We’ve all been there, right? Right after a devastating breakup, a torrent of emotions runs through us, almost one per second. It’s almost too much to have to take it all in, and it can be extremely difficult to articulate it. That’s often why we listen to music during that time because great songwriters have a way of putting their fingers on what we’re feeling, often illuminating it before we even feel it ourselves.
Of course, one of those emotions that crops to the surface are righteous anger. Right after the relationship severs, you can pinpoint a million misdeeds that your partner has committed in the relationship, even if, truth be told, the mistakes in a breakup are often mutual. There can be nothing more cathartic at that moment than listening to an angry kiss-off song, written by someone who has the wherewithal to say all of the things that you wish you’d said at the moment. Here are five of the most cutting.
”You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
This one was such a killer that people have obsessed for years over who Simon’s target was. (She has been coy about over the years, offering hints but never confirming it.) Whoever deserved her ire, they should at least be pleased that Simon describes them as having impeccable style and class while they break hearts all over the world, one of which belongs to the narrator with the clouds in her coffee.
“Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan
Dylan’s songs are rarely about one thing, and there seems to be a little anger at the press in this song as well as hurt towards a former lover. “Idiot Wind” is the centerpiece of the all-time break-up album, Blood On The Tracks. When once asked about people digging the album, Dylan sort of shrugged and seemed at a loss at how people could enjoy hearing such unmitigated pain.
“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette
The alleged subject of this bitter tirade was Dave Coulier, which kind of sullies his reputation as the good-guy comedian doing funny voices to crack up the kids on Full House. Morissette wins points for delivering her anger with full throat, allowing the rest of us to scream along with her and let all the bad stuff out of our hearts in the process.
“Easy Way Out” by Elliott Smith
The late, great Smith was a guy who seemed to have a perpetual broken heart in his songs. In many, he receded into himself, but he lashes out here, blaming an ex for her insensitivity. What makes this one sting even more somehow is that Smith dresses it up with lush production and a tender melody like a lullaby.
“Oh Well” by Fiona Apple
Two lines sum up Apple’s epic takedown of her ex: “What wasted unconditional love/On somebody who doesn’t believe in the stuff.” Ouch! There’s no comeback from that. That she shrugs it off with the title refrain in no way lessens the impact.