Valentine’s Day special – how to ditch your lover by song


Look, time’s running out. If you don’t do it now you’re going to have to fork out £2.50 for a card. It’s the ideal time, you’ve been putting it off for ages, it’s not working out is it, plus you’ve still got your suspicions that there’s more than meets the eye with that Terry/Tania (delete as appropriate).

Yes, it’s that time of year. With only 14% of the population having had a birthday since Christmas, it’s about time those poor card manufacturers got you digging into your pocket once again. Of course, you may be madly in love (like me, I’m pleased to say), in which case you can cease reading this and get up to something else, but come back tomorrow, we’ll have something for you then. If, on the other hand, you’re ready for a fresh start, or if things are getting a little complicated already (nudge nudge, wink wink), then today Pop Junkie offers you free advice on how you can make damn sure they get the message.

These are not songs of heartache, of the lonely person in his or her tear-filled room, these are songs with a message, songs of action. Now, there’s several ways we can approach this.

1. He’s just not paying you any attention anymore – Easy, Paul Simon’s classic of the genre; “The problem is all inside your head”, she said to me, The answer is easy if you take it logically, I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free, There must be fifty ways to leave your lover”. I imagine we have always had songs of love, heartache, heartbreak and break up, but the 1970s proliferation of post-hippie singer-songwriters (Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor etc), do seem to have no end of raw material, the fall-out from the free love/open relationships generation. Of course, if Mark E Smith is more your cuppa, you can try The Fall’s 15 Ways.

2. The members of Fleetwood Mac are well-versed in relationship meltdown, as their yuppie-anthem Go Your Own Way testifies. More a hymn to exasperation, but he’ll still get the message.

3. “She don’t love me no more”. Lee Dorsey’s Get out My Life Woman. It’s pointless pretending otherwise, tears mask his petulant order to pack her bags. She’s made his mind up for him and got her result, they just left the slammed door off of the final mix. I hope it wasn’t personal – I’ve always liked Lee Dorsey and his (usually) jolly little songs depicting the lot of a hard-working man.

4. Valentine’s Day is Over – Billy Bragg. “Some day boy you’ll reap what you’ve sown, You’ll catch a cold and you’ll be on your own, And you will see that what’s wrong with me, Is wrong with everyone that, You want to play your little games on”. That’s how it starts and over the following four verses the bully (aka coward) gets his come-uppance. Not that he’ll realise it, of course.

5. It’s Over – Roy Orbison. Girls, if you want to leave him with no doubt as to your feelings this’ll fit the bill. Roy knew more than most how hard life can be and he transcribed much of his heartache into great songs. Towards the end of this number, after the title is repeated three times, this titanic piece of poetry follows: “All the rainbows in the sky, Start to weep and say good-bye, You won’t be seeing rainbows any more.” You’re sunk, buddy, she’s gone.

6. Sometimes, sadly, you still love each other but something’s missing. You can’t quite put your finger on it. Then someone else comes along and you both realise that she’s meant to be with him and not you. You could make a scene, but you know it just wasn’t meant to be. The Walker Brothers’ Bacharach/David lament, Make It Easy on Yourself. “Darling, if this is goodbye, I know I’m just gonna cry, So run to him before you start crying too.” Imagine just how awful it would be to have Scott tell you it’s all over!

7. If the boot’s on the other foot, as it were, Alanis Morissette came up with a response with You Oughta Know. She starts in a reasonably; “I want you to know, that I’m happy for you, I wish nothing but the best for you both”. Then goes on to lay down a few home truths; “Does she know how you told me you’d hold me, Until you died, till you died, But you’re still alive”. As it goes on she doesn’t mince her words. Again, job done, but with the added bonus of having got a fair bit got off the chest to boot.

8. Bye Bye Baby – Bay City Rollers. “Wish I knew you before I met her” Tough luck, buddy. You’re in love, but you’re already married. The thing is they’ve obviously had a bit of fun or else he wouldn’t need to be singing the word “Bye” ten times in the next four lines. Direct and to the point, I suppose. Anyway, who would want to be seen around town with you dressed like that?

9. We haven’t, surprisingly, had too much in the way of vitriol. I guess, an element of weariness is involved and often sadness, no matter how bad things have got. Well, try this one. The Prisoners, Medway’s garage psychedelia kings, led by the charismatic Graham Day and fuelled by Jamie Taylor’s pre-JTQ Hammond with Be on Your Way. “Well tell me girl, When will you learn, That no-one wants you around, You’re a real bad lay, So be on your way”. It’s about a one-night stand, but she’ll get the message just the same.

10. Or, if that doesn’t quite hit the spot for you, then this will. Legendary cult band The Monks, 1960s US servicemen stationed in Germany, with their Year Zero approach to music. Much loved, I Hate You has been covered by The Fall and London’s finest all-girl tribute act The Nuns.

11. The ultimate is John Cage’s 4’33” which would work on many levels. This infamous piece of Zen may not strictly be called pop, but its three movements of silence may say it better than all of the above, acting as an allegory for your dead relationship or, for the fact that you’ve bitten your lip, decided to say nothing and you’ll see if it gets any better. Fat chance!


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