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.
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
- Anya Marina – Sociopath – The song that inspired this playlist
- Ben Folds with Regina Spektor – You Don’t Know Me*
- Nickel Creek – Anthony
- Kate Nash – Foundation*
- Garbage – #1 Crush – Someone likes someone just a little too much.
- Macy Gray – Relating To A Psychopath
- Lily Allen – Smile* – Revenge, sweet revenge!
- Eminem with Dido – Stan* – I haven’t found a lot that I like about Eminem, but this song about a deranged fan is actually pretty brilliant.
- Eminem with Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie* – OK, this song is pretty scary. If this relationship sounds close to home to anyone reading this column, get out NOW.
- Magnetic Fields – Yeah! Oh Yeah
- Rob Favre – Dysfunction
- Florence Rawlings – A Fool In Love – I like Tina Turner’s version better, because her lyrics weren’t fiction to her. Alas, Grooveshark does not have access to Tina.
- William Shatner with Ben Folds & Aimee Mann – That’s Me Trying – That’s me not trying very hard, that is, to make up for years of neglectful parenting. Thanks to fashion designer Wil Curtis for finding this gem for me.
- Avril Lavigne – What The Hell
- The Police – Every Breath You Take – Sting, if it weren’t you, I’d be filing a restraining order so fast it’d make your head spin.
- Punch Brothers – Alex – Come on ladies, this song makes your blood boil, doesn’t it?
- The Rescues – You’re Not Listening
- Doris Day – Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps – If I ever have my own cabaret show, I will be singing this pathetic song about a woman who just can’t leave, even though deep down, she knows he doesn’t love her.
- Maroon 5 – Nothing Lasts Forever – Adam Levine & his gang of musicians have broken a Mistress of the Mix record – 4 songs on one playlist! He’s so good at writing about dysfunctional relationships that you’d think he was writing from experience, wouldn’t ya?
- Maroon 5 – This Love – True Story: Turns out Levine spent years in a really dysfunctional relationship with a woman named Jane. So affected was he, that he wrote a tons of songs about her, and his band named their debut album exactly what it was: “Songs About Jane.” Poor Jane.
- Maroon 5 – Misery
- Maroon 5 – Harder To Breathe*
- Janis Joplin – Piece Of My Heart
- David Lowery (of Cracker) – All Those Girls Meant Nothing To Me – And I’m sure expressing that sentiment makes everything all better.
- Staind – Dysfunction
- Ween – Baby Bitch* – I’m convinced a song this full of venom can’t be made up. I know there’s a ton of Weenies around who will let me know if this song is based on a real life experience.
Puddle of Mud – She Hates Me* – She doesn’t just hate you, dude. She effing hates you. But way to turn that sentiment into a really catchy riff!
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.
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