In this episode we discuss our favorite break up songs. Tell us your favorite or what you think the best break up song are in the comments.
You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
Written by Carly Simon in 1971, released in November 1972 on No Secrets
Before the song became a hit single in 1972, Simon told an interviewer that the song was about “men”, not a specific “man”
50 years of speculation and we still don’t have a clear answer on who she wrote it about
Mick Jagger does backing vocals on the song and she denied he was part of it.
Over the years Simon has divulged “letter clues” and has claimed that the subject’s name contains the letters A, E, and R.
Shortly before the writing of the song, Simon was married to James Taylor; she has said that he was “definitely not” the subject of the song. David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens have all been cited by the press as speculative candidates.
In November 2015, Simon, promoting her about-to-be-published memoirs, said, “I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren (Beatty)” and added that while “Warren thinks the whole thing is about him”, he is the subject of that verse only, with the remainder of the song referring to two other, still unnamed men. The song originally had a fourth verse, possibly including another subject.
In August 2003 Simon agreed to reveal the name of the song’s subject to the highest bidder of the Martha’s Vineyard Possible Dreams charity auction. With the top bid of $50,000, Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports and a friend of Simon, won the right to know the name of the subject of “You’re So Vain”. A condition of the prize was that Ebersol not reveal the name. Ebersol said Simon allowed him to divulge a clue about the person’s name: “Carly told me that I could offer up to the entire world a clue as to what she’ll tell me when we have this night in about two weeks. And the clue is: The letter ‘E’ is in the person’s name.”
In 2004 Simon told Regis Philbin, “If I tell it, it’s going to come out in dribs and drabs. And I’ve given out two letters already, an ‘A’ and an ‘E’. But I’m going to add one to it. I’m going to add an ‘R’ in honor of you.”
Most heartbreaking line: “Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair / And that you would never leave / But you gave away the things you loved / And one of them was me”
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Released on Rumours in 1977
Recorded in three separate studios, the track was developed over a period of four months. Like most tracks off Rumours, none of the instruments were recorded live together; the tracks were instead completed through a series of overdubs. Lyrically, “Go Your Own Way” is a breakup song, specifically directed at Buckingham’s bandmate and former lover, Stevie Nicks.
Like most tracks on Rumours, the lyrical content of “Go Your Own Way” documents personal strain in relationships between other band members. Buckingham wrote “Go Your Own Way” as a response to his breakup with fellow Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks, whom he had known since he was sixteen years old. “I was completely devastated when she took off,” Buckingham noted. “And yet I had to make hits for her. I had to do a lot of things for her that I really didn’t want to do. And yet I did them. So on one level I was a complete professional in rising above that, but there was a lot of pent-up frustration and anger towards Stevie in me for many years.” As he was crafting the lyrics, Buckingham came to the conclusion that the songwriting process helped him come to terms with reality, despite his fallout with Nicks.
Upon listening back to the song, Stevie Nicks demanded that Buckingham remove the line “Packing up, shacking up is all you wanna do”, but he ultimately decided to keep those lyrics in the final song. Stevie Nicks explained her feelings about the line: “I very much resented him telling the world that ‘packing up, shacking up’ with different men was all I wanted to do,” she told Rolling Stone. “He knew it wasn’t true. It was just an angry thing that he said. Every time those words would come onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that. It was like, ‘I’ll make you suffer for leaving me.’ And I did.”
Heartbreaking Line – Tell me why
Everything turned around
Shacking up is all you want to do
I’m Not In Love – 10cc
Released on bands third album The Original Soundtrack 1975
Stewart came up with the idea for the song after his wife, to whom he had been married for eight years at that point, asked him why he didn’t say “I love you” more often to her. Stewart said, “I had this crazy idea in my mind that repeating those words would somehow degrade the meaning, so I told her, ‘Well, if I say every day “I love you, darling, I love you, blah, blah, blah”, it’s not gonna mean anything eventually’. That statement led me to try to figure out another way of saying it, and the result was that I chose to say ‘I’m not in love with you’, while subtly giving all the reasons throughout the song why I could never let go of this relationship.”
HEARTBREAKING LINE – I keep your picture upon the wall, it hides a nasty stain that’s lying there. So don’t you ask me to give it back.I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
Someone Like You – Adele
Released in 2011 on 21
“Someone like You” is about a boyfriend who broke up with Adele. She wrote it with American songwriter and producer Dan Wilson. It was one of the last songs written for 21. The track, which epitomizes the lyrical content of 21, summarizes the now defunct relationship that the record is all about. Adele has openly discussed the genesis of it saying, “Well, I wrote that song because I was exhausted from being such a bitch, with ‘Rolling in the Deep‘ or ‘Rumour Has It‘ … I was really emotionally drained from the way I was portraying him, because even though I’m very bitter and regret some parts of it, he’s still the most important person that’s ever been in my life, and ‘Someone like You,’ I had to write it to feel OK with myself and OK with the two years I spent with him. And when I did it, I felt so freed.”[
Most heartbreaking line:
I heard that you’re settled down
That you found a girl and you’re married now
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things, I didn’t give to you
You Outta Know- Alanis Morsette
Jagged Little Pill 1995
Morissette has never publicly identified a person as the ex-boyfriend portrayed in the song. In 2008, she said,
Well, I’ve never talked about who my songs were about and I won’t, because when I write them they’re written for the sake of personal expression. So with all due respect to whoever may see themselves in my songs, and it happens all the time, I never really comment on it because I write these songs for myself, not other people.
