioned, this is a joint post with my friends Duke of The Late Greats (he suggested this collab reprise) and Bruce from Some Velvet Blog. Go check out their selections as well. If you can take it.

Give Judy My Notice – Ben Folds
The aching piano melody here kills me, and also the slow revelations that unfold from Ben realizing that he’s been feeling small too long, and what this relationship with Judy would do to him if he stayed in it. He won’t be her bitch anymore. Go Ben.

Untouchable Face – Ani DiFranco
If you’re listening to Ani DiFranco this Valentine’s Day, it’s already too late for you. I’m sorry. This song is one of the single most bitter, vicious, songs ever written to someone you used to love, but it somehow still has a vulnerable, almost tender edge that I can’t define. Without mincing words on the unforgettable chorus here, Ani sings, “Fuck you, and your untouchable face, fuck you for existing in the first place.” She’s tired of vying for his touch, and not only wants him out of her life, she wishes he never even existed. Ouch.

I Do – Jude
A new induction into my iTunes library, these lyrics deal with getting a wedding invitation from someone with whom “in a lover’s whisper you said no other man would ever share your bed . . . Well we both know that’s not been so.” Jude will stay away from the wedding, hope she’s smiling when he turns around and says I do, and tells her that she’s not spent a single day outside his heart. So wistful, so defeated.

Cardinal Song – The National
This song is terrifying for the unflinching way it peers into the deepest darknesses and lies in our souls. Never look her in the eyes, never tell her the truth, save it for the deathbed? Terrifying. The final stanzas shift melodies and Berninger is confused, cornered, wasted, blessed, used, stiff and pissed and lost and loose. But it all sounds so gorgeous.

Hard Way To Fall (live, Tilburg, 12/1/02) – Ryan Adams
This song appeared on the twangy Jacksonville City Nights, but I’ve always loved this stripped, gorgeous, Love-Is-Hell-ish version of it since the first time I heard it. Even though Ryan could find her in a thunderstorm by the way that the rain would fall (on the album version, one of my favorite lyrical images from his pen), he has lost her to someone else. He sings about all the small details about her that he has memorized, and laments with that perfect vocal quaver the days when she was his. It’s a hard thing to love anyone, anyhow.

Dry Your Eyes (featuring Chris Martin) – The Streets
The most broken-up tough dude you’ve ever heard, with Coldplay’s Chris Martin providing the hooks before the record label yanked the collaboration, after it had already seen enough radio spins to cause a tantalizing demand for it. Mike Skinner tells in agonizing slow motion of the moment she breaks up with him and walks away — her eyes glaze, she looks down at the ground, and then she’s gone.

Forever Blue (acoustic version) – Chris Isaak
One of the most perfect melancholy little tunes ever penned about the aftermath of a relationship ending. Taken from his essential breakup album of the same title, song after unrelenting song that make you want to take poor Chris and his puppy-dog eyes into your arms, and damn that woman that done him wrong. Nobody ever warns you, or tells you what to do.

Colors – Amos Lee
Amos Lee’s raw tenor aches and soars on this song about reminiscing, and how the colors fade when she’s gone. It gets me every time, making me feel like staring out the window in the rain. This is an activity I have done while listening to this song, and I don’t particularly recommend it.

The First Cut Is The Deepest – Cat Stevens
I would have given you all of my heart, but there’s someone who’s torn it apart. Cat’s simple song still nails it.

Your House – Alanis Morissette
Full arc from the Ani DiFranco tune, you’ve got the slightly chilling, Fatal Attraction, a capella hidden track from Alanis’ Jagged Little Pill album. We find her sneaking into dude’s house, smelling his cologne, crying in his shower, listening to his Johnny Cash. She finds a letter on his desk, not in her writing. It’s a bad idea. All of it.

Somebody Kill Me – Adam Sandler
If you’ve seen The Wedding Singer, then no explanation is needed for this track. Just thinking of how Sandler’s face looks when he sings this pretty much sums up everything that this post is about.


And remember, if these songs resonate with you this year, next year’s gotta be better.



  • Enjoyed the mix. Fun Stuff. And knew Cat Stevens had written “First Cut” but never heard him sing it. That was a treat. One thing though, “Forever Blue” isn’t the right song. It’s actually “Your House”. The song is posted twice.

    Thanks for the lunch time entertainment Nancy

    Anonymous — February 13, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

  • I haven’t listened to Untouchable Face in years… thanks for the reminder!

