Now That’s What I Call Sad Millennial Dyke Music!

A painfully, perfectly predictable playlist for your approaching-middle-age-lesbian-heart.

Valentine’s Day is here and it feels like everyone is buying chocolate and cards, romanticizing everything to do with love. But what if, as an approaching-middle-age-millennial-lesbian, that’s just not the vibe you’re feeling this year?  Honestly, I’ve never been a big Valentine’s Day person, but I’ve also probably never felt more complicated about the day than I do this year, as I find myself in the middle of an unexpected divorce. Needless to say, my dog  Sirius gets to be my Valentine this year– I even bought her a box of heart-shaped fancy dog treats, and I’m playing Amy Ray’s “Muscadine.” a love song to her dog on loop. I’ve also put together a heartbroken queer playlist. Admittedly, it’s a little cringe. Like, tell me you’re a sad, white, millennial dyke without telling me you’re a sad, white, millennial dyke, but if the Birkenstock fits…

It seems to be the current millennial queer experience to be walking through the world with busted-up queer hearts, stumbling through surreal days trying to find our footing. Especially this time of year when it seems like everything is about love, sometimes you just need a good cry, or at least a song that matches the mood you’re in.  I wanted to create a sad lesbian  Spotify playlist  for my own broken heart– I just couldn’t help myself.  But hopefully, if you’re looking for some company and sympathy in your sad feelings this Valentine’s Day, this hour and two minutes of music will be balm for your queer heartbreak.

Burning Bridges by Chris Pureka – Since I was a baby queer in the early 00’s watching Chris Pureka perform at small punk venues opening for slam poets, this has been my favorite breakup song. At that time, I almost tattooed “rats in the walls” up my ribcage. While years of living in NYC with literal rats in the walls made this line a little less compelling, there is part of me that still feels drawn to getting that tattoo!

Subway by Amy Ray – Is it a love song? Is it a breakup song? Either way, it’s a stunning song about heartbreak and longing. As a former New Yorker, this one hits me especially hard. This is a heartbreak song about a friend and community, queer coming of age and belonging. Regardless of what kind of heartbreak you’re dealing with right now, this song might just hit the emotional spot. 

8×10 by Alix Olson – Admittedly, it’s been a while since this song was on my regular playlist, but now that I’ve remembered it exists I can’t forget about it.  If you experienced queer culture of the late 90s or early 00s, you probably remember the slam poet/musician Alix Olson. I was obsessed with her poetry as a crusty zine maker and was lucky enough to watch her perform several times. If you’re someone who really connects with lyrics, and are going through a breakup, I especially recommend this track.

More Pills by Amy Ray – I appreciate how this song touches on the strange and disorienting reality of what it’s like in the early days of your life falling apart. The aching of loss that comes from a breakup is particularly moving and resonant . If you’re looking to wallow in your feelings, it doesn’t get better than the way this song captures how “my heart aches for you” in all the places you once shared with someone. Highly recommend this song if you like to cry in the shower. 

Yr Mangled Heart by The Gossip – While I look punk or punk-influenced, I’ve never been a big punk music fan. That said, I did have the chance to see The Gossip play at an underground club when I was about eighteen. It was an amazing show and so they are always on my list of favorite queer punk bands. If you’re looking for a loud, heartbreak song, I highly recommend this song. This is for you if you need to jam out to something while you mow the lawn, box up photo albums, or just need to push through the heartache and get some work done.

Ghost by The Indigo Girls – The Indigo Girls are one of my favorite bands of all time, and this song captures the feeling of living with the constant memories of everything you had, of who you were to someone, who that person was to you. The loss can feel tangible as though you’re walking through your day accompanied by ghosts of who you were together, and the life you had planned. I love the way this song gives voice to that experience.

Untouchable Face by Ani DiFranco – When you’re just really in your feelings, it’s hard to go wrong with a classic Ani song. I feel like she channels queer heartbreak frustration so perfectly. It’s a classic for a reason and ideal for turning up loud while your feelings are churning as you process your heart’s newfound tenderness. Truly though, I think the biggest strength of this song is the raw frustration “FUCK YOU AND YOUR UNTOUCHABLE FACE FUCK YOU FOR EXISTING IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!” This song hits the pain that comes with your life being upended in a way nothing else does.

You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore – Until I was working on this playlist, I didn’t realize that Leslie Gore was a lesbian! This song would be great regardless, but knowing she’s “family” makes it even better. I see this song as an anthem for reclaiming your own power, a feeling that a lot of people can resonate with a breakup. Her other classic anthem “It’s My Party” is also a great addition to a playlist. I feel like regardless of what kind of breakup you’re going through, this song might just hit the spot.

Lover Please by Melissa Etheridge – For me, it’s hard to top a Melissa Etheridge breakup song, and when she hollers, “this one’s going to hurt like hell” you might find yourself nodding along. I love the way that Melissa Etheridge always gets right to the depth of the feelings with her quiet questions “why must you reject me? Why can’t you protect me?” Ooooh. All the feels regardless of the circumstances of your breakup.

Now I’m All Messed Up by Tegan & Sara – This is one of those songs that just hits in the feelings of how messy and mixed up you might be feeling when you find yourself amid heartbreak and wondering about your ex’s new life. It’s a song that acknowledges that you can’t make someone love or want to be with you, and the range of feelings that come up as it becomes real to you that your person is gone.

The Story by Brandi Carlile – Part of mourning and nursing a heartbreak is thinking of the whole story: the good, the sweet, and the hard that came before. Brandi Carlile captures that journey perfectly in this song. I appreciate the tender care that goes into chronicling where we’ve been and how that leads us to the space we find ourselves in now.

Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus – This has become a classic breakup song, and it’s so great at capturing the feeling of being broken. Not only is this song hard-hitting like a wrecking ball, but it also is fast paced enough that it can be a good motivator if you need to get up and get something done, and can’t just sit around all day wallowing in your feelings.

Nothing Compares 2 U Song by Sinéad O’Connor – This classic song hits the loneliness and emptiness that comes with a major breakup. I especially appreciate the way this song captures those little moments, the things you can do now, but the newfound unwanted freedom doesn’t compare to balancing out the missing and longing for what came before when you were in a relationship where you felt really happy.

When You Left by Melissa Ferrick – If you’re looking for one of those songs that just lets you ruminate on your heartbreak, it doesn’t get better than a Melissa Ferrick breakup song. The title, of course, is a bit like hitting the nail on the head but when you dive into this song, it’s both nuanced and intense in the best of ways. If you’re looking to sit in your feelings for a couple of minutes, you can skip right to this song.

My Last Cigarette by k.d. Lang – I couldn’t put a queer playlist together without including k.d lang, and this song captures the deep longing that accompanies working through heartbreak. Metaphors abound in this song making it a sultry song about forgetting, closure, and saying goodbye making it feel like the ideal way to end this playlist.

As I was curating this playlist I also had my ears turned to queer femme musician Mary Lambert’s new musical work that she’s teasing on her social media. Mary recently announced that she is getting divorced after her spouse “stepped out ” on their marriage. Since the announcement, Mary has been posting sneak peeks at new music she’s working on that is powerful, haunting, and heartbreaking. I know I am looking forward to her next album! The thing about heartbreak is we always get through it. As hard and awful as it might feel now, you just have to put one foot in front of the other and start to imagine what a new life will look like. As you do that, it can help to have some musical accompaniment that matches the mood (no matter how predictably lame it is). 


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