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April 3, 2000 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need

Last Thursday, Friday and I had the distinct all-growed-up pleasure of attending a "jamboree" of all of the a cappella singing groups from Breakup U. She and I happen to be alums of the same group, and for both of us, that's what put the alma -- as in soul -- in alma mater. Not only did we get to be proud of our girlies, but we also heard the tunes, from all the groups, that we associate with those heady, hilarious, happy times. Not to mention the song(s) that Singin' Breakup Boyfriend used to croon to me. In white tie and tails. Oh, oh, oh. You don't know what the words "ba" and "doo" still do to me.

Or maybe you do.

Your Relationship: The Soundtrack

If music be the food of love, rock on.

You don't need Breakup Girl, or Lloyd Dobler, to tell you that music and love (or lack thereof) feed one another. The Perfect Mix Tape, your "our song" song, the Boyfriend Stereo, My Heart will Go On and On and On, songs as signals ("If he keeps slow dancing when Freebird gets fast, he likes you.") -- they all form the soundtrack of our love lives.

Of course, to some degree, songs -- pop songs, anyway -- are engineered that way. I'm pretty sure "That's What Friends are For" came out at Yearbook Mean Time. "It's Been a Long Time" spoke -- sang -- to all the couples reunited postwar. But this is of course beside the point, as we all know that when we are in the thick of it, even "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" or "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't" can make us tear up. Bottom line: the words say what we can't; even the notes say what lyrics can't.

And with good reason. "Music is apprehended on the right side of the brain -- the same neighborhood where emotions are apprehended, sensation is processed, and even where spiritual experiences are grokked," says our own Belleruth, whose groundbreaking guided imagery goodies owe a lot to music's charms. "So music pings into all the deeply felt places, way deeper than straight cognition. So it's a powerful connector to feelings and mood. That's why -- for better or for worse -- we are slaves to it."

So -- inspired in part by the very latest Reason to Adore John Cusak -- BG thought it would be fun to find out what tunes are on your album of greatest hits/misses. Just one word to the tuned-in: if you find that those ditties still hit "play" on long-paused longings, take a lesson from Friday and her Ghost Ex: they're Pavlove-ian triggers, not -- necessarily -- reasons to hit rewind. Just enjoy the oldies for what they are: the grace notes of solid gold mixed in with our memories and yarns and losses and dreams. Which is what we are.

And tune in here on April 17, when the Big To Do will mix it up for you!

Now let's get in touch with your inner ear! Here's MC BG's master mix of your ancedotes (culled from last week's Do Tell -- thanks!), for all your relationship listening needs:

"Our Songs"

  • BG hears tell of a young woman who broke up with her high school sweetheart by hurling the 45 of their song -- "My One and Only Love" (not the Smashing Pumpkins version) -- out the window of his '57 Chevy. They huffily went their separate ways -- and into two separate marriages. Nine years later -- both divorced -- they happened, by sheer chance, to run into each other in a Chinese restaurant in Montreal. The rest is music history; they are my friend P.'s parents. And they address their e-mails to "My One and Only Love."

  • More from some other grownups near and dear to my heart:
    • ME: Breakup Mom, so what's your and Breakup Dad's "song?" Or is it the entire Ring Cycle?
    • BREAKUP MOM: No, not the entire Ring Cycle. Just the first act of Die Walkure. In fact, just the parts between Siegmund and Sieglende.
    • ME: Oh, I was just ki -- Okay, thanks.

  • Tess: "My song with my bartender boyfriend was Marc Cohn's 'True Companion.' He used to call me from the bar in the middle of the night and sing that song to me live, with everyone in the bar singing, clapping, and cheering for me. At the end of the song, he'd say 'Goodnight, I love you.'"

  • Kira: "My baby sister's song with her first boyfriend was 'Feel Like Makin' Love,' which really grossed me out at the time and still makes my skin crawl."

  • Amy: "My boyfriend and I have so many 'our songs.' In fact, we have entire CDs that mark months of our relationship (one time he e-mailed me 'DON'T EVER TAKE THOSE CDs OUT OF YOUR PLAYER,' which I thought was so sweet. In the early days of our courtship we e-mailed lyrics back and forth to each other, which showed it's not just the sound of the song, but rather the fact that a lyricist took those feelings swirling around you and gave them a name. Like 'I've tried so not to give in / I've said to myself this affair never will go so well / But why should I try to resist, when baby well I know so well ... That I've got you under my skin.' Oh, that's not just a kicky little swing song that you dance to -- that's Sinatra killing himself over Ava Gardner, and all you can do is hope you fare better than they did!"

