I was talking to a friend about the new Bjork album Vulnicura
recently, and she confided that its release was perfect timing for someone close to her who was going through a bad break-up. Her friend was getting over her heartbreak by listening to Bjork. We often drown our sorrows by enveloping ourselves in the sadness of our favorite musicians. When I was younger, I used to listen to happy music when I was sad, trying to block out my emotions with cheer. But as I grew up, I realized the power in honestly soundtracking your sadness.
This wallowing post-Valentine's Day mix contains some heartbreak classics by Bonnie Raitt, Sinead O'Connor, Dolly Parton, and Dionne Warwick. There's a tragic fado track by Amalia Rodrigues that in Portuguese translates to “I Don't Know Why You Left.” Of course, I also had to pay tribute to the late, great Lesley Gore who was the mistress of teenage heartbreak.
But I also wanted to include songs that show a different, non-romantic side of heartbreak, including songs of exile and place-based longing, like PJ Harvey's “England” and Cibelle's cover of Caetano Veloso's “London, London.” And for me, the most heartbreaking song on this mix is “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. The collection of songs ends with “Oooh Child,” a big hug of a song from Nina Simone, and in it, she promises us that things are going to get brighter.
UPDATE 2/23: I included “Strange Fruit” on here intentionally because I wanted to explore multiple forms of heartbreak. As a woman of color with roots in the South, nothing is more heartbreaking to me than Strange Fruit and the history it describes. Other songs on the mix are about non-romantic heartbreak as well. Like PJ Harvey's track expresses her heartache over her home country's involvement in the Iraq War. London, London was written by Caetano Veloso after he was exiled from the country he loved because of his politically dissident art. However, in retrospect, the context as included in a post-Valentine's mix is problematic and potentially triggering. I welcome and appreciate the conversation and comments this has provoked here and on Facebook, especially about ideas of appropriate vs. inappropriate heartbreak and whether it's “ok” to express different forms of heartbreak together.
Trigger warning: Kelly Rowland's “Dirty Laundry” explicitly describes surviving an abusive relationship.
1. Maybe I Know - Lesley Gore
2. Lionsong - Bjork
3. Walk On By - Dionne Warwick
4. It Hurts Me Too - Karen Dalton
5. I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton
6. Dirty Laundry - Kelly Rowland
7. I Can't Make You Love Me - Bonnie Raitt
8. This Woman's Work - Kate Bush
9. England - PJ Harvey
10. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
11. Atom Dance - Bjork
12. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
13. London, London - Cibelle
14. Cry Me A River - Julie London
15. Nao sei porque te foste embora- Amalia Rodrigues
16. Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
17. O-o-h Child - Nina Simone