Hey! Wondering if you’re over your ex? Feeling crazy and listening to sad songs is as natural as a West Elm jute rug, but sometimes the line between heartbreak and sinkhole gets blurry.
Here’s a depression music matrix to guide the way.
- Lucinda Williams, “Essence”
Okay. You’re sad and whiskey soaked. The lyric “I am waiting by your door/ I am waiting on your back steps” seems totally reasonable. Never mind thinking through the idea that if you were in a healthy relationship, said person would just, uh, open the door. I mean, what are you? A freakin’ cat? Yes. You have become a cat. A sad, drunk cat. Turn this song off. Turn it off now. You, drunk cat, are over nothing.
- Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide”
Honestly, unless you have been officially been broken up for two weeks, it is illegal to listen to this song. The level of gut-pulling that will happen when you hear “Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you” is tantamount to being boiled in oil. Olive. Expensive. That you and your ex got on your trip to Italy the first summer you were together. Boiled in that oil.
At all costs, avoid Stevie’s baby girl gravel voice. Why? Because it is the perfect aural expression of your fragile, gritty heart. One warble will shake you to the core. You may have to exit department stores or coffee shops. It’s worth it. Regardless of canned smiles, employees don’t like providing tissues/concern for your emotional stability.
At this point, if this lyric stings, you’re still in the creating-the-imaginary-life-you-had-devised-for-the-two-of-you phase. As a dear friend reminded me, one of the most heart-breaking things in the world is to have a vision for yourself and someone else, and then realize that they will never share your vision until it’s too late.
If Landslide makes you do more than sway, nope. Not over it.
- The National, “Terrible Love”
When you gently talk-sing the lyric, “It takes an ocean not to break” and a big, fat, salty tear slides down your cheek, it may or may not be time for meds. It is certainly not time for Tinder/Raya/Bumble. This is the thing about the National, they speak to every privileged, sad, white person place inside of you that is desperate to be a Kinfolk magazine couple eating chia seed bee pollen cookies, committed to cruelty- free separates and feelings.
The tear is for your MIA morning cuddle with a guy who owns his yang energy without turning toxic male, makes his own burrata for fun, and insists he support you both while you follow your bliss—which this week, is water-coloring throw pillows. Oh yeah. Your ex was nothing like this. You’re crying over a fantasy. This guy is the equivalent of Mensa Giselle. He doesn’t exist.
Good news: This song just stirs up your tenderness. You could be on the road to recovery. Because losing your tenderness is not the goal. But damn you, Matt Berninger. Damn you and every well- tailored suit and lyric you’ve ever shared.
- Bonnie Raitt, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
You’re curled up into your ball of lonely when this lady with the lock of gray hair (it’s called a Mallen streak) comes on and, blammo, despite the minor chords, offers real logic. You blow your nose on your splatter-paint, clearance-rack Urban Outfitters sweatshirt.
As you listen, something suddenly falls into place. You can’t make anyone do anything. This makes sense. Should you only take advice from people with a hereditary absence of hair melanin? Is her hair white flag representative of an emotional white flag? Unclear. But Bonnie, is a wizard.
No one can make you turn your feelings off, but you can find real relief in giving up control. When you can listen to this number with a dry face; when you find shoes that don’t look like plastic boats, and exfoliate everything? You can download a dating app.
Because, you, drunk cat, are ready.