My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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6 September 2006

When in doubt, make lists

The comments on the last post actually made me think of this one. I'm fine, by the way, head bloody but unbowed etc etc, and today, I was fiddling around with my music library and I said, hey, you know what's missing on my blog? (No, what's missing on your blog, eM?) A list of the best break-up songs ever, that's what's missing. (Or at least, the best break up songs on my iTunes right now). Anyway, in no particular order, here goes:

1) Walk Away by Ben Harper: I discovered this song only recently, thanks to the wonder that is Pandora and now I can't get enough of it. Oh, Ben Harper! Oh, his sexy voice! I want to marry him and conduct our relationship entirely on the phone and I want his sexy voice to travel through the phone lines and impregnate me with sexy voiced babies. And I know he's all like, "Sometimes you just have to walk away," but if I was the girl he was walking away from, I'd attach little chain things to his ankles so he could NEVER leave me. Ahem. Are we still surprised no one wants to date me?

2) Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell: Technically not a song about one relationship, but I like to think of jaded Joni, walking down a street, her hands in her pockets, thinking about all the what-could-have-beens. And this song is really sooooooo sad, you have to be very, very happy to listen to it without bursting into tears. "If you care, don't let them know," has got to be the best advice I've ever heard from a musician.

3) Send In The Clowns by Judy Collins: Since we're on the depressed woman side of my player, how I can I NOT put this song in? This is the perfect song for THAT breakup, you know the one I'm talking about, the one I think everyone has had at least once in their lives, when you can see the other person drawing further and further away from you and you are powerless to do anything about it, and it's one of those nights and the two of you are out somewhere and he/she is all laughing and then you catch their eye and you see, suddenly, that this has to end and it makes you so sad, but you know it has to happen. And, oh, when she says, "I thought that you'd want what I want, sorry, my dear." There's such affection in her voice, and still love, but inevitability too.

4) The Scientist by Coldplay: A no-guess entry. Surprisingly, one of my favourite car songs of all times, there's something about rolling down the windows and yelling into the wind, "Nooooooooooobody said it was eeeeeeeeeeeeeasy, it's such a shame for us to part, nobody said it was easy, noone ever said it would be this hard!" And all of Coldplay's songs seem like they're about breaking up anyway, even supposedly happy songs like Yellow, are all full of angst and turmoil. I love angst and turmoil. I'm going back to the start.

5) Babylon by David Grey: Oh, I love this song. Absolutely love it. I heard it for the first time on this double cassette set of new rock or something, and I haven't been able to get enough of it since then. His description of the weekends seem to fit mine so perfectly, for as long as I can remember, and there's this one bit where he goes, "Kicking through the autumn leaves, and wondering where it is you might be going to," and that bit is so beautiful, that I can hear his heart throbbing in his voice. Brilliant.

6) I Love, I Love by Dar Williams: Another recent discovery, but if I could sing, I'd want to sing like Dar Williams. Her songs are kind, not all jagged and they're wistful in a way that's hard to describe. With this particular song, though it's not exactly about a break up, the lyrics are so lovely, that it's nearly like poetry. You know the whole "it is better to have loved and lost" thing? Well, she takes that to a different level, when she sings, "But I live and I know that I'll burn as I grow" and you're like, dude, yes, me too!

I think that's all I can think of now that isn't U2. Feel free to add your own suggestions.


  1. Tough shit, as they say. The best thing to do is (in Dylan’s “to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew…”
    Anyway, here’s my list:
    Northern Sky by Nick Drake
    Since We’ve Ended As Lovers (Instrumental) by Jeff Beck (Goddam ironic name?!)
    No Love Today by Chris Smither
    Coming Back to Me by Jefferson Airplane
    And then…
    I’ll keep it short. But you could check these out, and not necessarily as heartbreak songs. Just as good music. Remember Dylan and move on.

