From ‘Layla’ To ‘Jesse’s Girl’: A Spurned Lovers Playlist For Valentine’s Day
Sure, we could write a list of great love songs. But you know what’s more fun? Songs about jealousy!
Here’s a list of guys singing about wanting someone who is with someone else… or worse, about wanting to be with someone who left them for someone else.
(Derek & The Dominoes’ Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs LP cover)
“Layla” – Derek & The Dominoes
The gold standard. Eric Clapton wrote the song (and the killer riff) about his best friend’s wife. He was in love with Patti Boyd, aka Mrs. George Harrison. And, actually, things worked out for him… until they didn’t. Boyd left Harrison and later married Clapton (with George attending their wedding), although the two later divorced. Still, the song is one of Clapton’s most timeless tracks, earning a second life when he recast it as an acoustic blues tune on MTV Unplugged.
The Killer Line: No metaphors here! “Layla, you’ve got me on my knees/Layla, I’m beggin’, darlin’ please!”
“Walk Away Renee” – The Left Banke
Awkward! If you think Clapton pining for his best friend’s girl is weird, try this one: Left Banke keyboardist Michael Brown wrote it about his bandmate’s girlfriend. Yes, he was head-over-heels over Renee Fladen-Kamm, who was, at the time, dating bassist Tom Finn. Great job, Brownie!
The Killer Line: “Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes/For me, it cries.” Don’t laugh (too much), Brown was but a teenager when he wrote it.
“My Best Friend’s Girl” – The Cars
Speaking of being in love with one’s best friend’s girl, here’s one of the most tuneful odes to that situation.
The Killer Line: “She used to be mine.” Insult to injury!
“Is She Really Going Out With Him?” – Joe Jackson
What guy hasn’t asked themselves (or anyone in listening distance) that question. It sucks to be the guy singing (or saying) “Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street.” On the other hand, the “gorillas” rarely end up writing timeless classics like this.
The Killer Line: “She’s married now or engaged or something so I’m told.” Sure dude, like you don’t know.
Jesse’s Girl” – Rick Springfield
Yes, it was a true life story. Rick told Oprah Winfrey that he was digging his friend Gary’s girlfriend, and he changed the name to Jesse because it sounded better in a song. And he can’t remember what the girl’s name was. Ah, love. Rick’s classic has enjoyed a few rebirths: it was used in a dramatic scene in the classic film Boogie Nights, and more recently he’s been rocking it, backed by the Foo Fighters at Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players shows.
The Killer Line: Rick’s imagination ran away with him here: “Cause she’s watching him with those eyes/And she’s lovin’ him with that body, I just know it.” Ouch.
“Help Me, Rhonda” – The Beach Boys
A heartbroken Brian Wilson is on the rebound, big-time, and asks Rhonda to help him get over the girl who dumped him. “Rhonda you look so fine/And I know it wouldn’t take much time/ For you to help me Rhonda/Help me get her out of my heart” sounds like a line that some drunk dude would warble to a girl 2 am at a bar. And she’d roll her eyes. But hey, most drunk dudes can’t write music like Brian Wilson.
The Killer Line: “Well since she put me down, I’ve been out doin’ in my head, I come in late at night, and in the mornin’ I just lay in bed” is a deceptively upbeat description of post-dumped depression syndrome.
“You Don’t Move Me” – Keith Richards
No woman seems to be able to make Keef lose his cool. But you know who can? Mick Jagger. Furious with his fellow Glimmer Twin after spending too much time on his solo career and not enough with the Rolling Stones, Keith started writing songs for his own solo debut, 1988’s Talk Is Cheap. At least half of the album seems inspired by Mick, including “Take It So Hard,” “I Could Have Stood You Up” and this one. He immediately makes his feelings known about Mick’s She’s The Boss and Primitive Cool albums, singing, “You made the wrong motion/Drank the wrong potion/You lost the feeling/Not so appealing” and also “You already crapped out twice.” Getting even bitchier, he even sang about Mick’s then-current lawsuit for plagarism: “How you gonna keep your wealth/Can’t even defend yourself!” (Jagger later won the suit, which was for his solo song “Just Another Night.”)
The Killer Line: The entire song, really, but none was as harsh as his description of Mick’s, um, manhood, in his book Life: “Marianne Faithfull had no fun with his tiny todger.” Well, water under the bridge: Keith apologized and the Stones hit the road last year.
— Brian Ives, Radio.com