Down With Love!

Adam writes… As we all know, we’ve got to be soppy on the 14th February. It’s a day for love songs. Them’s the rules.

And so it follows that every year I post a playlist of love songs to join in. I love a love song as much as the next man.

However… this year, to change things up a bit, I’m looking at it from a different angle.

If, as they say, the devil has all the best tunes, does it not also follow that the best love songs are about falling OUT of love? Or in love with a no-good, low-down rotter?

In this spirit, two playlists: Bad Girlfriend Songs & Bad Boyfriend Songs.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

Bad Girlfriend Songs…

Track 1. Otis Redding – Respect

He’s demanding Respect. He’s not gonna get it from these gals…

2. Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To Do? Elvis Costello

The old Hank Williams track covered on Costello’s C&W album Almost Blue. Plaintive in the original, here it’s bitter and angry. A great cover.

3. Bright Lights Big City – Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed blames the bright lights. Sounds to me like she was shopping around from the get go, Jim.

4. You Win Again – Hank Williams

The master of heartbreak, Hank Williams, just stands there taking it. Don’t do it, Hank, she ain’t worth it bruv.

5. Mean Women Blues – Jerry Lee Lewis

She’s mean, is she Jerry Lee? Sounds like you’re loving every moment, my friend. Don’t come running to me.

6. You Really Got A Hold On Me – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

One of the twin Poets Laureate of early rock’n’roll (with Chuck Berry) a yearning Smokey doesn’t know if he’s coming or going in this 1962 classic.

7. Runaround Sue – Dion

Dion’s joyful vocal always said to me that he really rather liked being on the receiving end of the rough stuff from ol’ Sue. Does the laddie protest too much? Is he bad mouthing her so that he can keep her for himself? Double bluff? Either way, a classic.

8. Jilted John – Jilted John  

A tragi-comedy in under three minutes. “I was so upset that I cried all the way to the chip shop”. The desperate name calling and empty machismo in the denouement would bring tears to a glass eye.

9. Feel A Whole Lot Better – The Byrds

Gene Clark’s break up song is, for my money, one of The Byrds’ finest tracks, not least because it’s a rare optimistic take on the tried-and-tested breakup song format. 

10. Comedians – Roy Orbison

The voice of Roy Orbison and the words of Elvis Costello. This was never going to be a hearts and flowers love song. Roy sees the object of his affections walk away with another man as he is stranded at the top of a ferris wheel. Not a dry eye in the house.

Bad Boyfriend Songs…

1. Respect – Aretha Franklin

Aretha demands Respect. Sock it to me.

2. Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Deeply soulful, harrowing lyric matched by a vocal performance sophisticated beyond its years. 

3. Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean – Ruth Brown

He’s not Proper BF Material, this one. Listen up gals. If your man does even ONE of the things in this lyric, show him the door NOW.

4. Stand By Your Man – Tammy Wynette

A high risk strategy, this one. And the jury is still out. A gritty classic about taking the rough with the smooth? Or a misogynists’ charter? If the lyric makes you a bit queasy, zone in on the hypnotic bass drum pedal work. Great drumming.

5. By the Time I Get To Phoenix

Slipping out the back door and BRAGGING about it in a breezy country song. Bad form, Glen.

6. Piece of My Heart – Bettye Lavette

Going back for more is another high risk strategy, but our Bettye is a lover AND a fighter. 

7. Papa Was A Rolling Stone – The Temptations

Epic arrangement, the Motown take on an Old Testament morality tale.

8. I Can’t Stand My Baby – The Rezillos

Play it loud. If this doesn’t get him out of your system, I don’t know what will.

9. Ever Fallen In Love With Someone – The Buzzcocks

One of the great punk lyrics. Contains the word “spurn”. What’s not to love?

10. You Keep Me Hanging On – The Supremes

Heartbroken? Better call Motown. The wailing BV’s, the hysterically pulsing rhythm guitar make this, for me, the best Bad Boyfriend track that ever came out of Detroit.


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