Can Music Cure Heartbreak?

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Humans have to deal with a lot of s—. I sometimes imagine gathering the pain someone has endured throughout their lifetime and jamming it into a room. I think the accumulation would be insurmountable. Oddly, every single person repeats one of the most tumultuous scenarios: We break up.

Can music cure a broken heart? It seems unlikely. On the other hand, couldn’t such a binding force have the potential to remedy even the widest cracks in our soul? My theory is this: Keep listening. It helps. Music can help you unearth buried conclusions — perhaps ones you chose to ignore — or at least offer some solace. Here are suggestions that have personally helped me maneuver through my little hells:

Anything by Alanis Morissette feels fair game. There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as jamming out to “You Oughta Know” alone in your car. Even though Morissette is bashing a recent ex who found new love too soon, there’s something about her clever angst that’s liberating for any kind of emotional turmoil. Who knows, she might make you realize how angry you actually are.

“In Fear and Faith” by Circa Survive, because, “I never wanted a partner and I never loved you / Now you are free to leave.” Even if none of it is remotely true, it might just be that push toward acceptance you’re looking for.

Sometimes people stop trying and there’s nothing you can do but stop trying too. “Putting The Dog to Sleep” by The Antlers will probably break your heart all over again. If you’re willing to go through that, these eerily true-to-life words that ring of defeat might hit home with you. “Well my trust in you is a dog with a broken leg / tendons too torn to beg for you to let me back in.”

Listen to “Broken Heart” by Dr. Dog to remind yourself that being on your own isn’t the worst thing, and, “I’m fine on a shelf.”

I’d like to close this post with a sentiment that has nothing to do with music. Here are a couple verses from the poem “We Were Emergencies” by one of my favorite poets, Buddy Wakefield. I hope it helps you like it’s helped me. Save it for a rainy day.

“I have realized that the moon did not have to be full for us to love it.

That we are not tragedies stranded here beneath it.

That if our hearts really broke every time we fell from love I’d be able to offer you confetti by now.

But hearts don’t break, ya’ll.

They bruise and get better.”

Reach the blogger at inovak@asu.edu or on Twitter @IsabelleNovak.