You’re just like any other guy: you get home after a long day, crack open a warm can of beer and cry alone in your studio apartment listening to The National. Their recent surprise album, ironically titled “Laugh Track” considering your tear-stained sweatshirt, offers a new collection of songs for reflecting on your sad life. You wonder if Hannah has heard the album yet, but then you remember your old therapist’s advice to not dwell over your ex-wife. Instead of asking yourself why she left you, check out these 20 songs for letting it all out in bouts of deep sobs. Grab some Kleenex, let’s dive in.
This is a choice 2007 cut for thinking about all the relationships in your life that you’ve completely fucked up. Specifically, your marriage. How could you blow it, man? Your own kids won’t return your calls. Where did it all go wrong? And it’s not just romantic relationships, this song is perfect for reflecting on how much you’ve alienated all your friends as well from your constant whimpering.
“Weird Goodbyes” (feat. Bon Iver)
As if this wasn’t already fucking sad enough, sure, let’s bring Bon Iver into this. This is an ideal track for calling Hannah up out of absolutely nowhere. You know, talk things through. Catch up. Just as long as Caleb isn’t there. If you’re too nervous, just let this song do the talking, or better yet: try unsolicited texts of the lyrics with absolutely no context. Ex-wives love that.
“All the Wine”
Remember when you used to go drinking with Caleb? “Thirsty Thursday,” remember? Your best fucking friend, man. With your wife. Behind your back. How could they do this to you? This 2005 song serves as a good reminder to clean up the wine bottles amassed in the corner of your kitchen. And the ones under your bed. And the one in your hand right now filling itself with your tears. She’s not coming back, OK? She’s with Caleb now.
Finally, a tune that describes all that you may ultimately have to offer anyone. This 2010 track is ideal for sudden uncontrollable bawling, recommended to listen to head down with your arms around your knees. Your wailing echoes against the outdated splintering floorboards of your new studio apartment. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never let anyone close to you again. Except maybe this cockroach next to you.
You think about your new home, this studio apartment located between a VapeDaddy and a place that gives payday loans. You live above a storage space for electric scooters with questionable men out front. This is all you could afford, with the alimony and all. But you had an actual home with her, man. An actual home, in the suburbs. Now, it’s just another house. Try not to drive by your old home and stare at the strangers living there now. Get comfy with this 2007 tune and let the blubbering begin.
“Turn Off the House”
You remember move-out day like it was yesterday. This song reminds you about switching off the electricity, turning off the water, and dropping your key through the mail slot. And the next day, it was straight to this seven-story walkup. Back to the bachelor lifestyle. Try to distract yourself from the inherent loneliness of living alone. Don’t think about getting into a physical altercation with the realtor over how low your house sold for. It’s good to remember that you’re a renter now and you’ll probably never own property again.
Demons. Hey, we’ve all got ‘em. This 2013 song was actually playing in your earbuds when you walked in on them. Your wife with your best friend. All limbs and bedsheets. Her ecstatic screaming. Caleb, the man who spoke at your wedding. And you thought you were going to spend a lifetime with her. You even made a family together. Just let that betrayal wash over you like a tide. And dig that driving percussive beat, like a slow drip of pain.
It was November when you walked in on them. You don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving anymore. Friends think it’s progressive but it’s just so that you don’t have to field awkward questions from family or confront anyone with the tragic fuckup parade of your life. This 2005 song makes you realize that it had to be going on between them for months. Right? Since the summer before, at least. You think back to Hannah’s midnight texts, her extra long meetings, the twice-a-day yoga classes, the five-hour weekend matinee movies two towns over…
That’s what you’d call your wife fucking your best friend: graceless. This 2013 track is great accompaniment for shuffling around the apartment, thinking up the hardest-hitting insults if only Hannah and Caleb were here right now. Go ahead, just say them out loud. Since you’re blasting this tune alongside reruns of Judge Joe Brown at full volume, no one will hear your desperate sniveling shouts.
Oh God. She’s from Ohio. Whatever you do, don’t think of Skyline Chili and those long weekends at the cabin visiting family. Why did this song have to come up? Also, it’s from 2010. The year you met, which only twists the knife. Here come the waterworks. When not weeping, you do some social media stalking and see that Caleb was actually in Ohio with her family over the holidays. Fucking Caleb, dressed as Santa Claus, giving gifts to your kids. YOUR kids. Also, didn’t you buy that Santa outfit?
