Welcome to day three of my ten-day series of Valentine’s Day inspired blog posts. Yesterday, I shared my favorite bittersweet breakup songs. Today’s feature is songs for the brokenhearted. These are songs for people who are heartbroken because they wanted the relationship to last forever but their partner had other plans. Songs for when you miss someone. Songs for when your love is unrequited.
Unrequited love was the worst pain I ever experienced in my young adult life from 18-21. Desperately loving someone who doesn’t love you back causes a myriad of emotions and debilitating pain in your soul that never goes away, even if it lessens over time. Below is a list of my top three broken heart songs.
1. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” Performed by Bonnie Raitt (1991), written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin.
Where do I even begin with a song like this? I love everything about it. The music, the tempo, Raitt’s voice. This is the ultimate song of unrequited love leaving someone with a broken heart. It’s been covered by other singers, including Adele.
The female singer knows that her lover doesn’t love her and is working on accepting that to let him go.
I’ll close my eyes, then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel when you’re holding me
She realizes he’s just using her for sex. He doesn’t love her the way she loves him.
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight
She wants to imagine he loves her for just a few more hours until morning comes. They’ve just had their last encounter, and she promises to give up on trying to keep him in the morning.
‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
She acknowledges the sad truth: You can’t make someone love you. Believe me, I know from experience that the statement is true. In the same sense, someone can’t make you stop loving them either, no matter how they act, what they do, or how much they hurt you.
The following lines are an anthem for the brokenhearted. While I think this song is supposed to be about the loss of a loved one to death, I think it applies to the loss of someone from your life too.
These wounds won’t seem to heal, this pain is just too real
There’s just too much that time cannot erase
Time heals, right? Except when it doesn’t. No matter how much time passes, you still feel them haunting your thoughts and dreams. It becomes involuntary. You don’t want to think about them, but it’s hard not to when everything reminds you of them. A song. A movie. A place.
When you cried, I’d wipe away all of your tears
When you’d scream, I’d fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me
She was there for him during seasons of sadness and fear in his life. She held his hand to comfort him during those times. She held him for years, her life intertwined with his. Now that it’s over, she’s lost because she can’t get herself back because she gave it all to him. Lead singer, Amy Lee, has a distinctive and haunting voice, so I love all the emotion she conveys in her songs.
3. “Nothing Compares 2 U” performed by Chris Cornell (2015), written by Prince (1985).
Let me start by saying, I despise the way the title is spelled. I hate using numbers or a single letter to represent a word. And to think, this song was named more than a decade before texting became a thing. I know the title fits right in with today’s writing standards, but I will never do that in the titles of my work.
This song was made famous when Sinéad O’Connor released a cover in 1990. I like that version and Prince’s original version from 1985, but my favorite is Chris Cornell’s live cover for Sirius XM Satellite radio shown in the video above. The heartbreak in his voice is raw and honest. The cello and extra guitar backing up Cornell’s guitar strumming give it the perfect mix. Now that Cornell’s gone, it’s even more bittersweet to watch it.
It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me, baby, where did I go wrong The singer is so lonely without his lost love. He feels lost and wonders if there’s anything he could have done differently.
Nothing compares to you
In the end, all the things he can do to get over her don’t matter since she’s gone. She was the best thing in his life.
Honorable mentions (listed alphabetically):
- “I Will Never Let You Know” Nashville cast, Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio.
- “Keep Breathing” Ingrid Michaelson.
- “Someone Like You” Adele.
- “This Could Kill Me” Amy Stroup.
- “Un-Break My Heart” Toni Braxton.
Be sure to look for the next post tomorrow. The subject will be songs about love/hate.
Thank you for reading. What’s your favorite song for the brokenhearted?
-Brandi Easterling Collins