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Songs To Break-Up To


It’s been quite a long time since I’ve broken up with someone. I’ve been with The Daver for many years (five? six? I can’t remember anymore because it seems like forever. Um, yeah. I mean that IN A GOOD WAY, of course) and before that I was with Nat, whom I dumped (and therefore didn’t feel badly about). But I’ll never forget just how full of The Awesome it is to crank up a good break-up song, cry–or scream wickedly–along with the lyrics, and generally sit and wallow in self pity.

Okay, so it wasn’t full of The Awesome back then, but looking back on how mournfully I treated some of my break-ups that were really more of a blessing than a curse. I guess that it’s a maturity/hind-sight thing.

But here, here I have compiled a list of songs so awesome to listen to while breaking up–and mourning–that they make me a bit nostalgic for long gone (thankfully) days.

1) James Blunt- Goodbye My Lover. He’s best known for that other song You’re Beautiful, a song which I also adore, but I happen to love this song. It came out after I was married, so I obviously don’t associate it with any particular break-up, but it doesn’t matter. When he sings, “Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend, you have been The One, you have been The One for me,” I get some massive chills.

2) G’n’R’s November Rain. Now, I went back and forth here between this song and Use Your Illusion I and II’s Don’t Cry (also I and II) and I think I made the right call here. I mean, think of the video! Stephanie Seymour and a wedding and a death AT a wedding! What more can you ask for? Besides, it IS hard to hold a candle in the cold November Rain.

This song encompasses everything that a quintessential break-up song needs:

*Sung by a sensitive man who really cares about the chick he’s dumping
*He also really regrets the shit out of having to dump her in the first place
*But he’s “letting her go” to “be free” and when she’s ready, he’ll be waiting
*A sexy guitar rift
*An even hotter video

Internet, I know that you can love me, when there’s no one left to blame. Right? RIGHT??

Sorry, I’ll stop now.

3) Bob Dylan- Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine). Did you appreciate the segue from G’n’R to Bob Dylan? Because I totally did.

This song is from a different sort of genre of break-up songs: the ones in which someone is fucking pissed. Bob Dylan has a whole catalogue of these sorts of snarky and mean break-up songs, and it’s something I adore him for. But this has to be one of my favorites. I mean, you can’t mess with lyrics like this:

“You say you’re shakin’
And you’re always achin’,
But you know how hard you try.”

Because you totally know that person, whether or not you dated him or her, you know someone who behaves like this and you’re all “wow, that’s annoying. But shit, wouldn’t it be more annoying to DATE him/her?” And Bob Dylan DID date him/her and wrote a song about it so you could nod your head and say “Abso-fucking-lutely, I know who you’re talking about.”

Or maybe it’s just me.

4) Christina Aguilera- Walk Away/Fighter. These are actually two back to back songs on her Stripped album, but I’d be sure to guarantee that these are designed to listen to one after the other. Walk Away is the typical sad break-up song with lyrics like “Your love was like candy, artificially sweet, I was deceived by the wrapping” that remind me completely of all of the dudes I dated that weren’t exactly who they said they were. What can I say, I had bad taste in dudes.

Fighter is the song that happens after you stop marinading yourself in self-pity and loathing and are done crying over the dude that pulled the rug over your eyes. If you’re like me, anger is preferable to sitting around and moping especially about a dude, so Fighter is honestly up there in my list of Best Songs Ever. This song is an angry person’s anthem, but it’s not specifically something you have to listen to when you’ve broken up with someone, just when you’re fucking pissed because you have totally been wronged.

5) Rolling Stones- Angie. The Stones have always held a really special place in my heart, especially after my friend Stef died last January as The Stones were her favorite band. I cannot think of one without the other, so there’s no separation between the two.

But either way, this is one of the saddest, most mournful break-up songs that I can think of off the top of my head. You can tell that Mick Jagger REALLY MEANS what he says when he croons things like:

“But Angie, I still love you baby, ev’rywhere I look I see your eyes,
There ain’t a woman that comes close to you, come on baby, dry your eyes.”

