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Top 53 Best Songs About Moving On And Letting Go

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.

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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

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…

9 Songs About Letting Go of Someone You Love

Top 53 Best Songs About Moving On And Letting Go

1 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.

Whitney Houston

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.

2 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.”

Power Ballad?

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. 

3 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.

Letting Go

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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

7 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.

8 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.

Huge Success

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?

Not Surprising

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.

9 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.

A Rift

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.

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?

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.

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About Joseph L. Hollen

Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials. 

He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what most producers still want from him.

He is a devout gear heat and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".

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