Romance and Music: A Memory Playbook

Blog concert

Music is the shorthand of emotion, Leo Tolstoy


I was driving the other day when Michael Buble’s version of Feeling Good came on the radio. It only took a few notes for me to flashback to my first out-of-the-divorce-box relationship.

I would guess that most of you have collected a playbook of songs that are associated with a particular romance in your life. A song may have been playing on the radio at the time you were involved, or the lyrics captured the essence of your relationship, or perhaps you were stuck on that song during your love fest and it became forever associated with that time in your life.

Whatever the reason for the association, when that song is played, you time- travel back to that relationship and to your love interest. The length of time you need to travel and the quality of both the romance and the break-up will determine whether the song triggers feelings of melancholy, sadness, anger, or fondness.

Sit with me, have some grilled flatbread with mushrooms, ricotta, and herbs, and let’s run through my playbook.

Feeling Good is a classic starting over song. Just sample the lyrics:

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

For me

And I’m feeling good.

No wonder this song was a perfect fit for my first post-divorce relationship with Mr. K, a widower. I even sent him a link to the YouTube video. Unfortunately, Mr. K wasn’t quite ready for a new day so the song reminds me of the dangers of getting involved with someone who has not moved on.

Come to Me, the Goo Goo Dolls

Love, starting over, marriage, eternity….all the classic themes for a relationship with Mr. M – or so I thought: 

Come to me my sweetest friend

Can you feel my heart again

I’ll take you back where you belong

And this will be our favorite song

Come to me with secrets bare

I’ll love you more so don’t be scared

And when we’re old and near the end

We’ll go home and start again 

Unfortunately, Mr. M and I weren’t compatible on an emotional or physical level. We both wanted a sweetest friend but not with each other.

Ghostbusters theme, Ray Parker Jr.

This one is a cheat because my relationship with Mr. D didn’t have a song. But since he ghosted me and was possibly a cheat, I’m adding it to my playbook. 

If there’s something weird

and it don’t look good

Who ya gonna call?


The Man Who Can’t be Moved, The Script

I discovered this song when I first met Mr. L and sent it to him soon after we met…just because I loved the melody and, as a hopeful romantic, I’m a sucker for stories of yearning and lost love.

Going back to the corner where I first saw you,

Gonna camp in my sleeping bag I’m not gonna move,

Got some words on cardboard got your picture in my hand,

Saying if you see this girl can you tell her where I am,

Some try to hand me money they don’t understand,

I’m not broke I’m just a broken hearted man,

I know it makes no sense, but what else can I do,

How can I move on when I’m still in love with you

Mr. L was not ready for undying love – still separated; he had more wild oats to sow before he gave his heart to someone.

Our House, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

This song goes way back to my marriage. It was a song of the times – post Woodstock, still hippie, still sometimes high, organic, long hair, vegetarian, young and relatively free.

I’ll light the fire, you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.

Staring at the fire for hours an hours while I listen to you

Play your love songs all night long for me, only for me.

This classic song endures but, as you know, the marriage did not.

Now, for something sarcastic and fun, here are some songs for a few of the one-date wonders in my life over the past few years.

For the seldom available narcissist:

You’re so Vain

For the guy who can’t stop talking about money

Bills, bills, bills

For the liar (profile, photo, etc.):

All Men are Liars

For the handsome one you know is trouble:

Cowboy Casanova

Four songs for all the single ladies:


Single Ladies

Men in this Town

Independent Women

What songs are in your playbook?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




Bittersweet: Revisiting a Place from your Marital History

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Bittersweet – a good term to describe not only excellent chocolate but also some of the experiences one has after divorce. Case in point: revisiting a place (city, point of interest, etc.) you frequented with your ex- or your ex- and your kids.

When I revisit a place I love, my goal is to create new memories so that I can return with fewer pangs of loss (less bitter, more sweet). Brief pause while I close my eyes and swoon to One Republic’s Burning Bridges accompanied by romantic fantasizing. And let’s take another brief pause to eat some Thai style grain salad with crunchy seeds.

Back to the case in point: the first time I revisited a key place from my marital vacation history was a few years ago when I took my daughter to Italy. Although we road-tripped across the North (a new place for me), we also visited Venice. Standing on a small bridge near Piazza San Marco, the same bridge I had stood on while Mr. Ex took a photo of me, was truly bittersweet. But then I swallowed and went off to explore the rest of the city and a new gelato place. So, yes, it was painful to see couples enjoying this romantic city but how could I never return to this place of dreams? That would give too much power to the loss. Better to overlay those memories with new ones.

Seeking out new parts of Venice, or any new aspect of a place you are returning to, can help add to the sweetness of the experience.

There have been smaller, local experience revisits as well. By now I have accumulated quite a list of bittersweet revisits – from formerly frequented restaurants and music venues to far flung vacation places.

What I can’t do yet: go by the house we lived in for over 25 years. So I avoid that neighborhood and even the neighbors. There’s no upside in this case – no new sweetness to gather.

I write this sitting on a beautiful beach, part of a southern barrier island – a place we vacationed in often as a young family. This time, with my siblings, I look past the past to the present moment of sun, clear water, and soft wind. Healing.

I wonder about the many other young families on the beach. Will they remain intact well into the future? If not, they are still creating memories. And they’ll always have the ability to revisit the memories – to experience the bittersweet and transform it into something new.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating,