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Henry Rollins: The Column! For Those Suffering Valentine's Day Heartbreak

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]

One of the best romantic messengers is, of course, music. And then when it's over and you are at the bottom of the well, there is music for that situation, too. When you are on your feet again and ready to get back into the game, there is also a soundtrack to herald your great return. Basically, when it comes to matters of the heart, there is a song for that. In fact, there are a bunch of them.

The ecstatic insanity of romantic pursuit can be so enhanced by music that entire romantic conquests, victories and ruinous, crushing defeats can be tied to songs to such a degree that it's almost unbearable to listen to them again, as they bring back the memories so vividly.

Many of us can connect to songs many major moments of our lives. Hearing them again, especially if it's a song associated with a breakup, can elicit a strong response.

I don't want to generalize, but I wonder if it's the breakup songs that lodge more firmly in the memory than the songs from happier moments. I think that humans have a huge capacity to carry pain and sadness. There are things that haunt us our entire lives; we are unable to let them go. The good times seem almost effervescent and dreamlike in comparison with the times that didn't go so well.

Some songs are a salve for the wounded heart, others prolong the misery but somehow help ease the torment, some are painful reminders that cannot be visited for years afterward. (One is reminded of the song "Don't Play That Song [You Lied]," written by Ahmet Ertegun and Betty Nelson and sung by Ben E. King.) There are songs that are incredibly evocative but don't necessarily fall into any of these categories, they're just happening. Let's discuss, shall we?

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