Your Valentine's Day Programming

In honour of all of today’s lovely couples, I have decided to be self-pitying and retreat to my snake-cave. But before I head off to cheer myself up by watching the Brit Awards (really, I should just go to bed now. But it’s work-related, sp I have to suffer), here’s a set of heartbreak records to go with your day. Just to bring you down. Muahahaha.


Billy Bragg — A New England

It’s a cliché by now of course, but Billy was always better at songs like this than he was at his political stuff. A wonderful song that seems to depress me more every year now that I’ve past the age of 22. And it gave us one of the most silly but poignant lines in the history of music: “I saw two shooting satellites last night / but they were only satellites / Is it wrong to wish on space hardware? / I wish, I wish you’d care”. A touch of class, there, as two Northern blokes were often found of saying.

ABC — All of My Heart

To be honest, you could take almost any track from Lexicon of Love and it’d fit in here rather well. Martin Fry’s quiet, tragic desperation set against Trevor Horn’s heartbreaking production? Yes, that’ll do. There’s a wonderful ILM thread which goes into considerable detail explaining just why this is a fabulous record; I’d link to it, but ILM is on kitten-mode just right now. Suffice it to say that the final plea of “ That maybe someday / You’ll walk in the room with my heart” has a lot to do with it.

Spiritualized — Broken Heart

Fun Fact: I bought Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space during my first semester at Manchester, the day after I was mugged, punched around and shoved through a hedge. I know how to cheer myself up. The full record is a depressing 70+ minute breakup between Jason Pierce and Kate Radley (the latter, funnily enough, declined to tour the album and left the band afterwards), and Broken Heart is one of its lowest ebbs, a mournful dirge of despair. Hurrah!

Smokey Robinson — The Tracks of My Tears

I don’t have to explain this one, do I? Thought not.

Sleater-Kinney — A Quarter To Three

Now, this. You’ll find this at the end of another break-up album, The Hot Rock, sadly over-looked by many S-K fans (it’s my favourite of all of theirs, I think, with One Beat sliding in behind because of memories attached to it). It’s about the moment just before finally giving up and going to bed, wondering ‘where are you?’; sad guitars harshy brushing up alongside Carrie Brownstein’s lament. Cheer up!

Life Without Buildings — Sorrow

Heh. I apologise. Now, I love this song. But I can definitely understand if it makes you want to run for the hills. Like most Life Without Buildings songs, Sue Tompkins’s lyrics meander and loop around, dancing around the point, straying into nonsense before suddenly coming into sharp focus, and back again. I love it for “but i’m mostly English, mostly English” and “Eyes like lotus leaves, no not even like”. As well as “e fade”, which somehow means so much, despite being gibberish.

You should all be grateful that I didn’t stick I Trawl The Megahertz on here as well.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners — This Is What She’s Like

“Eh!?” I hear some cry. “This is not a sad song!” And you’d be right. There needs to be some sort of release, I think, and what could be better than this, possibly one of the greatest love songs ever written? It has comedy! Interludes! It’s eleven minutes long and yet he never actually tells us What She’s Like! Well, not in so many words, but I think you’ll get the picture. The Italians have a word for it, you know. I could go on and on about this, but my family would probably shoot me, considering their hatred of all things Dexy. The greatest commercial suicide in the history of pop, is all I’ll say.

The Flaming Lips — Fight Test / Do You Realize?

Okay, this is strictly cheating, but they’re from the same album, after all. And they are connected, I think; Fight Test tells you that you’re an idiot, while Do You Realize follows it up by pointing out that nothing lasts and everybody you know will die. I can normally only make it halfway through the latter song before I have to skip on to something else or start blubbing in the street. Enjoy!

New Order — Regret

There always has to be New Order. Well, I almost picked Electronic’s Getting Away With It, so you can swap that one in if you want things to be a touch more Smiths-tinged. And I almost stumped for Joy Division so I could talk about how the synths on Love Will Tear Us Apart still sound unique - cold, stark, isolated, totally alone. But I didn’t. I chose this. It’s fairly jaunty at first, shot through with a quiet defiance. But then, just at the end, Barney has one of his lyrical flashes of genius, proving that when he’s not mistaking major mistakes about the relative worth of honey, he can rival his ex-bandmate. “Just wait till tomorrow / I guess that’s what they all say / Just before they fall apart”. And like that, the song deflates, no more words to be said, just Regret writ large as Peter Hook plays us out.

(Let’s hope Tony Wilson gets well soon, too)

Saturday Looks Good To Me — Typing

I am always a sucker for somewhat twee and sad songs. This is no exception, and always brings back memories of my last few Sunday walks around Chapel Hill before I left in 2003. The album it coems from, All Your Summer Songs is well worth tracking down, too.

Hope you’re all having a good day! I am Mr. Heckles, and I’ll be here all week!

(YSI link up later this evening, if you bear it)