Nonetheless, in comments made on different occasions, actor-comedian Dave Coulier has alternatively admitted to and denied being the subject of the song. In 1997, the Boston Herald reported that Coulier “admitted the lines are very close to home. Especially the one about ‘an older version of me’ and bugging him [Coulier] ‘in the middle of dinner.'” Coulier’s former television co-star Bob Saget said in one interview that he was present when Morissette made that call during dinner.
Other celebrities have been rumoured to be the lover in the song, including: Mike Peluso, hockey player for the New Jersey Devils; Matt LeBlanc, the actor who appeared in the video for Morissette’s single “Walk Away” in 1991; and Leslie Howe, a musician and the producer of Morissette’s first two albums in the early 1990s.
You seem very well, things look peaceful
I’m not quite as well, I thought you should know
Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity?
I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner
It was a slap in the face
How quickly I was replaced
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart – Al Green
Originally written by Barry & Robin Gibbs in 1970, but for this mixtape we are using Al Green. He brings so much soul to the song
The Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation. “Robin came to my place,” says Barry, “and that afternoon we wrote ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ and that obviously was a link to us coming back together. We called Maurice, finished the song, went to the studio and once again, with only ‘Broken Heart’ as a basic structure, we went in to the studio with that and an idea for ‘Lonely Days’, and those two songs were recorded that night”
Covered by Al Green in 1972
Best Lines – How can you mend a this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Released in June 1980 as a non-album single. Its lyrics were inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis‘s marital problems and struggles with mental illness. The single was released the month after Curtis’s suicide.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” was written about Ian Curtis‘ troubled relationship with his wife, Deborah Woodruff, whom he married in August 1975. Additionally, it deals with his own struggles with epilepsy, which he was diagnosed with in 1979, and the overwhelming stress of holding down a day job and his growing career as a singer
Best Lyrics – When routine bites hard and ambitions are low
And resentment rides high but emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways, taking different roads
Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
Released on Tyler’s fifth studio album, Faster Than the Speed of Night (1983)
Written and produced by Jim Stienman who also did Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell
with ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song. Its original title was ‘Vampires in Love’ because I was working on a musical of Nosferatu, the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in the dark…
Best Lyrics –
every now and then I get a little bit lonely
And you’re never coming ’round
(Turn around) every now and then I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears
Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I’m only falling apart
Missing You – John Waite
In the verses/bridge, the singer describes how much he misses his ex-lover, while in the chorus, he lies to himself and vehemently denies missing them. The opening line “Every time I think of you” is the title of a song by Waite’s group the Babys.
Best Lyrics: In your world I have no meaning
Though I’m trying hard to understand
And it’s my heart that’s breaking
Down this long distance line tonight
Purple Rain – Prince
Released in 1984 as part of Soundtrack of film.
“Purple Rain” was originally written as a country song and intended to be a collaboration with Stevie Nicks. According to Nicks, she received a 10-minute instrumental version of the song from Prince with a request to write the lyrics, but felt overwhelmed. She said: “I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.'” At a rehearsal, Prince then asked his backing band to try the song: “I want to try something before we go home. It’s mellow.” According to Lisa Coleman, Prince then changed the song after Wendy Melvoin started playing guitar chords to accompany the song: “He was excited to hear it voiced differently. It took it out of that country feeling. Then we all started playing it a bit harder and taking it more seriously. We played it for six hours straight and by the end of that day we had it mostly written and arranged.”[
Prince explained the meaning of the song as follows: “When there’s blood in the sky… red and blue = purple. Purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” The title track of Prince’s preceding album, 1999, included similar references to a doomed ending under a purple sky (“…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…”). The name for the song originates from the 1972 song Ventura Highway by the band America.
Best Lyrics– I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
It’s Too Late- Carole King
Released on Tapestry 1971
Carole King wrote this with Toni Stern, a free-spirited painter and lyricist from Los Angeles who complemented King very well. Said Stern: “I’m sure there was a California quality in me that appealed to Carole. She was moving from a familial, middle class lifestyle to Laurel Canyon, where she started to let her hair down, literally and figuratively. We worked off our contrasts.”
