goodbye my lover

I know I’ve said it before, but really, I don’t give a shit.  Music has a way of brushing up alongside of me and finding its way into my bones.  Growing up, I spent weekends on the sidelines, traveling in the cold autumn with my mother and a tartan thermos, to cheer on Lea’s soccer games.  After the game, we’d try to warm our hands and faces, pushing them against the heat vents in the car.  Shivering.  And when we finally arrived home, we’d still feel the cold. We’d try cocoa or soup or tea, but we all agreed nothing worked.  So we’d fight for the showers and insisted we weren’t warmed through unless we thawed in a long bath.  We’d use baby powder and emerge from the steamy room wearing wool socks.  Then the next of us had her turn to melt our insides.  Music does that to me, sticks with me on repeat, runs through me and moves me, deeply.  It inspires me, in my bones.  It’s why I love to sing and to play it loud.

When Dido first came out with "White Flag," she was featured on Regis & Smelly.  I was running late for work, but I couldn’t stop staring.  It was a Friday.  I was leaving the television on for the housekeeper, and for Linus, but I couldn’t leave.  I was stuck in awe.  Just now, it happened again with James Blunt, singing "Goodbye My Lover" on Oprah.  Ache and awe, it’s all I could feel.  I began to cry.  Ray LaMontagne has done it for me too, for a long time now, and I cannot wait for his new album (released already), along with the release of The Barenaked Ladies new album (releasing only days before my wedding).  Oh my God, I can’t wait!!! 

I’ll always think of Philip when I hear Rhett Miller (click link to scroll through samples of his songs).  I remember when I had to take a train out to Long Island and sign the last divorce papers.  I felt sick and trembled about my life.  Philip, who then still commented on this blog as ‘The Suitor,’ had made a mix of cds for me.  "Your Nervous Heart" was on it, and on my train ride, on repeat, I listened to the words, imaging my suitor there beside me.  "Can I kiss your furrowed brow and calm your nervous heart?"  And in just that line, that’s the safety I felt with him.  I’ve been struggling to figure out what our song is, for the wedding.  And really, that’s it.  Right there in a Rhett Miller song.  I will never think of anything but him coming into my life at that time, with that song, on that train, him beside me without being there.  In a song.  That night, my girlfriends met me for champagne, and we celebrated my new life.  And Philip met us, upon my insistence.  It was one of the best days of my life, a day I’d dreaded and lost sleep over.  That night, my life felt like a movie, where all the conversation was muted and a soundtrack played over the din of champagne glasses, stares, and lifelong memories on the make.

*As for Regina Spektor, I’m still a huge fan of Samson, even though it doesn’t make me think of anyone.



  1. this song came out at just the right time in my life and although i haven't seen him sing it on oprah, i have heard that it is amazing. a great 'repeat' song indeed, especially when driving and singing at the top of your lungs.

  2. Actually, Ray Lamontagne's new album came out on Tuesday and while not as good as Trouble (to me), it's still worth the buy.

  3. Stephanie,
    This was so beautifully written. I linked over to Beloved Wife and am still trying to shake the chill bumps. You are an amazing writer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. At 6 am, three weeks ago on our way to our sunrise wedding ceremony over Mt Bonnell, my husband and I heard Mason Jennings' "Be Here Now" on KUT Austin. We both started crying because it was so fitting and we did not have a "song." I know what you mean, songs have the ability to pierce your core.

  5. Barenaked Ladies, The Backyard, Austin, TX, Nov. 11. I CAN'T WAIT!!! I'm taking my 13 yr old and 7 yr old nieces to what I hope is their best concert experience ever. Really, how can it not be??

    Maybe I'll see you there!

    Keep up the great writing – Every day I look forward to reading your blog.

  6. Goodbye my lover is one I taught myself on guitar because it moved me so much (I don't know the second thing about playing guitar). It is on repeat when I shower…

  7. You know what you really need to do? Write a book on Philip. Write about how it happened. We know it happened and we kind of know how, but we don't know the when. We don't know how it all fits. I guess the not knowing is nice too, isn't it? The finding out little by little and having the pieces fit here and there. And when they don't, that's ok too. I know that it's ok for you to want to save that for yourself. But maybe one day. One day when you're old and gray(ish) and maybe celebrating your 20th wedding anniversary. Maybe then, you'll tell us how it all really happened.

