I was eating a poached egg on toast earlier today when the song "Empty Box Blues" from Opal's Early Recordings came on the shuffle. It immediately took me back to the worst break up of my life, sometime during 9th grade. The thing I remember the most about the break-up, aside from both people involved acting particularly mean toward each other, was the girl hand delivering a letter to me in the middle of it. I was so glad to see her, hoping for a moment that there was a chance that we were going to be back together. She didn't say anything, just handed me the envelope at my front door and then walked away. I was horrified to find no olive branches inside, simply sketches of my nose in profile. She knew how much I didn't like my nose and she'd always made mention of it when we argued. I have a vague memory of having sex in the Myrtle Hill Cemetery after this incident, while huffing amyl nitrite. I have no idea what 14 year-olds were doing with amyl nitrite, or having sex in cemeteries, or even caring about break-ups. Since then that record is the only conscious recurring memory that I have of that break-up, and every time I hear a song from it, I'm certain that I spend at least one second thinking about that awful two-month period.

Alithea ODell: NO (r)EGRETS
  • Alithea O'Dell: NO (r)EGRETS

The purpose of this post isn't to recall all of the details of breakups and what I listened to as they happened, but instead could serve as a guide if you're having a tough time yourself. I've been asking people for the last couple of days if they have a particular record or song that they revisit during difficult parts of their lives. Some people rely on old favorites, some people seek out something they haven't heard before. I tend to fixate on a record that happens into my orbit at the moment, I can distinctly remember being comforted by Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom, My War by Black Flag, while another time listening only to "These Are The Ghosts" by Band Of Bees on repeat for at least three weeks. Now when I chance upon these things, I'm taken back to those times, the terrible feeling usually also returns. Sometimes when I'm feeling forlorn, I seek these things out for comfort or a different way to feel. Here are some things that other people use for cushion. How about you?

Scott Schaaf: Two cliche ones, Joni Mitchell's Blue and Elliott Smith's Either/Or.

Sierra Dufault: Get Lonely by the Mountain Goats.

Erin West: Always The Carpenters when I'm sad. I'll never be as sad as Karen, and the comparison makes me feel better.

Ellen Paul: "Lonely Anywhere" by The Everybodyfield.

Dave Depper: Way back in 2000, Elliott Smith's Figure 8 came out on the same day I broke up with the first person I was ever in love with, and MAN, does that record has some permanent associations goin' on...

Hugh Elliott: Oddly enough sometimes it wasn't sad songs about breaking up but sad songs about being in love. Like "Protection" by Massive Attack.

Traci Eggleston: Charles Mingus puts me in a good mood.

Eli Anderson: People are going to think I'm joking but...Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity.

Suzie Strait: Leonard Cohen hurts so good.

Kevin Jones: C'mon people, Elliot Smith? More like THE DESCENDENTS!

Kilynn Kiki: Moon Pix by Cat Power.

Steve Wampus Reynolds: Sebadoh's Bubble and Scrape, Brenda Lee and GBV's "Trap Soul Door" are great. Of course, this is distant memory for me.

Edward Crouse: "Every Time We Say Goodbye" Ella Fitzgerald; "Cigarettes and Coffee" Otis Redding; "The Love I Have For You" Alberta Hunter; "I Had a Love Once" Peggy Lee; "Blaming It All on Love" Kevin Ayers; "Just Another High" Roxy Music; "The Warmth of the Sun" Beach Boys; "I Wish I Never Saw the Shine" - Ronettes.

Wheels Capponi: Anything by Reigning Sound or Zodiac Mindwarp.

Angie O Genesis: I pretty much only listen to Tom Waits in tough situations, invariably he has made something that applies to my feelings.

Erika Bradley: I have a memory of looping Henry Rollins' "Liar", sometime in college.

Mariella Borero: Bon Iver makes me suicidal but in a good way.

Jacob Daneman: Harry Nilsson's rendition of Randy Newman's "Living Without You" is devastating. Also, Sharon Van Etten's first full length, Because I Was In Love.

Tamara Smith: My ex and I had a jokey theme song for our early almost-break-up: "You Dropped the Bomb On Me" by The Gap Band. Then when we really did decide to break up, it was the more predictable Joy Division tune, "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

Black McQuack: When I go to sleep I will put on the Radiohead album In Rainbows and let it loop all night. Therefore it sucks all of the depression out of me while I'm unconscious and I feel better the next day.

Tom Goheen: When I was in the fifth grade, it was Cinderella's Long Cold Winter and the extremely obvious "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)". Singing along with Tom Keifer really got the tears going for my 12 year old self.

Erika Ficzeri Cervenka: James Blunt.

Joe Dennis: I don't think I have any break up records, per se. Unless I count about half of the records I've made. I guess I associate bad times with making music, rather than just listening to it. I do like watching the movie Hi Fidelity for some reason. Lots of records in that one...and break up shit.

Brian MacDonald: The Specials S/T. It's not only just a good break-up record, it's a great general purpose depression record. The songs dismiss the social rat-race all 'round, a relative rarity. Maybe best for guys, though?

Rebekka Eileen Federle: "Burn" from Usher's Confessions. If You're Feeling Sinister and Boy With the Arab Strap when being broken up with. A lot of Kanye when instigating the break up.

Tyler Soverns: "Nobody" by Keith Sweat.

Becky Eaton: Skycycle's cover of "God Only Knows".

Graham Hickey: "Mushroom Art" by Guided By Voices.

Lisa G. French: Sebadoh, Depeche Mode, the Smiths, Joy Division. I went through a phase where i watched the movie Singles after every break-up and then listened to a ton of Smashing Pumpkins (just the first two albums though, they're the only ones that count in my book).

