Bad Romance: Music for a Broken Relationship

Loveless by My Bloody ValentineRelationships take time and work. And when they end, sometimes they take your favorite music with them. You can always delete a photo from your phone or pitch the toothbrush they kept at your house. You can donate the gifts they gave you. You can always go to another bar besides the one you two visited together until the dust settles.

But you can’t have “Just Like Honey” back because that song now belongs to a broken relationship. Can you handle watching Lost in Translation without the goodbye scene? You better, otherwise you’re getting snatched and thrown into a windowless panel van bound for memory lane. Relationships are fraught with sensual experiences, and sharing tastes in all five senses is a part of bonding. However, it’s the music I’ve lost to the heartbreakers in my life that really guts me. Supposedly smells trigger the strongest emotional responses, but it’s far more common to encounter a meaningful song in my life than a facsimile of a person’s peculiar odor of armpits, damp leaves, and leather.

For example, I’ve accepted that the deepest love affair I’ve ever had now forever possesses My Bloody Valentine’s epic Loveless album. 9 years ago, I was so deeply in love with this gorgeous green-eyed heart-stomper, and we often listened to Loveless together. The lush, hazy sounds of that album perfectly mirrored the boundless complexity of our love. (Or maybe just my love. So it goes.) There was always a small sound in the music that I hadn’t previously heard, then, suddenly, for the cosmos aligned with our affections, I would also glean a petite life detail about my love interest’s childhood that turned out to be a world-opening revelation. It was all timed so perfectly.

And not only did we bond and revel over Loveless, we pored over the cover, imagining what sounds the cover photograph illustrated:

LovelessIt was all just so magical. Not only were we two young adults in rapture with an album that no one in our generation even knew about, but the 180 gram vinyl re-release of Loveless came out during the spring of our union.

However, our relationship was straining against the weight of my love’s growing drug addiction. As he moved further into coke and then deeply into heroin, his music tastes changed. Dark fear washed over me the day when he mentioned he really getting into the ominously named Dead Boys. (God, I sound old.) Beck’s Seachange was released the previous year, and my heart sank when he sent me the link for a really cool video from that album-for “Lost Cause.” Our soundtrack changed until it stopped being ours. We split, and all of the music that glued us together became the property of the relationship. I was too rattled to listen to a variety of songs from that time period for years afterward.

Among the casualties:

Anything by My Bloody Valentine, Dirty Three, Jesus and Mary Chain, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy, Beck’s “Lost Cause,” The Flaming Lips’s “Felt Good to Burn,” Sonic Youth’s “Teenage Riot,” and Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Sex Against Sex.” That’s a lot of good music, dammit!

However, the good news in losing music to a relationship is that sometimes other songs fill in when the friendship survives. The revelation that we could forgive and move on to a better friendship is summed up here, in “Ayso,” a sugary pop song from #poundsign#. Yes, I’ll always be on your side no matter which team you’re on.” (Unless you’re on drugs again.)

It’s your turn now. Which music have you had to sacrifice to a bad romance?