18 Love Songs: Heartbreak and Longing

Every once in a while you find a song that fills your heart up so completely you want to burst. Other times you hear a song that dumps your heart on the ground and spits on it, then steps on it in heels for good measure. These twenty songs will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions all dealing with love, loss, and longing.

The Airborne Toxic Event - "Sometime Around Midnight"

Everyone knows this song about a man running into his ex at a bar and her new boyfriend, and all the mixed emotions that dredges up. Still, this kind of list can't be complete without it.

And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind
Of the curl of your bodies
Like two perfect circles entwined

Band of Horses - "Detlef Schrempf"

A quiet, early morning track from this almost-country indie group. It's one of those melancholy songs that makes you wish you hadn't woken up first, despite the uplifting chorus.

When eyes can’t look
At you any other way

Chew Lips - “Two Hands”

Chew Lips has one of my favorite vocalists in any group. This song she puts her sultry chords to good use with a quiet almost-lullaby with one of the most achingly romantic choruses I’ve ever heart.

Only starting
Take it all in
Two hands open

Code 64 - “Carry Me Home”

A speaker reads a garbled message in Japanese, and then starts what sounds like what could be someone’s last thoughts sent through space. It has only one verse, and the same line loops throughout the song reminding us that ‘love is all that matters’.

Delays - “Hold Fire”

This group writes some ridiculously beautiful music that enchants and haunts at the same time. After the interlude in the middle, the same line repeats, adding more force and emotion each time. It makes you want to cry and smile at the same time.

Know your history
You need a cross to bear
Bring your cross to me
If you don’t care

HURTS - “Evelyn”

What starts out as a plea from a hospital bed becomes a life-or-death fight. Of the thousands of songs in my library I would only describe six or seven as ‘epic’, and this one is right at the top.

Stay with me,m Evelyn
Don’t leave me with the medicine

I Monster - “Heaven”

Slow, sparkly music and light vocals makes this sound like a Tim Burton lullaby, and it could be for all the dark undertones in the lyrics. The blurry happiness in this song always brings tears to my eyes.

Open my eyes
Inflatable girl
Lose the disguise
Release me from your spell

Levy - “Rotten Love”

Something about the melody in this track just gets me every time, whether it‘s clear sound of loneliness ringing out or something else. I can’t tell you the number of times this track came on and I dropped my head in my hands and cried. 

I think about me
And what I’ve done
I think about me
And what I’ve become

Marina and the Diamonds - “Obsessions”

Marina has an amazing vocal range and she puts it to good use in this subtly sad song about a rocky relationship.

We’ve got our obsessions
All you ever think about
Are sick ideas involving me, involving you

Patrick Wolf - “Teignmouth”

“Teignmouth” plays like a dark, cloudy day with the occasional flicker of sunlight through the gray. The weight of the verses drag your feet, but the chorus sprouts wings on your weary back.

So when the birds fly south
Reach up and hold their tails
Pull up and out of here
Bridle the autumn gales

Placebo - “Happy You’re Gone”

This song alone is its own rollercoaster. The melancholy verses in the present give way to past accusations and pleas for a truthful answer from an unfaithful partner. You feel his regret, but her anger at his betrayal shines through more brightly.

How many times?
How many times?
Now I can’t look you in the eye
And I don’t even want to try

Placebo - “Kings of Medicine”

Placebo has a plethora of emotional tracks. This one’s on a slightly lighter level and the plea for help is much different than the last track, with a more hopeful ending.

Don’t leave me here
To pass through time
Don’t leave me here
My guiding light

A Silent Film - “Aurora”

Aaaand back into the depressing. An aching piano tune with some beautiful lyrics.

Aurora, my love
Do not scrutinize
A slap on the wrist
Feels like salt to my eyes

Snow Patrol - “Run”

I always see “Chasing Cars” on every list like this but “Run” is the more desperate song.

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Soup - “Glaciers”

This is the only instrumental track but I can never skip over this song when it comes up on a play list, no matter what mood I’m in. It’s a sad song that seems to be begging you to think, but about what, I can’t imagine.

Stars - “One More Night”

I can see the snow falling outside a dark window the duration of “One More Night”. The woman narrates the man’s part, and the man does the woman. Two lovers hold off on separating for ‘one more night’.

He drops to his knees
Says, ‘Please my love, please
I’ll kill who you hate
Take off that dress, you won’t freeze’

Starsailor - “Tell Me It’s Not Over”

A man with substance abuse trouble fears he’s losing his partner when he finds out she’s being unfaithful. Starsailor has some beautiful vocals and they really bring the emotion out here.

Now the lights out
I discover, she is sleeping
With another
Tell me it's not over

Sufjan Stevens - “To Be Alone With You”

An acoustic song so soft you might miss the heavy lyrics.

You gave your body to the lonely
They took your clothes
You gave up a wife and a family
You gave your ghost

Thirsty Merc - “Everything But You”

The first time I heard this song I missed the story entirely. When I really listened the second time, this tinkly ballad leaped the fence to extraordinary. A man goes to meet his lover, who doesn’t appear, so he goes to look for her. Even after years of searching she’s still not there but he doesn’t worry because she promised to be there.

Maybe you had lost your way
In the shadows blue and grey.
Everything was clear and true,
Everything and everything but you.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Maps”

Another song that takes a simple question and amps the emotion toward the end to really kick this song from everyday indie into something special. 

Wait, they don’t love you like I love you
Wait, they don’t love you like I love you


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