[Staff Musings] Songs We Can’t Listen To

In honor of the new Neon Trees track, “Songs I Can’t Listen To,” we put together a staff list of the songs we can’t listen to; whether it be from heartbreak, (and let’s be honest..isn’t it always?) a harrowing life experience or the things we hope never happen, music has a way of being either a friend or a really annoying bitch. It really got us thinking about the things we do subconsciously vs. what we’re afraid to admit. For some of us, going back to the songs that rip us apart culminated into a sense of closure; certain situations no longer haunt us and for that, those songs were set free and are now able to be listened to without that little stabbing pain in the middle of our guts. While some of us realized that we don’t associate music with bad memories, the rest of us, however, aren’t so lucky. These are our stories. We know/hope you can relate.


Kids In Glass Houses – “Give Me What I Want”

Kids In Glass Houses was my go-to track during my days as a house-keeper living in Canada. Granted these were some of the best days ever, I still can’t get the memory of being hungover, vacuuming hallways for 10 hours a day out of my mind when I hear it.
I’d just moved to Sydney and out of home officially for the first time when I got properly into Britain’s Jonquil. My biggest fear in the world about being in a big city was my shitbox car breaking down in heavy downtown traffic and me not having a clue what to do. This song was playing at the time my worst fears were realised.
I ran out of money in Amsterdam, as you do. Last destination of my European trip. No working credit card. Flight home wasn’t for two days. I was screwed, hungry and increasingly annoyed that no one in the entire country accepted American Express. I listened to this track on repeat as I walked around the city starving and hoping some rescue money would come through. It did a day later, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about it all as a panic-mode situation.

– Jesse Lewis


One Night Only – “Say You Don’t Want It”

This song is everything I want to say to a certain someone about living in Los Angeles. I just want to tell them to come home to where things aren’t as phony and where things aren’t so temporary. I feel as if this person is blinded by the red carpets, models and lights and it hurts to watch. Though you can never really tell how someone feels when they’re so far away, just hearing them say they don’t want any of that would be the biggest relief of the century. Ironically enough, the song’s video, featuring Emma Watson was filmed in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, along with parts of Manhattan. It kind of coincides with the fact that I don’t really fit in anywhere, being surrounded by the same type of people on both coasts. You’d think it would make it easier for the right ones to find you but it only keeps them trapped in the haze of the pretentious. “Don’t you ask me if it’s love my dear. Love don’t really mean a thing ’round here.”
An ex-boyfriend used to dedicate this song to me. I know, how cliche, right? I’m sure millions of couples around the would declare this one Their Song, but for me, it made me realize something time and time again…even while he was singing it to me in my ear. I realized early on that I could never feel that way about him as he felt about me. Now that I’m older and have gone through more than I could handle, I’m sorry I never walked away sooner. I always felt like he was settling for me and the fact that I had no idea what was going on half the time made me anxious and confused the entire duration of our relationship. Every time I hear this song, I feel a little twinge of regret – not for being with him but for feeling as if I was as horrible to him as he made me feel.
OK before you say anything – I know this song is sweet. I get it. I really do. But when the same song has been sung to you from ex-boyfriends, construction workers on the street (along with a few nasty phrases afterwards) and guys you almost dated, one might get a little annoyed after a while. As a lover of mostly non-mainstream music, having this song dedicated to you (though, I appreciate the gesture, I really do) is the most cliched, unoriginal thing a guy can ever do. Dig a little deeper, boys! I don’t mean to sound like some rude, unimpressed hipster, but really!? There’s no other song you can dedicate to me other than some Top 40 hit from 10 years ago that has been reused over and over again? Let me be ‘blunt,’ so to speak and just say no to this song forever. Sorry.

– Tina Roumeliotis


I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had a messy breakup or awkward moment in a relationship at least once in our lives. A moment for me specifically was back in high school when I had a crush on this one musician guy. Because we were both heavily involved in music, it was a huge part of our friendship. I remember we would hang out almost every day and just trade songs that we thought the other one would enjoy. Which I loved so much! I never really had someone in my life that loved music as much as I did at that point so I was pretty happy about it.

However, when things started to fizzle out as quickly as a wet firecracker, it made listening to the music we shared almost impossible for me. You know that mini panic attack that you get when you think of an unwanted memory? The goosebumps? The teeth chattering shudder? That tug in your stomach that makes you want to roll over and die? Yup, for the longest time those were my dreaded symptoms. Maybe not to those extremes, but that’s what it felt like. Specifically when the songs, “From Russia With Love” by Fences and “Gimme Sympathy” by Metric appeared on my iPod. Which are two gorgeous songs! But they just constantly reminded me of that part of my life and that single person that punched me in the heart/gut so long ago.

Since this happened many years ago, I’ve had time to heal and I can listen to these songs occasionally without flinching and looking like I’ve suffered mild brain trauma. However, I’ll never forget what they meant to me during that time of my life. But to know that all that junk is in the past is a good thing too!

– Chloe Skowron


Remember that iconic scene in the movie Lost In Translation when Scarlett Johansson, in her light pink, bob wig, sings “Brass In Pocket” by The Pretenders to Bill Murray at a karaoke bar in Tokyo? Well imagine me as Scarlett Johansson singing karaoke “Brass In Pocket” by The Pretenders at my birthday party aimed in a passive-aggressive manner at my crush at that time without him probably knowing. The next day, on my birthday, while talking to my best friend of that time on the phone, who also attended my birthday party, confessed to me that my crush had asked her to be his girlfriend later that night, which she accepted, after they had kissed. Yes, this did make me sad like it would any other person, but what made me angry was learning the complete truth a couple of days later that she had left out exactly what had happened later that night. Let me be clear, I did not end my friendship with my best friend due to a boy, because I would never let that happen; instead, this was the final straw in a long list of reasons as to why I knew I needed to end this friendship, but had been putting off long before this happened. This was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do at that point in my life, because even though I knew it was best for me to let my best friend go, I would mourn that friendship for a long time due to how much it had meant to me that past year & a half. This is why I cannot listen to “Brass In Pocket” by The Pretenders because it brings a flood of memories back to me that both warm my heart and make it ache.

– Katelyn Annyce


What songs can’t you listen to?
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