It can be a very difficult thing to do and, on rare occasions, a relief. And, it doesn’t even always have to relate to a romantic relationship. But, that is the most common situation, I suspect.
So, as I take a look at the best songs about letting go of someone you love, we can see that it can apply to a range of other possible scenarios. It could refer to the loss of someone close to you, or it could be a child who is going out into the world on their own for the first time.
- It Is For The Best
- Top 53 Best Songs About Moving On And Letting Go
- 1 I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
- 2 Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
- 3 If You Love Somebody Set Them Free by Sting
- 4 Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt
- 5 Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac
- 6 Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp
- 7 Goodbye To Love by The Carpenters
- 8 Let Her Go by Passenger
- 9 She’s Leaving Home by The Beatles
- 10 I Will Survive By Gloria Gaynor
- 11 We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together By Taylor Swift
- 12 Ex Factor By Lauryn Hill
- 13 Better In Time By Leona Lewis
- 14 Someone Like You By Adele
- 15 So Yesterday By Hilary Duff
- 16 Let Me Go By Hailee Steinfeld
- 17 Song For The Dumped By Ben Folds Five
- 18 You Learn By Alanis Morissette
- 19 Shout Out To My Ex By Little Mix
- 20 It Ain’t Me By Kygo ft. Selena Gomez
- 21 Better By Regina Spektor
- 22 Shut Up And Let Me Go By The Ting Tings
- 23 Too Good By Drake ft. Rihanna
- 24 Bye Bye Bye By N’Sync
- 25 Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right By Bob Dylan
- 26 Terrence Loves You By Lana Del Rey
- 27 IDGAF By Dua Lipa
- 28 Ain’t Thinkin Bout You By KREAM, Eden Prince
- 29 Bad Religion By Frank Ocean
- 30 Let It Be By The Beatles
- 31 I Bet On Losing Dogs By Mitski
- 32 Best Days Of Your Life By Kellie Pickler
- 33 I’d Have To Think About It By Leith Ross
- 34 Skinny Lover By Bon Iver
- 35 100 Letters By Halsey
- 36 A Little Bit Stronger By Sara Evans
- 37 ICU By Phoebe Bridgers
- 38 Everybody Lost Somebody By Bleachers
- 39 Survivor By Destiny Child
- 40 Lonely Together By Avicii ft. Rita Ora
- 41 See You Again By Carrie Underwood
- 42 Everybody Hurts By R.E.M
- 43 Don’t Look Back In Anger By Oasis
- 44 The First Cut Is The Deepest By Cat Stevens and P.P. Arnold
- 45 How To Save A Life By The Fray
- 46 New Rules By Dua Lipa
- 47 I’m Over You by Keith Whitley
- 48 Rolling in the Deep by Adele
- 49 The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli
- 50 A Better Man by Clint Black
- 51 Crying Time by Ray Charles
- 52 Dancing on My Own by Robyn
- 53 End of the Line by Traveling Wilburys
- Want to Fond More Incredible Songs?
- Songs About Letting Go of Someone You Love – Final Thoughts
It Is For The Best
And, it isn’t always an acrimonious split. Sometimes, the feelings still run deep. But, you know it is going to be the best for both of you. That might be the hardest situation of all.
Songwriters, of course, use this situation, sometimes from personal experience. There have been some great songs written about letting go of someone. Let’s take a look at a few of the best, starting with…
Top 53 Best Songs About Moving On And Letting Go
I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
This is what I am talking about when we have to say goodbye to someone we are close to. Porter Waggoner had been Dolly’s friend, her mentor, and her business partner for a long time. But she wanted to go it alone.
This song was written about the breakup of that relationship. And in the lyrics, you can hear what it meant to her and how hard it was.
She covered the song for the film “The Bodyguard” and had a huge hit worldwide. She is a great singer, of course, but I always preferred the simplicity of the way Dolly Parton sang it. Houston, I thought, overdid it a bit.
