There have been a thousand songs and more on this subject, haven’t there. And there have been some memorable ones; in fact, some of them really captured the moment.
It’s not a nice feeling when you miss someone. Especially someone close to you. There could be a few reasons why they are gone. And it isn’t always because a relationship has broken up. Songs about missing someone you love can refer to a range of situations.
In most cases…
It is the finality of it that makes us feel bad. As humans, we hate to think that a certain experience won’t ever occur again. And that doesn’t only extend to person-to-person relationships.
We don’t like to think something we are familiar with has gone. And when that something is someone we care about, it makes it a lot harder. So, let’s take a look at some of the great songs written about missing someone.
- So Far Away – Dire Straits
- I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself – Dusty Springfield
- Miss You Like Crazy – Natalie Cole
- Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
- I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
- When I Need You (Remastered) – Leo Sayer
- Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx
- Without You – Harry Nilsson
- Behind These Hazel Eyes – Kelly Clarkson
- Listen To Your Heart – Roxette
- Rosanna – Toto
- Angie – Rolling Stones
- So Far Away – Carole King
- For No One – The Beatles
- Kathy’s Song – Paul Simon
- The Same Old Tears On a New Background – Art Garfunkel
- I’ll See You In My Dreams (Live) – Joe Brown
- Looking for Songs with Substance?
- Songs About Missing Someone You Love – Final Thoughts
So Far Away – Dire Straits
This is the first track on one of the biggest selling albums of all time, Brothers In Arms. So many people I know have at least three copies of this album. They bought it when it came out in 1985 on vinyl, then on cassette tape for the car, and then on CD.
This is a song about trying to have a long-distance relationship. It was a little bit harder in 1985 when it was just a telephone only. Today, we have video conferencing and all sorts. But does it make it any easier? Not really. Nothing can replace the person being with you.
This is a great take on that and so typical of the simple songwriting skills that Mark Knopfler employed from time to time.
I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself – Dusty Springfield
The late, great Dusty Springfield was certainly one of the finest female singers the UK ever produced and taken far too young.
This Burt Bacharach and Hal David song from 1964 launched her solo career after splitting with her brothers. Burt Bacharach paid her the accolade of saying it was his favorite version.
It is a song about losing someone who has been a big part of your life. “Doing everything with you and planning everything for two.” Suddenly they are gone, and as the song says, “you just don’t know what to do.”
Miss You Like Crazy – Natalie Cole
You only have to mention the name of Cole in music terms, and you immediately get a picture, Father Nat ‘King’ Cole was special, and daughter Natalie is as well.
This is a very special song that she released in 1989 and became her biggest selling single in the UK, reaching number 2. Gerry Goffin was one of the writers, so you would expect a great song which is what we have.
A song about someone who is still in love with their ex, and is hanging on to the hope they might return.
Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
A song that everyone will know and one of Bill Withers’s best efforts. Released in 1971, it is a great song about missing someone that includes some memorable lines.
He talks about there being “no sunshine in his life” now she’s gone and that their “house is not a home.” Clever wordplay that paints a picture of a man missing his lady that could apply the other way around just as well.
I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
I’m probably going to get it in the neck for this, but I prefer this version. I have always preferred this version. Whitney Houston is a great singer, that is not in any doubt, but I do feel she just overdid it on this song.
It is a simple song, and Dolly Parton sings it with simplicity. She wrote it, after all, about a friend and captures the moment perfectly.
Released in 1974, the Houston version was included in the film “The Bodyguard.” The lyrics talk about the “bittersweet memories” as she says a final goodbye.
When I Need You (Remastered) – Leo Sayer
Back in time a bit now, for this one composed by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager from 1977. Born in Brighton in the UK, he was always a bit of an unlikely pop star. But he had an incredible run of success in the 70s and 80s on both sides of the Atlantic. This song was probably his most famous.
There has been a bit of controversy over whether some parts of the melody are identical to a song written by Leonard Cohen. Whatever, it is a nice song about missing someone delivered in his unique style.
Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx
This was a huge hit all around the world on its release in1989. He wrote the song while he was touring as a love letter to his wife, who was filming in South Africa at the time. That means there is a certain reality to it.
For the time, it was a different type of song, which may be one of the reasons it was so popular. During the late 80s, there were a lot of tracks with big heavyweight drums. This was supplemented by plenty of the newly discovered sounds of the synthesizer.
But “Right Here Waiting” was just a piano and an acoustic guitar. A nice change of pace. Among songs about missing someone you love, this one sets the standard for others to try and emulate.
Without You – Harry Nilsson
There was plenty of confusion about this song from Harry Nilsson on its release in 1971. Some people thought it was a Harry Nilsson original. It was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of the British band Badfinger.
They were a band under the wing of Apple (the Beatles company, not Steve Jobs), and this was recorded at Abbey Road. The song was very good, we didn’t realize how good, but they were unable to do it justice. It needed a certain sort of sound for the vocal. That sound was Harry Nillson.
He did a brilliant job of what was a very good song and packed his performance with plenty of tear-jerking emotion. It was recorded at Island Studios in London in 1971.
Behind These Hazel Eyes – Kelly Clarkson
Someone who I have got a lot of time for is Kelly Clarkson. That is a ‘first’ in many ways because I dislike these ‘We Haven’t Got Any Talent’ TV Shows. And she won one of them.
But after being told what to record, she went off to a different producer, and the outcome was the album Breakaway. There is some good stuff on this album as she moves more towards a ‘rock’ rather than a ‘pop’ feel. “Behind These Hazel Eyes” is just one of those songs.
It has some anger in it…
As I suppose we have all felt when a relationship breaks up. It was a song completed after her break up with then Evanescence guitarist David Hodges.
She used it to express the emotional pain she felt at the time. But also as a way of getting over it and moving forward. Good for her. A great power ballad about missing someone.
Listen To Your Heart – Roxette
And whilst on the subject of power ballads, this is probably the best of them all ever. Swedish singer Marie Fredriksson formed Roxette with Per Gessle in the late 80s. She, like the girls in Abba, already had a successful solo career in Sweden. But this collaboration took it to another level.
A great song co-written by Gessle, it is about what might happen if you break up with your partner and the loneliness you will feel. A warning if you like.
Rosanna – Toto
Am I showering too much praise here by calling Toto one of the best bands of the 70s and 80s? We had Blood Sweat and Tears giving us a fusion between Rock and Jazz in the 60s and early 70s. Then came Toto, who did the same, but with more extremes, and a drummer who blew down barriers.
It was their album Toto IV that brought them worldwide fame. “Africa” came from that, and so did this tremendous track. Not the ‘stacked with emotion’ type of some of the songs we’ve looked at. But a song with power and great lyrics. And I might add some ferocious drumming from Jeff Porcaro.
The song is reminiscing about “not quite a year since you went away.” The excellence of the song, written by David Paich, and the musicianship in a way drags you away from its melancholy theme. But perhaps that is exactly what you need when you feel a little down.
Angie – Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were certainly no Lennon and McCartney when it came to songwriting. However, this is a song that showed they could write a decent tune.
Taken as a single from the album Goats Head Soup, it was mostly written by Richards. A very good song with an excellent performance from Jagger talking about the end of a romance.
The distinctive piano part was played by Nicky Hopkins, a Rolling Stone session regular. And that gave it extra impetus along with Keith Richards’ excellent acoustic guitar part.
So Far Away – Carole King
So, now it starts to get a bit personal. We would all pick our personal favorites when asked to choose the best songs about missing someone you love. And this one, for me, is one of those. When the album Tapestry came out, it was just purely stunning. Every single track.
This track especially was played over and over. It is a song about missing someone special to you. But, it also bemoans the lifestyle that was beginning to take us over and the constant moving around. “Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?” she sings.
“So Far Away” touches a nerve, and its simplistic arrangement and performance only go to emphasize the song’s meaning. Interestingly, it was played at the funeral of Amy Winehouse in 2011. It was one of her favorites as well.
