Archive for the ‘break up songs’ Category

To Hell With Crying

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Ok, so I forgot. It’s Valentine Weekend. Lord, where have I been? (How about Atlanta,  DC, Lancaster, Dallas, and a few other places over the past few weeks!) Sorry I failed to put something up here on the blog about everyone’s favorite topic: love.

Anyway, I’m late. So, I thought I’d do the next best thing and post yet another favorite heartbreak song here on the blog.  Heartbreak songs is another one of those “fun” research topics of mine. Next to women’s shoes, that is.You can tell a lot about a culture by the music it produces. You can also tell a lot about a generation by the music it listens to. You can tell a lot about a generation of women by listening to their break up songs.

You’ve had your chance and proved unfaithful
So now I’m gonna be real mean and hateful
I used to be your sweet mama, sweet papa
But now I’m just as sour as can be.

–”I Used to Be Your Sweet Mama,”

I’m old school girl who grew up on break up songs like  “Frankie and Johnny” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and “Cry Me A River” and the feminist national anthem of them all, “I Will Survive.”

Breaking up ain’t what it usedta be.

Gone are the mournful elegies of a previous generation, filled with melancholy and sadness, where women sat around singing about what went wrong, who was wrong, and why things went wrong.

A new generation of achey breakey love songs have come on the scene where it’s all about revenge, ridicule, and women claiming their own agency. To hell with crying. Or so it seems.

Lord have mercy…you younguns’ done taken breaking up to another level. It’s not enough to survive. How about a little revenge to make things go down easier? LOL. Take Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust The Windows Out Your Car.” Sure, Frankie shot Johnnie, says the song, when she caught him cheating on her with another woman. LOL. But women in my and my mother’s  generation probably wouldn’t have thought to rhapsodizing about busting the windows out his car. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we don’t know about bustin’ out windows. (Cough. Cough.)  It’s just not something a real lady would ever admit to doing.  Shooting is classy, but bustin’ windows is…well…you know…common. LOL.

Rihanna’s “Take A Bow”  is another one of those songs by a young female artist that I enjoy a lot. The woman in the song sees right through her man’s many guises and deceptions. With photos of Rihanna’s black and blue bruises from a beating by her teen idol boyfriend Chris Brown circulating around the Internet these days, it appears that the real flesh-and-blood singer lacks the guts and good sense of the song’s protagonist. This recent beating was not Brown’s first time hitting Rihanna, according to some reports,. Here’s hoping and praying that the singer has the good sense to let this be Brown’s last bow in her life.

Forget all the sad, lovey dovey, mushy “I miss you” songs.  If today’s urban sounds tell us anything it’s that today’s young women don’t believe in suffering in silence. They put it all out there.

Exhibit One: “Call Tyrone” (my favorite!).

I nearly ran my car off the road the first time I caught neo-soul diva Erika Badu singing her no nonsense anthem. Down home earthy, gutsy, raw and, oh so, very, very sassy.  Talk about a woman’s song. Talk about a down home blues song. Talk about a woman flicking her nose at bougeoise notions of femininity and womanhood, demanding  respect and declaring her own autonomy. Like a good break-up song, “Call Tyrone” is cool and smooth, free of shrill, jilted hysteria. Straight talking. Indignant. No nonsense. As with all blues women singers, whose main topic is always love, if they have to choose between singing a perfect note or expressing raw emotion. Emotion wins. Can’t you just see tough talking blue singers of old like Bessie Smith, Ma’ Rainey, and Alberta Hunter rolling over in their graves and giving each other hi-fives as they hear young women like Badu in “Call Tyrone” continuing the bawdy tradition of  women singing the blues ?

