Mistress of the Mix: Putting the Funk in Dysfunction

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Relationships can, at times, be pure torture. Hopefully, instead of identifying with today’s playlist, it will actually make you feel a little bit better about your own life, no matter what your situation. It wouldn’t matter if you were happily married, desperately seeking, or just sank the final nail into the coffin of your last relationship, because today’s playlist is dedicated to those really, really messed up relationships that haven’t yet taken their final breath – but really, really need to. Yes, today we’re putting the funk in dysfunctional!

What qualifies as ‘Dysfunctional’
One of my good girlfriends always gets a kick out of a song I turned her onto some years ago about a woman who embraces her affection for sociopaths. Every time she hears the song at my house she says, “Val, you gotta put together a playlist of all the pathetic, dysfunctional relationship songs in your arsenal.” I just happen to have a few. Well, as it turns out, more than a few. Turns out I’ve got songs about desperate women, womanizing men, obsessive stalkers, cheaters and beaters and revenge seekers. In fact, some of these songs aren’t even about romantic relationships gone bad. Eminem’s “Stan” is about an obsessed fan, and William Shatner’s most brilliant effort ever (even better than Captain Kirk) is his portrayal of an estranged father (and a really shatty father at that) alongside Aimee Mann and Ben Folds.
There’s just not a lot of happy in these songs (although the witty Lily Allen seems pretty thrilled to get back at her cheating guy in “Smile” and Avril Lavigne is blissfully ignorant of the impact her actions have on others in “What The Hell.” But if you’re looking for happiness, today’s playlist is not the place to find it. But if you’re looking for revenge, or if you’re a tortured soul looking for a little empathy, perk up your ears.

Don’t shoot the messenger
Some of these songs will piss you off, as they should! Oh, I hope they do. Many of them make me downright angry. Sometimes I even forget they’re just songs. Every time I hear the pathetically desperate and sweet voice of Sara Watkins (from her Nickel Creek days) calling out to Anthony, I wanna shake her! Likewise, every time Sara’s former bandmate Chris Thile’s song “Alex” comes over my stereo, I want to reach through the speakers and knock one of his teeth out. This is a man I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice (and he’s really nice), but still, I find it difficult to separate reality from songwriting. The lyrics are so callous and heartless, that I forget it’s not an actual guy singing about luring women away from their boyfriends just for fun. Or is it? Regardless, every time I hear these songs I end up simultaneously furious and in awe of the songwriting skills that make me feel that way.

F-Bomb Warning!
There’s some pretty strong language in this playlist. I’ve dropped a few F Bombs here and there in the past, but there’s some very passionate language in almost half the songs on this one. And by passion, I’m talking about the kind of hateful rage that can only be fueled by intense love gone sour. I remember once somebody explained to me that hate is not the opposite of love, but that love and hate are equal on the scale of passion. (The opposite of both love and hate is apathy.) When passionate love turns sour, it can turn into passionate hate, and passion is what fuels amazing songwriting.

      Enjoy (well, experience) this playlist on



* = F Bombs and other nasty name calling

Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Frank Strazzarino says:

    How about No More Tears/Enough is Enough. Great song…great lyrics, too.

  2. Avatar Mark T. says:

    Here's a couple more: Beatles; "Run For Your Life". And Big Joe Turner's; "Honey Hush".


  3. Great topic, Val. Here's one that sort of fits, "You Don't Own Me," by Leslie Gore (I guess the concept there is someone trying to have a functional relationship).
    And have you noticed how many Motown song lyrics feature dysfunctional story lines" like "Just My Imagination" about a guy who's into a woman who doesn't even know he exists. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp42GN4ZLgA&featur

    Val, I love starting a Friday with your playlists. Thank you.

  4. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    "Why'd Ya Do It" by Marianne Faithfull.

  5. There are so many more songs that should be on this list…one that I missed completely when I originally wrote this column is "Love Me Dead" by Ludo. Hats off to my friend Tim who kept telling me that I had the perfect song on my iPod for this column, but it took us about 2 months to figure out what it was. It's about a guy who sings about how beautiful and amazing and completely horrible his girlfriend is at the same time. He's comparing their relationship to cancer, and well, that's pretty harsh!

    • Avatar Gary Tull says:

      Don't know Ludo but here are several great ones by the Beatles:

      "No Reply", "Anna (Go With Him)", "Another Girl", "For No One", "I'm Looking Through You", "Norwegian Wood", "The Night Before" and of course, "Run For Your Life".

  6. Avatar Canda says:

    Valerie, What a great list. I enjoyed "experiencing" these songs, and unfortunately related to many. Love your columns!

  7. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I always thought exactly the same thing about "Every Breath" (Sting). I kept thinking it was just me being weird . . . . uh, oh. Isn't that what we all tell ourselves when we're IN one of those dysfunctional relationships?

    Thanks for the play list. A sad comment on modern relationships is that it's pretty incomplete. Seems there's a lot of material out there that fits in this category.

    • True dat, Adrienne. Although if I decided to do a playlist about pumpkin seeds or kitchen appliances, or waiting in line I could probably come up with 5 or 6 about each of those things too……oh gosh, I think I just came up with my next topic for Mistress of the Mix! Songs about eating pumpkins seeds while waiting in line to buy a kitchen appliance!