  2. Hey eM --

    Really freakish, I just did a post like this on my Vox blog. If you're digging the Joni version of "Both Sides Now," try a remake of it by a Canadian band called Uncle Seth (I think you can hear a clip of it on their MySpace or DL it on iTunes). It's freaking great.

    Also, can we hang out sometime and like, be girly or something? Say, watch America's Next Top Model? I have no friends besides Sumeet, and it's kind of...yeah. Cramping my style.

  3. Totally agree with Sticky Fingers. Yeah, remember Dylan and move on. The chap has written some amazing break-up songs. So have the Stones.
    Here is my list (what came to my mind)

    1Tender- Blur
    2When Doves Cry-Prince
    3A Lack of Colour- Death Cab For Cutie
    4We're Just friends- Wilco
    5Dead Flowers-The Rolling Stones (exception)

  4. But the kind of song would completely depend on the person's state of mind. He/she is happy, sad, angry or indifferent after the break-up. There can be no universal break-up song.

  5. Al lack of colour i'd definitely recommend. Also, 'babe i'm gonna leave you', it sounds trite but it isn't it's actually one of my favourite led zep songs and has got me and many other lady friends through very nasty and pleasant break ups. i tend to have pleasant brea ups, which, i dunno what that says about me. o well. 'freebird' by lynyrd skynyrd.
    'if you walk away from me' by etta james and lastly my favourite, because it is melacholic and deep and moving and all those many feelings that you find yourself floundering in during such times 'black' by pearl jam.
    ooo, 'sano ek pal' by nusrat.

  6. Break up songs…in no particular order…bittersweet…

    Goodbye my lover – James Blunt

    The Reason – Hoobastank

    Always on my mind – Willie Nelson

    White Flag – Dido

    Nothing compares 2 U - Sinead O’ Connor

    Why does my heart feel so bad – Moby

    Torn – Natalie Imbruglia

    Don’t speak – No Doubt

    With or without you – U2

  7. as busybee used to say, a few stray thoughts:

    like yay, itunes. now if only everyone bought macs as well.

    like if inevitablity isn't a word, it should be.

    like positively 4th street.

    like the fact that lists are lazy journalism.

    like if you have a question about why every sentence begins with the word like, ask and I'm sure someone here will tell you

  8. Didn't I blog about this a while back. Yes, here you go:

    I have 'Send in the clowns' in there as well. Disagree about Both Sides Now - it's too balanced, too philosophical to be a break-up song.

  9. Oh! Yeah. 'Nothing Better' by Postal Service. Only one album but a great band. A new album is in the making. Gibberd is the modern relationship expert along with Jeff Tweedy.

    And how could I miss 'Glory Box' by Portishead. Beth Gibbens is probably the the best female vocalist, along with Sinead O’ Connor, of the last 20 years.

  10. Oh yes, 'Babylon' is heart-breakingly awesome.

    Especially that part where he goes:

    I only wish that you were here,
    You know I'm seeing it so clear
    I've been afraid...

    Glad you're unbowed, though, not so glad about the bloodiness.

    Also, there's this:

    Heartily know, where half gods go, the gods arrive.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  11. Happy by the Wrens. Very..wrenching (IMO).
    Guess I'm doing fine by Beck
    Blue Thunder by Galaxie 500 (got me through one)
    Rough Gem by the Islands (to uplift)
    Thro the eyes of Ruby by the Smashing Pumpkins (no reason, but worked for me)

  12. I used to like Both Sides Now, but before hearing Mitchell's one I heard the Neil Diamond version. Which is quite cool, as well. Very sorrowful.

  13. whitelight's already listed 'when doves cry' by prince. i'd also like to add 'ghost story' by sting and 'pal' by kk. gr8 songs - when u r where u never wanted to end up!

  14. you have three of my favourites on that list..
    both sides now is my all time fav..
    and heard david grey and coldplay recently.
    am real hooked ont Coldplay now..
    I guess lot of people have discovered the wonder called pandora you got ur station?