Stern would usually agonize over lyrics, but she wrote these very quickly. Stern also worked with King on the Tapestry track
“In the “You’re So Vain” vein, this song was rumored to be about James Taylor, who was good friends with King and played on the Tapestry. In early 1971, Taylor and King toured together with King the opening act. Many people tended to think that this song was about a short romance between the two. King never confirmed these rumors, and Taylor later dated and married Carly Simon.
Toni Stern, however, did have a relationship with Taylor and wrote the lyrics after they broke up and he moved on to Joni Mitchell, but she won’t confirm it’s about the troubadour. “I won’t say who ‘It’s Too Late’ is about,” she told Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us. “I don’t kiss and tell.” She wrote the lyrics in a single day, after her love affair with James Taylor ended
Most heartbreaking line: “But we just can’t stay together, don’t you feel it, too? / Still I’m glad for what we had and how I once loved you”
Mr. Brightside – The Killers
released as the band’s debut single and is featured on their debut studio album, Hot Fuss (2004). It was one of the first songs the band wrote.
Killers guitarist Dave Keuning wrote this about lead singer Brandon Flowers’ ex-girlfriend who cheated on him. Flowers recalled to Q magazine March 2009 how he discovered her with another man at the Crown and Anchor pub in his hometown of Las Vegas: “I was asleep and I knew something was wrong. I have these instincts. I went to the Crown and Anchor and my girlfriend was there with another guy.” Flowers added that the song was “born” at the Crown and Anchor.
Most heartbreaking line: “Now they’re going to bed and my stomach is sick / And it’s all in my head”
She’s Gone – Hall & Oates
Released on Abandoned Luncheon 1973
Hall & Oates wrote this while they were consoling each other over heartbreaks. Daryl had just divorced from his wife Bryna Lublin, and a New Year’s Eve date had stood up John.
This is one of the duo’s favorite Hall & Oates songs. Daryl Hall told Entertainment Weekly (October 16, 2009): “It’s very autobiographical. What we wrote about was real, even though it was two different situations. And it’s very thematic with us: this soaring melody and uplifting chord progression, but about a very sad thing.”
Most heartbreaking line: “Get up in the morning, look in the mirror / One less toothbrush hanging in the stand”
Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
This was the last #1 hit for Elvis during his lifetime.
“Suspicious Minds” is a 1968 song written and first recorded by American songwriter Mark James. After this recording failed commercially, it was cut by Elvis Presley with producer Chips Moman, becoming a No.1 song in 1969, and one of the most memorable hits of Presley’s career.
James said that late one night, he was fooling around on his Fender guitar and using his Hammond organ pedals for a bass line and came up with what he thought was a catchy melody. At the time, he was married to his first wife but still had feelings for his childhood sweetheart, who was married back in Houston. James’s wife had suspicions about his feelings. He felt it was a confusing time for him and that all three were “caught in this trap that they could not walk out of”. At the recording session, James sang the lead vocals, and the studio band backed him; Moman produced. The horns, strings, and vocals of the Holladay Sisters were later overdubbed. After the tape was mixed, James and Moman flew to New York, where James’s manager had contacts with Scepter Records. The label loved the song and put it out, but Scepter did not have the money to promote new artists, and the song did not make the charts.
Most heartbreaking line: “We can’t go on together / With suspicious minds / And we can’t build our dreams / On suspicious minds”
Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse
Back to Black 2006
Like the other songs on the Back to Black album, this was written during a difficult time in Winehouse’s life. Her then boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil had abandoned her to return to his previous girlfriend, leaving Amy devastated. In an interview with the Sun newspaper October 27, 2006 Amy explained: “‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ is a track about the breakup with Blake, my ex. Most of these songs are about him. I shouldn’t have been in a relationship with him because he was already involved with someone else a bit too close to home. The song is about when we split up and saying to myself: ‘Yes, you’re sad but you’ll get over it.’ And I did.”
Blake subsequently returned to Amy and they got married in May 2007.
On “Tears Dry on Their Own,” Amy Winehouse demanded that Amy Winehouse take her own advice. “I cannot play myself again, I should just be my own best friend,” she warns. “Not fuck myself in the head with stupid men.”
We Belong Together – Mariah Carey
Released in 2005 on The Emancipation of Mimi
This song about heartbreak makes reference to some R&B songs that share a similar theme: you can’t stop thinking about the person you broke up with. In the song, Mariah is listening to the radio when Bobby Womack’s “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” comes on. Womack is a very influential Soul singer who recorded that song on his 1981 album The Poet. It gets a little intense, so Mariah changes the station, only to hear Babyface singing “Two Occasions,” a song he recorded with The Deele, a group formed by L.A. Reid (Babyface and Reid went on to form LaFace records). This song contains the classic line, “I only think of you on two occasions, that’s day and night.” Not a good way to get over someone.
The wedding dress that Mariah wears in the video is the same one in which she got married to Tommy Mottola in 1993. Mottola and Carey divorced in 1998, but she held onto the wedding dress, and when the video’s director needed a dress, she volunteered the use of it