“Okay. So your heart is broken. Don’t sit around mopin’.”
Once again I am going to delve into music with this writing. To be real, so much of the music I grew up listening to was old, bluesy kind of stuff. You know the type. Music that tugs at your heart, maybe brings a tear, makes you feel a little miserable in a good sort of way because the music, the tune or the voice is just so good. And so, there you have it. Breaking hearts. Hearts breaking. Not so much love lost, but more like the time just before that.
Breaking up is always hard to do as I’m sure most of us know. But it is a part of growing up. Part of finding the right one, that special someone. The path to that person can be kind of rough. So, settle back and get a box of Kleenex. Here are some of the best songs about breaking up that I know. Not Broke up. Not when the deal is done. But the break up as it is happening.
“BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO” Neil Sedaka 1962
This self-professed father of Rock and Roll had so many good tunes that he both wrote and sang and this is one of his classics. So much so that it was originally released as more of an upbeat tune and re-released in 1975 as a torching ballad. The title itself speaks the whole truth and in the song he asks his love “C’mon baby. Let’s start anew.” I think that can say it all. But like most of Sedaka’s compositions the words and music just meld together into a very listen-able song that is memorable enough and still gets a lot of play today on the oldies stations.
“WHEN THE RAIN BEATS AGAINST MY WINDOWPANE” Chad and Jeremy 1964
The actual title is “A Summer Song,” but I think anyone who does remember this one will know it better by this title. Kind of a teenage love song about the end of summer, the end of vacation time and the end of a summer romance. Unlike their earlier hit “Yesterday’s Gone,” this song is more of a folksy-rock tune with a little bit of swing to it. The original version which was released in the UK opens with a short sosl by each artist. But here in the US, it was changed and both men sang throughout. Funny thing too about this song: as a guest judge on Juke Box Jury ( a teeny bopper music show in England) Ringo Starr voted this song a “miss,” or a flop. He said that it had no hit potential in the United States.
“UNBREAK MY HEART” Toni Braxton 1996
Both beautiful and extremely talented, gifted with a voice that was absolutely made for a song like this, Toni Braxton broke the heart of anyone who ever listened to this song and made an enemy of the man she was maybe singing about. The words just speak of the pain of a love gone bad and the melody adds to the obvious pain. It earned her the Best Female Performance at the 1997 Grammy Awards, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 where it stayed for 11 weeks. It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Ms. Braxton has a great singing voice, and as I said, it is perfect for this kind of music. “Undo this hurt that you caused when you walked out the door…” can tug at the heartstring of any hard hearted male on the planet.
“SOUL AND INSPIRATION” The Righteous Brothers 1996
Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield made up this duo and pretty much cemented themselves as the premier Blue-Eyed Soul group. Their melodies and harmonies were so perfectly tuned for that type of music. In this song the “he” is pleading with the “her” not to leave him because he just “can’t bear it.” Lines like “…how can I live through this, when you’re all I wake up for each day” tell the whole story, but that is not the end. Begging, pleading and wailing, this guy really means business. “You’re my reason, for laughing, for loving, for living and for dying.” Man, you cannot be more heartbroken than that. They also recorded another one, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” another song in the same ilk, but this one is far and away better. The bass tones of Medley and Hatfield’s higher toned voice complement each other perfectly. In my opinion, this one deserves a lot more playing time than it does get because it is pretty rare that I’ll hear it on the radio.
“MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF” Jerry Butler 1962
This song was first released in 1962 with Jerry Butler at the microphone. It actually became a bigger hit though in 1965 with the Walker Brothers. It is a little different because here is this poor guy who knows what is coming, dreads it, but loves her enough to tell her not to worry, break the news and go. …If this is goodbye, I just know I’m gonna cry…” really says it all. But it is Butler’s voice that really makes it. Known as the Ice Man in his day Mr. Butler outdid even himself with this one.
So this brings me to the last one, a truly great song about breaking up. But this one is different, has a bit of a twist to it and comes from a very unlikely source. Really, you gotta hear it to appreciate it.
“THE BABY SONG” George Burns (yes, that one!)
No way of telling when this song was written or first recorded because it probably came out of vaudeville, sometime during Burns’ long, storied career. He was known as a comedian and thrilled audiences with one of his famous catch phrase lines like, “Tell us about your brother, Gracie.” He could deliver a line and take a joke and was subjected to many of them especially when it came to his singing. Now, this song is a short ditty of a number that tells the story of a young married couple breaking up. The wife is telling her husband all the things, all the gifts he has given her over the years. But it’s the last line, the very last line of this song that is the biggest GOTCHA of all time, as she lets him know…well, you’ll just have to listen to it.
So, there it is. A good blend of bluesy music for a Friday.
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