And there’s a secret part of you that wishes that any one of your miserable ex’s ever thought something so sweet, poetic and romantic about you instead of something more realistic like, “Man, that chick gave some GOOD head.”

YOUR turn, Internet. Gimmie some good break-up songs that I’ve forgotten to include here. Lord knows my mind ain’t what she used to be and I’m damn certain I’ve forgotten some pretty key songs here.

48 Comments to

“Songs To Break-Up To”

  1. On December 18th, 2008 at 12:24 pm kbrients Says:

    Sorry, I am so bad at these games… but I totally agree with #1!!! That one makes me cry for the imaginary person I never broke up with!

  2. On December 18th, 2008 at 12:34 pm Rayne Says:

    That ben folds five song, give me my money back and don’t forget my black tshirtt

  3. On December 18th, 2008 at 12:35 pm Daddy Files Says:

    “I’m all outta love, I’m so lost without you. I know you were right, believing for so long. I’m all outta love. What am I without you? It can’t be too late to say that I was so wrong.”

    Air Supply baby. Air Supply!

  4. On December 18th, 2008 at 12:36 pm Kristine Says:

    I know this isn’t going to be popular because it’s a country song, but John Michael Montgomery wrote a song called “Friends.” Perfect for the break-up when one person says “I just wanna be friends.”

  5. On December 18th, 2008 at 12:38 pm Gail Says:

    Whitesnake – “Here I go again on my own!”

    That has a very specific breakup memory for me (back in the days when it was still on mainstream radio every 15 minutes, so you know how damn old I am!)

    An’ here I go again on my own
    Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
    Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
    An’ I’ve made up my mind
    I ain’t wasting no more time

    Just can’t beat a rock anthem about it being cooler not to be tied down. And you can’t listen to this without playing the air drums.

  6. On December 18th, 2008 at 1:18 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    it’s been way too long since I’ve had a breakup to even think about this

    i’m good with that

  7. On December 18th, 2008 at 1:20 pm sara Says:

    How about Bye Bye Bye? Oh geez…how boy bandish am I, LOL! I thought I should tell you that I my first alcoholic adult beverage last night in months and it was vodka….and you know the first person I thought of….YOU! I’m now a mommy and I wanted vodka…so you are my new hero! ((hugs))

  8. On December 18th, 2008 at 1:38 pm foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) Says:

    Lord, I cried way, way, way too much when Whitney’s version of “I Will Always Love You” got popular right after a break up. I’m talking ugly cry!

  9. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:03 pm Susan Says:

    What a fascinating post! I’m with you on ,”Angie,” and with your commenter on Whitesnake. Completely switching gears, though, Keith Urban’s “You’ll Think of Me,” totally fits the bill. “Take your cat but leave my sweater, cuz’ we have nothing left to weather. In fact, I’ll feel a whole lot better. But you’ll think of me. You’ll think of me.” Gawjus.

  10. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:11 pm Mrs.Spit Says:

    Roxette. It must have been love.

    It must have been love,
    but it’s over now.
    It must have been good
    But I lost it some how.

    And for some reason, Garth Brook’s song The Dance

  11. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:15 pm Danielle Says:

    “Goodbye My Lover” is SUCH a sappy song. I listened to it over and over AND over again when my BFF moved to Washington WITHOUT me *bitch* to live with her boyfriend.

  12. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:24 pm Anjali Says:

    Ditto to Whitesnake!

  13. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:26 pm Em Says:

    Foreigner – “Just between You and Me”

    20 years later, I can hear that song and be right back in that car – ugh, my heart breaks again.


  14. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:28 pm KC Says:

    For Dylan, I gotta go with “Don’t think twice, it’s alright.” If I start getting off on a tangent about music, though…you are gonna have a post of my own in the comments so I will stop now.

  15. On December 18th, 2008 at 2:42 pm Ginger Magnolia Says:

    Jet’s Look What You’ve Done…

    “Take my photo off the wall if it won’t sing for you,
    ’cause all that’s left is gone away and there’s nothing left for you to do.
    Oh, look what you’ve done, you’ve made a fool of everyone.
    Oh well it seems like such fun until you lose what you had won.”

