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Valentine, Schmalentine: Songs for the Dumped

Hell hath no fury... Alanis Morissette captured the rage of the scorned woman with "You Oughta Know."
Kevin Winter
Getty Images
Hell hath no fury... Alanis Morissette captured the rage of the scorned woman with "You Oughta Know."

For thousands of years, love songs have been the bread and butter of popular poetry and music. Those three little words appear over and over, enshrined in millions of mawkish music melodies: I love you, I love you, I love you.

Wednesday, as everyone knows, is Saint Valentine's Day: the official day of lovers and candy and flowers, the day when greeting-card companies hawk their sappy moon-in-June sentiments and the radio airwaves fill with endless saccharine mush.

This Valentine's Eve, let us take a moment for those among us who are without love, or unhappy in love. Let us appreciate those who have been crushed by some two-timing, cold-hearted, no-good jerk — for we all know that it's in the sweet and terrible state of heartbreak that creative juices really start to flow.

The breakup song comes in two basic varieties. First is the classic lonesome lover's lament, the kind honed by blues singers and crooners such as Patsy Cline. Then there's the other kind of breakup song: the angry one, as typified by Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know."

Either way, for all of you out there living a life of quiet, lovelorn desperation, you have musical company. Take heart in the abundant supply of tearily tender and defiantly furious songs that wait to get you through the hard times and soothe your aching soul.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Christian Bordal
Christian Bordal is a Norwegian-American (via Australia) musician, radio producer, and freelance music journalist who contributes regularly to Day to Day. He's very good at making faces and making a fool of himself, and he once impressed his NPR editors with a drunken recitation of the gibberish poem "Jabberwocky." He briefly considered launching a career performing at children's parties, but he finds his own children to be trouble enough. In addition to this list of remarkable professional accomplishments, he is a producer at member station KCRW in Los Angeles.