Valentine, Schmalentine: Songs for the Dumped

Hell hath no fury... Alanis Morissette captured the rage of the scorned woman with "You Oughta Know." Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Winter/Getty Images

For thousands of years, love songs have been the bread and butter of popular poetry and music. Those three little words appear over and over, enshrined in millions of mawkish music melodies: I love you, I love you, I love you.

Wednesday, as everyone knows, is Saint Valentine's Day: the official day of lovers and candy and flowers, the day when greeting-card companies hawk their sappy moon-in-June sentiments and the radio airwaves fill with endless saccharine mush.

This Valentine's Eve, let us take a moment for those among us who are without love, or unhappy in love. Let us appreciate those who have been crushed by some two-timing, cold-hearted, no-good jerk — for we all know that it's in the sweet and terrible state of heartbreak that creative juices really start to flow.

The breakup song comes in two basic varieties. First is the classic lonesome lover's lament, the kind honed by blues singers and crooners such as Patsy Cline. Then there's the other kind of breakup song: the angry one, as typified by Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know."

Either way, for all of you out there living a life of quiet, lovelorn desperation, you have musical company. Take heart in the abundant supply of tearily tender and defiantly furious songs that wait to get you through the hard times and soothe your aching soul.

A Selection of Breakup Songs

Sad Breakup

Ryan Adams: "When the Stars Go Blue"

The Beatles: "Yesterday," "For No One"

Beck: "Lost Cause"

James Blunt: "Goodbye My Lover"

Toni Braxton: "Unbreak My Heart"

Jeff Buckley: "Last Goodbye," "Lover You Should've Come Over"

Carpenters: "Goodbye to Love"

Patsy Cline: "Walkin' After Midnight," "Sweet Dreams of You," "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces," "She's Got You," "Leavin' On Your Mind"

Coldplay: "The Scientist"

Elvis Costello: "Almost Blue," "I Hope You're Happy Now"

The Cure: "Pictures of You," "Boys Don't Cry"

Elvis: "Separate Ways," "Heartbreak Hotel"

Marvin Gaye: "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"

Go-Betweens: "Part Company"

Lauryn Hill: "Ex-Factor"

George Jones: "He Stopped Loving Her Today"

Carole King: "It's Too Late"

Gladys Knight and the Pips: "Midnight Train to Georgia"

Brenda Lee: "Break it to Me Gently"

Annie Lennox: "Why?"

The Magnetic Fields: "All My Little Words"

Aimee Mann: "One"

Mental As Anything: "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?"

Joni Mitchell: "Blue," "River"

Willie Nelson: "Always on My Mind"

Nilsson: "Without You"

Nine Inch Nails: "Hurt" (also covered by Johnny Cash, above)

Sinead O'Connor: "Nothing Compares to You"

Roy Orbison: "It's Over," "Crying"

Pearl Jam: "Black"

Liz Phair: "Divorce Song"

The Police: "Can't Stand Losing You," "Bed's Too Big Without You," "I'll be Watching You"

Righteous Brothers: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"

Kenny Rogers: "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town"

The Smiths: "I Know It's Over," "Well I Wonder"

Split Enz: "I Hope Never"

The Streets: "Dry Your Eyes Mate"

Patti Smith: "Pissing in a River"

U2: "One," "With or Without You"

Usher: "Burn"

Tom Waits: "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis"

Hank Williams: "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"

Bill Withers: "Ain't No Sunshine"

Tammy Wynette: "D-I-V-O-R-C-E"

Angry Breakup

Ben Folds Five: "Song for the Dumped"

Black Eyed Peas: "Shut Up"

Mary J Blige: "Not Gon' Cry"

Ray Charles: "Hit the Road Jack"

Eminem: "Go to Sleep"

Marianne Faithfull: "Why'd Ya Do It?"

Fleetwood Mac: "You Can Go Your Own Way"

Alanis Morissette: "You Oughta Know"

Green Day: "Good Riddance"

Gloria Gaynor: "I Will Survive"

Lauryn Hill: "I Used to Love Him"

J Geils Band: "Love Stinks"

Janis Joplin: "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart"

Jazz Standard: "Cry Me a River"

Greg Kihn Band: "The Breakup Song"

Nilsson: "You're Breaking My Heart"

The Rascals: "You Better Run"

Nancy Sinatra: "These Boots Are Made for Walking"

Richard and Linda Thompson: "Shoot Out the Lights"

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