Eight Songs and Stories from Our Broken Relationships

Bruised hearts, bold discoveries, and Conor Oberst.


    How many of you can tell a bad breakup story? [A beat.] Ha, I thought there were a few of you. Well then … how many of you walked away from those same crinkled relationships with a few songs in tow? [Another beat.] Oh boy, too many to count.

    tyriongif Eight Songs and Stories from Our Broken Relationships

    The good news is you’re not alone. We’ve all been there too, and that’s what brings us together today. No? Okay, well it certainly gives us a foundation on this here holiday to digress on our wonderful pasts. C’mon, how else are we supposed to cope.

    Waxing nostalgic and blasting pop music is our goddamn given right today and if we want to get drunk beyond our years and talk about our horrific pasts… well, then get the hell out of our way and let us bleed. After all, there’s a long line at the jukebox and the tamale man’s already left.


    What now? Oh right! Pop music. Without further adooze, here are eight sad stories from bruised hearts and the many songs that survived the shitty John Dear letter.

    Enjoy and Happ–

    –Consequence of Sound

    “Grasping Air”


    You can’t ride shotgun in someone’s car for very long without learning about what they love to listen to. In Peter’s car—a geriatric Toyota minivan he inherited from his parents once their three kids were old enough to haul themselves around—it’s usually metal that crashes out of the tape deck the second he turns the ignition. Prog metal, thrash, stoner doom, he likes just about all of it (not black metal, and don’t you dare say “nu” in that car). I was an indie kid and a metal fledgling when we became friends and, later, partners. I’d never even heard a Black Sabbath album all the way through. When you date a metalhead, you don’t just mingle your taste with theirs, you sample an entire culture.

    Soon we were steering that van to show after show—gigs his buddies played at dive bars in parts of Chicago that don’t even have names, or stops from touring acts like Mastodon and Primus. The best was YOB, who showed up at Beat Kitchen one summer looking like a clump of Jewish uncles, chatting up the audience before their set. Onstage, they were less meek. Mike Scheidt is a volcano; the band is transcendentally loud. I feel transported after a lot of shows, but that one felt like church.

    Even now that we’re just pals and not palentines, The Unreal Never Lived is probably the only album P and I get equally rabid about. It’s hard to single out a track to focus on—we’ve gone through the whole LP many, many times in that van—but “Grasping Air” is the heaviest and thus his favorite. That’s what happens when you date someone who’s been steeped in metal since puberty: you don’t share songs so much as you share mosh pits, bruised shoulders, deep cesspools of noise. –Sasha Geffen

    “Going to Scotland”

    Mountain Goats

    The first Mountain Goats song I ever heard was “Linda Blair Was Born Innocent”. It was the opening track to what is probably the best mix CD I’ve ever received. This was 2006, and I was head over heels for an actress in my school’s summer repertory company. Our relationship was short-lived but intense, awash in white wine and mix CDs, and when she left, I had trouble accepting it for what it was: a fling of the summer variety. So, I wrote her a letter–an honest-to-god paper letter–filled with local ephemera and drunkenly scrawled snippets from the Mountain Goats’ “Going to Scotland”, a deep cut I had just discovered. By that point, though, our time had passed. She didn’t even know the song. And perhaps that’s why it’s “Going to Scotland” and not “Linda Blair” that stings with every urgent strum. It’s a reminder of that sad, futile time when hope defied acceptance, the sort of thing that tends to spoil what was otherwise a perfectly lovely couple of months. –Randall Colburn

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