  8. Music is life. Without it I don't think I would get through any of my days. I write for therapy and of course there is always music at my ears while I write – those tunes that reflect my mood. A few that always bring tears to my eyes:

    This Woman's Work – Kate Bush
    This Years Love – David Gray
    Time After Time – Tuck & Patti (if you have not heard this version, Stephanie, my goodness go spend the 99 cents on itunes immediately!)

    Forever – Ben Harper
    I Wanna Go Home – Michael Buble
    Kissing You – Des'ree
    Putting the Damage On – Tori Amos
    Joyful Girl – Ani DiFranco (this song (along with her as a whole) was what got me through my adolescence)

    Sacred Stones – The Samples (mainly due to the memories that this song/band brings back)

  9. I just watched him on Oprah today, too! I felt the SAME way about that song – drawn in like a moth. I'm intrigued to look into more of his music.

    p.s. Are you seeing Ray LaMontagne when he sings at ACL this month? Or will wedding plans get in the way?

  10. Ray LaMontagne is amazing and TROUBLE is probably the greatest song ever! Any man who writes/sings that they have been "saved by a woman" is a genius in my mind!

    Stephanie, you are a great writer! Keep up the good work and keep us posted on your next book.


  11. We're getting married in New York, September 16, so I'll miss Ray playing here in Austin.

    If you really want to witness a bit of the courtship between The Suitor and me, you can certainly browse through archived posts and look for his comments, as "the suitor."

  12. Isn't that final divorce signing day weird? I'll never forget that…or the dinner I had with all of my friends that night, in celebration but a strange kind. I don't have a soundtrack for it and it's kind of fitting that I just think of silence when I think back to that day.

  13. i can completely understand the whole dido moment. i saw her a few years ago in D.C. and my mouth hung open the entire night. her voice and stage presense were mind blowing!

    though, right now i have damien rice's "delicate" on repeat while i fall asleep at night. the lyrics run through my head all day and night. and the music causes my entire body to let go. it just makes me want to be closer to my man…i can't get enough of my man or the song!

  14. BNL's "When I Fall" and "Jane" are awesome. Classic. Can't wait for the new album.

    I just picked up "The Last Kiss" soundtrack – "Star Mile" by Joshua Radin made me cry. "Arms Of A Woman" – Amos Lee & "Paperweight" – Joshua Radin and Schuyler Fisk are must-hear tracks.

  15. I never really liked James Blunt until I saw him on Oprah. That was the most raw I've ever seen anyone sing outside of live performances. I love `can't look away' moments :) One of my closest friends gave me your book for my birthday a few weeks ago and I found myself ditching all other books I was halfway through (I never read just one book at a time) to read yours. Love it.

  16. I was so tickled to see someone mention hearing Mason Jennings in Austin, since he's based in my hometown, Minneapolis, and I (kinda) knew him back when. He's just brilliant. True blue, good-hearted guy who writes songs that make your heart ache and soothe it at the same time, which is so sweet and merciful, isn't it? Because there are so many singers who just make your heart ache and then leave you high and dry. Not Mason–your heart's safe with him. If you don't know his music, check out Century Spring or his first (eponymous) album. Oh, Stephanie! You've got to hear his "Ballad for My One True Love." It'll make you shiver, even in that Texas heat.

  17. Goosebumps, girl. You were the one reason why Ray Lamontagne is permanently stuck in my cd player, why his new song has been on my myspace profile for nearly a month (so thankyou).

    And these words – while they take me to your moment in time – also take me to my own. How many times I've sat and cried or even laughed in the most random places at the most inconvenient times just because some song happened to play just then. At the right (or wrong) time, music has a way of both coming into you, yet cutting through you.

  18. I know what you mean. Sometimes a song touches me so deeply, I can feel how it tightens my chest, taking my breath away for a moment. I had a blind date a few weeks ago. He told me he would bring me a CD. When we drove in his car, he put the CD on. It was Keane with "Somewhere only we know". As soon as I heard the lyrics I knew right away that a memory would be built upon this. And I was right. I will always remember him when I hear that song. I will remember sitting next to him, feeling comfortable, driving around, music on loud. It didn't work out with us, but the memory of that particular moment will last forever. I like those memories, because I look at them like snapshots, helping me to feel comfortable when I am in pain or despair.