I’m gettin’ tired of your s*&t
You don’t never buy me nothin’
See everytime you come around
You got to bring jim, james, paul, & tyrone
See why cant we be by ourselves, sometimes
See I’ve been having this on my mind
For a long time
I just want it to be
You and me
Like it used to be, baby
But ya don’t know how to act

You gotta love Badu’s last line of the song -  “But you can’t use my phone“– that’s gotta be the smartest, most perfectly timed, send-off dis in women’s break up music. IMO. A real jab to the male solar plexus. A line that belongs on a Valentine’s Day card –to your ex.   I believe in love. I really do. But I also believe in a woman knowing when it’s time to call it quits and take back her self.

What A Year! What a Year!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008


It was the best of times and the worst of times for fire-breathing, justice loving, loud mouth, nappy head, community organizing, Spirit conscious, passionate, opinionated, thinking women of faith. Whew! The year’s momentous events gave us lots to talk about, marvel over,  yell and scream at each other about, pray for, disagree about, organize for and against, be grateful for, be pissed about, mutter under our breaths over, laugh about, dance about, and give God thanks for.

There were days I couldn’t wait to get to the blog to weigh in on a topic. There were other days when I’d rather cut a vein than face the computer and think up something  to blog about. Some discussions here on the blog got so heated, contentious, and snarky, well, let’s just say that it’s a good thing it all took place in blogosphere instead of face-to-face, across the kitchen table. Those who couldn’t take the heat stomped away vowing never to return. Others slumped back and took the “high road” of righeous silence.  While the rest of us stayed in to hash it out, not caring whether we ever agreed or saw things the other’s way, just content to have somewhere to say what was on our minds. On other occasions and on other topics close to our hearts as women, we were each others’ confidants, cheerleaders, prayer partners, soul sisters, and ace boon coons.

Thought I’d list my Top Ten favorite discussions from this past year (not in any particular order).

  1. The discussion that ensued as a result of the post I did on the mother daughter conflict between writer Rebecca Walker and her larger-than-life writer mother Alice Walker, and the daughter’s tell all accounts about Mommie Dearest and her maternal flaws.
  2. My rant about black women’s up-in-arms outrage over the sexist and misogynistic attacks against Michelle Obama and their teeth-sucking, hypocritical  silence when similar attacks were directed at Hillary Clinton.
  3. “Them Baptists” was my tirade against the Southern Baptist church and misogynism that gets cloaked under talk about biblical authority so as to protect itself from scrutiny and de-construction.
  4. All of us in blogosphere have the 2008 Elections to thank for sharpening our writing, our thinking, and our understanding of American politics, American culture, and American religion. Click on anything in the archive about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin and you’ll find sparks. You’ll also find out why Americans love to evoke the First Amendment when their insensitive, ill conceived comments get backed up against the wall.
  5.  Prop 8, homophobia, and the black church is a favorite because it gave me a chance to think out loud, theologize on the run, and stand back and see for myself what I believe and where I stand as a Christian, minister, and biblical scholar on the topic of homosexuality.
  6. Hey, why we’re at it, let’s not forget our discussion of abortion, Sarah Palin, and all things Evangelical (that’s Evangelical with a capital “E,” mind you).
  7. Jessica’s “Sunday Morning Confession” guest blogpiece on not being able to endure Sunday Morning church services anymore kicked up a lot of dust on the blog and caused sparks to fly.
  8. Women mentoring women is a topic that never fails to get my goat, as they say. And I want to thank the Young ‘uns who read this blog for coming on with hands on the hips and getting us Ancient  Ones straight on where we have failed them. Cough. Cough.
  9. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.  I love the blogpiece I wrote in defense of Silda Spitzer, Carlita Kilpatrick, and wives who stay with cheating husbands. That one is for big girls. Pour the wine. Hmmm…I really gotta get going  writing a book about love and the loss of innocence. I really wax eloquent when I’m on that topic.
  10. And then there’s the discussion about Barack Obama, Rick Warren, and who’s a Christian and who’s not that had everyone’s religious drawers in knots. We will have occasion to revisit this topic again in January, I’m sure.

