Oh Lorde. Here comes the heartbreak
For months I couldn’t write. For the story I wanted to tell was not the story anyone wanted to hear. For the story I wanted to tell didn’t entirely belong to me. For the story I wanted to tell will make you think I was crazy. For the story I wanted to tell will make you think I was being melodramatic.
So, I kept quiet.
I let the words out through gasps; it escaped through my skin. It stumbled to close friends and strange strangers. But story remained unwritten.
And then someone went and wrote it for me.
Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark
Now she’s gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart
Music like heartbreak preys on the vulnerable, hitting you when you least expect it and fucking you just when you think you are fine. There are great writers who have spent much of their lives trying to capture the beauty and the ugliness of being cast aside and left alone and there are many musicians who have added harmony to it all. But few have ever truly captured what it feels like to spend an entire day euphoric and happy and then returning home just to cry into a pillow due to a sudden onslaught of grief.
Adele sort of did it.
21 was an album that was wistful. It made you yearn for the one that got away- the one that made you cry. There was some anger (Rumour has it) but the album sold you the idea that the person who broke your heart will always to some extent be “the one” and that your love for him may never fade away. It will make you miss him and make you want to pick up the phone and dial the familiar numbers just to hear his voice again. For a moment it made you forget how ugly it all was. In that moment your heartbreak is beautiful and whimsical and your love will always be your love even if it isn’t yours anymore.
Taylor Swift almost did it.
For someone who has spent her entire career perfectly capturing the politics of a break-up, Taylor rarely looks into the pain as it exists in isolation. So much of her music is about how she is better off without that person in her life (I knew you were trouble, Mean, We are never getting back together) or she points the finger at the other woman (You belong to me). Either she is happy in love or she is angry. This isn’t to say that these are the only emotions she knows she capture. When you go beyond her obvious hits, you find songs that offer so much more. In Teardrops on my guitar, she tells the story of unrequited love and In All too well, she takes you behind the scenes of a breakup where the man she loves no longer loves her back. She knows it has ended and she is oh so sad. She doesn’t make any excuses and she doesn’t demonise him either. He wants out, she doesn’t and now she is broken. Shit happens and it hurts. She understands that. For once she is a grown up.
But even she, who has created an art form out of getting dumped, has never put out an album that tells the story of one heartbreak from the bitter beginning to the triumphant end. Her albums at times feel like a number of singles stitched together lacking any cohesion. With 1989, her definitive masterpiece, she succumbs to lure of producing radio-friendly singles like Shake it off.
Beyonce actually fucking did do it.
Among those who love pop culture, there is a joke that Beyonce is queen and there isn’t anything that she can do wrong. And with Lemonade she proved it. Her album leaves you breathless and also strangely guilty. You feel like you are eavesdropping on someone else’s marriage and while you want to do the polite thing of looking away, you are far too entranced to do so. Lemonade is celebration of the black woman but it is also the story of how a broken marriage was painfully fixed. With words she cuts you and reminds you why sometimes you can love the man who intentionally wounded you. With words she tells you that your forgiveness is powerful. With words she tells you that if he fucks up again, you can always move on to the next dick.
And now Lorde has really done it.
Melodrama comes into my life when my own heartbreak has quietly faded away after months of raging a storm inside of me. It no longer stalks me and stuns me into silence and tears. I have no tangible memory of the anger that resided deep into the recess of rejection and how love turned ominous. I can now laugh at some of the most painful moments.
Time is an unforgiving asshole because it makes you forget. And I had forgotten. It is wonderful. It is cruel.
Which is why I am so grateful for Melodrama. As I started to grow cynical, it reminded me that heartbreak shouldn’t be discarded once it has served its purpose and that a person with a broken heart is a unique creature exempt from the rules of logic and should be treated with kind gloves.
It also forced me to spend some time with the girl I used to be not so long ago and made me celebrate the gloriously fucked up mess that I was.
She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar.
As I sat and listened to it, I was seized with empathy that comes with intelligent hindsight. I saw everything from an outsider’s perspective and got to examine everything that went wrong. With it, I finally accepted who I used to be and who he was. I saw him not as the hero or the villain but rather just another fucked up human being in a world filled with other fucked up human beings. No anger, no hate; just some jumbled memories quietly fading away.
And I danced.
I danced along with Lorde to the beat of her broken heart and cried as whispered she her angst at being used by the world. I couldn’t separate her pain or confusion from my own. It all blended into one flawed endless melody.
Now I can’t stand to be alone
Let’s go to perfect places
Heartbreak isn’t a specific moment in time but rather a phase when you crave human connection while feeling utterly alien. You are both lonely and surrounded by everyone you love (just not that one). You throw yourself into the throes of new adventures and distractions and stumble through so much shit and beauty. And then one day you come home to find yourself having both evolved into a better person and devolved into an utter mess.
And Lorde gets that and makes a celebration of it in Melodrama.
I am my mother’s child, I’ll love you ’til my breathing stops
I’ll love you ’til you call the cops on me
But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power
I’ll find a way to be without you, babe.
And with her voice haunting me I finally have the courage and also the words to write the story of my heartbreak. And words seem to paint a picture of who I am and hint at who I might some day.
And as I string together these last thoughts, I am desperately sad and increasingly jubilant because I know that this will be the last time I shall ever write about this specific heartbreak. I know this will be the last time I shall write about him. Everything that could be said has been said and everything that could be done has been done.
And now, all that is left is the music.