“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”

Rob Gordon, the protagonist in “HIgh Fidelity”, had it right.  So many songs of heartbreak, the breakup song being the most poignant of them all.  Here are my top five.

1. The Righteous Brothers-You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Recorded in 1964 this monster hit in both the UK and the USA was co-written and produced by Phil Spector.  Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield were no one hit wonders however, and had a number of other big hits including “Unchained Melody”, perhaps the emotional bookend to this tune.

2. Lucinda Williams-Those Three Days

This is heavy going, grabbing your heart and making you feel Lucinda’s pain as if it were your own.  I love this song, but then, I love Lucinda.

3. George Jones-A Good Year For the Roses

This was recorded in 1971 and has been extensively covered, Elvis Costello doing a notable version.  There is scant little information around about this song or its origins, despite it reaching number 2 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart in 1971.  Great tune, great imagery and of courses George’s one of kind voice.  RIP.

4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-You Got Lucky

An “it’s your loss” variant on the break up song and a very good one at that.  The 1982 Mad Max style video is wonderfully dated and an added bonus.

5. The Beatles-Run For Your Life

Off 1965’s “Rubber Soul” this is without doubt the meanest Beatles’ song ever.  One has to wonder who John Lennon (who is widely thought to have written it) was thinking about, and was it really that bad?  Love the riff.

  1. earthboy011 says:

    So many songs to choose from. Run For Your Life is downright nasty. From the Beatles catalog I prefer For No One, which Paul McCartney wrote in a hotel room in Switzerland after breaking up with Jane Asher while on a skiing holiday. It has that great line: “When she says her love is dead you think she needs you.” John Lennon said it was Paul’s best song. (John also said that Run For Your Life was his least favourite of all the songs he wrote. Must have been some bad memories tied up in that song.)

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