On 5 January 1980, “Broken Hearted Me” by Anne Murray was at #82, its highest position in the 80s. Its peak position was #12 in 1979.
There’s only so much pain you can feel at the supermarket. These days you can hear pretty much anything over the loudspeakers while you’re comparing the merits of various brands of tomato sauce; I’ve heard “Forget You“, which I think is pretty edgy for Safeway, for instance. Back in 1980, you couldn’t tell off your ex in so direct a manner, at least not at the supermarket, or in your dentist’s waiting room, or even at a garage while paying for your oil change. For civil but effective send-offs, you needed something like Anne Murray’s “Broken Hearted Me“.
Anne tells her ex how ruined her life is since he left. She tells us about how she goes through the motions of her days, playing the game of being a normal person, dating people whose names she can’t even remember, and being reassured by everyone that she’s not a damaged person, that she’ll survive. But she knows, and we know because of faint quiver in her voice, that it’s not true, that she’s never going to be the same person.
Really, I shouldn’t like this song. It sounds exactly like the watered down, overly-sentimental mass-market music I despise out of most artists. Sure, Anne Murray’s voice is sweet and more emotional than most, but on the whole this song should be forgettable.
But there is magic in this song (if anything you could hear at the orthodontist’s in 1980 could have magic). The magic is in the lyrics. Anne Murray does her gosh-darnedest (because no words stronger than that could cross the lips of someone as angelic as Anne Murray, I mean, look at that hair!) to make her ex feel bad about how bad she feels. She could have said, “When you hear this song, I hope you’ll see that everything worth having was me.” But she won’t say that; instead, she says that she hopes he’ll see that “Time won’t heal a broken hearted me.” She’s bitter and she’s going to bare her scars for everyone to see and hear as they put their Ragu in the cart humming gently to themselves.
For what it’s worth, this is actually a cover; the original was released in 1978 by England Dan and John Ford Coley. Apart from it being sung by a man and backed by a slightly more dramatic arrangement, it’s essentially the same song. Anne’s voice is better suited to the material, though; she’s more vulnerable and less whiny, and this is a song that shouldn’t be served up whiny.