    Also, KC introduced me to the beauty that is Lily Allen’s Smile. Awesome!

  16. On December 18th, 2008 at 3:01 pm erin Says:

    back in my break-up, breaking-hearts days i was a bit of a punk girl… Betty Blowtorch seemed to fit the bill for perfect songs…..nothing like a group of pissed off rocker chicks saying “I Wish You’d Die, Slowly, wish you’d die”

  17. On December 18th, 2008 at 3:16 pm jerseygirl89 Says:

    The Soupdragons’ I’m Free:

    “I’m free, to do what I want, any old time. . .”

    And SheDaisy’s Little Good-byes:

    I’m gonna tell you something you don’t wanna hear
    You never listen when I talk
    Maybe you’ll listen when I walk
    So I made my mind up and made a sandwich
    And I didn’t shed a tear
    I gave you one last minute of my time
    In this mess I left behind
    When you come home tonite
    And turn on the light
    Don’t you be surprised to find

    My little good-byes
    Empty hangers by the closet floor
    Lipstick tube on the bathroom floor
    My little good-byes
    Unpaid bills by the kitchen phone
    I took the Beatles, left Billy Joel
    Little good-byes, little good-byes

    Usually by the time I would break up with someone, I was over the mourning part. . .

  18. On December 18th, 2008 at 3:41 pm yvette Says:

    One – U2, sigh.

  19. On December 18th, 2008 at 3:49 pm Jenn @ Says:

    I agree with Whitesnake totally. Also, in the same vein – REO Speedwagon’s “Time for Me to Fly.”

    You said wed work it out
    You said that you had no doubt
    That deep down we were really in love
    Oh, but Im tired of holding on
    To a feeling I know is gone
    I do believe that Ive had enough

    And also cheese at its best – Motley Crue’s “Without You”

    Without you, there’s no change
    My nights and days are grey
    If I reached out and touched the rain
    It just wouldn’t feel the same

    Oh my this is fun, one more shall we???

    The Dixie Chicks – “Goodbye Earl” I mean what a way to say goodbye to an ex – by dumping his dead body?

    That Earl had to die
    Goodbye Earl
    Those black-eyed peas
    They tasted all right to me Earl
    You’re feeling weak
    Why don’t you lay down
    and sleep Earl
    Ain’t it dark
    Wrapped up in that tarp Earl

    Oh god, what the hell….one more!!!

    “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen

    All by myself
    Dont wanna be
    All by myself anymore
    All by myself
    Dont wanna live
    All by myself anymore

    And now that I have written a post in your comment section Becky, with the cheesiest of cheese, I bid you adieu.

  20. On December 18th, 2008 at 4:00 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    Speaking of Dylan: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.
    “I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul. But don’t think twice, it’s all right.”

  21. On December 18th, 2008 at 4:51 pm Madame Yu See Says:

    Here’s one I’m sure you never heard of – “Expecting to Fly” by Buffalo Springfield. It’s on their ‘Restrospectie” album. It’s older than you are.

  22. On December 18th, 2008 at 5:24 pm tryingin2007 Says:

    there’s a ben harper song “beloved one.” a guaranteed tearjerker. this song reminds me of my last boyfriend (before b) who broke up with me. it’s one of those songs that I would have put on a mixed tape and sent it to him. he then would have realized how much he missed (and loved) me and would have wanted me back.

    check it out. it’s beautiful.

    now I’m teary. 🙁

  23. On December 18th, 2008 at 6:18 pm Miss Grace Says:

    Do you ever listen to This American Life on NPR? I think like a month ago they did this REALLY good show called “The Breakup” and they talked all about the perfect breakup song.

