Songs About Divorce, Week 4

Vincent Anthony
11 Min Read

This is the fourth and final week of the Songs About Divorce playlist series. Hopefully, you have been able to learn something new about some of popular music’s biggest names and the experiences they have gone through. Of course, these celebrities have also been through emotional life events like divorces before now. They even have to deal with these issues in the public eye. At the end of the day, divorces happen and people fall out of love. Hopefully, these celebrities will make you feel better about your divorce. Additionally, I hope that these songs and their lyrics have enlightened and sensitized you to the issue of divorce. If only the mass media paid attention to songs like these before they take to their word processors and spread negative stories about these celebrities’ marriages. While it does have upsetting and profound effects on the adults involved, I think this playlist shows that its effect on the children is far more unsettling. So for their sake, please… be more sensitive when speaking about divorce.

Now, without further adieu, Songs About Divorce, Week 4:

“Son of a Gun” by Janet Jackson samples Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain,” and what is interesting about both songs is that they were released following both singers’ divorces. Janet’s, however, was a special case: no one knew she was married until she was divorced. However, like Carly, Janet denies that the song is specifically about her ex-husband, as did Carly with “You’re So Vain.” However, essentially that is the entire point of the song, isn’t it? “I betcha think this song is about you… don’t you?” Without a doubt, the sassiest track on Songs About Divorce, “Son of a Gun” is full of biting lines from Janet directed at her ex. Such lines include, “I’d rather keep the trash and throw you out.” There’s no holding back on this track. Sometimes, the pain of divorce can morph into anger… and “Son of a Gun” is proof of that. While, again, Janet says the song isn’t specifically about “him,” I don’t doubt he was one of the inspirations. For a song undoubtedly about her divorce, check out “Truth” from the same album, All For You, which was featured in the Journey to Freedom playlist, Week 2, on the topic of honesty. “Truth” is probably a more apt choice for this list, but for the sake of not having a repeat, “Son of a Gun” was chosen.

“Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)” by Lindsay Lohan is probably the most out of place and surprising choice on the list. Lindsay is by no means someone who should be revered as a musician or lyricist, but on “Confessions” she showed some promise. No doubt thanks to the personal nature of the track, “Confessions of a Broken Heart” is the best work she’s ever released as a musician (not that that’s really saying much). The song is a list of confessions and questions for her troubled father who abused and abandoned her family and struggles with drugs, alcohol abuse, as well as being in and out of jail. While the song doesn’t specifically deal with divorce, it once again shows how it effects a child in the midst of it all. Leaving your spouse doesn’t mean you should leave your children too.

Lindsay very courageously shares this point of view via “Confessions,” asking her father heartbreaking questions such as, “why’d you have to go?” and “did you ever love me?”. She laments on how she misses him, wears his old clothing, and expresses how she wished he would’ve been part of her life, admitting “I don’t know you, but I still want to.” It’s accompanying video, which she directed, is equally moving as well.

In the video, she also addresses how hard it is to deal these issues in the public eye. The video’s premise is a recreation of some of her family’s darkest moments, but it takes place in a store window as people walk by… looking in and judging her family. Take a look below.

“He Say, She Say” by Lupe Fiasco is another song from a child’s point of view, but also the mother’s. However, on this track Lupe utilizes different and interesting approach. He raps the same monologue twice: first, from the point of view of the mother, and, second, from the point of view of her son. The song does not come from personal experience, rather Lupe acts as an omniscient narrator. The lyrics detail how the child has been affected by his father’s absence and why the boy needs his father. It’s far more effective to simply take a listen to this track, as its pretty straight forward lyrically.

“Breakdown” by J. Cole is one of the highlights from his Roc Nation debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, for it’s emotional and introspective lyrics. Not only is the song personal for Cole as it’s about his family, but he also provides some commentary on the state hip-hop in the context of the song. The first hint of this is in the opening line in which he admits to shedding tears about his dad and not being “too proud to admit it.” Clearly he felt the need to note this because crying isn’t exactly a “cool thing to do” for hip-hop artists, especially men.

The remainder of the first verse is about his relationship with his estranged father: “I feel like you barely know me, and that’s a shame cause our last names are the same, the blood type flowing through our veins is the same.” Cole also talks about how he feels it was selfish his father to abandon him and, while he is hurt by this, admits he still feels inherent need to have a father in his life. It’s a poignant and touching moment that allows the listener to really connect with how he feels about the situation. He ends the verse with these words: “Maybe I should be telling you cause you selfish, but I want a father so bad I can’t help but breakdown.”

In the second verse, J. Cole talks about his mother and her unfortunate struggle with drug abuse. He expresses his anger with the hip-hop community for glorifying drug dealing and related situations in their lyrics because he has witnessed the horrible side of that: his mother’s crack addiction. “You made a milli off of serving hard white? Yeah right, my mama tell you what addicted to that pipe feels like,” he raps to his comrades. His lyrics shine an important light on the cruel side of drug abuse that most rappers don’t tend to address in their music. However, J. Cole was able to witness the consequences of drug abuse first hand. Hopefully, by having rappers bring this issue into their lyrics, more people should understand the impacts of drug abuse. If anyone reading this does have a drug addiction, it might be a good idea to visit a rehabilitation center, like West Coast Recovery Centers (find more information here). Rehabilitation centers can help people overcome their addiction, ensuring that no one has to suffer like J. Cole did as he watched his mother struggle. Generally, there are two types of rehabilitation centers; inpatient and outpatient, although many places offer both. If you are looking for outpatient rehab then you might want to visit the Enterhealth website, as this should provide the information you need. In addition to him discussing drug abuse, he also moves on to talk about police violence against African Americans even before high profile cases like Treyvon Martin and Mike Brown, which he addressed in the song “Be Free” last month. In the third verse, he speaks about a friend of his who is serving jail time. In one song, Cole tackles more issues than most other more popular rappers have in their entire career.

Below is the entire playlist, with the exceptions of Beyoncé’s “Mine” and Lindsay Lohan’s “Confessions of a Broken Heart” which are not available on Spotify. The order of the tracks has been rearranged for thematic purposes and if you listen closely, you’ll find that it flows quite nicely. Place Beyoncé at the beginning and Lindsay after Kelly Clarkson to complete the playlist!

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Vincent is the founder of the magazine and has had a strong passion for popular music since, well, 1997! If it's not obvious, his favorite artists include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, P!nk, and many more. Vincent lives in New York, where he is a high school English teacher, and currently he is pursuing a Master's in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.