You think about that summer you two spent at the lake. You threw a rock at a hornet nest and you both laughed so hard, running away down the hill back to the cabin. That was before Hannah was pregnant. Before Caleb started coming over all the time. When it was just you two. You ask yourself, “What happened?” Anyway, there’s a fucking hornet nest outside your studio window right now and it’s also your fire escape so if there’s a fire you’re probably going to die alone listening to this song from the new album.
“Baby We’ll Be Fine”
But you won’t be, will you? She took the kids, man. Five states over, ten hour drive. Biweekly custody, only over the summer. And that’s a lifetime locked in together. That means you’re seeing her and Caleb for the next few decades at graduations, weddings, all of that. What did you do to deserve this constant hell? Maybe you don’t have to get through this 2005 song. You wish you had someone to speak to about this, but since your best friend fucked your wife and stole your family, making acquaintances and developing trust has been difficult.
“Born to Beg”
No wonder the kids don’t like coming over. You don’t even have any food in the house. Look in the fridge, go on, just look. It’s soy sauce and Cholula, that’s it. This 2017 song makes you think about how well Caleb cares for them, with his fancy tech job. Your mouth waters thinking about how well Hannah and your kids eat. You bet they go to Chili’s every night. You bet Caleb gets the fucking Presidente Margarita, because he’s the president of your family now, you pathetic piece of shit.
This is one of their earlier songs, from 2003, and you thought these hand-written lyrics mailed to her would communicate the depth of your longing and pain. Sure, you included some of your own free-verse poetry, plus a letter begging her to return. Who doesn’t like a handwritten letter? Well, apparently not your ex-wife Hannah since this came back ‘Return to Sender’ along with a restraining order.
“I Am Easy To Find”
Similar to this 2019 album title song, you have made yourself incredibly open to reconciliation. All of your social media accounts are public and you are very receptive to any time Hannah wants to send a message or check in. You can mend this broken family. Any day now. But unfortunately Hannah has blocked you on all platforms. Even fucking LinkedIn. Who blocks someone on LinkedIn? Caleb still pops up once and while. And hey, you saw Caleb just got a promotion. Good news for your kids, you suppose.
“The Alcott” (feat. Taylor Swift)
You created a fake account and saw they went to The Eras Tour on Instagram. Your best friend in the world with his arm around your wife Hannah, your two kids smiling at the fucking camera. Confetti everywhere and not a care in the world. Oh well, at least they had a nice time. You cry thinking about the only concert you ever could afford to bring your children to. Between the mortgage payments and private school, the best you could offer was nosebleed for The Wiggles, which they were definitely too old for. Maybe this is why your kids won’t talk to you or refer to you only by your first name in texts. Caleb is dad now.
You thought huffing paint was long in your past. Well, think again. This 2013 song aptly represents the moment you picked up a can of spray paint from the Home Depot a few blocks away. Fall into a chemical stupor and ask yourself out loud when the pain will end. Maybe the room whispers “never.” Maybe that was your neighbor. After all, these walls are paper-thin.
OK, so maybe you cheated first. Multiple times. Maybe you compared the kids to each other. Loudly, in front of them. Sure, maybe you drink too much. But you have rules: never before 10 a.m. This 2017 song makes you realize that it absolutely had to be the shoplifting phase. She loved that ring but she didn’t love your foray into “smash and grabs” from the diamond district. She especially didn’t love the Croatian mobsters pounding on the door of your old house. Upon reflection, that may have been the final straw. But you could’ve worked it out!
“Watching You Well”
Since you’re still logged in to Hannah’s Netflix, you notice that she didn’t finish “You’ve Got Mail” last night. You thought that was the special Nora Ephron comfort film you shared together. Was she watching alone? Does she miss you? Why didn’t Hannah finish the film? Did she fall asleep in Caleb’s swarthy muscular arms? Did they make love, talking about how much they hate you the entire time? You know that’s a lie you tell yourself: they don’t talk when they make love. They don’t even call it “making love.” They fuck. Hard. Sweaty, going for endurance. This 2001 song will remind you of the raw animal passion Hannah is finally experiencing in her life.
“Crumble” (feat. Rosanne Cash)
You’re empty. At absolute zero, fallen apart to pieces and crumbled like the title of this new song. But sunlight peaks through the curtains. Wow, you stayed up all night crying. Better get to work. Don’t worry about your soiled underwear, no one at the Call Center will notice. Wipe those tears away with the misdemeanor papers regarding your recent stalking charge. Take a deep breath of spray paint from your favorite crumpled brown bag, and head out the front door barefoot ready to win your family back.