30 More Songs Day 4: Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville
My apologies. I didn’t mean to stay away so long. I’ve been busy at work. I have a sprained thumb. And also, I was abducted by space aliens and the dog ate my homework. And I don’t even have a dog.
But really, I’m struggling to come up with a song for day : favorite breakup song. I mean, come on. Does anyone really have a favorite breakup song? In my book, that’s an oxymoron. With breakups, I am a wallower. I like to pick at the scab of the relationship, so whatever songs were “our songs,” become the de facto breakup songs. I play them over and over again until I really can’t stand to listen to them for one more minute. And then I am over it. Catharsis, purging both the song and the boy.
There’s the guy I was dating when I went to college. We split amicably because we were moving to different states, me to become a journalist, he to become an architect (he’s now gay and a yoga teacher). I played the soundtrack of St. Elmo’s Fire to get over him (don’t judge me, it was the ’80s). I didn’t date much in college, at least not seriously. So I got to keep all my music from then, even some that was probably best thrown back on the dung heap (that Enya period? Yeah, it’s best not to speak of it). I lost Mahler to the first guy who really broke my heart. I’m not sure what I missed more, him or Mahler. (strangely, I just talked to him yesterday — if we’re becoming civil again, does that mean I get to reclaim Mahler?(.
Really the only breakup music I have that isn’t tied to a particular relationship is an entire album, not a song: Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. It’s song after song worth belting out in anger with tears running down your face. It’s perfect for both wallowing in self-pity and wailing in righteous anger. It’s the ultimate breakup music. I wrote about one song in the last meme as the song I listen to when I’m angry. But really, the best thing in a breakup, when you’re done wallowing, is to pop Exile in Guyville into your car’s CD player and go for a nice long drive, singing as loud as you can. I highly recommend it.
Before writing this, I listened to the album for the first time in a long while. I didn’t lose it in a breakup, but I did have to put it away for a while. But it’s worn amazingly well. I know there are other formative albums in my life, but this is one I’m particularly fond of. Listening to it is like listening to myself 20 years ago. It’s a sound that matters to me. I just stuck the CD in my bag. It may not sound the same in my 21 year old mini-van, driving cautiously past AJ’s school to take him to band practice as it did in my weatherbeaten hand-me-down Volvo, driving through the cornfields of Indiana with all the window open and no particular place to be at no particular time, but it still sounds good, from beginning to end.
Here’s the album,in track order:
Help me, Mary
Dance of the Seven Veils
Soap Star Joe
Explain it to Me
Fuck and Run (lyrics not work safe, duh)
Girls, Girls, Girls
Flower (REALLY not work safe; possibly the dirtiest song I know)
Stratford-on-Guy (possibly my favorite for its minor key and mention of Galaxy 500)