Love Stinks

Love Stinks: Sound Opinions celebrates Valentine's Day's... rock ‘n’ roll style. Jim and Greg run down their favorite Anti-Love songs and hear some listeners' picks.

Love Stinks
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Anti-Love Songs

With the ghost of St. Valentine looming over us all, this week's show is dedicated to those music fans for whom "Love Stinks." Jim and Greg discuss their favorite anti-love songs and hear some listeners' picks. Here are some songs to get you out of the mood for Valentine’s Day.

"Bitch" by The Rolling Stones

Never ones to shy away from statements against love -- or even, occasionally, against women -- the Rolling Stones just might be the poster boys for this entire show. This song off the band's 1971 album Sticky Fingers is not so much about a single "Bitch" as it is about how love's a bitch. It's the perfect way for Jim to kick off the show.

"When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You" by Marvin Gaye

"When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You" is one of many anti-love songs on Marvin Gaye's 1978 release Here, My Dear. The inspirations for this double album were Gaye's failed marriage to Anna Gordy (sister of Motown impresario Berry Gordy), his subsequent divorce, and perhaps more significant, his divorce settlement. In the track Greg chooses, Gaye lets it all out, and asks a question anyone facing a dying relationship has wanted to ask.

"Ever Fallen in Love?" by The Buzzocks

The next song was caller Lisa's choice, and it begs another common question faced by the lovelorn. It's a favorite of our hosts because it is just so true. Who can't say yes when The Buzzcocks' lead singer Pete Shelley asks, "Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't've fallen in love with?"

"Idiot Wind" by Bob Dylan

It was hard for the next caller, Ron, to choose just one song off of Bob Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks. Like Here, My Dear, this album was inspired by a failed marriage. Therefore, a number of its songs illustrate tonight's theme. Ron goes with "Idiot Wind," which has Dylan abandoning his poetic tendencies and not mincing words.

"Pictures of You" by The Cure

Jim and Greg next speak with Clare who chooses "Pictures of You" by everyone's favorite lovesick Goth rockers. Even the instrumental opening of the song moved this caller, who notes that almost half of The Cure's catalog could apply to this show. This is an interesting point considering lead singer Robert Smith has been married to his childhood sweetheart for almost twenty years. Thankfully life does not always imitate art.

"There She Goes Again" by The Velvet Underground

Jim chose The Velvet Underground's "There She Goes Again" because its great pop structure (based on Marvin Gaye's "Hitchhike") is perfectly juxtaposed with some very non-pop lyrics. While neither Jim nor Greg recommend that angry lovers follow Lou Reed's advice, they both highly recommend listening.

"Why'd You Do It" by Marianne Faithfull

Greg tries to one-up Jim's venomous choice with his next pick. And based on the number of times Sound Opinions H.Q. had to censor the song, he may have succeeded. "Why’d You Do It" was originally written for Tina Turner, but after a recently-jilted Marianne Faithfull heard the song, she knew it was meant for her. Despite what Faithfull's oh-so-vain ex-boyfriend Mick Jagger might believe, her inspiration for the recording came from then-husband Ben Bradley's frequent infidelity. If any song lyrics could have the power to put a straying man in his place, these are certainly them.

"I Don't Know How To Be Your Friend" by Redd Kross

Jim puts the vitriol to rest for a moment with his next song. More about heartbreak than hate, "I Don’t Know How To Be Your Friend" reflects the frustration faced by anyone who has ever tried to turn a friendship into something more. Jim may have never had the guts to make this statement to a platonic female friend, but when he heard LA musicians Redd Kross sing this sentiment in 1990, he completely identified.

"Answering Machine" by The Replacements

Greg gets tender on us with this next track. He chooses a song from The Replacements' 1984 album Let It Be. In "Answering Machine," Paul Westerberg is struggling with how to express his emotions to such a cold and impersonal device. While answering machines are much more ubiquitous now than they were at the time the song was written, they still cause problems for the sensitive at heart.

"Pretty Vacant" by the Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols rarely sang about matters of the heart, but in Jim's next pick for a great anti-love song, Johnny Rotten directs his ever-present anger toward someone he is obviously not in love with. In addition to being cathartic, it pays to speak from the heart; "Pretty Vacant" was the first Sex Pistols single not banned upon its release in the U.K.

"Walking on a Wire" by Richard and Linda Thompson

Greg stays on the British side of the pond for his next pick -- a song that's more subtle, but no less painful. Husband and wife folk-rock team Richard and Linda Thompson wrote the song just prior to Richard leaving for a solo tour. When he returned, he announced that he had fallen in love with another, but that didn't stop the Thompsons from finishing the album and promoting it on tour. While Richard denies the notion that "Walking on a Wire" was the result of his break-up with Linda, Greg, who saw the marital fireworks firsthand, is not convinced.

"Just Another High" by Roxy Music

This song suggestion comes from Matt, a caller who admires Bryan Ferry's bitingly sarcastic lyrics. "Just Another High" was released on Roxy Music's 1975 album Siren, which features Ferry's then girlfriend Jeri Hall as its cover model. Hall eventually left this sarcastic Brit for another, but at least Ferry wasn't hit where it really hurts.

"I'm Looking Through You" by The Beatles

The Beatles' "I’m Looking Through You," from Kate, sounds like it was penned by John Lennon, who always had a better "love stinks" attitude. The credit, however, goes to Paul McCartney.

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division

Rory calls in with this suggestion, explaining that after he put it on a mix for a girlfriend, the relationship quickly came to an end. Whether or not the song had a subconscious effect on that relationship, it does have an eerie and sad mythology. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was one of Joy Division's last songs, and was recorded just weeks before the band's lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide.

"It's a Man's World" by Ice Cube

This duet between Ice Cube and rapper Yo-Yo was recorded before Ice Cube softened his image. "It’s a Man’s World" is a brutal exchange between the sexes where one insult is topped by another. Combined with a great James Brown sample, the result is the perfect anti-love song for Jim.

"When We Two Parted" by the Afghan Whigs

While "grunge" was not the appropriate label for the R&B- and soul-inspired band the Afghan Whigs, their music was no sunnier than that of fellow angst-rockers Nirvana or Mudhoney. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Greg Dulli wrote "When We Two Parted," and every song on Gentleman, about a bad break-up. The songwriter has said that the album was a response to Van Morrison's critically acclaimed album Astral Weeks, but Greg believes it's a masterpiece in its own right.


  • The Rolling Stones, "Bitch"
  • The Velvet Underground, "There She Goes Again"
  • Redd Kross, "I Don’t Know How To Be Your Friend"
  • The Sex Pistols, "Pretty Vacant"
  • Ice Cube, "It’s a Man’s World"


  • Marvin Gaye, "When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You"
  • Marianne Faithfull, "Why’d You Do It"
  • The Replacements, "Answering Machine"
  • Richard and Linda Thompson, "Walking on a Wire"
  • The Afghan Whigs, "When We Two Parted"

Listener Picks

  • The Buzzcocks, "Ever Fallen in Love?"
  • Bob Dylan, "Idiot Wind"
  • The Cure, "Pictures of You"
  • Roxy Music, "Just Another High"
  • The Beatles, "I’m Looking Through You"
  • Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!