A classic song about letting someone go, whichever way you look at it. And it shows very clearly that Dolly Parton was much more than just a Country singer. First released in 1974, it was taken from her album, Jolene. “I Will Always Love You” was released again in 1982 and 1995.
Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson is something you don’t see every day. Someone that has been on one of those dreadful “talent” shows who has got some natural, not manufactured, ability.
This is a great track taken from her second album, released in 2004, Breakaway. It is a song about how it can be positive to let someone go when it just isn’t working out. As she sings, “It was cool, we started out friends.”
So many relationships do, of course, but then they can turn sour as one tries to dominate the other. And finally, the inevitable. After you have ended it, you feel free again, and as she puts it, “But since you’ve been gone – I can breathe for the first time.”
That is how some have described it, but it isn’t a ballad, is it? It is an uptempo Rock song that she delivers very well. It reached #5 in the UK and #2 in America.
If You Love Somebody Set Them Free by Sting
Sting has been known for writing lyrics that can sometimes be confusing and contradictory. This song is one of those cases. It was the first single that was released from his first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, in 1985. It also appears on The Very Best of Sting and the Police. The single reached #26 in the UK and #3 in America.
A Different Direction
The Police were always creative in what they did. Especially the guitar parts created by Andy Summers. However, this is a move away from that and has a much more jazz-influenced feel throughout the album.
As we can gather from the title, it is about letting someone go no matter how hard it is. Sting comments about this song, “It is the highest compliment you can make to a person to say ‘I don’t own you.'” A question comes to mind. What sort of relationship are you in if you need to say that?
The idea is that you won’t stand in their way if they want to do things, even if you are not happy with it. Inferring that if that is what they want to do, it is time to say goodbye.
But, in the lyrics, he says, “If you want to keep something precious – You got to lock it up – and throw away the key.”
A little contradictory to the subject of the song…
Nevertheless, there is a meaning in there somewhere. The point he is making is that we can’t control someone if they see themselves elsewhere. Set them free.
Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt
James Blunt has been known to write a good “weepy,” and this is a good example. This was taken from Blunt’s first album, Back to Bedlam, released in 2004.
A Star Wars Connection?
Oddly enough, there is. Not in the context of the song or for whom the song may have been written. He lived in Los Angeles for a while in the home of Carrie Fisher. She had a piano in her bathroom, but don’t ask why.
However, that did make the acoustics excellent for recording. Some of this album, including this track, was recorded in said bathroom. It is often played at funerals; I suppose the title makes that inevitable. But, it is about someone one who is very much alive.
It is a song about someone who loves another deeply but who realizes there can be no future with them. A song about leaving a relationship and moving on no matter how much it hurts.
Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac
Now, if there is any group of people who know more about relationship breakups than this lot, I wouldn’t like to meet them. What an absolute mess they became. Does it make you wonder how and just who was the driving force behind it? Yet, from this mess came the album, Rumours.
In my view, the second-best album the “new” Fleetwood Mac recorded. I always preferred the first Fleetwood Mac. That said, this is a great song about letting go of an old love.
The best track on the album…
It goes along at a great rate, driven by Mick Fleetwood’s outstanding drumming. It was written and sung by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and is about his break-up with singer Stevie Nicks.
That break-up was a particularly acrimonious affair, and it spilled over into confrontations with other band members. This song was Buckingham’s way of telling her he still had feelings, but it was time to call it a day, and she must move on as well.
A Series Of Overdubs
What is remarkable about this track and most of the album is that each track was recorded as a separate entity. The band was not together at any time, and it was completed via a series of overdubs.
It was the first single from Rumours and reached #38 in the UK and #10 in America. It was an essential part of their stage performances, even after Buckingham had left.
The Drums and Why
As I said, Mick drives this song along at a frenetic pace, and some have asked about his uniquely different style of drumming. It is not a dissimilar situation to how Ringo in The Beatles was analyzed, and there was a reason for both playing as they did.
