Valentine, Schmalentine: Songs for the Dumped Valentine's Day is almost here, but for some people it's nothing to celebrate. For those of you dragging around a heart-shaped box of bitter loneliness, here's a broad selection of songs dedicated to the dark side of love.

Valentine, Schmalentine: Songs for the Dumped

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(Soundbite of song, "Without You")

Mr. HARRY NILSSON (Singer): (Singing) No I can't forget this evening or your face as you were leaving…


Ah yeas, Harry Nilsson, the Cyrano de Bergerac of Top 40. Well, it's almost Valentine's Day, the day of lovers. And music critic Christian Bordal, he's pondering the music of love lost.

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

(Soundbite of song, "Without You")

Mr. NILSSON: (Singing) Can't live, if living is without you. I can't live…

BORDAL: And tomorrow is the official day of lovers and candy and flowers - the day when Hallmark, Inc. sells its sappy moon-in-June sentiment by the ton, and Clear Channel, Inc. fills the airwaves with endless saccharine, lovey-dovey mush.

But today, I want us to take a moment for the alone, or unhappy in love - a musical moment for the broken-hearted.

(Soundbite of song, "Love Stinks")

J. GEILS BAND (Rock Band): (Singing) Love stinks. Love stinks, yeah, yeah. Love stinks. Love stinks.

BORDAL: Yes brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts today for those who have lost theirs to some cold-hearted, two-timing, sweet-talking, no good, no-count love of their life, because we all know that it's in that sweet and terrible state of heartbreak that the creative juices really start to flow.

(Soundbite of song, "Hurt")

Mr. JOHNNY CASH (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real.

BORDAL: The breakup song comes in two basic varieties: first, the classic, woe-is-me, lonesome lover's lament. And no one can get a bunch of roughnecks in a biker bar crying in their beer faster than the incomparable Patsy Cline.

(Soundbite of song, "Leaving on Your Mind")

Ms. PATSY CLINE (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) If you've got leaving on your mind, tell me now. Get it over. Hurt me now, get it over…

BORDAL: Of course, not everyone gets sad when they break up. Some people turn their pain into rage, and then you get that other kind of breakup song: the angry kind. But if you're one of those angry, love-to-hate breaker-uppers, before you pick up a weapon or call a lawyer, try turning on your CD player, turning it up to 11 and letting the music express all those terrible emotions for you.

(Soundbite of song, "You Oughta Know")

Ms. ALANIS MORISSETTE (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) It's not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me. You, you, you oughta know. You seem very well. Things look peaceful. I'm not quite as well. I thought you should know.

BORDAL: So today, I'm here to remind all of you out there living a life of quiet, lovelorn desperation: Take heart. Take musical company. You're never really alone, because there's no end to the tearily tender and defiantly furious songs out there to get you through the hard times and soothe your aching soul.

(Soundbite of song, "Crying")

Mr. ROY ORBISON (Singer): (Singing) I love you even more than I did before, but darling, what can I do? For you don't love me, and I'll always be…

BRAND: There's a long list of sad and angry breakup songs from music critic Christian Bordal on our Web site, There are also some straight-ahead love songs there, too, plus some music samples.

(Soundbite of song, "Crying")

Mr. ROY ORBISON: (Singing) …now you're gone. And from this moment on, I'll be crying, crying, crying, crying…

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News, with contributions from I'm Madeleine Brand.


And I'm Alex Chadwick.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.