Songs are poetry set to music. Some are the perfect marriage of sound and message while others are just wasted creative potential. Monday Meh is about presenting the best musical offerings and a little backstory to get you through to hump day.
The pen is mightier than the sword when it comes to songs about breaking up. It was quite a challenge having a listen to lots of music on this subject, so I included my hubby, the inimitable Captain Kirk in on the process to ensure he didn’t feel like it was all about us – it’s not, we’re good.
At the moment it seems people around me are going through the end of a significant relationship (or similar), and in the process of finding their ways through the storm. There is a lot of reflection going on as they encounter the reality of singularity in the present age. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
This week it was tough choosing. I found three great songs where I think that the music and lyrics work well together, told from the perspective of men and none of them are similar. It’s like Snow White turned three of her compadres into Happy, Shitty, and Guilty.
First up is Happy relating the best advice to extract the ultimate revenge – Living a Good Life with the happiest, danciest song I have ever heard relating to breaking up, it’s the Mavericks, founded by Raul Malo, with Dance The Night Away.
First released on their album Trampoline, the song went to number 4 in the UK and remained on the charts for eighteen weeks and I kinda wish it’d make a bigger revival on the easy listening wavelengths.
This one is good for light-hearted break-ups. You know, I wouldn’t ever recommend this kind of extremely happy music when you’re bawling your eyes out and your tears are the size of two pound coins. There’s something oddly surreal about wailing and blowing-nose to happy dance music that feels a bit too much like a Tarantino flick… or maybe that’s just me.
The Mavericks’s influences include Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and unsurprisingly, Los Lobos as they combine neo-traditional country music and latin into aural chicken soup. Here’s a live video of a gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the sound quality is excellent.
I just wanna dance the night away
With senoritas who can sway
Right now tomorrow’s lookin’ bright
Just like the sunny mornin’ light
And if you should see her
Please let her know that I’m well
As you can tell
And if she should tell you
That she wants me back
Tell her no
I gotta go
The Mavericks, 1998
Next up is Shitty, and this one has always conjured up the image of a dingy bar, a mountain of tequila shot glasses and a general fiery finger of fuck-you approach to dealing with heartbreak. This song kind of blew me away the first time I heard it at age 17… I had never really thought about it quite like this before! Rock and Roll! Use your Illusion had just come out and I’d gone through all the popular songs first on the cassette taped copy-of-a-copy, before just letting it run through a few hundred times until there was no magnet left. Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 were one of the first CD sets I ever bought when I finally earned cash by full-time employment.
The song was one of several written by the co-founding member of Guns N’ Roses, Izzy Stradlin, who along with Axl Rose enlisted Slash, Duff and Adler to create an awesome band that had its ups and downs. Axl Rose wanted to give it more kudos, to raise it up to the heights of Queen and co. But alas, t’was not meant to be, Axl believed he was possessed by John Bonham, and he accused Courtney Love of possessing him too –I’m still not quite sure what to make of that… and then Chinese Democracy, then poof. A whole other story.
You Ain’t the First is indeed the least Guns N’ Rosesy song being more bluesy, with an acoustic sound, Slash providing the atmospheric twang of the slide guitar-work – the man is brilliant. I always thought this song, along with the others written by Izzy Stadlin balanced out the album by creating a powerful aural contrast.
After Izzy left somewhere in the aforementioned mess, GNR included him as Easter eggs in post-Izzy work — like the sign that says “Where’s Izzy?” in Don’t Cry, and they used his picture on the milk carton in Live and Let Die. Make of that what you will.
Time can pass slowly,
things always change
You day’s been numbered
And I’ve read your last page
You was just a temporary lover
Honey you ain’t the first
Lots of others came before you woman
Said but you been the worst
Sa’ you been the worst
Izzy Stradlin, Founder of Guns ‘n Roses, 1991
As for Guilty, it’s the time-honoured classic that still sounds as good as it did in the eighties, Careless Whispers. George Michael is a legend and this well-covered song is so well known that it’s unlikely you’d meet anyone that hadn’t heard it at some point or another. Although most Wham! songs were written by George Michael, this one was also credited to Andrew Ridgeley.
George Michael said that he was taking the bus to his job as an usher at a cinema and BAM was inspired to write “the silver screen” in the first verse (I paraphrased). and it had nothing to do with anything he was going through at the time. He came up with “Guilty feet have got no rhythm,” demonstrating sophisticated song-writing skills. I still find it hard to believe that George wasn’t doing something he shouldn’t have been… (who George Michael? No!?! Okay.)
George Michael has previously stated that he’s had more compliments on his writing of the sax solo than anything else, and it’s likely because it is undeniably distinctive and an amazing piece of music.
George Michael once said, “I’m still a bit puzzled why it’s made such an impression on people… Is it because so many people have cheated on their partners? Is that why they connect with it? I have no idea, but it’s ironic that this song – which has come to define me in some way – should have been written right at the beginning of my career when I was still so young. I was only 17 and didn’t really know much about anything – and certainly nothing much about relationships.”
I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool
I should have known better than to cheat a friend
And waste a chance that I’ve been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you
If you’re looking for a lot more break up songs, do a google, bing or duck… there’s more out there for the sad and lonely than you realise. If you have any other information about these three songs, or similar recommendations, other videos of the same quality… y’know… pop them in the comments underneath. I’d also appreciate a heads up if you find any broken links. Follow me for future updates.