Eons ago, someone told me about the (now defunked, I think?) blog called “Ruined Music” in which people explain how certain songs and albums were ruined by ex-lovers who jilted the living shit out of them and left them for metaphorical death of the heart.
Once we get over breakups, our heart needs to breathe again, to get out of bed, exercise, remember what it’s like to live for itself instead of for someone who doesn’t deserve the kind of accolades thrown its way, and once that happens, it is rejuvenated. Then, those ruined songs become what I like to call “heavily associated” with special moments with ex-boyfriends and ex-lovers, but that throbbing aching sickening pain is no longer there. Each of the following songs serves as a reminder of a potential love that’s now gone – but the memory and the music remains.
The Foo Fighters – Generator.
We used to talk all the time about popular culture when we were first falling for one another; 90s movies and favourite books and television shows, the latest from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the memories we had of childhood toys and Spacemaker school supply boxes. And first CDs. One thing (among a few things) that we had in common was The Foo Fighters’ Nothing Left to Lose. He said to me once, “I turn that album on sometimes when I’m writing and say to myself, ‘yeah! I AM the generator!'” and thus, the association was born. During my torrid affair with him, I used to listen to this album on repeat and dream of when we would dance to “Next Year” at our wedding. Obviously none of that ever happened because he dumped me in public with a high five and told me not to tell any of our friends what happened between us. He was such a catch. #sarcasm
Taylor Swift – Today Was a Fairytale
It’s not that Taylor Swift has a particular significance for either him or me. But it all started after our first date. We went to the Vancouver Art Gallery cafe together (a classy choice for him, as normally he doesn’t really frequent nice places whatsoever… future dates included one of the diviest bars in the downtown east side, and a convenience store that sold $3 falafels). We talked about life and living in Vancouver and ordinary first date chat. To be honest, I didn’t think it was going amazingly well, and I was a bit bored. We both left and he asked if I’d like to walk with him to the place where he has his guitar lessons, and I agreed. Just before we parted ways he said to me, “it was very special to see you again” and we went in for what I thought was a goodbye hug but turned into a very passionate loving kiss. I was kind of over the moon in that moment. He and I had been talking for months and it felt to me like months of anticipation and excitement leading up to that moment. As I left him, buzzing inside, this song came up on my ipod’s shuffle. It felt like an innately perfect song to capitalize on a moment that felt perfect. And now the two are inextricably linked in my mind. That relationship ended (I should have trusted my instincts about the ‘a little bit boring’ portion of the date) but I do still remember the kiss.
Blur – Parklife
He loved Blur and Gorillaz. Loved them. I hadn’t really ever known someone who was so into Damon Albarn as much as he was — to the point where he had this ‘Britishness’ about the way he talked, and looked, and dressed. He looked like he was a lost member of The Libertines. That’s probably why I liked him as much as I did. We went out 4 or 5 times and almost started to turn into something before it was over and done with – I was ready for true love. He was not. To this day, I’m glad he was honest about that and I was able to move on and find actual true love. But in true me style, I downloaded Blur albums for him. I fell in love with the song “Parklife” too. When it comes on my shuffle, I think of him vaguely – his laugh, his odd expressions, that crinkly thing he did with his nose, his smoldering good looks. I wish him nothing but happiness. I really do.
Pete Yorn – Splendid Isolation
The person who taught me the most of anyone I’ve ever loved was introduced to this song by me so I think of him when I hear it. And he thought of himself when he listened to it on our second (and oddly, very very very romantic) date seeing Pete Yorn in concert. He told me he downloaded the song after and realized how much he related to it. He’s someone else that, while I’m still in touch with him, I cherish dearly and deeply and wish nothing but hope and happiness and most of all, normalcy to. Music is a gift best shared with people who need it the most at a critical point in their lives. And I hope this song that links us forever, showed him that in some small way.
Not every relationship has a ‘song’, but some do. And sometimes I forget memories and places and dates and jokes with those people – and I hear the song that reminds me of them and it all comes back. I think it’s beautiful that music has the kind of power that, as Jeff Tweedy once said, above other art forms, “stirs up emotional memories”. I’m glad to have songs that remind me of the people I loved, or thought I loved. And of course, that remind me every day of people I do love.