Blogging has taken up a lot of my time. Special thanks my friends who have done without my friendship on occasion and my family who has had to do without my ministrations because they love someone who is blogger. The husband that lives in my house just shakes his head and makes up the bed himself. The teenager who lives in my house can’t figure out why anyone would sit before a computer and voluntarily write anything that causes them to anguish over grammar, punctuation, syntax, or organize their  thoughts before blurting them out.

Writers are only as good as what they read. You all know my love for books.  But I must come clean here at the end of the year and give a shout out to blogs and bloggers that keep me informed and whose lively writing, deep passion, searing intelligence, sharp wit, and/or infuriating points of view frequently give me just the jolt I need to think my own thoughts on whatever blog topic it is that I’m tackling on a given day. A soul sister shout out to: Aunt Jemima’s Revenge,Callahan Thinks, Anderson@Large, Womanist Musings, Sojourner’s PlaceThe Kitchen Table, Professor Kim, The Black Snob, HuffingtonReport, and Progressive Revival (where I have a blog column). (Lord, who have I forgotten to include on this blogroll?)

Finally, despite the time blogging has gobbled up, I’ve learned a lot from readers and appreciate the virtual friends,  the sho’ nuff colleagues, and the flesh-and-blood devoted and not-so-devoted blog readers  I’ve gained over the year. Heck, I’m even grateful to those of you who drop by to let me know that you disagree adamantly with my views, my right to speak, and my very being. You have helped make me the headstrong, clear thinking, confident women of faith I am today.

Thanks and Happy New Year to everyone.

And now I close with a song I’ve been dying to post here on the blog even though it has absolutely nothing to do with anything we’ve been talking about lately. But you all know how much I love me some “heartbreak” ballads. Big girl music. It’s the kind of record a woman plays on the last night of the year for the last time, just before turning the page to a new chapter on her life.


(I’ll be back on Monday, January 5th. I’m off to cook my black-eye peas and  candied yams before the New York comes in, and then off to Watch Night service to see the New Year in with the rest of the saints!)

Lurker Friday…Or Maybe It’s Heartbreak Friday…

Friday, October 31st, 2008

It’s a few days before the elections, and I probably shouldn’t be wasting my moral capital on any topic other than this historic moment. But I need something to take my mind off politics right now.

Nostalgia sent me on the hunt for an old Whitney Houston song that still makes me crumble in a heap on the floor. Not before chills run down my spine. That voice. That voice. That voice. There will never be another voice like hers. I’m probably the only one who cares a twit about whether Whitney Houston ever comes back. I’m probably the only one in the universe who wonders how she’s doing and if she’s on the mend emotionally and spiritually. No matter how dumb a decision it was for her to marry Bobby Brown, I forgive her. Falling in love with a man you’re better off without is, for some of us,  one of the many rites of passages you survive to becoming the woman you’re gonna be.

I listen to Whitney singing “I Will Always Love You” and remember. I remember what it felt like to be young and given to suicidal love affairs. I remember what it felt like to sit in my apartment and cry my natural born heart out over someone who is perfect in every way except in the way that matters most. It’s been years since I’ve been hostage to that  achey breaky kind of love that’s so consuming you can’t get out of bed.

You know his love is no good for you. You know you are not what he needs. You know he makes you crazy. But you’re powerless to do anything about it. He’s like a drug that won’t flush out your system.

But you know you gotta let him go. Because loving him is killing you.

After several failed tries you finally break up for good, but in the meantime it felt like  you were being hacked to death.

You survive. You move on. But you never get over it. Sure, you get over him. But not it. That feeling of being obsessed with something or someone you could have and didn’t need, but didn’t care that you couldn’t have and didn’t need. Desire. It was all about desire. The drug that makes you feel so alive that it threatens to destroy you…

Whew! Earth to Renita. Come back, girl.

All that from listening to Whitney Houston sing in that remarkable voice of hers, “I Will Always Love You” as part of the soundtrack to movie “The Body Guard” (which she starred in with Kevin Costner).

