Well bless your bitter, bitter broken heart
Poor Marat. When I started thinking about the songs I wanted to post for Valentine's Day, instead of a lovey mix like last year, I suggested to my friends Duke and Bruce that our joint post be on bitter, brokenhearted songs that make you want to slit your wrists in a bathtub. Not that I am planning on that tomorrow, or that I recommend that course of action to anyone (dear god) -- but the first mental image that came to mind was this one from the painting The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. I clearly remember having to memorize this painting's stats for freshman year of college art history class. Sitting in the dimly lit room, looking at slides of art, hearing a lecture on it from a great prof -- still one of my favorite activities ever, to this day I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
So Marat was actually assassinated, but look how tragic he is. If you feel tragic and Marat-like this February 14th, these tunes are for you. They're the kind that gouge your insides -- the other function of music for when you don't want it to make you feel the warm Hallmark fuzzies.
As I mentioned, this is a joint post with my friends Duke of The Late Greats (he suggested this collab reprise) and Bruce from Some Velvet Blog. Go check out their selections as well. If you can take it.
--BLEEDING IN THE BATHTUB MIX--
Give Judy My Notice - Ben Folds
The aching piano melody here kills me, and also the slow revelations that unfold from Ben realizing that he's been feeling small too long, and what this relationship with Judy would do to him if he stayed in it. He won't be her bitch anymore. Go Ben.
Untouchable Face - Ani DiFranco
If you're listening to Ani DiFranco this Valentine's Day, it's already too late for you. I'm sorry. This song is one of the single most bitter, vicious, songs ever written to someone you used to love, but it somehow still has a vulnerable, almost tender edge that I can't define. Without mincing words on the unforgettable chorus here, Ani sings, "F*ck you, and your untouchable face, f*ck you for existing in the first place." She's tired of vying for his touch, and not only wants him out of her life, she wishes he never even existed. Ouch.
I Do - Jude
A new induction into my iTunes library, these lyrics deal with getting a wedding invitation from someone with whom "in a lover's whisper you said no other man would ever share your bed . . . Well we both know that's not been so." Jude will stay away from the wedding, hope she's smiling when he turns around and says I do, and tells her that she's not spent a single day outside his heart. So wistful, so defeated.
Cardinal Song - The National
This song is terrifying for the unflinching way it peers into the deepest darknesses and lies in our souls. Never look her in the eyes, never tell her the truth, save it for the deathbed? Terrifying. The final stanzas shift melodies and Berninger is confused, cornered, wasted, blessed, used, stiff and pissed and lost and loose. But it all sounds so gorgeous.
Hard Way To Fall (live, Tilburg, 12/1/02) - Ryan Adams
This song appeared on the twangy Jacksonville City Nights, but I've always loved this stripped, gorgeous, Love-Is-Hell-ish version of it since the first time I heard it. Even though Ryan could find her in a thunderstorm by the way that the rain would fall (on the album version, one of my favorite lyrical images from his pen), he has lost her to someone else. He sings about all the small details about her that he has memorized, and laments with that perfect vocal quaver the days when she was his. It's a hard thing to love anyone, anyhow.
Dry Your Eyes (featuring Chris Martin) - The Streets
The most broken-up tough dude you've ever heard, with Coldplay's Chris Martin providing the hooks before the record label yanked the collaboration, after it had already seen enough radio spins to cause a tantalizing demand for it. Mike Skinner tells in agonizing slow motion of the moment she breaks up with him and walks away -- her eyes glaze, she looks down at the ground, and then she's gone.
Forever Blue (acoustic version) - Chris Isaak
One of the most perfect melancholy little tunes ever penned about the aftermath of a relationship ending. Taken from his essential breakup album of the same title, song after unrelenting song that make you want to take poor Chris and his puppy-dog eyes into your arms, and damn that woman that done him wrong. Nobody ever warns you, or tells you what to do.
Colors - Amos Lee
Amos Lee's raw tenor aches and soars on this song about reminiscing, and how the colors fade when she's gone. It gets me every time, making me feel like staring out the window in the rain. This is an activity I have done while listening to this song, and I don't particularly recommend it.
The First Cut Is The Deepest - Cat Stevens
I would have given you all of my heart, but there's someone who's torn it apart. Cat's simple song still nails it.
Your House - Alanis Morissette
Full arc from the Ani DiFranco tune, you've got the slightly chilling, Fatal Attraction, a capella hidden track from Alanis' Jagged Little Pill album. We find her sneaking into dude's house, smelling his cologne, crying in his shower, listening to his Johnny Cash. She finds a letter on his desk, not in her writing. It's a bad idea. All of it.
Somebody Kill Me - Adam Sandler
If you've seen The Wedding Singer, then no explanation is needed for this track. Just thinking of how Sandler's face looks when he sings this pretty much sums up everything that this post is about.
ZIP: BLEEDING IN THE BATHTUB
And remember, if these songs resonate with you this year, next year's gotta be better.