Whenever we have to say goodbye to someone we care about, it can be hard to formulate the right words for the given circumstance. That’s why it’s always helpful to listen to various songs to say goodbye, as the lyrics can help us gain insight into the myriad ways we can interact with, and cope with, tough life situations.
Songs To Say Goodbye to a Lover
Let’s begin with a song by Jo Dee Messina.
Bye Bye by Jo Dee Messina
Dating someone who always seems to have a reason not to fully commit is a drag, but no one makes saying goodbye to an inactive significant other look quite as good as Jo Dee Messina. In her song Bye Bye, Messina paints the picture of a wishy-washy relationship with a partner with a long history of avoiding commitment. Despite her efforts to make the relationship work, Messina finally concludes that she’s fighting for a person that does not value her or measure her with respect.
In her conclusion, she cuts the cord that’s been stringing her along, and reminds herself she is worth much more. Bye Bye is a fantastic song that instills a sense of self-worth and pride. Thanks to Jo Dee Messina, listeners have a fantastically constructed, very catchy tune that reminds us: if our lovers aren’t going to treat us like the winners we are, we need to take what’s left of our hearts and find someone who will – no exceptions.
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Abcdefu by Gayle
In terms of breakups, not all of them can be handled with grace and poise. Some need quick closure with a swift goodbye and a solid flex of the middle finger. That’s where Abcdefu by Gayle comes in. Gayle shows us that sometimes being petty is perfectly warranted, especially when you’re dealing with an ex who functions a few steps below your caliber.
In an interview, Gayle tells the story about a breakup that she took pretty hard and blamed herself for. But after a while, with the help of some supportive friends, she realized that she was putting the blame entirely on the wrong person. This realization, paired nicely with some creative angry energy, prompted Gayle to be sure to tell everybody involved that they could take a long walk off a short pier (except for you Fido, you’re cool).
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Goodbye by Who Is Fancy
Have you ever been in love with someone who wasn’t ready to love you back? It is a particularly awful experience that can disrupt a lot of things in your personal life. If you are in this situation, you may find great companionship in Goodbye by Who Is Fancy.
This song is a complex, heavy hitter that is essentially about a person who is in love with someone, but that someone is not ready to love them back the way they deserve. Goodbye reflects on the painful power move of taking yourself out of a relationship where you know you deserve better.
This song pays emotional tribute to the self-respect component that comes into play when you’re willing to love someone whole-heartedly, but they are not ready to reciprocate. Who Is Fancy (Jake Hagood) speaks about how the song was inspired by his toxic relationship at the time. Hagood’s demonstration of prioritizing oneself, regardless of the love he has for another, is an emotional bandage on the wound of loneliness.
His song evokes a specific vulnerability that transforms itself into power and self-love. Goodbye provides vital reassurance, reminding those in this situation: it’s definitely not you, it’s them. You just need to say goodbye.
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A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans
Saying goodbye in a relationship can take a long time to heal from but taking it one day at a time (heck, even one moment at a time) eventually gets you where you need to be. Sara Evans depicts this gradual healing process perfectly in her song A Little Bit Stronger. Post breakup, and clearly still in a lot of pain, we hear as Sara Evans starts her day, maneuvering all the moments that remind her of her ex.
While A Little Bit Stronger doesn’t send quite the same sharp message as a song like Abcdefu, it still packs quite a punch with liberating lyrics like: “I’m not giving you an hour, or a second, or another minute longer. I’m busy getting stronger”. Keep on keeping on Sara, we’re all stronger for it.
These Days by Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore, and Dan Caplen,
Breakups are tough, no doubt about it, but this goodbye song isn’t your typical angry, resentful breakup song. This goodbye song is one of my personal favorites, specifically for its unique and positive spin on a not-so-positive situation. In many breakup songs, it’s common for the artist to say “F You” in their farewell to the ex, but that is where These Days differs.
Throughout the song Macklemore speaks on some of the details from the years together, including the idea of marriage, but miraculously doesn’t follow it up with the typical bitterness. Instead, he acknowledges that yeah, it’s painful, but that’s love and hopefully reconnection via friendship can happen one day.
These Days demonstrates an emotional maturity that few people have in the face of heartache. It sends the message that everything happens for a reason, and with goodbye comes the next stages of acceptance and healing.
Songs To Say Goodbye to a Friend or Family Member
We’ve talked a lot about songs in terms of breakup goodbyes, but what about saying goodbye to a loved one who’s passed on?
Drink a Beer by Luke Bryan
In Drink a Beer, Luke Bryan sings about losing a friend unexpectedly. In the second chorus we hear as he tries to make sense of it all. As one might expect, making sense of a sudden loss is not an easy task. Luke ultimately concludes that the only thing he can do at this point is reminisce the good times, finding himself at their favorite hangout spot; a pier at sunset drinking a cold brewskie.