  24. On December 18th, 2008 at 6:39 pm Janet Says:

    Jersyegirl got it right with SheDaisy’s “Little Goodbyes”, that was one of the first songs I thought of. It’s awesome! They also say something about leaving the litter but taking the cat. LOL But the song that immediately popped in to my mind before anything else was Pink’s “So What”:

    So, so what
    I’m still a rock star
    I got my rock moves
    And I don’t need you and

    Guess what
    I’m havin’ more fun
    And now that we’re done
    I’m gonna show you tonight

    I’m all right
    I’m just fine
    and you’re a tool so …

    (That last line is my favorite and made me laugh the first time I heard it).

  25. On December 18th, 2008 at 6:48 pm Jenn Says:

    The End by The Doors


    I’m Gonna Find Another You by John Mayer


    Broken by Seether (w/ Amy Lee)

  26. On December 18th, 2008 at 6:58 pm Ginger Magnolia Says:

    OMG I just remembered a couple more! “Dead” (this one is Douche’s ringtone when he calls my phone) and “I Don’t Love You,” both by My Chemical Romance.

    Here’s part of Dead:

    Have you heard the news that your dead?
    Never really had much nice to say
    But think I never liked you anyway

    Here’s part of I Don’t Love You:

    But when you go,
    Would you have the guts to say
    I don’t love you
    Like I loved you yesterday?

    Dude, seriously, you should check the video for I Don’t Love You on YouTube. It made me love MCR and all their emo-ness.

  27. On December 18th, 2008 at 8:04 pm a Says:

    In college, it was Bon Jovi (I think) with Never Say Goodbye. Then I got real and went with Bauhaus’ Crowds (if you’ve never heard that one, search it on YouTube. It should be the break-up anthem!).

    These days, I kinda like Blue October’s Hate Me. But I still like Crowds!

    I have many a mix-tape; not exactly of break up songs, but songs to make me feel silly for feeling sorry for myself. Nothing like wallowing in other people’s sorrow to make you feel like your life is not that bad…

  28. On December 18th, 2008 at 8:05 pm gypsygrrl Says:

    in the angry vein…
    Best Song Ever: Untouchable Face* ~ Ani Di Franco

    Think Im going for a walk now
    I feel a little unsteady
    I dont want nobody to follow me
    cept maybe you
    I could make you happy you know
    If you werent already
    I could do a lot of things
    And I do

    Tell you the truth I prefer
    The worst of you
    Too bad you had to have a better half
    Shes not really my type
    But I think you two are forever
    And I hate to say it but
    Youre perfect together

    So fuck you
    And your untouchable face
    And fuck you
    For existing in the first place
    And who am i
    That I should be vying for your touch
    And who am i
    I bet you cant even tell me that much

    Yknow, I dont look forward
    To seeing you again soon
    Youll look like a photograph of yourself
    Taken from far far away
    And I wont know what to do
    And I wont know what to say

    Except fuck you…

    *google the whole song lyrics ~ the whole song is perfection…

  29. On December 18th, 2008 at 8:16 pm Eva Says:

    I’ve mostly just been with my husband, but we broke up for three melodramatically miserable days once, and I listened to some Sarah McLachlan song a lot. When I broke up with some guy in middle school there was a lot of NIN’s Downward Spiral’s Hurt.

  30. On December 18th, 2008 at 8:17 pm gypsygrrl Says:

    there aint no getting over me ~ ronnie milsap

    (just a snipit of the most awesome lyrics…)

    I’ll be the bill you forgot to pay
    I’ll be the dream that keeps you awake
    I’ll be the song on the radio
    I’ll be the reason that you tell the boys no

    Don’t you know
    You can tell everyone that we’re through
    You might even believe it too
    But darling
    There’s ain’t no getting over me
    Sweet darling
    There ain’t no getting over me

    I’ll be the face that you see in the crowd
    I’ll be the times that you cry out loud
    I’ll be the smile when there’s no one around
    I’ll be the book that you just can’t put down

    So you can walk out on me tonight
    If you think that it ain’t feeling right
    But darling
    There’s ain’t no getting over me
    You’ll see sweet darling
    There’s ain’t no getting over me

  31. On December 18th, 2008 at 8:24 pm baseballmom Says:

    Maggie May-Rod Stewart

  32. On December 18th, 2008 at 9:03 pm Kate Says:

    I must agree with Rayne and the Ben Folds Five…’Song for the Dumped’…

    GIMME MY MONEY BACK, Gimme my money back…YOU BITCH
    I want my money back
    And don’t forget, to give me back my black t-shirt!

