It's almost Valentine's Day, and in honor of our most conflicted, candy-covered national working holiday, I have rediscovered the greatest breakup song in the universe. I'm not talking about the angry "Since U Been Gone" anthem that you'll play before going out with your friends and celebrating a newly single and fabulous(!) life. I'm talking about an ode to melancholia that will drag you down into a deep abyss of despair, leaving you to curl up on your couch with two boxes, one filled with wine, the other filled with expired Godiva Christmas chocolates from TJ Maxx. It's the song that I listened to on cassette-loop after Rebecca Ann wouldn't go with me to the fifth grade D.A.R.E. dance.
In 1996, like a snowbird on unsteady legs, Jewel came warbling out of the Alaskan wilderness back when Sarah Palin was just another beauty queen. The album art for Pieces of You (hint hint, it's an album about remembering the pieces of a past relationship) consisted of Jewel looking like one of the Hanson brothers, her face captured in the silhouette of a baby-blue bird wing, which would later become the Twitter logo.
Her first single was "Who Will Save Your Soul." She wrote it when she was 16, the age when we feel heartbreak most acutely and hormonally. Her second single was "You Were Meant For Me," which is the greatest breakup song in the universe.
Let me break it down for you, lyrically.
I hear the clock, it's 6 a.m.
I feel so far from where I've been.
Jewel's alarm wakes her. She looks over in bed; he's not there. Again.
I got my eggs, I got my pancakes too
I got my maple syrup, everything but you.
Apparently she has to get up early to make herself a breakfast platter for one. She's got something sweet (maple syrup), but not her sweetie.
I break the yolks and make a smiley face
I kinda like it in my brand new place.
She definitely does not like it in her brand new place.
I wipe the spots off of the mirror
Don't leave the keys in the door
I never put wet towels on the floor anymore 'cause
Ah, yes. Those annoying things she used to do before she met him, like leaving wet towels on the floor. She'd like to go back to her messy single self, but she's stuck with her new, more mature habits.
She thinks of him when she compulsively puts the cap on the toothpaste.
This is the chorus where she reveals she is definitely not over him, and she wants him to come back. This is not a triumphant Beyoncé breakup song.
I saw a movie it just wasn't the same, 'cause
It was happy, and I was sad
It made me miss you, oh so bad 'cause
It's like Jewel found your fifth grade diary, ripped out the pages, and turned them into a hit record. We haven't heard rhymes like this since "don't go/Romeo."
Reach for the box wine. Pour. Dig for the remaining dark chocolate truffles.
Same old story not much to say,
Hearts are broken every day.
Defeat. Resignation. Realizing that even her suffering is a worn-out cliché.
You were meant for me, and I was meant for you.
But you're not getting back together with him, Jewel. You're going to lip-sync the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. You're going to write a song about your hands that will be oddly popular ("They're not yours; they are my own"). Your lead single on your children's album will be "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." You will even write a song for the movie Valentine's Day. But in a final humiliation, your song will be cut from the Transformers soundtrack.
But here's to you, Jewel, for writing the greatest breakup song in the universe. I would go to Alaska and back for you, if you would just stop playing these foolish games with my heart.