Emotional Residue


I was going to write about something completely different tonight. I was looking up the lyrics to a song I love that speaks to the inspiration I had when I clicked on a youtube link that I thought was that song. I was wrong. It was another song by that same artist. It was a song I have not listened to in a very long time. It is a song I do not listen to anymore. It started playing and it was as though my guts were being ripped out.

One time a girlfriend of mine was going on a date with a new guy, I think they were going to a concert or something. All I remember was thinking, man that is risky. I mean what if it doesn’t work out? You have just shared music you love with this person, their residue is going to get all over it  and possible stick.

Have you noticed how that happens? A relationship ends and suddenly you stop listening to a song you used to love, or a whole album, or everything by that artist?

Before my husband I dated multiple musicians. Talk about having a song or artist ruined for you.. Imagine if the person you used to love sang that song to you? It is emotional residue on a whole other level. It’s not just Oh we used to listen to this song together, it’s that every time you hear that song now you hear that person’s voice singing those lyrics to you. Musicians, at least the ones I dated, you music as a way to express things they maybe cannot with words conversationally.

There is this song I love by the Wannadies, it’s called You and Me. One day I showed up at my ex’s house and there was a note on the door, come to the garage. I walked out to find his friend behind the drum kit and him on guitar, he started playing the song, just for me. He and his friend had learned how to play it to surprise me because he knew how much I loved it. Whenever I hear that song I am transported back to that moment, sitting on a stool in his garage. That memory is not so painful, but some are.

If I was to make a play list of all the songs that have been ruined for me because of the emotional residue of my musical ex’s it would look something like this:

Three Libras – A Perfect Circle (my all time favorite song in high school)
You and Me – The Wannadies
Remember to Breathe – Dashboard Confessional
You Could Be Happy – Snow Patrol
No One’s Gonna Love You – Band of Horses
Stars – Humm
Maybe I’m Just Tired – As Tall As Lions
Tear You Apart – She Wants Revenge
Like Knives – City and Colour
What Would You Say – Dave Matthews Band
Angeles – Elliot Smith
Go Easy – As Tall As Lions
Me On Your Front Porch – Criteria
Miss You – Coconut Records
Orestes – A Perfect Circle
Tisbury Lane – Mae
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Ape Dos Mil – Glassjaw
This Ruined Puzzle – Dashboard Confessional
Hey There Delilah – Plain White Tees
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Mainline Life – Criteria
Passenger – Deftones
Dreaming My Dreams – The Cranberries

The thing is emotional residue from love and friendships past don’t just attach to songs, they attach to spaces and inanimate objects.. Every part of life is vulnerable. Emotional residue is really sticky, it can permeate all kinds of surfaces and ruin things that you used to love. The relationship ends and you lose not only this person you loved but all these other things you loved as well. Books, places, other people, parts of town, clothing, times of day, days of the week, words..

What I can say, from my own experience, is that with time the residue seems to wash off in some cases. Some things were covered a little too thick and they may never come clean, some things will always hold the energy of that person, that time in your life. In some cases though eventually the love of the song or place or book or part of town proves to be stronger than the love of the person who ruined it for you and you get it back. Or at least it doesn’t hurt when the memory pops up.




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