Benny Bongos: The best of Earl Klugh, right before the cops barged in and stopped me from blowing my brains out.

Jenny Joyal: Violent Femmes!

Tim O'Donnell: "After The Goldrush". Song and album.

Jessica Saunders: The Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin, The Traveling Wilburys Collection, Pixies' Trompe le Monde, Pavement's Terror Twilight, & Radiohead's The Bends. For some reason these have always gotten me through the tough times.

Travis Ritter: I listen to a lot of Nick Cave (Tender Prey, The Good Son, and Prayers on Fire by The Birthday Party). Also high on the break-up playback: Electrelane's No Shouts No Calls, Love and Rockets' Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, Tom Waits' The Heart of Saturday Night and The VSS singles comp on GSL. Breaking up sucks, but getting together is harder.

Dre Gordon: Drugs and Alice Cooper. I will never understand why people like Radiohead.

Michael Fox: Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant".

Phil Ceplice: I've always referred my down and dumped lady friends to "No Guilt" by the Waitresses.

Caitie O'Toole: Fleetwood Mac's Tusk and of course "You're Breakin' My Heart" by Harry Nilsson.

Doug Lussenhop: LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great" made it worse once.

Shannon Leah Fitzgerald: Devotchka, Sufjan and for a cheer up, Meatloaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Light". Also, the classic Stevie Nicks and Don Henley duet, "Leather and Lace".

She Marie: Side 2 of Over The Edge by the Wipers. That music is DEPRESSING. Also, Patsy Cline. Holy shit, that lady will steal some serious tears from my swollen eyes. Radio-Activity by Kraftwerk, totally, so bleak. My Bloody Valentine's Loveless too, although it makes me want to get in the saddle again and roll around in some bedding.

Sarah Burden: I haven't broken up with anybody since high school, but that "Do You Love Me Now?" song by The Breeders was my song back then. Now I would recommend like the entire Nilsson catolog.

Phil Hall: Metallica's ...And Justice For All.

James Downing: Negative Approach, Agnostic Front & Superchunk.

Grant Brissey: Perfect From Now On by Built To Spill.

Molly Rae La Rocco: In college, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons by Blonde Redhead. Post college, You Think It's Like This but Really It's Like This by Mirah. Especially "La Familia" from that record.

Nestor Brûlée: Orange Juice's "Rip It Up & Start Again". Lee Hazlewood's Requiem For An Almost Lady.

Lelah Maupin: I second Tusk. I listened to 69 Love Songs almost exclusively for like 7 months.

Heather Thomas: Dionne Warwick's "Walk on By", Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces" & the Searchers' "Needles and Pins". Kelly Hogan's "I Still Love You" and Dusty Springfield. These are the stand out tracks on the Crying Under the Disco Ball mix. Also there is some train wreck Ani Difranco album that is a detailed account of her bustin' up a marriage.

Andrew Larson: Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind" from Blood on the Tracks.

Kerri Harrop: "You'll Lose A Good Thing" by Barbara Lynn. Also "Who's Loving You" by Jackson 5

Callie Spies: "Love Has No Pride" by Linda Ronstadt and "Why Can't He Be You" by Patsy Cline. This is making me really sad, Derek.

Suzie Strait: I second watching High Fidelity and Singles.

Aja Pecknold: Have One on Me by Joanna Newsom.

Joe Rufa: "Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. "Love Hurts" by Roy Orbison is a good way to give your break up that perfect movie script feel. So good!

Annie Hagar: Magnetic Fields. Just, all of it.

Lelah Maupin: Carlos Ruiz prefers Nazareth.

Mairead Case: Shoot Out The Lights & Harvest & Judee Sill.

Joe Losurdo: Husker Du's "I Will Never Forget You" and Jerry Reed's "She Got The Goldmine".

Brian Morford: The Best of Bread.

Stephanie Christian: Singer-songwriters, Photoshop, and lots of pot.

Jessica Thompson: "I Didn't Mean To Touch Your Hand" by 2mex.

C.m. Ruiz: "Free Bird".

Nick Perkins: The soundtrack to the film Triumph of the Will has never failed to get me over the gaping self-doubt. That or some Chuck Mangione, can do wonder work. Also, Metal Machine Music.

Rachel Herman: Beulah's Yoko, which was, you know, also the band's breakup record.

Ruben Mendez: I would always buy new music. Maybe Sebadoh III if I was feeling sorry for myself. But new music was always the best to get out of bad head spaces. Then again, I was always the one doing the breaking up, so I would listen to 2 Live Crew or Dr. Dre.

Christy Feltman: Jets To Brazil.

Shel G'brg: Journey and Bikini Kill.

David Williams: Really, people? Prince's "When You Were Mine".

Patricia Preston: Everyone will probably laugh at me, but being the queen of broken and bad relationships I have to choose "Wasted Time" by the Eagles. I can already hear Derek sigh and say, "Oh, Mother."

Chris Estey: Batallion of Saints' "I Want To Make You Scream". Then the Stranglers' "Bring On The Nubiles".

Traci Eggleston: Die Antwoord's $O$. Also any Erykah Badu, Arthur Russell, Gang of Four, Air, or Gaga.

Gerard Cosloy reports: NOW THAT THEY'RE DEAD, WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN TO THE BABY? Derek Erdman wants breakup songs? This is the motherfucker of all breakup songs:


My friends were thrown out of Dale Chihulys birthday party and all you get is this lousy drawing.
  • My friends were thrown out of Dale Chihuly's birthday party and all you get is this lousy drawing.

Heavy Metal Parking Lot: Id jump its bones.
  • Heavy Metal Parking Lot: I'd jump it's bones.