Final Blog Entry CI 5150: Songs about Broken or Breaking Hearts
As an adolescent and young adult, I was near obsessed with songs that reflected my own feelings of love and loss. I celebrated the ending of relationships almost more than beginning of relationships. This applied to love relationships as well as friendships; family relationships and how i was treated by others at work. I think it's worth taking a moment to reflect on those themes again as an adult who feels like a part of community both through my marriage and my vocational preparation. If I can take some time to think of the music kids like me listened to to make it through middle and high school, then I'll be a more sympathetic instructor when presented with students who have the same emotional needs from their music.
Songs about Broken Hearts:
As adolescents begin to get ready to move out of the educational system, and also move from dependency on parents to independence, they have to figure out how to continue being related in some important way to other to society. As students and kids try to figure out friendship and love on their own terms rather than just through their parents terms, they step all over each others hearts. This will not necessarily stop at the end of adolescence (I think of the song "No Children" by the Mountain Goats, as a classic example of a mid-life song about a broken heart... "I hope I die, I hope we both die, hand in unloveable hand") but it seems to peak in middle school, high school and college. As students start dating for the first time they go through tremendous emotional highs, and everything is new and exciting, but many times they will stay focused on the new relationship high, and keep moving from person to person with dating, and leave a trail of emotionally hurt peers. By listening to music that evokes this emotions, I think teenagers especially have a means of transmuting their intense adolescent despair into a kind of artistic expression. Without songs about breaking hearts, they would be left with depression and no outlet, and they wouldn't feel linked to others, and they might do things they regret; things ranging from sexual promiscuity to suicide. I think of my own life, listening to songs by Nine Inch Nails from the nineties made me feel tremendously connected when someone had trampled on my heart. The bitterness in the lyrics actually takes your mind off of your own feelings, and allows you to think of feelings in abstraction. Some songs don't take the absolutely bitter approach; think of Electronica maven Björk's song "Hyperballad," in which the narrator uses the exciting thrill of non-existence to prevent her heart from breaking, and links her breaking heart to a relationship that otherwise might end. These songs might not inspire great social change. These songs may not have immediate social appeal as encouraging folks to dance, or encouraging social interaction. What they offer is more along the lines of extreme catharsis so self-contained emotions have an appropriate outlet.
Here are some song examples: feel free to check them out:
Mountain Goates - "No Children"
Nine Inch Nails - "Gave Up"
Björk - "Hyperballad"
Gary Numan "M.E."