Breaking Up – Listen to Your Hurt

Do you need to hear this right now?

Breakups are the time when song lyrics often hold the most weight. It’s when we are shattered open, but also melodramatic enough that a song can “get” just what we are feeling, whether or not the intended meaning matches with our experience at all. Sometimes a song’s original meaning is much deeper than having our hearts ripped out, and other times, it’s just a bit of fluff, but one that we cling to as it shepherds us into to moving on. Below are some of the best break up songs.

Artist: Miike Snow
Song: Animal

There was a time when my world
Was filled with darkness , darkness , darkness
Then I stopped dreaming now
I’m supposed to fill it up with something , something , something

The opening hook brightly bursts in and deftly illustrates the mantra for the early stages of a breakup, when you feel most broken and empty, and have to remind yourself there is life outside of this relationship and figure out the parts worth holding onto. I repeated this to myself during the “housekeeping” phase of my last major breakup. That’s the part when you need to remain calm and tie up the loose ends like adults, restraining your bubbling rage which masks your hurt, which hides away your desire to be close to them, further clouding the dysfunction which is the painful root leading you to this song.

Artist: Drake
Song: Hold On, We’re Going Home

I got my eyes on you
You’re everything that I see
I want your high love and emotion endlessly
I can’t get over you
You left your mark on me
I want your high love and emotion endlessly

This song is for wandering around aimlessly at night while weeping to yourself. I preferred it as my drive-home music for whatever social event I could not fully engage with but tried to use as a distraction and be human. Powerful stuff, Mr Graham.


Artist: For the Mathematics
Song: A Versus

Ahh, this one is a deep cut. It takes me way back. Full disclosure, this was the band I toured with as their road manager around the same time I had my first “adult” relationship. I remember being picked up by the band in their converted airport shuttle retro-fitted into a mini-tour bus. It was the first moment of confusion in the early stages of our courtship. I hadn’t eaten all day, and after arriving home from day-job work, had started drinking a Smirnoff Ice like the cultured 20 year old I was, while waiting to be picked up for our next mini-tour date. That’s all it took. When they arrived to collect me, I recall a dramatic overture, questioning the very confused and exclusively male team as to why men are so hard to understand; before promptly dropping myself on the floor of the bus, leaned against one of their protruding knees, and immediately being reminded how fun it was being with my best friends, joking around on our way to a show. I was, more importantly, reminded how fulfilling it was contributing to their development as a group. It was the most supported I had ever felt and we often described it as a 6-way platonic marriage. When the relationship did finally run it’s course, my generous mother asked if I could turn this song down a bit. When I quietly protested, she turned it full volume, and allowed me absorb the song’s healing power while I wept cathartically in the passenger seat of her car, and was reminded by this song of how I still had value. I belonged to something beautiful. I never quite understood the lyrics to any of their music, but the wall of intricate and powerful sound hit me right where I needed it.

Song(s): Three Songs in A Tunnel

This video helped me through the first break-up in which I had lived with somebody. In the wake of the devastation, my brother had driven up to collect me from my hometown and delivered me to my family for recovery. I cocooned inside their guest room and binge watched episodes of the UK series The Green Wing; until my high school best friend collected me and we went to see Parlovr play a live show. The drummer had been a friend of mine back when I was running a small magazine and I had a tiny secret crush on one of the other members for years. At this show, I came out of my cocoon as the friend and I engaged in a thrilling discussion of everything and nothing and my friend turned to me discreetly and said “I don’t know what the situation here is, but he is INTO you” whatever it was, I felt lit up and had a joy come out from inside for the first time in many moons. To be flirted with by someone so charismatic, clever and charming, whom I had secretly carried a torch for, was the best medicine. I watched this video of the band performing in their beautiful city of Montreal for a pick-me-up whenever my emotions threaten to delve back into a case of the “why-me”s.


Artist: Madonna
Song: Hung Up

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
No time to hesitate
Those who run seem to have all the fun
I’m caught up
I don’t know what to do.

Oh this; this old classic is the triumphant rejection of holding on. The antithesis of Drake’s crooning. You are fed up, you’re ready to move on and walk away. You are not staring at your phone, you are Getting. Your. Life! Listen on repeat when you are fed up and ready for pure freedom to bubble through you.

Artist: Santigold
Song: Disparate Youth

Don’t look ahead, there’s stormy weather
Another roadblock in our way
But if we go, we go together
Our hands are tied here if we stay

This can apply to a new love, but I prefer to direct it inward, to myself. After years of loving this, I just properly read the lyrics and I could write them all out for you because they are quite profound and applicable to this entire experience, but this intro is enough to get you started. Now you are free, this is you get up and go. I used this video, quite literally, to get myself out of bed while on a particularly arduous month long festival in the UK. I loved the work, but it was a mental challenge that required a shot of adrenaline to get moving. If there was ever anything I could recommend to set yourself flying out into the night, it is this.

Can you relate to the songs above?