Friday, March 29, 2019


My wife and I began this project a few weeks ago: compiling all the breakup songs we could recall an putting them on a Spotify playlist. What began as a simple exercise in "hey, do you remember?" became a mild obsession. For me, it became an exploration of the unrequited love I felt, or believed I felt, for decades as a young man. It became clear to me that I was subject to the pains of love lost before I ever found it. Growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, there was no dearth of heartbreak found on the radio. If only Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again, Naturally  hadn't proved to be the gateway drug for my own self-absorbed moping.
In a little while from now
If I'm not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to
Make it clear to whoever
Wants to know what it's like When you're shattered

What could a ten-year old have to relate to in those lyrics? A few years later, I found myself singing along with Eric Carmen
All by myself
Don't wanna be, all by myself anymore
All by myself
Don't wanna live, all by myself anymore
And don't think that I didn't notice that comma after "be" and "live" was lost on my dark moods as an adolescent with access to headphones and the patience to listen to a song dozens of times in a row. Welcome to my Pit of Despair. Somewhere in there, I began to believe, deeply and with conviction, that that all love ended in despondency and grief. It was about this time that I watched Casablanca for the first time. If that didn't tip me over the edge, the collected works of Pink Floyd certainly did culminating in Comfortably Numb. The dream is gone

It does occur to me that if I had been born a decade later, I might have been one of those goth kids, plumbing the depths of my sadness with all my like-minded friends. Instead, I grew up and got married to a girl who was listening to the same songs, and turned this obsession into a craft project. Or, as Carly Simon sang, "That's the way I always heard it should be."

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