  15. Ok am adding no break up songs to your list, but guess what I added to my new blog?

  16. It Ain't Me Babe: Bob Dylan

    Diamonds and Rust: Joan Baez

    In fact, taken together, those two songs tell a story about their lives.

    Also Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town (Kenny Rogers) and Knowing Me, Knowing You, ABBA.

  17. it's slightly weird but whenever i've broken up, it's not the sad but the happy songs that have made me cry. songs that talk about what i thought could have been...
    i really like Shania Twain's Still The One... and have always wanted to be able to sing it for somebody. and cried when i've realised that the guy i'm with is not 'the one'...
    hang in there, eM. no point being with somebody who doesn't believe the sun rises in your eyes...
    p.s. luckily i've FINALLY found love. with a man who has no clue who shania twain is but is still the one :-)

  18. Off track a bit here, but Dar Williams?! Wow. Does anyone else know of her? There's this other song she sang, called 'Are you out there'. It's gorgeous.

  19. May be it's already been mentioned here, but I think Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" is a great breakup song. It's about a man finally walking away from a relationship after enduring it without any joy for quite a while. It's so simple and yet so alive that when you listen to it, the man's sentiment upon departing reaches you absolutely unobstructed. Also, it's a beautifully composed music-wise too.

    Though it would be too theatrical,I wish every time there's a breakup in the world, a choir of little boys should materialise and sing this song to the female.

  20. what does it matter. the heart is broken. nothing ever really helps.

  21. Honey and the Moon- Joseph Arthur (If you don't already have this song you MUST download it now. Why are you still sitting there? Go!)

    Waiting in Vain - Annie Lenox Version

    Somebody's Crying - Chris Issac

    Tell It Like It Is - Aaron Neville

    Take Another Little Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin

    So Lonely - The Police

    This Bitter Pill - Dashboard Confessional

    And for my guilty pleasure...

    Shake it Off - Mariah Carey

  22. Let's add my own break up songs to this.

    I know him so well- Elaine Paige. Only if you were VERY serious.

    Genug ist genug (Enough is enough)-Fantavier. This has some AMAZINGLY angry lyrics. In German.

    One of us- ABBA, if you want to just cry. 'They passed me by, all of those great romances. You were, I felt, robbing me of my rightful chances.'


  23. opened up my itunes library to come up with the following list.

    Lenny Kravitz - Again
    Third eye blind - How's It Going To Be
    Third eye blind - jumper
    Dashboard Confessional - vindicated
    Dave Matthews Band - The Space Between
    Match Box Twenty - If You're Gone
    Nickelback - How You Remind Me
    Its Been a while - Staind
    Lifehouse - Breathing

    God bless the IPOD

    rajesh s

  24. diamonds n rust - joan baez

    a simple twist of fate - bob dylan

    everybody hurts - REM

    time of your life - green day

    chris de burgh - carry me like a fire in your heart

    iris - goo goo dolls

    i could go on . . . .

  25. um... i dont do 'break-up' songs.. never been thru a break-up i didnt initiate or regretted, so i wont contribute. however, ur blog is a great read!

  26. Have you seen 'High Fidelity'? You must see 'High Fidelity'. It is about songs and lists and breakups and so on.

  27. Buckley, Jeff

    Alikhan, Nusrat Fateh


  28. I would add...
    The Gathering - Saturnine
    Antimatter - The Last Laugh, The Art of Soft Landing
    Afghan Whigs - My Curse

    The last two can't technically be aligned with your list, but still ...

    And don't listen to Antimatter if you cannot take dark music. Their music might take you to places where things get knit up and come out as a big blob of white with just one solitary, uncertain dash of grey...

  29. All you girls should try a track called 'Farewell' by Rosie Thomas

  30. Afghan Whigs and Sheryl Crow have some brill break up numbers too.

    And Damien Rice! (oh boy, cheers darling is brilliant to sum up a depression!!)

  31. radiohead's creep- cos he must have been a creep to break up with me?!

  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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