    But I am also quite fond of ‘I Aint Never Loved a Man’ by Aretha Franklin…

    Some time ago I thought
    You had run out of fools
    But I was so wrong
    You got one that you’ll never lose
    The way you treat me is a shame
    How could you hurt me so bad
    Baby, you know that I’m the best thing
    That you ever had

    Kiss me once again
    Don’cha never, never say that we’re through
    Cause I ain’t never
    Never, Never, no, no (loved a man)
    (The way that I, I love you)

    I can’t sleep at night
    And I can’t eat a bite
    I guess I’ll never be free
    Since you got, your hooks, in me WHOA WHOA WHOOAAAAAAAAA

    ta da

  33. On December 18th, 2008 at 9:52 pm Kristen Says:

    I have two wicked awesome break-up songs. The first, from the junior high era, when after “dating” (No one could drive, you only saw each other in school….but we called it dating?!?!?) for about two weeks, some pimply faces guy would dumped you and you could not function you were so upset. This heartbreak lasted between 24 and 72 hours. I listened to the hidden track on Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette.

    The second was when I was in college (For aproximately six years, shut the hell up..) Call me when your Sober by Evanesence. What can I say, I seem to have liked the party/fraternity guys who usually have two-thirty dirties…

    Amen to marriage and being boring now. If my phone rings at two-thirty am now, something bad has happened…..

  34. On December 18th, 2008 at 11:27 pm Sarah Says:

    Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye

  35. On December 19th, 2008 at 12:03 am Meg Says:

    Fuck you, I’m Cool – Juicy: For the Ladies

  36. On December 19th, 2008 at 1:10 am Lola Says:

    I Hate Everything About You, by Three Days Grace, which could actually be about drugs, but I sing it when I’m pissed at the husband.

    Goodbye To You, by Scandal. An oldie but a goodie.

    It’s All Over But The Crying, Garbage.

    The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance, Sinead O’Connor is awesome.

    Never Again and Walk Away, Kelly Clarkson. I hate to admit it, but the chick has some great breakup songs.

  37. On December 19th, 2008 at 4:05 am Jessi Louise Says:

    This was fun. I have a thing for oldies, so I have to start with Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone by Bill Withers.

    Also, not an oldy or a classic in any sense, but one I will forever associate with breaking up is Shimmer by Fuel.

    And a song to cry to, Everybody Hurts by REM.

    Gotta love Blondie, Heart of Glass.

    The Clash, Train in Vain.

    Last, a song from one of my favorite bands, I Can See for Miles by The Who.

  38. On December 19th, 2008 at 4:50 am SCY Says:

    Break up songs? Not a clue – I’ve always dealt with break up’s by delving into the ice cream tub and plotting my revenge 😉


  39. On December 19th, 2008 at 1:07 pm heather Says:

    How’s It Gonna Be – Third Eye Blind
    Boys Don’t Cry – the Cure

    My husband drives me NUTS with November Rain. He sings it EVERY FREAKIN TIME it rains. And he’ll change it to like, ….a cold December rain or whatever month it happens to be.

  40. On December 19th, 2008 at 1:36 pm Sara Says:

    Let me tell you how young I am.

    Hoku ~ Another Dumb Blonde

    Fit three break ups I’ve had.

  41. On December 19th, 2008 at 9:18 pm excavator Says:

    “Angie” *was* a break-up song for me. I cried for a long time whenever that played when my high school sweetie and I broke up.

    “Train Leaves Here This Morning” by the Eagles, from their first album, and then “Tequila Sunrise”.

    And then Linda Ronstadt: “Faithless Love” from her “Heart Like a Wheel” album.