Ringo was a natural left-hander, but he played as a right-hander. That made him play differently. His rolls started in different places, and his rhythms often sounded “inside out.” A good example is the track “Ticket To Ride,” which naturally right-handed drummers have trouble recreating.
Mick Fleetwood is dyslexic. That means he hears and interprets things differently, including timing and rhythms. That is why it sounds so different. A great track that also extends a powerful message about what to do when you know a relationship has ended.
Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp
In many ways one of the most underrated bands of their time. This is a track from their sixth and one of their best albums, Breakfast In America.
Released in 1979, “Goodbye Stranger” was written by Rick Davies. It didn’t perform so well at home in the UK, only reaching #57 on the singles chart. It was much more successful in America, where it peaked at #15. The Breakfast In America album, though, did much better. That reached #3 in the UK and #1 in America.
Was The Album Satirical?
The album cover and the rather explicit satirisation of American culture in three of the songs are interesting. They do seem to indicate that it might be the band’s take on living there. The band denies that and says it is simply coincidental.
Some people find it hard or just don’t want to develop long-term friendships and relationships. They are, therefore, always saying “hello” and then “goodbye” to others.
They might find someone they quite like. But, they just let go and say goodbye as it doesn’t fit their long-term ideas. Some people prefer to live that way. Perhaps they have taken Paul Simon’s lyrics to “I Am a Rock” too seriously.
A good song from a very good album that looks at saying goodbye in an alternative way and for alternative reasons. Likewise, one of the best songs about letting go of someone you love.
Goodbye To Love by The Carpenters
This was one of the best songs and recordings of the 70s. It had pretty much everything – just about the best Pop female voice of the decade, a great song, and a stunning guitar solo to die for at the close. It was played by Tony Peluso.
Released in 1972, it reached #9 in the UK and #7 in America. It is a song not about giving up on a particular love affair but all of them. The song is saying they have had enough and they are letting go of any chance of finding love in the future.
“From this day, love is forgotten – I’ll go on the best I can.” This is probably a thought that most of us may have had at some point when things don’t seem to go quite right.
Let Her Go by Passenger
Have you ever sat in a restaurant or a bar, and a piece of music comes in that just stops the conversation? This is one of those songs.
It was written, sung, and produced by English singer-songwriter, Mike Rosenberg, otherwise known as Passenger. It was released from his fourth album, All The Little Lights. Recorded in Australia with Australian musicians, this song is what is known as a “sleeper.”
He had previously formed a five-piece band called Passenger with friend Andrew Philips in Brighton, England, in 2003. They released a couple of albums that did very little, one of which was Wicked Man’s Rest.
The band split in 2009…
And Rosenberg went off to Australia to become a busker. He decided to keep the band’s name as his professional name for recording and appearances.
All The Little Lights and particularly “Let Her Go” was the song that opened all the doors. He was engaged to tour America, France, and Ireland with Ed Sheeran, and the song suddenly hit the airwaves.
It topped the chart in over twenty countries and reached #2 in the UK and #5 in America. The video that accompanied “Let Her Go” has seen over 3.2 billion views on YouTube and is the 23rd most viewed video ever.
It has sold over one million digital copies and has been streamed on Spotify over one billion times. All of these helped make it one of the most popular songs about letting someone you love go. Didn’t do so bad, did he?
It is a great song that you just have to listen to and one that resonates with so many people. Joni Mitchell put a line in her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
That is what this song is all about. Taking someone for granted and then losing them, and suddenly realizing when it is too late.
It is often said you only know how much you cared for someone when they are gone. Mike Rosenberg captured that emotion and created something very special.
She’s Leaving Home by The Beatles
And so, to the final entry on my list of the best songs about letting go of someone you love and a different approach.
Letting go of a child as they go off to find their way in the world is always a terrible experience for a parent. Maybe off to University or a job away from home, maybe even leaving home to get married.
But, when it is unplanned and just happens, it is even harder to bear. In that scenario, the parents have got to let go of their child. And what makes it worse is that it has been forced upon them, and often they don’t know why.