  19. My husband and I don't have an *our song*. I think it's because the ex-husband and I had so many that having one became meaningless to me – just like getting red roses.
    But I understand how they both can take over your heart, your soul … this husband and I share something different and I wouldn't have it any other way :o)

  20. I'm currently addicted to Kelley McRae []. I saw her open for another singer I like, bought the cd, and now can't stop playing it over and over. Break Us…Johnny Cash…Morning Song…so many others are all great songs! I can relate to what you describe.

  21. Current American Idol winner Taylor Hicks (the grey haired guy) did a very decent version of Ray LaMontagne's Trouble on American Idol at some point last season when he was given the opportunity to choose his own song. It was a nice (and unexpected)change from the usually crappy song choices on the show and it was very nicely done.

  22. I love that you love BNL. Rock Spectacle has been in my cd player for ages and I sing every song as loudly as the one before it. Lines from "Break Your Heart" make me clutch my chest, I have wanted since college to give my future daughter the name "Jane", and "Life in a Nutshell" is a great roll the windows down and enjoy your life song.

    Can't wait for the new album as I'm sure it will bring a whole slew of new experiences with it.

  23. i was so gona boycott your blog after you said you liked james blunt but them you redeemed yourself by mentioning ray lamontagne. i adore him. i hope if anyone who reads your blog had never heard of him that they check him out. he's lovely.

  24. Damien Rice does it for me too. I do like James Blunt though. If you haven't listened to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, you might like them too. Grace Potter's got some pipes on her.

  25. I remember obsessing over the line "every time she sneezes I believe it's love" in Anna Begins, summer of 1995 in the throes of unrequited love. I thought it was the most perfect line ever. I am obsessed with lyrics. And not afraid to admit that 80s rock ballads give me goosebumps.

  26. "If you really want to witness a bit of the courtship between The Suitor and me, you can certainly browse through archived posts and look for his comments, as "the suitor.""

    WOULD LOVE TO. WHEN DOES HE START POSTING? What year, what month?

  27. Here's tip Stephanie, make "the hype machine" (google it) your friend. It is an aggregator of mp3 blogs, listing all music posts with links to grab the music. I, too, am a huge Ray Lamontagne fan (among others) and, since Esquire introduced my husband to the hype machine this summer, I have been listening to no less than 45 of his songs–the new album, rare live tracks, you name it, by Ray. Check it out. Not all posts keep the music up forever, but if you can search by artist or song, and if you keep up with it regularly you can find some real gems. And it was perfect for someone like Ray, who we know performs and has a zillion songs up his sleeve, but only has one album out commercially… enjoy.

  28. Final episode of Six Feet Under soundtrack soothes my soul, helps me breathe again Sia, but the absolute best is Irma Thomas' jazzy revvy Time Is On My Side, rolling his stones way down under. Below the ocean. My life has always revolved around music, movies and books. Let my lawyer do the talking next week. I'm finally finished. I'll just read your book again in court.
    With a straight face?!

  29. You should go for 10 minutes on my blog. I posted 3 TV Series Recap wit hcomplementary music, AWESOME MUSIC

    You know Paolo Nutini, future James Blunt, Straight from UK, Will hit America eventualy, too late.. still . so good. Last Request & These Streets.

    You WILL enjoy


  30. Check out Kelly Willis's album "What I Deserve," especially tracks 5 "Not Forgotten You" and 13 "We're Not Long For This World."

  31. Songs for when I was going through my divorce all those years ago – Sarah McLaughlin – Full of Grace. Elton John – Bellfast. Sad, haunting, somehow soothing.

    Now, 6 years later the theme song for the darlings and me is Heather Small – Proud. I need it at least once on the way to school/work and once on the way home. What have you done today to make you feel proud? We sing it at the top of our lungs and it just seems to make everything feel better.

    The darlings are going to their dad's for the weekend, and it may be a soul-reconstructing weekend of opera – Dido and Aeneas by Purcell and/or Mozart's Requiem as I mourn the passing of summer into fall. All good. Nice to take the time to pour the melancholy out to be able to fill up with optimism and hope for next week.

    Have a great weekend.

  32. ray lamontagne is playing friday night at ACL….you should definitely see him live. he's amazing.


  33. James Blunt performed Beautiful Dawn on Letterman, I believe, and it was incredible. He is even better live which is rare.

    Try Rachel Yamagata's "Be Be Your Love"


    Regina Spektor's "Fidelity"

    good tunes that make you feel.

  34. Sorry for the double, but actually whenever I hear Regina Spektor's Fidelity I think of your book and I have no idea why.

