Page 5 of 6
10. The Clash, "Train in Vain"
Mick Jones captures the desperation of the brokenhearted here: "I need new clothes, I need somewhere to say/But without all of these things I can do/But without your love, I won't make it through." There's also an accusatory chorus, which always feels good.
9. Bob Marley, "She's Gone"
This deep-album cut's simple lyrics are given power by Marley's performance, especially the build ups of the title phrase from mutter to shout, to the point that I walk around my apartment hollering "oh mockingbird have you ever heard words that I never heard?" with great feeling even though I don't know what he's talking about.
8. Dillard and Clark, "Why Not Your Baby?"
The best break-up songs communicate plainly and effectively something simple and universal. "Why don't you call me your baby anymore?" is one such example, from the chorus of this catchy, lovely song.
7. Elliott Smith, "Everything Reminds Me of Her"
I rediscovered Figure 8 not too long ago, and recognized its value not only as Smith's best album but as a great break-up album. "I Better Be Quiet Now" might be my favorite track on the record ("I got a long way to go/Getting further away"—oof), but the title of this song so neatly expresses such a fundamental and devastating part of the break-up experience that I couldn't not put it on here.
6. Harry Nilsson, "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now"
If you don't know A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, Nilsson's Gordon Jenkins-arranged standards album, you're missing out on one of the best records ever cut. You're also missing out on a great break-up record, featuring songs like "What'll I Do?" and "Nevertheless." (The special edition also features "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," which is killer.) But no song is more moving than this 1909 standard, so simple, sad and direct: "I wonder who's buying the wine/For lips that I used to call mine."