Heartache, Find Another Place To Be (I’m tired of being your best friend) (5017)

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In 1977 a singer I knew as a background singer released her first solo record, Just A Stone’s Throw Away. She had been singing with some of my favorite artists. People like Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Little Feat, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor. Her name was Valerie Carter. She was 24.

In 1980 Jackson Browne released a famous song, “That Girl Could Sing,” which was likely about Valerie. She battled drug addiction for years. She died in 2017. She was 64.

Valerie Carter - Just A Stone's Throw AwayTrack number 3 on that debut record is a song, “Heartache.” Click here to listen to the song. Today’s show title is a lyric from that song. Valerie, like you and me, knew heartache. Lowell George of Little Feat co-wrote the song.

We’re not going to end the year on a downer note. Instead, we’re going to be optimistic. Not because we stick our head in the sand, but because we’re strong enough to face the realities of our pain and heartache. And the reality that for some of us 2018 was a grand year of heartache.

Valerie sang that lyric directly to Heartache.

“Heartache, find another place to be. I’m tired of being your best friend.”

She’s tired of providing the landing place for heartache. Tired of embracing heartache as her best friend. It’s a breakup song with heartache.

Is there any better time to give heartache the heave-ho? Here at the end of the year?

Ditching heartache isn’t nearly so neat and tidy. Would that we could just make up our mind to be done with it. Not so easy.

2018 brought some of us extraordinary heartache. I know some LTW listeners who lost spouses. Some who suffered betrayal from a spouse. Some who endured heavy financial strains. Others who lost jobs. Some endured the heartache of loved ones addicted to drugs. Some were diagnosed with diseases. Heartache knows no bounds. It touches all of us, in a variety of ways.

Songs of trouble and heartache resonate with us because it’s such a universal experience. As I was listening to Valerie sing the song responsible for today’s podcast title, I thought of other songs. Ry Cooder’s song, “Trouble, You Can’t Fool Me” from his 1979 album, Bop Til You Drop. And there’s the song I always think of by Mat Kerney, from his 2009 album, City Of Black & White. The song, “Closer To Love” contains the line, “We’re all one phone call from our knees.” It depicts a phone call that buckles us, causes us such heartache we can’t even stand on our feet.

There are classics like “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers, released on his album, Still Bill, circa 1972. All of us can relate to the lyrics.

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load

If you just call me (call me)
If you need a friend (call me) call me uh huh(call me) if you need a friend (call me)
If you ever need a friend (call me)
Call me (call me) call me (call me) call me
(Call me) call me (call me) if you need a friend
(Call me) call me (call me) call me (call me) call me (call me) call me (call me)

Sorrow. Sadness. Heartbreak. Heartache. Trouble.

Like love, these are common themes of songs, poems, movies, TV shows, novels and biographies.

Facing This Past Year’s Heartache

I confess that this year I suffered my greatest heartache ever. No, I’m going to go into it, but I make that admission so you don’t think I’m just faking it. I’m not. My knees have buckled this year. I have felt the hopelessness and despair just like you.

It won’t go away, but that doesn’t mean I have to make heartache my best friend. I refuse to let that happen. I’ve got too many people looking at me, watching my every move. Taking cues from me on how they ought to behave. I owe them better.

This year’s trouble has taught me some things. Some of them new, most of them not. But my pain and sorrow have made me better understand that our troubles contribute to making us who we are, but they only define us if we allow it. Instead, I’ve tried to find inspiration from Valerie’s song by urging my heartache to find another place to be.

The Paradox Of Heartache’s Company

Heartache needs a host life with which to associate. When I ask Heartache to find some other place to be, does that mean I’m wishing Heartache would visit somebody else?

I rather doubt Lowell or Valerie were wishing heartache on others. Sadly, both are gone now so we can’t ask them. I choose to think when Lowell George penned the lyrics to the song he wasn’t wishing ill on anybody. Likely, he just wanted Heartache to leave him alone. But Heartache is like the Devil and temptation. He’ll leave you alone, but only for a while.

Heartache has a phenomenally large capacity. Whether you’re embracing Heartache at this moment or not, it doesn’t matter. Heartache isn’t going to refrain from visiting others just because it’s got you wrapped up right now. And just because Heartache is steeped into the lives of others right now doesn’t mean there’s not enough to visit on you. Heartache is expansive like that. It’s like the 1957 movie, The Blob. It consumes everything in sight, expanding to grow as needed.

So don’t feel bad when you ditch Heartache. He’ll go visit somebody else no matter what you decide. You’re not responsible for the actions of Heartache, except to the degree you can control his intrusion into your life.

Heartache Is A Friend, But Shouldn’t Be Your Best Friend

None of us can imagine a life without Heartache. We’ve spent so much time with Heartache AND we’ve learned so much from enduring and overcoming heartache…it’s reasonable to consider Heartache a friend. A friend we don’t like or enjoy being around, but a friend that has provided us with many lessons. I’m thankful for the lessons. Somewhat sad that I need Heartache to visit me in order for me to learn them, but such is our plight as humans.

There was an episode of Boston Legal (do you remember that show? it was great) where Shirley defends a man keeping a teenage sexual assault victim from taking medication that will make her forget the experience. Part of her defense was that we’re all defined by the things that happen to us in life, good and bad. Indeed.

I’d like to erase some heartache from my life, but more importantly, I’d like to erase the facts of the heartache. I don’t want to remove the heartache. Rather, I’d like to remove the cause of the heartache. Or would I?

We’ve all had our hearts broken with young love. You haven’t? Well, aren’t you special! 😀 I have.

Would I have preferred that my first-grade girlfriend or my sixth-grade girlfriend stayed with me forever? Think of it. Rhonda and are fast approaching our 41st anniversary. Next summer it will be 43 years since we began dating. We’ve been together ever since. Had I not endured the heartbreak of lost love as a grade schooler, I wouldn’t have her. That would be a terrible loss!

But not heartache is equal.

People suffer badly. Often at the hands of others. Of course, I’d wish it weren’t so, but it is. I wish people didn’t suffer disease, injury or death. Bad things happen to people. All people. Good people suffer. Bad people suffer. We all suffer.

I suppose the grand objective is to figure out how to learn the lessons Heartache can teach without allowing Heartache to get too comfortable in our presence. Or without us getting too comfortable in his presence. Like a tutoring session, we learn our lesson, then leave.

The Many Face Of Heartache

Sorrow. Sadness. Disappointment. Failure. Anxiety. Pain. Defeat. Grief. Turmoil. Chaos.

Few things are more flexible than Heartache. It’s like that T-1000 from Terminator 2. You know, the cop in hot pursuit who is constantly reshaping himself into whatever is necessary to continue the pursuit. Heartache is like the T-1000. Adaptable. Pliable. Multi-faceted.


Parents wanting to protect their kids from disappointment and heartache didn’t stop to think of the results. They wrongly figured they were instilling an extra measure of self-confidence. Instead, by rewarding their kids for every little thing they created a fake environment that didn’t prepare their kids for the real world smack in the mouth. Adversity builds resilience. A lack of adversity builds softness and weakness. When kids grow up expecting everything to always be okay, and expecting to get a ribbon for just showing up – then we’ve created a delusion that will cripple them.

2019. The Year Of Encouragement.

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