Time to go…
This is a song taken from the 1967 Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album that explores that sad occasion. In the song, the girl is so unhappy that she takes an opportunity to just get away.
The lyrical construction of the songs allows the parents to justify to themselves that they did their best for her. She felt unloved and isolated, “She’s leaving home 0 After living alone – For so many years.”
This song is a good example of how far The Beatles’ writing had come. It wasn’t just a McCartney composition, as is often thought. He wrote the verses. John wrote the chorus. And, it is one of those very few songs where no member of the band contributed musically to the recording.
There weren’t enough personality and control intrigues going on that they didn’t need another one. But that is what they got. And, this time, it was Sir George Martin who was alienated. The man who had worked with them since the beginning. The man known as the “Fifth Beatle.”
Sir George was busy on another project, but McCartney wouldn’t wait for him to create the orchestrations. Something he had previously done with great success. McCartney brought in Mike Leander to do the job. There were no consultations with other band members. The results of the recordings were good, but the relationship with Sir George deteriorated. Bad Call.
A Sorry Tale
Having to let go of a child is hard enough. But, this situation is almost the worst-case scenario as it is forced upon you. The parents suddenly realized how much they loved her but probably never told her.
The song captures the girl’s loneliness in her home life and the parent’s self-justification and realization perfectly.
I Will Survive By Gloria Gaynor
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together By Taylor Swift
Ex Factor By Lauryn Hill
Better In Time By Leona Lewis
Someone Like You By Adele
So Yesterday By Hilary Duff
Let Me Go By Hailee Steinfeld
Song For The Dumped By Ben Folds Five
You Learn By Alanis Morissette
Shout Out To My Ex By Little Mix
It Ain’t Me By Kygo ft. Selena Gomez
Better By Regina Spektor
Shut Up And Let Me Go By The Ting Tings
Too Good By Drake ft. Rihanna
Bye Bye Bye By N’Sync
Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right By Bob Dylan
Terrence Loves You By Lana Del Rey
IDGAF By Dua Lipa
Ain’t Thinkin Bout You By KREAM, Eden Prince
Bad Religion By Frank Ocean
Let It Be By The Beatles
I Bet On Losing Dogs By Mitski
Best Days Of Your Life By Kellie Pickler
I’d Have To Think About It By Leith Ross
Skinny Lover By Bon Iver
100 Letters By Halsey
A Little Bit Stronger By Sara Evans
ICU By Phoebe Bridgers
Everybody Lost Somebody By Bleachers
Survivor By Destiny Child
Lonely Together By Avicii ft. Rita Ora
See You Again By Carrie Underwood
Everybody Hurts By R.E.M
Don’t Look Back In Anger By Oasis
The First Cut Is The Deepest By Cat Stevens and P.P. Arnold
How To Save A Life By The Fray
New Rules By Dua Lipa
I’m Over You by Keith Whitley
Rolling in the Deep by Adele
The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli
A Better Man by Clint Black
Crying Time by Ray Charles
Dancing on My Own by Robyn
End of the Line by Traveling Wilburys
Want to Fond More Incredible Songs?
If so, take a look at our thoughts on the Best Songs About Missing Someone You Love, the Best Songs About Loneliness, the Best Songs About Crying, the Best Songs About Not Giving Up, and the Best Songs About Cheating and Lying for more great song selections.
Also, you need to hear those tunes. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Most Comfortable Earbuds, the Best Earbuds for Running, as well as the Best iPhone Earbuds you can buy in 2023.
Songs About Letting Go of Someone You Love – Final Thoughts
Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do, whatever the situation. But, when it is saying goodbye to someone you still care for deeply, then it becomes even harder.
These songs about letting go of love have covered a range of situations where it might happen. They go to show that it is something that probably happens more than we might think. The one certain thing is that we are going to miss that person. It is, therefore, good to be ready and accept that is how you will feel. Then both people can move on.
Until next time, happy listening.