5 Songs That I Cannot Listen To Anymore

This post is inspired by the comments in Sara Habein’s latest Record Machine post on Roxy Music’s Avalon. The lovely Moretta commented that the titular song off that record, “More Than This,” was sometimes hard to listen to because of the emotions the song can evoke. I feel the same way and it got me thinking about some other songs I have a hard time listening to now for a variety of reasons. With some, they are tied to people who are either gone or hurt me greatly. For others, they hold messages or evoke feelings I find deplorable. The list has shifted over the years as some old hurts have healed or circumstances have resolved themselves. I had a hard time listening to the Beatles for awhile because the guy who broke my heart one time was a big fan, but I got over it because the Beatles are indelibly linked to my childhood and screw that guy. There are a few that have lingered though. There are trigger warnings for depression and suicide.

Paper Bag – Fiona Apple

It’s a cliche that the first two songs on the list are nearly unbearable to listen to because I attached them to someone I had strong feelings for. I think many of us associate songs to lovers and crushes and I am very prone to this, no matter how much I resist it. This one in particular came on a mix CD that was passed to me through a friend and I kept in my car, making it easy to keep hitting repeat as I turned myself into bits over the friend I was “in love with,” who didn’t return the feelings. That time in my life was pretty tumultuous; I was dealing with depression, dissatisfaction in my job and friendships and a crisis in my religious faith. Everytime I’ve tried to listen to the song again, it brings up all the various emotions from that time period and I have to skip the song instead of hitting repeat.

House of Cards – Radiohead

Part of the reason I haven’t been able to listen to this song since In Rainbows was released is partly due the man mentioned above and partly due to how I felt about myself in relation to others. I was always the friend and never the lover. I think there’s an important distinction to make about what I went through and the complaints of Nice Guys™. I never felt resentment and anger towards the person I had feelings towards because they didn’t return my feelings; I turned the anger and resentment onto myself. I felt there was something inherently wrong with me since this person or that person didn’t like me romantically; not because I was a “nice” person and deserved their returned affection.

Crazy Bitch – Buckcherry

Actually, this was a song I always hated, but it was played frequently at a bar where my friends and I gathered regularly. It’s ableist and misogynistic and everything I hate. People used to dance and get excited when it came on. I hate it so much that I can’t even post it and subject you lovelies to it. Just Google the lyrics if you’re really curious.

Everyday is Exactly the Same – NIN

In the midst of the worst depression I’d ever experienced, the time I came closest to taking my own life; this song was constantly in my head. It captured how I felt inside my skin and it was a comfort and burden. I am so very grateful I got through that time and that I am still here, but it was a close thing. The song describes depression so acutely and I think it can be a tool for someone struggling, but for me, I’ve had to leave it in my past. I also chose to not include the video because it may be triggering to others.

Mary – Patty Griffin

My mother’s mother was an extraordinary woman. She had kept her kindness and gentleness despite the many hardships she faced. My memaw helped raise me and I loved her to pieces. Watching her lose herself to Alzheimer’s was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. Her death seemed like partly a relief because she was finally free from the mind that turned on her. I spent the week after her death making sure my mom was okay and taking on the duties expected of me as one of the older (and frankly) more mature grandchildren. I didn’t let myself grieve until months later when I heard this song on TV. I broke down and cried because the imagery of this song captures so much of who my memaw was to me. I think I cried for two days straight and kept playing it because it helped me process my grief. It’s in my top five favorite songs of all time, but I can’t listen to it since hearing the opening bars is enough to make me misty-eyed. My iPod shuffle function liked to torture me by randomly playing this all the time while I was working and I had to change it quickly to avoid bawling at my desk.

So, what are some songs that you’ve had to delete from iTunes or cannot bear to hear? The reasons can be silly or serious, but please share if you’re comfortable.

By Stephens

Florida girl, would-be world traveler and semi-permanent expat. Her main strategy of life is to throw out the nets and hope something useful comes back, but many times it's just an old shoe. She also really, really hates winter and people who are consistently late.

4 replies on “5 Songs That I Cannot Listen To Anymore”

I have a hard time with a lot of country music. I love the genre, but there’s a lot of songs about gaslighting and racism and victim blaming and other shitty things. There are a lot of songs thatget the automatic switchover, but sometimes it seems like problematic music is everywhere.

As far as songs about loss go, “May Angels Lead You In” by Jimmy Eat World makes me think of my great aunt Joan, who was really close to my family. I don’t ever skip it, but every time it comes on I have this internal moment where everything else sort of freezes and the grief and wistfulness pop back up.

For a while it was “you make it easy” and “cherry blossom girl” both by Air after I dumped the ex for cheating on me. Then I decided that I liked the songs too much and forced myself to listen to them (on and off) until the memories had gone and I could enjoy them again.

“Take Heart” by Hillsong is one I struggle with still, as much I still kind of like it, as it was the song that I listened to on repeat when my late partner was in ICU following his brain haemorrhage and then in the weeks after they turned his life support off (So take heart, let His love lead us through the night. Hold on to hope and take courage again). From the same period in my life, Coldplay’s Fix You is also right out. I’ve never been a fan of theirs in the first place and then our goddaughter made a photo montage with her singing Fix You in the background.

Oh there are a couple I can’t stomach. One is by U2, I think it might have been Miracle Drug? If it wasn’t that song, it was from that album. Because … just because. Then there’s Crash and Burn by Savage Garden. Another just because.

This was a powerful read. Thank you. x

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