  • Other nominees:
    • Janet: "My relationship soundtrack is all heavy metal. Our song is 'Nothing Else Matters' by Metallica."*
    • Angela: "I always think of my boyfriend when I hear the song 'Breathe' by Faith Hill because that is the way I feel when I'm with him. He says that the song 'I Knew I Loved You' by Savage Garden is our song because before we met, he prayed that he would meet someone who would like and love him for who he is and I definitely do." Oh, for God's sake. Now I have to like that song. Oh, Angela also mentions "To Get Me To You" by Lila McCann and "Heaven" by Warrant. ("He played that song over and over for me the night we had our first kiss on a dock by the lake." Damn. That one, too.)
    • "Lady in Red" gets many, many votes! (He means her dress, not her hair, right?)
    • Epiphany: "'(Make Me) Lose Control' by Eric Carmen ... done a cappella! My ex is an a cappella singer. I still love him." See?!

Come Ons

  • "Sweetie, put it this way. If he puts on 'Ride the Lightning,' he wants to make out." -- the Older Girls, overheard by an impressionable-at-the-time correspondent outside the local Whistle Stop Pizza

  • Michael: "My friend R. recommended that I take dance lessons with her friend C. So C. and I spoke over the phone and agreed, since neither of us had ever taken any lessons, to take one of those introduction to partner dance survey classes in midtown. The night we were supposed to meet, the dregs of Hurricane Bertha were drizzling up and down Manhattan. We learned the basic steps of the rumba to Howard Jones' No One is to Blame."


  • Michael: "I love the song 'Crazy for You' by Madonna, but mostly because it is a direct emotional pathway to a lonely eighth grade epoch where I wished and wished I could slow dance that song with somebody."

  • Nightwind: "The song that I can't listen to without breaking into tears is 'Rainy Day Man' from Sailor Moon ... I get a little misty just thinking about it ..."


When I was in Breakup High, a boy gave me an obscure U2 EP called "Another Time, Another Place." This, he meant as the breakup itself. Which I didn't get right away. Which was embarrassing.

  • Tess: "In high school I made a mix called 'Only the Lonely: The Misery Mix,' with much Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel and the Cure."

  • Sherri: "You start with the A's: Tori Amos, Jonatha Brooke -- then work your way through the alphabet. Everything But the Girl's 'The Road,' Aimee Mann's ... everything; Sarah McLachlan's 'Stumbling Toward Ecstasy' -- or the Freedom Sessions version, which is much more plaintive and heartbreaking. Then for some reason the end of the alphabet gets very intense: Roxy Music, Duncan Sheik, Style Council, Third Eye Blind's 'How's it Gonna Be,'** among others; the whole 'Til Tuesday ouevre. If the breakup is especially bad, one then resorts to the -- gasp! -- cassettes, all the late high school and college songs. That's when you know things are bad: Phil Collins' 'Against All Odds' or 'One More Night?!' In fact, I still have my 'cassette suitcase' with all my 80s tapes. My best friend usually checks in on me to ask what letter I'm through so she knows how long I have left to go in the mourning period."

  • Diane: "Billy Joel's 'She's Always a Woman' was a song my first boyfriend sang to me all the time – when we broke up I really listened to the lyrics and had to laugh through my many tears ... it's not the most romantic flattering song to sing to your girlfriend!"

  • Excerpts from a playlist from Melody, who/which reminded BG that her pop music knowledge screeched to a halt somewhere around Haircut 100.
    • "Hold On" by Sarah McLachlan
    • "Brick" by Ben Folds Five
    • "Down From Above" by Moxy Fruvous
    • "Shopping Cart of Love" by Christine Lavin
    • "The Blacksmith" by Loreena McKennitt
    • "Tomorrow's Tears" by Cranes
    • "St. Mary's of Regret" by Susan Warner

Final BG musicology dept. note: according to an earlier breakupgirl.net poll, when it comes to their "breakup theme," female BG readers are more likely to choose "a headbanger anthem" than "sappy Celine." (Makes sense; Cf "My Heart Will Go On and On and On," above.)

And no matter what, just be glad you're not Rita.

* Gentle feedback from BG's Metallica Correspondent: "I can see that on a mix tape right after Queensryche's 'Silent Lucidity' and Skid Row's 'I Remember You.' It's not suprising that someone would call that 'their song.' If they had said for example, that 'Motorbreath' from the album 'Kill 'em All' was 'their song,' well, then we'd have ourselves a story."

** Ah yes! This was the soundtrack to Paul the Intern's live montage when he was broken up with on stage at Breakup Girl LIVE.



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