Saying goodbye is never easy. Sometimes, it’s met with tears; other times it’s bittersweet. It all depends on the reason we have to say goodbye. One of the toughest goodbyes would be when someone passes away. But there are also happier goodbyes for when someone is going away to live their dreams, or when it’s time to graduate and live lives as independent adults.
For all these times when you have to say goodbye, it’s always a good idea to pair it with a song that says how you feel. So whether your goodbye is a sad one, a happy one, or a bittersweet one, keep these songs on hand for the occasion.
Elton John – Candle in the Wind
Originally a tribute song for Marilyn Monroe from a devoted fan, it undoubtedly became even more famous when it was sung by Sir Elton John as a tribute to the tragic Princess Diana. Princess Diana suddenly in a car accident, and it left the world in tears. She was a wonderful, compassionate, and strong woman who had so much to live for. And it’s only fitting that this song would be remembered with her in mind.
Goodbye lyrics: Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart
You called out to our country
And you whispered to those in pain
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name
Westlife – Seasons in the Sun
This English adaptation of the song Le Moribond by Jacques Brel became a huge hit when Irish boyband Westlife made an English cover of it back in 1999. The song itself is a dying man’s farewell to his friends and relatives. The man mentions how it’s so hard to be dying when the spring season is here, a symbol of new life. While the original French song was more cynical, wistful, and, in its own morbid way, funny, the English translation is a lot easier to digest as a song about farewells.
Goodbye lyrics: Goodbye, Michelle, my little one
You gave me love and helped me find the sun
And every time that I was down
You would always come around
And get my feet back on the ground
Michael Jackson – Gone Too Soon
Gone Too Soon was originally a song to be recorded by Dione Warwick as a tribute to musicians who had died. However, Michael Jackson was so moved by the song that he wanted to record it as a tribute to a teenager named Ryan White. Ryan was a teenager from Indiana who had been expelled from his school for having HIV/AIDS. He had contracted the disease from a contaminated blood treatment. Even sadder still, this is the same song that was sung by Usher when Michael Jackson died in 2009.
Goodbye lyrics: Like a comet blazing across the evening sky
Gone too soon
Like a rainbow fading in the twinkling of an eye
Gone too soon
Shiny and sparkly and splendidly bright
Here one day, gone one night
John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane
Goodbye doesn’t always have to be permanent; sometimes it’s a temporary separation that leads to a joyful reunion. This song by John Denver perfectly captures that emotion about a man who’s about to leave indefinitely. He asks his lover to wait for him, as when he comes back he promises to marry her. So some goodbyes, as sad they might be at the time, can also end in happiness.
Goodbye lyrics: So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
‘Cause I’m leaving on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go
Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
This song has become a staple in proms and graduations since it came out. It’s one of those songs that make you think back on all the things that you’ve done in the past, as these are the things you’ll bring with you when you move on towards the future. While it’s not explicitly a goodbye song, it’s a song that you’ll want to listen to when you’re moving from one point in life to another.
Goodbye lyrics: So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while
Eve 6 – Here’s to the Night
Here’s another high school prom and graduation favorite. “Here’s to the night” might bring in mind a toast, and in a way that’s what this song is like. It’s a nostalgic song that celebrates the experiences we had with people as we say goodbye to them. In the song, you can hear the reluctance to leave this stage of life and move on to the other, but in the end all you can do is celebrate the times you had together and you move forward.
Goodbye lyrics: Here’s to the nights we felt alive
Here’s to the tears you knew you’d cry
Here’s to goodbye
Tomorrow’s gonna come to soon
Vitamin C – Graduation (Friends Forever)
Possibly one of the most popular graduation songs out there, Vitamin C really hit the nail on the head when she described almost everything we’re thinking when we graduate. It’s a song about the future and accepting that things won’t be the same once graduation comes.
Goodbye lyrics: As we go on, we remember
All the times we had together
And as our lives change, come whatever
We will still be friends forever
The Postal Service – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Sometimes you know that saying goodbye is inevitable, and yet that doesn’t make it any easier. This song is about feeling like a visitor in someone’s life and realizing that goodbye might be just around the corner. Think of this song as a prelude to finally saying goodbye – it’s the song you want to listen to when you can’t quite bring yourself to leave someone you love just yet.
Goodbye lyrics: You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex
A stranger with your door key explaining that I am just visiting
And I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving
Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way
Go Your Own Way is actually a song about the complicated relationship between band members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Originally, there’s a line in a song that goes, “Packing up, and shacking up is all you wanna do.” Nicks wanted the line removed because it implied that all she wanted to do was pack up and shack up with different men, something she adamantly denied.
Goodbye lyrics: Loving you isn’t the right thing to do
How can I ever change things that I feel?
If I could, baby, I’d give you my world
How can I when you won’t take it from me?
Jeff Buckley – Last Goodbye
Now that we’re on the topic of saying goodbye to lovers, here’s possibly one of the most fitting songs to listen to. Last Goodbye is a song that’s about giving your lover that final goodbye and how, despite how tumultuous your relationship may have been, you don’t regret ever being with them.
Goodbye lyrics: This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us dies
But it’s over
Just hear this and I’ll go
You gave me more to live for
More than you’ll ever know
James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover
This hard-hitting song is guaranteed to make you cry if you’re going through a breakup with someone you love intensely. But no matter how much you love each other and how wonderful your relationship may have been, there are just some things that could draw you apart. And so there’s no choice but to say goodbye to the person you thought you’d be with forever.
Goodbye lyrics: I am a dreamer but when I wake
You can’t break my spirit, it’s my dreams you take
And as you move on, remember me
Remember us and all we used to be
Michelle Branch – Goodbye to You
There are many ways to interpret this song by Michelle Branch, but the most popular interpretation is finally saying goodbye to someone you thought you had gotten over years before. In the song, she mentions getting lost in the eyes of the person she loves and getting lost in a place where she’s blinded by the light. So in a way, she keeps trying to say goodbye even though she can’t help but still be drawn to this person.
Goodbye lyrics: I still get lost in your eyes
And it seems that I can’t live a day without you
Closing my eyes and you chase my thoughts away
To a place where I am blinded by the light
N’Sync – Bye Bye Bye
After all these depressing songs about goodbye, let’s add in an upbeat pop song from 90s boyband N’Sync. Bye Bye Bye is about a man wanting to end a difficult relationship with his girlfriend. Interestingly enough, it’s also a fitting song for the bands separation from Lou Perlman, their manager. The band sued Perlman for stealing their profits, and this song was created during that ordeal.
Goodbye lyrics: Don’t wanna be a fool for you
Just another player in your game for two
You may hate me but it ain’t no lie
Baby, bye, bye, bye
Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
At first glance, this may seem like a romantic song. But in fact, it’s a sad song about needing to leave the one you love. Breakups don’t always have to be bitter and messy. There are some breakups where you separate amicably and admit that your ex will always have a place in your heart. It’s possibly one of the sweetest goodbye songs out there.
Goodbye lyrics: Bittersweet memories
That is all I’m taking with me
So goodbye, please don’t cry
We both know I’m not what you, you need
And I will always love you
Brian McKnight – One Last Cry
You know that feeling when you’ve decided that you’ll no longer shed a tear for someone you used to love? That feeling when you just want to mourn one last time for the love you used to share, and then move on with your life? That’s exactly what One Last Cry is about. This heartbreaking song about saying goodbye to a past relationship and the hope of getting back together is possibly one of the saddest breakup and goodbye songs ever written.
Goodbye lyrics: One last cry, one last cry
Before I leave it all behind
I’ve got to put you out of my mind
For the very last time
Been living a lie
I guess I’m down to my last cry