    Anonymous — February 13, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  • oh heather, how you rock thee….
    let me count the ways…

    kristen for denver — February 13, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  • “Standing In the Doorway” from Dylan’s Time Out of Mind is what gets me reaching for the blade. Quite possibly the saddest pop song ever written. But the songs you’ve provided here are grade-A Sad Bastard, as well.

    the gates — February 13, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

  • no. bad. bad. no.


    Anonymous — February 13, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

  • Excellent

    Juliet — February 13, 2008 @ 5:56 pm

  • omg i found your blog today when i was googling old ray la and i love it. it’s the best thing ever!! keep up the best music work everxoxo!!

    Dana — February 13, 2008 @ 6:51 pm

  • nice work
    i needed some stuff like this


    Anonymous — February 13, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

  • lol, I had forgotten about the Wedding Singer one, hilarious.

    Dan — February 13, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  • If I may add one on I’d suggest, “Tired of Being Alone” By Al Green.

    Matty D — February 14, 2008 @ 3:21 am

  • Your blog is amazing. I used to just peruse it for music, then I started gradually reading your posts & found your writing to be quite humorous and beautiful. Keep it up!!!

    Matty D — February 14, 2008 @ 3:23 am

  • I think theres a song about this painting on R.E.M.’s Murmur. “Morat’s bathing” is repeated in the song We Walk? Maybe?

    Love your site.

    Anonymous — February 14, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  • What did Hornby say – something along the lines of do I have tragic messed up relationships because I have tragic messed up relationships or because I love songs about tragic messed up relationships and these become my subconscious template for relationships?

    Yeah – I know – he said it better.However,the debate is relevant – how many 18 year olds have bought torch song lps ( this one , definitely did) before they have really understood why the torch is all we have left in the surrounding darkness…..

    Russell — February 14, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  • bleeding in the bathtub?? how horrible.

    speaking of depressing relationship songs. i have feeling you could put the entire new counting crows record on that list. from the sounds of it, adam should be swinging on a rope by now.


    JETHRO — February 14, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  • jethro, i know, it’s horrible. rotten. DON’T DO IT.

    heather — February 14, 2008 @ 9:16 am

  • Great selection, I’m not sure to kill myself now or yesterday.
    You need to add “No Children” from The Mountain Goats

    Anonymous — February 14, 2008 @ 10:29 am

  • I picked Blur’s No Distance Left To Run. It’s even more vivid in the mind knowing who Damon Albarn wrote this for.

    I’d also recommend Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach’s God Give Me Strength. I think some people deliberately break up with their girl/boyfriends just so that they have an excuse to listen to everything off Painted From Memory.

    volume-addict — February 14, 2008 @ 10:40 am

  • Heather, this/these are really great gems, finds, and memories, all rolled up into one! Thanks! I always love checking your stuff out… I hate to ask, but since I’m thinking of it — I went looking at the link to the last year’s collaborative efforts. Your tunes/zipped file is no long available. Bummed me out! Is there any way I can still get the zip from here… someplace?

    Please and thanks, and candy-heart cheer.

    (who, without Blogger of his own, will check back multiple times, just in case you say ‘sure’)

    Anonymous — February 14, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  • First things first:

    “F@#k Valentines Day!”

    With that said, great mixture of melancholy ya got here. I had all but forgotten that Alanis song, where her voice is so high and chilling dogs in another state can hear it. And the Ani song!?!? Perfect! It hit the spot!

    jojo — February 14, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  • very nice. thanks.

    theEvilAngel — February 14, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  • great mix. wish you would’ve included the song BURY THE HATCHET by joe garner; wrenches the guts:

    Anonymous — February 14, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

  • Right.

    John Knightley — February 14, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

  • For another Alanis Morissette song – ‘Simple Together’ from the Feast On Scraps DVD/CD (it’s also on The Collection) is a great song of loss, and the thought of what could have been:

    You’ve been my golden best friend,
    But now with post demise at hand,
    I can’t go to you for consolation,
    Cos we’re off limits during this transition…

    I thought we’d be simple together but I was sadly mistaken

    Sarah N — February 17, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  • I always thouight Alanis was listening to his JONI (Mitchell) CD… not JOHNNY (Cash).

    Anonymous — February 26, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  • i’ve been looking for the dry your eyes version with chris martin, but the link won’t work! By any chance could you email it to me, i’d appreciate it so much xxpunk_cheshirecatxx@yahoo.com (sorry old email).
    Thank you so much if you can!!

    Gabby — May 14, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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