For No One – The Beatles
This is also a special song and may have been the moment that Paul McCartney’s songwriting came of age. It is a song written at a time when he was still with actress Jane Asher. Of course, assumptions were made when they finally broke up.
It talks about how a relationship can fall apart and how one begins to show disinterest in the other. The final lines of the song are an unambiguous statement, “A love that should have lasted years.”
It has a very common descending chord structure, but then he takes the structure to a supertonic minor. Again moving into slightly new and creative areas, they included the French Horn solo played by Alan Civil.
The track came from the album Revolver. That album marks where many think The Beatles turned from being just a ‘pop’ group into a musical and creative force.
Kathy’s Song – Paul Simon
This, according to one music journalist, is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I would find it hard to disagree with that. And if you have ever seen him perform it live, then the chills up the spine return every time you hear it.
It was originally a song he recorded himself from his first solo album in 1965, The Paul Simon Songbook. Once his partnership with Art Garfunkel had become stable, it was included on the Simon and Garfunkel album The Sound of Silence.
In The UK
Paul spent a lot of time in the UK during the 60s. That is where he first came across “Scarborough Fair,” which is an old English folk song. During this period, he had a very close relationship with an English girl, and her name was, you guessed it, Kathy.
This song is a touching tribute to his love for her. Not much was known about her at the time, except her picture, which appears on the album cover of The Paul Simon Songbook. And in the song “Homeward Bound,” she is the love that “waits silently for me.”
The love affair had a sad end, though. Being very shy and introverted, she just couldn’t handle Paul’s success, even before it had really arrived.
She is still a very private person and lives a quiet and private life in rural North Wales. We should all say thanks to Kathy for giving him the inspiration for those two, and I am sure other great songs.
The Same Old Tears On a New Background – Art Garfunkel
Time, I think, for a real weepy song about missing someone. Quite often, that means a lot of trite expressions and self-indulgent lyrics. And whilst this song could be accused as having those, it is dealt with in a much more sympathetic way.
Written by Stephen Bishop and performed brilliantly by Art Garfunkel. It was included on his Breakaway album, where he may still have been smarting from the breakup with Paul Simon. Nevertheless, Richard Perry, who produced it, got the best from him, and this is an excellent example.
Packed full of emotion, longing, and sadness, it includes lines like, “Seeing you as a fading photograph, It hurts too much to laugh these days.” A memorable song, expertly performed, and one to include here.
I’ll See You In My Dreams (Live) – Joe Brown
You think you are tuned in to the genre you like the most, but something comes along that says wait a minute. This is one of those songs. And this is one of those performances. It takes you back every time.
Back to the Royal Albert Hall in London in November of 2002, to be precise. The concert for George Harrison, “a year to the day.” It had been a great show, but for me, only partly great.
‘Him’ of “Aren’t I Wonderful” was on the stage the whole time, so I had to try and ignore that part of it. I managed it thankfully, because it was a very special evening to honor George, not anybody else. But then came this to finish.
Was there a dry eye in the place?
I doubt it. A simple tune we all knew played on a ukulele. An instrument George loved and would hand out to visitors to his house to play along with him.
A fitting end to the concert and a nice way to remember, even though we still miss him. And a fitting way to end this list.
Looking for Songs with Substance?
We have you covered. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine, the Best Songs About Dreams, the Best Songs about Fighting, the Best Songs About Friendship, and the Best Songs About Change for more great song selections.
You’ll need to listen to them. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Tailgate Speakers, and the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers you can buy in 2023.
Songs About Missing Someone You Love – Final Thoughts
A personal choice. These lists always are. Some songs just mean more to us than others. I have included a few of mine, but also a general look at what might be classics about the subject.
To miss someone is a perfectly natural and healthy reaction. We all form bonds and relationships. It is a part of what humans do. In fact, it is a way of knowing you are human.
So don’t turn away from it. It is an emotion that helps us understand and to prepare for a new relationship.
Until next time, happy listening.