Open Thread: What Was Your Teenage Heartbreak Song?

You listened to it over and over, certain that your heart was shattered and you would never love again. Has it stood the test of time?

Most of us have been through it. The first time you fall in love as an adolescent, your bloodstream consisting of overclocked hormones with occasional traces of blood. You’re certain that nobody has ever felt this way before, you can’t imagine ever loving anyone else, it is the most overwhelmingly powerful thing you’ve ever experienced.

Then, inevitably, you get your heart broken. It’s the worst thing ever, you’re a shattered shell of yourself, you don’t believe there will ever be hope or joy again. And if you’re like most teenagers in this stage, there was some song that encapsulated your pain and loss and heartache so perfectly that you listened to it over and over for days, for weeks, maybe for months.

I feel bad for the families of kids who don’t use headphones during this stage.

For me, at seventeen, it was “King of Pain” by the Police. In that respect, I’m lucky. It’s held up well, stood the test of time, and I can hear it on the radio and look back on what it once meant to me with nothing more than rueful nostalgia. For others, the ones whose fickle hearts chose to imprint on Color Me Badd or Shaun Cassidy as the soundtrack for their pain, it’s rueful nostalgia mixed with squirming embarrassment.

What was yours? Is it still in your personal playlist, or not? Have you recycled it for subsequent, lesser heartbreaks? Are you having a sudden urge to listen to it now?



About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. Louise Grace says:

    Rod Stewart The First Cut Is the Deepest…that first line..”I would have given you all of my heart but there’s someone who’s torn it apart, and she’s taken just all that I have” It could reduce me to tears and mournful crooning at 14

  2. Ok I know I’m barely out of this stage, being only 20 now, but I’ve certainly been there. I’ve had two, the first was “Something About Us” by Daft Punk. It perfectly encapsulates a relationship where we had fantastic chemistry (do date the most electric relationship of my life) but the timing never seemed to work out. Listening to that song was how I first fell in love with Daft Punk, still one of my favorite bands ever.

    The second was “Someone Like You” by Adele, a relatively unfortunate choice. I’ve been a longtime Adele fan, and 21 leaked right after a painful breakup. I cried along to that album for about 2 months, and finally got over the breakup. Six months later, the album blew up the charts and I was unable to touch a radio without hearing Adele. Never has a song been ruined so quickly or so thoroughly for me.

  3. offtopic: could we have a,
    1. daily or weekly general open thread where anyone talk about whatever
    2. a ‘recent comments’ window

  4. I’m not sure I had a specific “heartbreak” song. I mean, we all sang along with “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”, but I think what really got stuck with me was more general “weltschmerz” type songs (are people in the US familiar with that term?).

    I had a period where the “Pornography” album (by The Cure) was playing over and over and over. You know, the album where the first line of the first song goes “It doesn’t matter if we all die”. Below the drama, the album really is romantic, and I’m sure there was not small bit of channeling of sexual frustration in my love for it. Apart from being an outlet for other kinds of teen angst and insecurity.

  5. Pearl Jam – Indifference

    The lyrics were exactly how I felt about being “in love” with my friend who didn’t see me “like that.” I would do anything for her and it didn’t make a difference.

  6. I had two, the first was “Who’s Going To Ride Your Wild Horses” by U2. I still love that song and the entire album for that matter. The second was a song that I’m shocked I survived. How a love sick, depressed younger me, who listened to “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt on repeat for hours at a time, didn’t jump in front of a tractor trailer ending it all I’ll never know. I’m glad I survived because life and love sure got a whole lot better.

  7. For me it was The Smiths – “I Know It’s Over”. It’s melodramatic, it’s mopey, and seventeen-year-old me used to lie in the floor and play it (and the album it’s on) over and over again.

    It’s hard to listen to now. It still packs quite a punch, and it’s one of those songs where hearing it is like being sent back in time – it makes me feel like a teenager again, and not in a good way.

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