If you are betrayed by someone, then the scars can run deep. If someone you once trusted lets you down, it can be a shattering experience. But, it is only those that are close enough to you that can really hurt you.
- Lyin Eyes – The Eagles
- The Winner Takes It All – Abba
- Little Lies – Fleetwood Mac
- I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
- Heartbreaker – Free
- Jolene – Dolly Parton
- Delilah – Tom Jones
- Lucille – Everley Brothers
- Norwegian Wood – The Beatles
- Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams
- Maybellene – Chuck Berry
- You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
- Careless Whisper – George Michael
- Lipstick On Your Collar – Connie Francis
- Looking for Songs with Substance?
- Songs About Cheating – Final Thoughts
And those betrayals are not just about emotional relationships. They can be between people you work with or even family members. And they have spawned plenty of songs about cheating.
You have opened up your emotions to another person that has put your relationship on another level. That level extends to and exposes vulnerability. A level that can be dangerous if the trust is broken.
You will have plenty of questions unanswered, a ton of regrets, and what may be worse, issues of trust. And you will have to trust other people in the future because you cannot live without trusting people.
We will often feel confused and wonder if it is your fault rather than theirs. Perhaps we should learn to be more selective about who we trust. Whenever you do become vulnerable or are emotionally available in a relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, you are putting your heart on the line.
You are giving another person access to a level of trust or a part of yourself that isn’t seen by many. Songwriters have been busy on the subject for a long time. So, let’s take a look at some of what they have to say…
A good place to start and a song about cheating that just about everyone knows. It seems to be about a woman who has married a wealthy older man. She thought she would be fine and set for life, but has become lonely and disillusioned. She realizes she is in a loveless marriage and meets someone else.
It might be a familiar story in some circumstances. She says she is out to visit a friend, but “he knows where she is going when she’s leaving.” It was inspired by some of the things they saw as a band playing in LA with married women out for some fun.
Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, it was from the album One Of These Nights from 1975. It was successful on both sides of the Atlantic and also in the US Country music chart.
That is surprising because by then, The Eagles had long since been considered more of a rock band than country favorites. A classic track and a good way to start this list off.
Taken from Super Trouper, their seventh studio album, it is a song that appears to be laced with irony. It was written over a while by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson at a time when Bjorn and Agnetha were in the throes of divorce.
He always denied it was about that situation between them. But the words are too powerful and explicit for it not to have had some impact on the song’s creation. Whatever, it depicts the sadness at the end of a relationship.
Abba At Their Best
It certainly shows the greatness of this foursome and just why they were unique and so popular. Stunning vocals, great arrangement, and wondrous songwriting. A song that pretty much has it all. Sung by Agnetha herself, it was number 1 in many countries and their eighth number one in the UK.
An interesting song that no doubt had its embryo in the shenanigans going around at the time of the Rumours album. It is also quite deep in its meanings and inferences.
This song is from the album Tango In The Night from 1987. It was written by Christine McVie with her new husband, Eddy Quintella. Previous husband John McVie played bass, of course.
It is a song about a woman whose feelings for her man are not reciprocated. Although, she would rather hear him lie to her than tell her the truth. They married in 1986, just before this album came out, and divorced a few years later.
The Miracle of Rumours
People talk about how the making of that album was miraculous, considering everything that was going on. What was miraculous was that they all survived it to continue making great music.
If your partner is cheating on you, that can be a pretty horrendous experience. It seems to make it worse when everybody else seems to know, and you don’t. And then you eventually find out “through the grapevine.”
A song that was written by those great Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966. It was first given by Whitfield to The Miracles, and then to Gladys Knight and the Pips, who had a hit with it in 1967. That version became the biggest selling Motown record up to that date.
The Miracles released their version a little later in 1968 on an album. Marvin Gaye’s classic version was the third version to be released even though it had been the second recorded. It was initially only an album track, probably because of the success of Gladys Knight.
In Steps The Boss
Berry Gordy, at the time the boss of Motown, intimated they were all crazy and said ‘single please.’ He had a knack for recognizing quality, didn’t he? The rest is history.
This version overtook Gladys Knight’s as being the biggest selling Motown record. It is revered now as a soul and Motown classic. It had all the drama you need to create the feel for the subject matter. One of the best songs about cheating you will find.
Taken from the 1972 album of the same name, here is another single and album full of intrigues that are worthy of a book. This was the sixth and final Free album recorded after Andy Fraser had left the band. It was recorded at Island Studios in West London. Andy John’s twiddled the knobs.
It was only really Paul that was holding Free together at this stage. This album was considered by many as his finest hour vocally and songwriting. His masterpiece, as someone said.
Despite producing a great album, they were traveling towards the second and final breakup. They were having problems deciding on a final line-up for the ‘new’ Free with Fraser gone and Kossoff in absentia. It was becoming desperate.
‘Rabbit’ Bundrick had been brought in to play keyboards to give it some fill. This was because Paul Rodgers was having to play guitar. Paul Kossoff was not around and was sinking deeper into his drug-fuelled abyss.
A Personal Experience
For Paul, the “Heartbreaker” theme had much to do with his desperation. It was the personal experience of being let down so many times by those supposed to be closest to him. This comes out in his vocals and some rather neat guitar playing.