Oh yeah, it’s lurker Friday. It’s also Halloween.

Leave a comment and rescue me from wherever it was that I just went. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Girl, Put Your Records On

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Never fails. I’m driving and a song from my past comes on the radio, and 4 minutes and 17 seconds later I don’t remember how I got to where I am. I don’t remember stopping at any stop lights. I don’t remember changing lanes. Certain songs come on the radio and I’m 15 years old again, or 25 years old, or 35 years old again. Back when emotions were high and passions ran deep in my life. “The decades of a thousand agonies” is the only way to describe those years for me. Back when every decision was agonizing. Every new love felt like forever. Every heartbreak felt like death. Music has the power to define the times.

I still hear the Wilson Pickett record that was playing when the DJ came on to announce that Dr. King had just been killed in Memphis. There’s the James Cleveland eight track I played over and over for inspiration the night before I preached my first sermon. Whatever happened to that jazz cassette tape I listened to while preparing for my graduate exams? And let’s not forget the medley of songs friends and I stayed up burning on CD all night so we could play them at the funeral of a friend who’d died from AIDS. I remember. Oh God, I remember.

We all have our list of favorites. Favorite songs that kidnap us and hurl us back in time. Back to happier times. Back to sadder times. That’s the power of music, I suppose. The folks who create commercials and movies are great at exploiting music to make audiences pay attention and care about things they’d rather not think about.

Did I mention that I bought myself one of those little Ipod contraptions a few years back so I can hear my favorite songs when and where I want? There are the songs I play when I wanna dance and shake my…well, you know. There are the songs I listen to on the airplane to calm my nerves. There are the ones I blast through my house when I’ve hit a block in the writing. And those I turn to when I can’t pray. Of course, certain ones are right for when I need a good cry. It probably doesn’t surprise anyone who reads my blog often to know that most of my favorite songs are from the 60s, 70s and 80s, and a few from the 90s. (Hey, those were my formative years. Thank you very much. It’s all downhill from here.) Still, there’s that occasional moment when a contemporary song comes on the radio that gets my attention, takes my breath away, and leaves me begging my daughter to write down the words for me. The songs on my Ipod change from month to month, depending upon what’s going on in my life. But there are those stored in my memory that spring up inside at the oddest moments. Stirring up emotions. I hear them in my mind, and I’m the girl or woman I was once. Rewind. Scratch. Remember.

My Top Gospel Inspirational Songs This Month

James Cleveland “Lord, Do It For Me…”
Mississippi Mass Choir “Your Grace and Mercy”
Rance Allen “That Would Be Good Enough For Me”
Clark Sisters “You Brought the Sunshine”
Mahalia Jackson “Move on Up A Little Higher”
Edwin Hawkins “To My Father’s House”

My Top Soul Sounds This Month

Aretha Franklin, “Don’t Play That Song…”
Aretha Franklin, “Natural Woman”
Curtis Mayfield, “It’s Alright”
Temptations, “Just My Imagination”
Ella Fitzgerald, “Miss Otis Regrets”
Christopher Cross, “Sailing”
Oleta Adams, “I Just Had To Hear Your Voice”
Emotions, “Don’t Ask My Neighbors”
Mitty Collier, “I Had A Talk with My Man Last Night”
Lalah Hathaway, “When Your Life Was Low…”
Kool & The Gang, “Get Down on It”
Otis Redding, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”
Denise Williams, “Silly”
Michael Jackson, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”

Ooooo…..ooooo…just one more….

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, “Wake Up Everybody”

(Pssst. Don’t tell her. I just stepped into my daughter’s room and looked up the music on her computer to see whether we belong to the same planet when it comes to music. Not. “ay baby baby” by Hurricane Chris? Never heard of either. “25 Reasons” by someone name Nivea? Never heard of neither. “Beautiful Liar” by Beyonce? Heard of her, but never heard of the song. “Crank Dat Soulja Boy” by Soulja Boy. Wonder what that’s about.)