It’s not just a particularly intense romantic breakup, any more than a marriage is a particularly intense romance. It’s a difference in kind, not just in amount.
My favorite divorce songs, as it happens, were all written by people who had actually been divorced.
The first is “Till Death Do We Part” by Madonna — one of the few songs of hers that I’ve ever really liked. (I’m just linking so as not to have too many embedded videos.)
(From a songwriting point of view, I especially like how it goes into third person for the bridges, but obviously can’t stay there for long — we can achieve objectivity at times like that, but only for a while. The third person lines may also be an echo of the tabloid stories about her marriage to Sean Penn. A weakness is that she obviously figured out how effective it is when she speaks the line (with a complete lack of affect), “He’s not in love with her anymore.” And it is effective — very powerful, in fact — but she tries to go back to that well too many times. Less is more.)
Then, pretty much without flaw, there’s Sinéad O’Connor’s “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance.”
“I’ll meet you later in somebody’s office,” indeed.
But then there’s this, which was briefly hijacked as a political song, but which is actually a divorce song, written by Christine McVie about her divorce from John McVie, who has been playing bass a few feet away from her for the last 40+ years, as he is in this clip.
What a great reminder that divorce can inspire not only negative feelings, that we can wish for the best for somebody, even when we’re meeting later in somebody’s office.
So, this leads to another thought about divorce: Why don’t I write about it more, or at all? I’ve been divorced — I should use that…