This song packs quite an emotional punch in a couple ways – first, by listening to the song and hearing the words, and second, by knowing the background of the artist singing it. The writers of this song (Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers) originally did not have any personal ties to the lyrics, and wrote it from a neutral place. It wasn’t until Luke Bryan picked it up, interlacing his own experience of loss, that the sentiment was tied in.
This personal touch on an impersonally written song gave Drink a Beer a very strong emotional tone. In 2013, Luke Bryan opened up about his connection to the song, and explained that the loss of his two siblings is ultimately what evolved such an emotional vocal delivery. When listening to this song, it’s not hard to connect with the pain in Luke Bryan’s voice as he sings “so long my friend, until we meet again” at the two-minute mark.
Drink a Beer by Luke Bryan is a perfect go-to when saying goodbye to a friend isn’t what you want to do, but it is what life has unfortunately forced you to do.
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Gone Away by The Offspring
Another empathetically rich and powerful song about losing a loved one is Gone Away by The Offspring. Somber yet passionate, this song will have you processing emotions of loss on multiple levels, making it a prime ‘so-long friend’ composition.
Written with strong Alternative Rock instrumentals, and paired with the unique vocals of Dexter Holland, Gone Away gives the listener permission to feel both intense sadness and intense anger simultaneously. While the lyrics portray the hurt and devastation of the event, it’s the sound of the instruments, the power of the vocals, and the strength of the backbeat that gives the listener the opportunity to let out the rage of loss.
In fact, at the 3-minute mark, Dexter Holland abandons words altogether and inserts profound lyric-less vocalese, letting emotions erupt from the chest. While the inspiration for the song is still debated amongst fans, one thing is certain; Gone Away is a favored goodbye song for many types of grief.
It not only emanates acute emotional variety, but also never specifies the type of relationship with the deceased, giving it the ability to touch the hearts of all its listeners. Many people have expressed that Gone Away was a pillar in their goodbye process, me being one of them.
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See You Again by Wiz Khalifa
Many people recognize the piano intro to See You Again by Wiz Khalifa almost instantly, and it’s no secret why. Famously dedicated to the loss of Paul Walker, who passed unexpectedly in 2013, See You Again offers a warm shoulder in loss. The lyrics explain the pain that stems from losing a friend who was considered family, then proceeds to express the anticipation of a future reunion.
See You Again makes for a great song to say goodbye with, in that it offers the thing that not many people can provide in the event of a loss: comfort in the hope of seeing their loved one again someday. Wiz Khalifa maintained a close friendship with Paul Walker, and that is evident when you listen to the song.
Khalifa’s relation to the subject matter makes the lyrics compelling to a listener that can relate to losing a good friend without warning. See You Again is a loyal confidant, especially when saying goodbye feels extra lonely without your usual partner in crime to be there with you.
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Songs to Say Goodbye to Your Old Self
We can all relate to goodbye in terms of breakups or loss, but sometimes life’s not always about saying goodbye to people. Sometimes it’s about saying goodbye to places and situations.
Second Chance by Shinedown
Saying farewell to your home state in pursuit of your dreams can be tough, but it can be necessary. That’s the message in Shinedown’s song Second Chance. Lead singer Brett Smith explains that Second Chance was written about his personal journey of bidding farewell to Knoxville, Tennessee – a necessary step towards his career in Rock ‘N Roll (and thank God for that step, am I right?).
Second Chance brings with it a message of enlightenment and hope for the future, making “goodbye” sound a lot more like a warm welcome. The fear that comes with letting go of somewhere we once called home can be staggering to say the least, but if we can focus on the beauty of what lies ahead, and measure it as a second chance, it can make processing the change less terrifying and more thrilling.
Second Chance is a song that says goodbye in the best way; one that means closing the door to the familiar and opening the door to obtaining your dreams.
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Praying by Kesha
If you’re looking for an influential song about goodbye that not only empowers, but also inspires relentless persistence, look no further. Praying by Kesha is a victorious power anthem about parting ways with a restricting situation; one that shackles the soul and dims the human spirit. Kesha delivers goosebump summoning vocals that are driven home by lyrics that unearth the listener.
While the original inspiration of the song comes from Kesha’s long-term legal battle between her and her predatorial music producer Dr. Luke, there is no denying that many people outside the music industry can identify with her story of overcoming adversity and setting herself free. I can’t say enough about the fortitude behind this song. Praying delivers one of the ultimate goodbyes; one that signifies ending of a war over personal freedom – mentally, physically, and artistically.
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Whether you’re saying goodbye because you’ve maxed out your relationship, you’ve lost someone close to you, or you’re advocating for your right to live the life you want, saying goodbye is a necessary part of the journey. Who knows, saying goodbye just might be the first step towards the exact next hello you need. Thankfully, with the invention of music streaming apps, we have nonstop access to millions of songs to say goodbye with. I hope my list helped you find one that resonated with you.
This article was written by Paige and edited by Michael.