I’m told it’s tempting fate but I keep an in-case-of-emergency Breakup Playlist. It’s not as depressing as it sounds. I haven’t
had to use it yet (touching wood while typing) but I’m pretty sure, a bit like a best mate, country music will have something to offer for whatever my level of misery…
The Heartbreak: Mild disappointment
Medicinal Lyric: “Did I Shave my Legs for This?” (Deana Carter)
The Heartbreak: A fizzled out relationship
Medicinal Lyric: “Take your cat and leave my sweater” (Keith Urban)
The Heartbreak: The angry one
Medicinal Lyric: “I hope a flower pot falls from a window sill, and hits you in the head like I’d like to” (Jaron and the Long Road to Love)
The Heartbreak: They’ve found someone else
Medicinal Lyric: “I really hate her, I’ll think of a reason later” (Lee Ann Womack)
The Heartbreak: The end of the serious relationship
Medicinal Lyric: “Thank God they make waterproof mascara, cause it won’t run like his daddy did” (Sheryl Crow)
You’ll know how hard it was to narrow this list down to just five songs – the playlist is a LOT longer. For me, the healing qualities of belting out a country song in times of dire straights are two-fold. Sometimes a lyric is so comically tragic it can’t help but extract a smirk (Brandy Clark’s Stripes for instance). More often, there’s such unrestrained melancholy (The Dixie Chicks’ You Were Mine breaks me) that, even though the song doesn’t say “you’ll be all right”, it says someone else has felt as utterly hopeless as you… and they lived to sing about it.
I’m no psychologist (clearly!) but all who’ve written country off as depressing should try singing along to Mama’s Broken Heart and see how cathartic it feels.