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Musings on Life and Breakup Songs

Music may be the food of love, but when it comes to breakups, there is no better diet to heal the heart or worsen its condition than huge servings of moving lyrics. However, between a breakup and the healing, people experience different phases and lyrics often mirror these.

1. Denial
“Say it isn’t so, tell me you’re not leaving, say you’ve changed your mind now, that I am only dreaming; that this is not goodbye, this is starting over…” As Gareth Gates and Siti Nurhaliza sang these lyrics, they described exactly what some feel when they first realise that a relationship is ending. They’re desperate to believe something else, and may insist on doing so even when reality is staring them in the face. And sometimes they spell it out to the deserting partner, as Pink did in “I Don’t Believe You”, “I don’t believe you when you say you don’t need me anymore, so don’t pretend to not love me at all…”

2. Refusal
Sometimes a partner does realise that they are being left behind, and make it clear in no uncertain terms that they are having none of it. This appears really funny, until you hear Jennifer Hudson’s intense rendition of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”- “And I am telling you I’m not going. You’re the best man I’ll ever know. There’s no way I can ever go…No, no, no, no way I’m living without you…I’m staying, and you’re gonna love me.” Then you’ll realise this isn’t child’s play. The lady’s not for dumping.

3. Acceptance
Some others, even in the midst of the pain, are clear-headed enough to accept when it’s over. Sure, they’d rather not be at this place, but they realise there’s no point holding on when the relationship has run its course. Some can even take a hint, without having it spelt out, as Lady Antebellum reminds us; “Standing face to face, wrapped in your embrace, I don’t wanna let you go, but you’re already gone. Now you kiss my cheek, soft and bittersweet; I can read it in your eyes- this is our goodbye…” As much as it hurts, they’d rather let it go with their head held high, dignity intact.

4. Begging
Not so for others. As a relationship fades, or comes to an abrupt end, they have no qualms about humiliating themselves, grovelling and begging not to be left alone. They’ll promise any and everything just to hold on to a partner who wants out; indeed, they will die if you walk away. Even when they know there’s someone else in the picture, they will plead until they’re hoarse, and then beg some more. Celine Dion excels at this, and that’s one of the reasons she is loved and hated by fans and critics. If you doubt this, listen to her croon in Think Twice- “My everything depends on you; whatever it takes I’ll sacrifice…” and To Love You More- “Don’t go, you know you’ll break my heart; she won’t love you like I can…I’ll be waiting for you, cos here inside my heart I’m the one who wants to love you more…” and feel your heartstrings quiver…or your skin crawl.

5. Recovery
Alas, broken hearts do mend, much to the relief of a jilted lover. This phase is made even more delicious if the deserting lover has a change of heart and comes crawling back. There’s a reason Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” remains a staple. Kicking a heartbreaker to the curb is much more enjoyable when you can sing, “Go on now, go walk out the door, Just turn around now ’cause you’re not welcome anymore. Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye, did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die? Oh no, not I! I will survive…”

6. Ocean Drive
Here, recovery is taken a notch higher. The jilted lover not only realises that their ex did them a huge favour by leaving, but also wonders what on earth they were thinking entering in such a relationship in the first place. The Lighthouse Family assures the lover who has been left high and dry, “You know, someday, you’ll wonder what you’d seen in him anyway; when that day arrives you’ll live on ocean drive.” Brandy’s “Wow” is the ocean drive anthem of life! “I don’t know why I stayed with you for so long, I should have been gone; he’s nothing like you at all…” Bliss!

7. Relapse
For those who never get to live on ocean drive, the ex will always be precious. Yes it’s over, but that does not reduce his value in their eyes one bit. Sometimes, despite their best efforts, they find themselves reaching out for what they once had. This happens more often than you think, or Lady Antebellum’s “I Need You Now” would not be half as popular as it is. “It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now; I said I wouldn’t call, but I’ve lost all control and I need you now, and I don’t know how I can do without; I just need you now…”

8. Thorns
In the flesh, I mean. You break up with them, they seem to have accepted it and you move on. But they don’t. Every so often they will swing by to remind you of what you shared, to assess your new partner and how they measure up, and all what not. Lovers were doing this long before ABBA’s “Winner Takes It All” hit the airwaves in the 80s, “But tell me, does she kiss like I used to kiss you? Does it feel the same when she calls your name? Somewhere deep inside, you must know I miss you…” and they’re still doing it today, with Adele’s “Someone Like You” to spur them on, “I hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me, it isn’t over…don’t forget me I beg…” And that’s basically what they want; to be immortalized in your memory.

Regardless of where you find yourself, remember that if someone really doesn’t want to be with you, you can’t make them stay. It’s never too late to pick yourself up and be happy again. So be careful what you listen to in the throes of a break up. What you feed will grow, and what you starve will die. Yes, Solomon was right; where there is no wood, the fire goes out.


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