    Oh, and “Marlena On the Wall” by Suzanne Vega

  42. On December 19th, 2008 at 9:22 pm Rachel Says:

    Puddle of Mudd ‘she hates me.’

  43. On December 20th, 2008 at 12:43 am RhoRho Says:

    Gawd, I loves me a woman who know her music. There are a ton of kickass songs (all 42 of em) mentioned by your readers, Dylan and G N R may take the cake for me. But, i met a girl while living in Nashville for whom supposedly JBJ wrote neversaygoodbye, so I feel close to that one. Wait, I forgot ” i wont forget you” by Poison. That’s some good 80s shit.

  44. On December 20th, 2008 at 4:35 pm A Soldier's Girl Says:

    Ok, first of all..I am loving, loving, loving your new layout 🙂

    Mary J. Blige has had some very good break up songs…I can’t remember the names of them right now…but, trust me. I’ve played my share. Oh and I’m sure there are some good country music ones!

    Your list is sooo funny!

  45. On December 21st, 2008 at 11:14 am bri Says:

    I know I am annoyingly obsessed but you really must listen to the ‘This American Life’ episode called Break Up – at least the first story where the writer has a bad break up and decides to talk to Phil Collins about how to write a break up song.

  46. On December 22nd, 2008 at 12:00 am Sarah Says:

    As always lately – a day or two later, but reading through the comments, I did finally think of a couple. First though, a shout out to your G’n’R comments:

    “And when you’re in need of someone, my heart won’t deny you… so many seem so lonely with no one left to cry to, baybeeee…” – I totally wrote that lyric in the card I left with my company commander in boot camp… after I went back, spent the day with him, then broke up with him. Yes, I had a fling with a company commander. But damn.. his dimples and his blue eyes… *sigh*

    The Cranberries – Linger – I still love that boy. Always will.

    I Remember You – Skid Row… I wished I had a break-up to mourn when I heard that song!

    Not My Idea – Garbage “You thought I was a little girl, you thought I was a little mouse, you thought you’d take me by surprise, now I’m here burning down your house”…. Take THAT, Fucker!

    (uh, no, I didn’t follow through, but that man was NERVOUS)

    Don’t Go Away Mad (Girl, Just Go Away) – Motley Crue – heehee! No one was quite ballsy enough to dedicate this one to me, but I’m certain a couple wished they were.

    Always – Saliva – when I’m pissed at my never-home trucker-husband:

    Always Always Always
    Always Always Always
    I just can’t live without you
    I love you I hate you
    I can’t get around you
    I breathe you I taste you
    I can’t live without you

    I just can’t take anymore
    this life of solitude
    I guess that I’m out the door
    and now I’m done with you

    Of course.. I’m never out the door, nor done with him. Just sometimes dearly wish I was almost was. And right now, he’s home, being uber-helpful by looking up the top break-up songs online. LOL. Damnit, I just love him so much!! 🙂

  47. On December 23rd, 2008 at 1:31 pm loribeth Says:

    The Greg Kihn Band actually had a song called “The Breakup Song” back in the early 1980s! The chorus line went, “They don’t write ’em like that anymore.”

  48. On January 23rd, 2009 at 6:29 pm BettyWhiteisSickofYourShit Says:

    Im embarrassed but when my pain in the tits ex broke up with me, I played “Mamma Mia!” From the Mamma Mia! soundtrack 😀
    “I was cheated by you, and I think you know when! … So I made up my mind it must come to an end…”

    When your gone- Avril Lavigne

    “When you’re gone, the pieces of my heart are missing you..” It made me cry when my Grandad died more though 🙁

    My Sweet Prince- Placebo

    Just a good song and you can relate it to so many different things

    And all that could have been- Nine Inch Nails

    Never Win- Fischerspooner “I don’t need to need you, tell me what to do or tell me what to say… If I was not me, I would hate me too… Just like you do” Download it anyway its orgasmic.

    Ur so Gay- Katy Perry “I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf…” Need I say more 🙂

    Have fun 🙂

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