“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
These are wise words we all need to keep in mind at all times. There’s no such thing as a perfect human, and as imperfect beings, we can’t help but make a couple of mistakes. Naturally, some mistakes have greater consequences than others. But at the end of it all, we should learn to swallow our pride and apologize.
Apologies don’t come easy to anyone, especially if what you did was pretty awful. But it does instill a little humility in all of us, and it may also lessen the pain of the person you hurt to know that you regret what you did.
This is why apologies and regrets often go hand in hand. You do something you wish you hadn’t and you apologize for it. That’s part of the reason why there are so many songs about apologies with a few lines about regret as well. We often can’t help but wish we hadn’t done what we did – whether it’s hurting someone we love, infidelity, or a host of little things that boiled over into a breakup or a falling out.
So for those of you looking for great songs to listen to while you’re in the process of apologizing or while you’re thinking of the things you wish you hadn’t done, here’s our playlist.
The Songs about Saying Sorry
These are some songs that can help you put your apology into words. After all, plainly saying “sorry” isn’t going to cut it. You have to include the admission of guilt, the apology itself, and maybe a few reassurances that you’ll never do it again. Take your cue from these songs.
Elton John – Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
The title itself already speaks volumes about how difficult it is for people to apologize to one another. It doesn’t always imply defeat or swallowing your pride. On the contrary, saying sorry is akin to saying that your relationship with a person is more important than your pride. This beautiful song is about how so many of us are willing to do things to make it up to the person we hurt, and yet we still find it so hard to say the one word that matters the most.
Apology lyrics: What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you’re not there
Take That – Back for Good
This song has received a lot of criticism for being a cop-out song because of the first few lines of the chorus. But the thing about apologizing is that we often just make a broad statement in the hope that we cover all the bases – and by bases we mean whatever it is that you did. So in contrast to the Elton John song above, Back for Good is one big apology song where the singer isn’t afraid to say sorry for everything.
Apology lyrics: Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn’t mean it
I just want you back for good
Whenever I’m wrong just tell me the song and I’ll sing it
You’ll be right and understood
Feist – So Sorry
The urge to apologize often hits us when it’s a little too late. This is the exact sentiment expressed in So Sorry. In the song, the singer thinks about what led to a breakup – the surge of emotions and impulses that eventually lead to a falling out. So now, in the hope that it’s not too late, she apologizes to her lover.
Apology lyrics: I’m sorry – two words I always think
After you’re gone
When I realize I was acting all wrong
So selfish – two words that could describe
Oh actions of mine
When patience is in short supply
Human League – Human
When we’re asking for forgiveness, we often try to emphasize how we didn’t really mean to hurt the person we’re apologizing to. After all, we’re imperfect humans who make unavoidable mistakes. This song by Human League is about feeling the guilt and shame of what the singer did, and thus, they’re hoping that the person they love would take them back despite it all.
Apology lyrics: The tears I cry aren’t tears of pain
They’re only to hide my guilt and shame
I forgive you, now I ask the same of you
While we were apart I was human too
The Ramones – Swallow My Pride
Okay, so this might not be a true-blue apology song, but the sentiment is somewhat there. Swallow My Pride is actually about the band coming to terms with the fact that they haven’t had a commercially successful album in two years. But in line with the theme of apologies, this is a great song for all of you who took a while to swallow your pride and apologize to someone.
Apology lyrics: Loose lips sink ships, they say but isn’t it always that way?
Swallow my pride
Kid Rock feat. Sheryl Crow – Picture
Picture is a great song that perfectly captures the feeling of wanting to change for the one we love. In the song, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow realize that what they had was pretty good, and so they want to change for the better. Somewhere in there is an apology just waiting to be made.
Apology lyrics: I found your picture today
I swear I’ll change my ways
I just called to say I want you to come back home
I just called to say, I love you come back home
Craig David – I Just Don’t Love You No More
Sometimes, sorry just isn’t enough. Contrary to popular belief, this song isn’t about Craig David saying he doesn’t love his girl anymore. Instead, it’s about his girlfriend saying that she doesn’t love him despite his apologies.
Apology lyrics: I’m sorry for the tears I made you cry
I guess this time it really is goodbye
You made it clear when you said
I just don’t love you no more
Adele – Hello
One day we think we’re over someone, and then the next we’re looking for closure. Hello is the ultimate song for those of you who wish you could have just a bit of closure. It’s not that you want to get back together or anything, it’s more of wanting to get the apologies off your chest so you can really move on.
Apology lyrics: Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore
The Songs About Regrets
When all is said and done, all we can do is reflect on the past and learn from it. And wish as we might to change things around, there comes a point when we realize that there’s nothing we can do.
Elvis Presley – You Were Always on My Mind
While this song has a spark of hope that his ex would take him back, this Elvis Presley classic is more of a regretful song. He reflects on how he wasn’t such a great guy to his girlfriend, and so he hopes there’s still a place in her heart for him.
Regret lyrics: Maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
Halsey – Sorry
This heartbreaking song to an ex-sort-of-lover is so beautiful it might give you goosebumps. It’s about how the narrator never really treated her ex well, and she just threw him away as soon as she was done with him. It’s only later that she realized that he wasn’t just another guy. But sadly, it’s all too late, and all she can say is that she’s sorry things didn’t turn out so well for them.
Regret lyrics: Sorry to my unknown lover
Sorry I could be so blind
Didn’t mean to leave you
And all of the things that we had behind
- Kelly – If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time
This might just be the anthem for regretful, heartbroken folks back in the 90s. R. Kelly’s RnB ballad is about wishfully thinking that he could go back in time to be with the one he loves. Listen to it along with the music video and it really hits home.
Regret lyrics: If I could turn, turn back the hands of time
Then my darlin’ you’d still be mine
Anberlin – A Day Late
If you had known that the person you’ve been crushing on in high school also had a crush on you, would things be different? A Day Late is about learning this when you’ve already grown up and moved on. There’s that feeling of regret that you didn’t make a move, but you also keep in mind that it’s too late to give it another shot.
Regret lyrics: I must confess you’re so much more then I remember
Can’t help but entertain this thought
Thoughts of us together
Weezer – Butterfly
This cryptic song might seem like it’s about killing a butterfly, but all you lyrical folks out there might notice that the butterfly is a metaphor for childhood innocence. They were young, and things didn’t work out. And while he doesn’t want to give their relationship another shot, he’s sorry nonetheless.
Regret lyrics: I told you I would return
When the robin makes his nest
But I ain’t never comin’ back
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry
Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent
Have you ever felt like the life you’re living now is a far cry from the life you lived in the past? This can either be a good thing or a bad thing. Fluorescent Adolescent is about a girl who used to be the life of the party. Now those days are behind her, and all she can do is get sentimental about the good old days.
Regret lyrics: The best you ever had
Is just a memory, and those dreams
Weren’t as daft as they seem
Not as daft as they seem
My love, when you dream them up
Deathcab for Cutie – Cath
Have you ever felt secondhand regret? The kind of feeling where you know someone will someday regret what they’re doing? In Cath the narrator sings about a woman who’s about to settle down into a life that she doesn’t really want. The narrator, who is possibly in love with the titular Cath, thinks that she’s choosing an easy life as opposed to a life well lived.
Regret lyrics: You said your vows, and you closed the door
On so many men who would have loved you more
Which of these songs about apologies and regrets struck a chord with you? Let us know in the comments below!