Anti-Valentine’s Day Songs

Guest Blogger Deborah Kobritz, assistant to the VP of marketing and programming, dives into an emotional battlefield of love songs, revealing a vulnerable sweet center before emerging a Valentine’s warrior.

Anti-Valentine’s Day – sad love songs. That was the assignment. The opposite of love. The anti-love.  

I like music. I grew up in a home with music. We all sang, played musical instruments, sang in the church choir and in school chorus. I was an A soprano. We had music jams at home with Grampy on fiddle, Uncle John on steel guitar, Uncle Ralph on his Gibson, Uncle Richard on mandolin, Aunt Joan on her “Baby Gibson” and my sister, Barbara, on piano. I lived with a transistor radio glued to my head when I was a teen and called the radio station to play my favorite song, sad or otherwise. I knew every artist and the words to every song, but that was then, and this is now. I am not as familiar with the “new” artists. I’ve heard songs, of course, but I couldn’t tell you who was singing it, much less recite more than a phrase or two of the song. So, I asked for help from my friends and hip coworkers and they came through with big name stars as well as some lesser known. 

Now, how to curate a list of the myriad of songs from my memories and all the suggestions. Do we go with Broadway songs, movie soundtracks, the ’50s, ’60s, 2000s or another decade? How about a genre – torch songs, country, rock, rap? There are a lot of sad love songs out there. I have concluded that there are more sad love songs than happy love songs. You can see my dilemma and I never have been very good at making decisions!

The amount of information available at our fingertips is overwhelming and I’ve set what now seems to be the impossible task of culling 10 songs from this mountain of music. I could do 10 sad love songs by Barbra Streisand alone! “My Man” (original by Billie Holiday) “The Way We Were,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” – she has one for every relationship – like Taylor Swift. Just ask Google.

This has been a journey from the angst of my teen years – Karen Carpenter – “Goodbye to Love;” Vicki Carr – “It Must Be Him.” Moving right along to Willie Nelson – “Always on My Mind;” Dolly Parton – “I Will Always Love You” (kudos to Whitney Houston for bringing it back); Bonnie Raitt – “I Can’t Make You Love Me;” Roxette – “It Must Have Been Love” (who can forget its use in Pretty Woman) to a little more current Adele – “Someone Like You” (or check out her performance at The Royal Albert Hall). Female vocalists seem to have the bulk of the recordings, but they certainly do not have a lock on broken hearts. I give you Billy Vera – “At This Moment;” Tom Jones – “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again;” Justin Timberlake – “Drink You Away;” Prince – “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore;” Jeff Buckley – “Last Goodbye;” and Autoheart – “Heartbreaker.”   

I listened to all the songs listed above and many, many more because you know what a rabbit hole the internet is. In the process, I stumbled onto a The X Factor audition and a cover of “Jealous” by Labrinth. Simon was crying, I was crying and for sad love songs this was the mother of them all (for me). 

By now, I have relived every romance of my life. I have cried more than once over the memory of a lost love or, in some cases, the death of a loved one. I am an emotional wreck, recognize how codependent I have been and the music I have listened to and loved is, especially that on which I was raised and I still haven’t started writing. I have, however, survived these many Valentine’s Days. I used to say that I would be happy to go to sleep around Halloween and wake up sometime after Valentine’s Day to avoid all the coupling expectations of the holidays (and the decadent food), but I digress.    

The upshot is, I came out of this exercise wanting to sing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman!” 

Which leads me to this conclusion:  

Anti-Valentine’s Day songs cannot be “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “Why Not Me,” “Yesterday,” “Cry Me A River,” “I’ll Never Love Again,” “As Long As He Needs Me,” and “Even Now.” 

These are Anti-Valentine’s Day songs, and in no particular order because as previously stated, I cannot make decisions. I found seven; help me make it 10.

“I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” – Mitzi Gaynor 

We all know that Ensign Nellie Forbush, USN, ends up in a loving relationship once she overcomes her feelings of prejudice in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, but the words are still a little satisfying. We must remember it was a kinder, gentler time when this was written.   

I’m gonna wash that man right outa my hair, 
And send him on his way. 


You can’t fix an egg when it ain’t quite good, 
And you can’t fix a man when he’s wrong! 
You can’t put back a petal when it falls from a flower, 
Or sweeten up a fellow when he starts turnin’ sour 
Oh no! Oh no! 

“These Boots Are Made for Walking” – Nancy Sinatra 

Stan Cornyn, music executive and celebrated writer of liner notes, waxed poetic about Sinatra in the notes for this song: “’How should I sing this?’ ‘Like a 16-year-old girl who’s been dating a 40-year-old man, but it’s all over now.’” 

You keep playin’ where you shouldn’t be playin’ 
And you keep thinkin’ that you’ll never get burnt (ha) 
I just found me a brand-new box of matches (yeah) 
And what he knows you ain’t had time to learn 
These boots are made for walkin’ 
And that’s just what they’ll do 
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’ 

“I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor 

First performed by Gaynor in 1978, was written by two men, and is considered a symbol of female empowerment. It has been selected for preservation in the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”  

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart 
Kept trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart 
And I spent oh-so many nights just feeling sorry for myself 
I used to cry 
But now I hold my head up high and you see me 
Somebody new 
I’m not that chained-up little person still in love with you 
And so you felt like dropping in and just expect me to be free 
Well, now I’m saving all my lovin’ for someone who’s loving me

“Strong Enough” – Cher 

Cher is a champion of the disco beat and this is just one of the many she recorded – so catchy and easy to sing. Easily a mantra for someone saying goodbye to love who has had enough – and even though the lyric is written for a woman, the pronoun is easily changed.  

I’m telling you 
Now I’m strong enough 
To live without you 
Strong enough 
And I quit crying 
Long enough 
Now I’m strong enough 
To know 
You gotta go 
There’s no more to say 
So save your breath and 
Walk away 
No matter what I hear you say 
I’m strong enough to know 
You gotta go 

“Fighter” – Christina Aguilera 

Though Christina wrote this song about her abusive life as a child, at home and by her peers, the sentiments are transferable to anyone overcoming and recognizing their inner strength. 

After all of the stealing and cheating 
You probably think that I hold resentment for you 
But uh-uh, oh no, you’re wrong 
‘Cause if it wasn’t for all that you tried to do 
I wouldn’t know just how capable I am to pull through 
So I wanna say thank you 

‘Cause it makes me that much stronger 
Makes me work a little bit harder 
Makes me that much wiser 
So thanks for making me a fighter 
Made me learn a little bit faster 
Made my skin a little bit thicker 
Makes me that much smarter 
So thanks for making me a fighter 
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh-oh, yeah, yeah, yeah ohh 

“This One’s for All the Girls” – Martina McBride 

This one made me think about intervention. Maybe if I had listened to more songs like this … (fill in the blank)  

This one’s for the girls, 
Who’ve ever had a broken heart, 
Who’ve wished upon a shooting star, 
You’re beautiful the way you are, 
This one’s for the girls, 
Who love without holdin’ back, 
Who dream with everything they have, 
All around the world, 
This one’s for the girls. 

“What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” – Kelly Clarkson 

Sing it Kelly –  

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger 
Stand a little taller 
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone 
What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter 
Footsteps even lighter 
Doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: