Why do we sing about love and loss?

November 13, 2009

Why are two of the predominant themes of modern music love and loss?poets and pirates

This song has been running through my head.  Lyrics below, vid link below.

Its about a man who knows he is not relationship material and warns against getting involved with him.  Although not exactly relevant to my situation, many of the truths and experiences I am familiar with are woven through.

It is haunting.  I have been on both ends of the lyrics.

Better as a Memory.  By Kenny Chesney.

I move on like a sinners prayer
I let go like a levee breaks
Walk away as if I don’t care
Learn to shoulder my mistakes
I’m built to fade like your favorite song
Gettin’ reckless when there’s no need
Laugh as your stories ramble on
Break my heart, but it won’t bleed
My only friends are pirates
That’s just who I am
But I’m better as a memory than as your man

Never sure when the truth won’t do
I’m pretty good on a lonely night
I move on the way a storm blows through
And never stay, but then again, I might.
I struggle sometimes to find the words
Always sure until I doubt
Walk a line until it blurs
Buildin’ walls too high to climb out
But I’m honest to a fault
That’s just who I am
I’m better as a memory than as your man

I see you leaning, you’re bound to fall
I don’t want to be that mistake
I’m just a dreamer and nothing more
You should know it before it gets too late

Cause goodbyes are like a roulette wheel
You never know where they’re gonna land
First you’re spinning, then you’re standing still
Left holding a losing hand
But one day you’re gonna find someone
And right away you’ll know it’s true
That all of your seekin’s done
It’s just a part of the passing through
Right there in that moment
You’ll finally understand
That I was better as a memory than as your man
Better as a memory than as your man




  1. … because grief will suffocate us if we
    hold it in.

  2. Obviously love and loss seem to be central in most of our lives. And we seem to love to sing about it and listen to it.

    It happens, but does it need to be that way?

    Are we perpetuating heartbreak by making it such a central theme?

    Are we creating a heartbreak culture?

    Is art defining culture in this way?

  3. Maybe …

    Food for thought:

    Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word “happy” would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. (Carl Jung)

  4. Story of my life. Love and loss. Been on this merry-go-round many years. However, as I am learning, when we widen our view and allow wise understanding to come into play; we are able to change our conditioning or our old habits of living. I don’t buy a ticket to the ride as I have before. I see that it’s nature is impermanent and don’t cling to it as tightly. Am I saddened when I experience loss? Sure I do but I become gracious in accepting the reality of it and the sadness passes.

  5. Daphne…

    I agree that sadness is simply part of life. And I agree with Karl Jung that the sad times provide the contrast that make the happy times shine brighter.

    I wonder if what I am referring to with our music culture is the over-emphasis of the hurt times.

    I wonder if what is prodding my thinking is the degree to which the repetition of the theme of loss and pain don’t subconsciously set us up to expect and therefore unknowingly create loss out of our love situations. Or to pack it in too easy cause thats all we heard about on the radio growing up.

    Points taken none the less.



  6. Buddhist…. (or can we tag you Buddh-anon?) LOL

    Ok… yes, agreed. A greater context and wider viewpoint can certainly change our perspective on pain due to loss.

    In fact, perhaps this is the point I am trying to make.

    Have we hyper-focused culturally on the drama of pain of loss of a love relationship? Have we inadvertently created grief worship or grief addiction?

    I too have found great reprieve by expanding my perspective. I did a some cognitive behaviour therapy that showed me that I had some very painful habits of thought that were not rooted in much reality. Nor did they span much breadth of context.

    Now, by putting things in a broader perspective, I do not panic as much at pain. I know that invariably, “this too shall pass” and that pain is part of life and usually happens as part of a journey to something greater.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    A picture is becoming clearer.



  7. Chaz

    Have we inadvertently created grief worship or grief addiction?

    Yes we have. We alcoholics (particularly clinically depressed one’s like me) like to create these things out of a misunderstanding of life as it happens to us. With the help of the steps to recovery, and in my situation, Dharma practice (my cognitive therapy) the picture becomes clearer. “Stay tuned after a brief announcement from our sponsors” LOL.

    Thanks for the post. I enjoy reading your blog .. you help me.


  8. Namaste….

    Yes, we are working our way out of our deceptions. We bought into a lot of untruths and practiced them into well-rehearsed patterns of thought. Then we supported those thoughts with behaviours and got results that hurt us. So we applied the untruths all the more and thus the spiral of alcoholic self-destruction was formed. Or something like it I am sure.

    I am so glad there are forces by which we can be drawn out of the accelerating spiral and given a chance to re-learn and recover.

    To me, unquestionably, God as I understand Him, is merciful and powerful. In fact, it takes power to give mercy.

    This is a fabulous journey. I feel blessed. I feel grateful. It is hard to cry in one’s soup by singing along with a sad song about lost love while being grateful.



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