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The music of heartbreak

July 18, 2021

For Jim’s Song Lyric Sunday the theme this week is Breakup songs. If you’re a music lover I think you’ll enjoy this prompt because it gives you the chance to discover some new music. Every week I find someone who posted something I’ve never heard before and I like that.

The number of love songs and breakup songs might be as numerous as the stars in the sky. I’ve read that there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way so removing love songs brings the choices down to about 50 billion, give or take.

I whittled my choice of breakup song down to these finalists:

For irreverent/funny breakup song: Song for the Dumped by Ben Folds Five
For maudlin breakup song: Bluer than Blue by Michael Johnson
For nice breakup song: If You See Her, Say Hello by Bob Dylan
For angry breakup song: (with apologies to Alanis Morissette) Idiot Wind by Bob Dylan
Honorable mention: (with a nod to Jim’s blog title and apologies to Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin fans) Heartbreaker by Grand Funk Railroad

My choice for overall best breakup song is Hasten Down the Wind written, and performed below, by an  underappreciated* poet and songwriter, Warren Zevon.

Those are my five choices out of 50 billion for best breakup songs and I leave the other 49,999,999,994 for another time. Ask me tomorrow and any number of them could change.

Warren’s Hasten Down the Wind is a simple and beautiful tale of a love that both people know just isn’t working out but one that they neither one of them really want to give up on. The short song bounces briefly between the dialogue and the narrator’s thoughts, a relationship still on and a relationship over, before the narrator realizes what needs to happen in the final verse. And pay attention to an equally beautiful slide guitar solo by David Lindley. If you have a very good ear you’ll hear Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers singing harmony vocals. Warren was a piano player and musical director for the Everly Brothers, and for Phil’s solo band after the brothers split, early in his career.

A (sometimes macabre) storyteller, Warren touched our hearts and our souls, he made us laugh and he made us cry, he made us think.

Hasten Down the Wind was the title of Linda Ronstadt’s seventh album, and while her cover is beautiful, I don’t think it carries any of the emotion of Warren’s version. Linda Ronstadt opened a closed this album with covers of two songs – Lose Again and Someone to Lay Down Beside Me – which were both written by another favorite songwriter, Karla Bonoff.

*Underappreciated because he’s never been inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2021 9:58 am

    Michael this is a lovely song and I think that you are an excellent writer, so I just started following you.

    Liked by 1 person

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