  35. Okay so it's a third. Regina Spektor's Fidelity is on my myspace page (yes I have one, dont judge!) and you can listen to it if you go to->

    She plays the piano as well.

  36. I live for music.. it alters,enhances, and enriches my days and nites. My husband of 18 years, whom I just divorced, never had the music connnection as I always have and I have always felt that it came between us somehow. He could never understand. Who out there thinks that couples need to have the same musical taste and ambition in order to make the relationship work? I always said that my next man would have to love music as I do and preferably the same types of music. Of course, they man I'm dating is just like my husband! oy,…

  37. Holy shit. I just read the end of your blog entry (didnt see the asterisk before) and didnt even realize you already mentioned Regina Spektor. And I think this is my fourth post. I look like a stalker, dont I?
    Wow. We have way too much of the same taste in music.
    Try Rachel Yamagata Be Be Your Love. I couldnt find it on myspace to upload to the page but it's a goodun. This is my last comment, I promise. Damien Rice is good stuff too.

    I sat holding my newborn and crying when I would hear Volcano.

    He's an Irish cutie.

  38. Stephanie, I know a song that I think you'd love as it sounds rather appripo to your courtship. It's "You Lift Me Up" by EBTG (Everything But the Girl). Simply breathtaking. Hope you can check it out.

  39. have you heard the song "question"by Rhett's band the Old 97s? The lyric "Someday somebody's going to ask a question, a question you should say yes to. Baby, tonight, I've got a question for you", seems like a perfect wedding song. makes me swoon.

  40. I really love your blog for this very reason. It's really cool to see that there are so many others out there like me, who not only love, but "feel" music. I have to thank my parents for giving me the appreciation of different types of music from Motown to Spanish and everything in between. To be quite honest, I moved to Austin for this very reason, to be closer to the music, literally and figuratively. I can't wait for your book signing-i've decided to take the afternoon off from work so I can be there to grab my spot before everyone else does. Best wishes until then, hope the babies are doing well.

  41. OH Stephanie, Goodbye My Lover shreds me into pieces. Its one of those songs, no matter how happy you are in a current relationship…it takes you back in time. When you made promises you never thought you would break and when you swore you knew this person was your reason for living. It kills me everytime.

  42. stephanie:

    i will be seeing regina oct 15th at the park west theater in chicago. i'll send you a review of her show so you know what to anticipate when she hits austin.

    enjoy the labor day weekend. is there anything gourmet and fantastic that you plan to prepare on the grill or somewhere near it to be festive and summer-like?

    i'd love to get food lessons from you. i need better flavors in my life.

    great rhett song, by the way.

  43. James Blunt is Winter by the Thames. I love him. My friends think he's a syrupy pile of goo.

    I don't have a 'we' song. Have tried to force one….but it never seems to come.

  44. Stephanie, I've only recently started to read your blog, but I'm pretty sure I've already read every entry. I like to tell my friends that your blog is what mine would be like if I had a little more time on my hands and was a better writer :)

    At some point during my last relationship, I decided to clue The Boy in to my blog's existence. It was both a blessing and a curse, as he literally was watching our relationship play out on his screen every day. When we broke up, he'd admit that it was like a car crash; it was so painful to read and yet he couldn't seem to stop. Keane's new cd became my break up music; 3 bars of their songs gave me that "breath caught in the throat" feeling. It was both devastatingly painful and cathartic. Eventually I decided I needed to stop listening to music for a while; everything was still so raw that every song turned me into an estrogen-filled mess. At some point, someone posted the lyrics to "Goodbye My Lover" on my blog, as if I didn't already know the words to every song detailing heartbreak and deteriorated love. Sometimes people mean well, and yet…

    Last week I had to see The Boy for the first time since the breakup, and it made me think that "White Flag" is one of the most brilliant love songs. Whoever wrote it clearly had experienced heartache; it is so accurate in its lyrical simplicity.

    Thanks for writing entries that make me think and further my procrastination :)

  45. Music…I can`t imagine to live without it. Sometimes you hear a song and it reminds you of something – a situation, a feeling, a person; something that you had forgotten since a long time, but there`s the soundtrack of your life and it reminds you.
    When my husband and I met years ago (working at the same firm) it seemed that we had nothing in common. Years later we met again and found out that we like the same music. We went together to a concert by our favourite band Simply Red … and here we are, seven years and four concerts later: married and a lot in common, not at least a four year old son. Music…

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