Singer B.J. Thomas famously sang "hey, won't you play another 'somebody done somebody wrong song,' and make me feel at home." He was looking for that sad melody that brings on the tears. About love that has gone wrong. It's a great song if you need to polish off a pint of ice cream while pondering what caused a relationship to go sideways.
Eighteen years ago Canadian Alanis Morissette exploded onto the music scene with her angry tune "You Oughta Know," spewing vitriol which was like a flow of hot lava. Hers was the story of a woman scorned, but it works for men or women who got left behind after an ugly conclusion to a relationship. "I'm here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away!" If you're still angry, this is the song for you. "Can you feel it?!"
Almost fifty years ago, the sweet, soft sounds of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles comforted us when we had a lost love. "So take a good look at my face; you'll see my smile looks out of place. If you look closer it's easy to trace the tracks of my tears." Sweet misery, I have embraced you on occasion, and no one sings it better than Smokey Robinson.
Over five decades ago, the silvery smooth crooning of Roy Orbison reminded us of the torture of suppressing sadness when we happen upon a former love. His tune "Crying" remains one of the best songs of all time, largely because a sad, talented Roy Orbison sang it so completely. "I was alright for a while. I could smile for a while. But I saw you last night, you held my hand so tight, as you stopped to say 'hello.' Oh, you wished me well, but you couldn't tell that I've been crying ... over you." Heartbreaking stuff, but cathartic if you need that.
Australian Natalie Imbruglia broke on the scene sixteen years ago with her huge breakout cover hit "Torn." The words described the onset of a good relationship which then seemed to fade away. "I'm all out of faith; this is how I feel." Her song works for those still in a relationship but know that it is circling the drain.
One of the saddest but most poignant break-up songs of all time was done by Bonnie Raitt twenty-two years ago. Her rendition of the song "I Can't Make You Love Me" is perhaps the saddest concession song of all time. It's about her throwing in the towel as she spends what is likely the last night with the love of her life, grasping for something to cling to while that love comes undone. It is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, and it pulls at the heart strings undeniably. "Here in the dark these final hours, I will lay down my heart; I feel the power. But you won't. No, you won't. 'Cause I can't make you love me, if you don't. You can't make your heart feel something it won't."
Emotional pain from a dying or ended relationship is very real. Sometimes a song captures that feeling like nothing else can. Its poetry. Its message. Its forlorn, melancholy. Somehow it helps us deal with the sense of loss.
© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.