A great track that is full of emotion and feeling and a fitting swansong for a band that really should have achieved much more.
Let’s cut out the chat a bit and just go through some more songs about infidelity. Dolly Parton hadn’t been married long when a lady in the bank took a shine to her new husband. Dolly took offense, as you would, and wrote this about her. A great song and still a classic today.
An archetypal cheating lover song from one of the true greats of the 60s, 70, 80s, etc. And he is still going strong. A story about a man catching his lady cheating and delivering some rather abrupt retribution.
Recorded in 1967, it was written by Barry Mason and Les Reed. It brought the “Vibrant Welshman” to the attention of the world.
The duo of all of our younger days, if you were around, of course. Brilliant in just about everything they did. They sang Folk, they sang Country, they sang Pop, and they could Rock n Roll a bit as well as this track demonstrates.
This 1960 track had originally been released with some success by Little Richard in 1957. This was placed on the flip side of “So Sad To Watch Good Love Go Bad.” But it was this that became part of the stage act, often played as the finale.
Just say the words, and you can still hear them knocking this one out… “I woke up this morning, Lucille was not in sight. Asked my friends about her, all their lips were tight… Lucille.”
Not going to go into too much detail about another backstory that exists with this one. Written by John during an extra-marital affair. It marked the moment when Rubber Soul raised their game in terms of songwriting.
Largely influenced by some Bob Dylan ideas, he took offense and wrote a song back to John about it. It was the first time that George was “allowed” to include his sitar.
If there is one music genre packed with songs about cheating, then it is American Country music. It is hard to find a Country song that doesn’t have that subject matter. Not hard to find one then, but difficult to choose one.
This was released in 1953 after the master of Country, Hank Williams, had passed away. And is a classic from his repertoire. In some circles, though, it is remembered more for the Ray Charles version in 1962.
It is a simple tale of a man who has been wronged by his girl. He lets her know that one day she will pay a big price. Possibly the greatest country song about unfaithful lovers.
If you want to delve into the past and try and pinpoint the place where rock n roll started, this might be where you arrive. Before this, most music was all reasonably sedate, with few exceptions. But it was Chuck that rocked the boat with this and subsequent offerings.
This is a song about him running around town chasing a girl who is driving a Cadillac. It introduced us to a little “Berry-esque” new word.
He gave us, “As I was motorvatin’ over the hill, I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville.” Motorvatin was the perfect word for driving around in a car and also for what he was doing. A simple song, not too heavy with its meaning. Just a boy wondering what his girl is up to.
This is from the album that preceded Rumours, and it appears that they were all just warming up for the tribulations to come. The affairs that were going on within the band gave us some memorable music, and this is just another of those songs.
Christine McVie wrote the song and told her husband, John, it was about their dog. It wasn’t, of course. She was having an affair with one of the lighting guys, and it was about and to him.
Whether John believed her or not, I can’t say. But being an intelligent guy and probably aware of all that was going on around them all, probably not. He probably “heard it through the grapevine,” as Marvin Gaye may have said.
I must suffer the consequences of saying that I was never a big fan of George Michael. Very good voice, of course, but the music was all a bit contrived for me. But as this is one of his much-loved songs, it is one of two reasons I have included it. The other reason I will come to.
It was a “Wham” song originally, and George wrote it with duo member Andrew Ridgeley. Released on the album Make it Big in 1984 and subsequently became a single. As we all know, it was a huge success, selling more than 6 million copies and featuring a great sax solo by session player Steve Gregory.
It is a story of someone who has been unfaithful and has deep feelings of regret. The message is clear, stay faithful.
Reason Number Two
A lot of “stars,” and I use that description loosely, lay a very public claim on their philanthropic activities. Some of it is done to boost their image, of course, and not to forget record sales. Sorry for the cynicism.
People like Alice Cooper, Dolly Parton, and a few others do it for real. George Michael was one of those. It was only after his untimely death that we found out just how much he had helped people. Good singer. Great Man.
Let’s get back in the DeLorean and travel back to 1959 for this classic from Connie Francis and the last one on our list of songs about affairs. I had nightmares about this when I was younger. My sister was learning to play the piano.
She was a good bit older than me, into Rock n Roll, and played this almost non-stop for months. I got over it.
Girls in Rock N Roll
There weren’t many at that time. Connie Francis established her girl next door image. Brenda Lee was the little firebrand. It was a nearly male-dominated world back then. The girls had to fight hard.
Nevertheless, this was a big hit for her and established her on both sides of the Atlantic. It was originally planned as a ‘B’ side, but it came out so well it was given equal status.
A simple story of a girl catching her man with lipstick on his collar. Lipstick that wasn’t hers, as he tried to claim it was.
Looking for Songs with Substance?
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Songs About Cheating – Final Thoughts
As is the case with many song lists, it could have been a lot longer. There are so many songs with lyrics about cheating I could have done this three or four times.
Nevertheless, I have tried to cover a range of genres over a wide period. The songs are mostly quite different and in differing styles. However, they all carry the same message, don’t they? Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us.
Until next time, let the music play.