One afternoon in a coffee shop in Jersey, Bruno Mars’, “When I Was Your Man” played on the radio, and promptly, my tear-ducts burst open.
Break-ups don’t get better with time. I have no shame in admitting that I have an ever-expanding playlist for such occasions, one built from 2003, with Toya’s “Moving On” as the first track. It’s four hours of tear-jerking goodness; keep the Kleenex close.
Because listening to sad songs when you’re already choked up is…helpful? No, but let’s be real, the self-destructive part of us feeds and breeds on this.
Does it feel better when friends grieve together? It actually does.
Years ago, after a girlfriend’s break-up, she and I drove through massive storms during the night singing to Bruno Mars and other sad songs. We cried, we sang, we felt better, or just drained numb. And if you’ve ever hurt that much, you know numb is a good state to arrive at.
Then one day, in a bit of a lull, going through emotional songs, one track stopped me, arrested my fall, and changed my mindset 180 degrees. I can’t emphasize enough—life carries on, mindset is everything.
There is a female version of the stupid tear-jerking song. The one you probably cried to, too.
Simply yet brilliantly, the tables turned on the lyrics:
“Too young too dumb
That you should have bought me flowers
Held my hand
Should have gave me all your hours
When you had the chance
Take me to every party
Cause all I wanted to do was dance
but now baby, I’m dancing, but I’m dancing
With another man…”
Repeat that a few times—it’s madly empowering.
Have you ever questioned why we are caught up in the original version of, “When I Was Your Man”? It’s because sweet Bruno, ever the gentleman, is saying the very words we only wished our exes could say, but didn’t. How many of us would feel better, knowing that there is some degree of remorse on his part? That’s essentially the whole point of this song—Bruno is feeding us the missing pieces of our broken romance, on a golden plate with a silver spoon, as we hit replay, but it doesn’t get better, because the closure we so need is not really there. Our minds can’t tell the difference though. The song keeps replaying, filling the void, but we are no less broken.
But let’s look at the female version by Madilyn Bailey. Hear her out. Put her on replay.
There are a million and more reasons to love this version, because there is strength steeped in its bones. There isn’t wishful thinking; there is ownership. Ownership over our youth and the mistakes we’ve made; ownership over our selves and our worth; ownership over our feelings that we honour; ownership over relationships that are over. It takes bravery to own like this.
His version of the song still makes victims of us, while her version of the song wakes us up, without sweeping our feelings under the rug. An evolved mindset that puts ourselves first.
Had I come across this song sooner, it would have saved me a lot of unnecessary cries. Ultimately, we are the ones with full control of how we are feeling—at any given moment in time. There is no one else responsible, and no one else to blame. Music helps. So be sure that we are feeding our souls what we deserve, and what resonates with our worth.
Play on, with love, and if you find yourself broken, take the lessons, find a new anthem. Swim, don’t sink. Ditch the breakup playlist to the curb. Remember the you before he/she/they. Love yourself first.
Author: Xiren Wang
Image: YouTube Still
Editor: Travis May