There are some songs that are so intrinsically linked to the men I've loved I can't hear them without gasping...
The Southern Gentleman
He was captain of the soccer team. Tan. And beautiful. He sailed and swam and I thought we'd get married and have two little girls.
We went to the river, to the beach, cooked dinners, drank beer. It was easy and we were young.
He thought this song was perfect for me. It became our joke. Something he would sing to me while smiling because I was reckless and he was safe and that fascinated him. Like striking a match just to watch it burn.
But it couldn't last. We were just kids after all. Shortly after he went off to college, he broke up with me. I listened to this and cried myself to sleep.
He wore black turtlenecks and horned rimmed glasses. We discussed Kerouac over red wine. We dreamed of leaving our families. Of breaking the rules. Living off the land. And growing old together. It was tumultuous and passionate and full of fights. They way we thought artists should love.
When it was good he said he was going to sing this to me at our wedding.
Crazy Love-Van Morrison
When it went bad, I curled up in bed and listened to this album on repeat. Specifically this song. Because the irony that I was actually a painter was not lost on me.
Painter Song-Norah Jones
The Fling, The RA, and various other unnamed sins
They were brief. And uncommitted. Fueled by alcohol and late nights. Mostly fun until they weren't.
Do You Realize-The Flaming Lips
All is Full of Love-Bjork
Forty Days and Forty Fights-Badly Drawn Boy
Blind Love-Tom Waits
They all ended as such things do. And when they did, they were only worthy of a few tears and my classic "breakup" song. I usually played it for the week because by the weekend there was always someone new to briefly love.
Untouchable Face-Ani DiFranco
He was the first significantly older man I'd ever dated. He had curly gray hair and wore trousers. My parents did not approve.
He drank too much, yelled too much, made love to me too much. He took me out dancing and to the country club. We had little in common and rarely ever really talked. But we were content with convenience and lust. And for awhile, it was enough.
He'd wake up early, put this album on, and piddle around the house while I half slept tangled in his sheets. And as the sunlight laid across my bare shoulders, I'd watch him through the cracked door humming and happy.
The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One-Neutral Milk Hotel
When he started talking about marriage I packed my stuff. And while I knew it was for the best, I still mourned him. But only when driving around in my car.
I loved him. There was going to be a ring. Then all that changed when I had to leave Paris and care for my dying mother. Our relationship and its ending much too complex for only a few sentences.
But lying in bed, looking at the Eiffel Tower, he would whisper this album to me. I would smile and giggle and hold his face in my hands. Content I'd found my one.
Surfing on a Rocket-Air
When we met our tragic end-and it was tragic-there was no music. Only the sounds of beeping hospital machines, burning cigarettes, and desperate transatlantic phone calls. Nothing was big enough to hold my grief.
It was good. It was bad. It was too long.
But when he first heard this song, he cried and hugged me. And for a moment I really believed that he loved me.
Paris 2004-Peter, Bjorn, and John
When I woke up in the middle of the night and kicked him out, I didn't mourn. I went out dancing.
The Old Guy
I've written about this before.
It started big and quick. I thought I'd found another one. Because he lit me up just like The Duke did. We wrote each other love notes and stayed up texting. He took care of me when I was sick. And kissed me in all the right places. We made plans. I thought about being his wife.
He said this song made him think of what seeing New York with me would be like.
Taxi Cab-Vampire Weekend
After he left me brownies and a note basically saying-I can't, don't hate me-I cried in the shower to this song because I felt like I really had wasted my (second) chances at true love.
We Dreamt of Houses-The Awkward Stage
Do you have songs like this? Ones that punch you in the stomach with remembering? What are they?