Songs About Letting Go

Losing someone or something isn’t easy. It’s tough knowing you have to live life without them, yet you know you have to persevere nonetheless.

If you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve had to move on and leave something behind, then you’ll take comfort in these beautiful songs about letting go.

“Let Her Go” by Passenger

Song year: 2012

“Let Her Go” is a soothing ballad about letting go of a lost love and trying to move on. The song has a melancholic and introspective feel to it, yet something is comforting within it.

The lyrics seem to describe the struggle of moving past a hard breakup, and while the vocalist of Passenger, Mike Rosenberg, has stated that this was his original intention, he also wanted people to interpret it as not understanding what you have until it’s gone.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

Song year: 1992

The song “Everybody Hurts” was written to stop teenagers from committing suicide. It’s a heart-wrenching symphony full of beauty and includes a variety of themes, such as letting go, enduring, and making it through each day with optimism.

This song reminds us that everyone feels pain and everyone cries. While those times may seem dark and unforgiving, it’s important to remember that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson

Song year: 2007

This folksy composition provides solace to those navigating the complexities of life. It counsels perseverance and exhorts the listener to persist in their pursuits despite the obstacles they may face.

It’s also quite calming on the ears, as Ingrid’s soft voice meshed with the light piano and violin accompaniments, creates a pretty, dream-like experience.

“Santa Monica Dream” by Angus and Julius Stone

Song year: 2010

While this one never topped the charts or spread like wildfire, it’s a hidden gem in the world of slow-paced, acoustic melodies.

“Santa Monica Dream” is a pensive tune with lyrics that talk about getting left behind and saying goodbye to a fantasy you had with someone that was gone as fast as the wind. Not only does this song influence the people who listen to it, but it means a lot to the singer-songwriter, as there are accounts of her tearing up on stage while performing it.

“Carry On” by FUN

Song year: 2012

If you’re looking for songs about moving forward to add to your playlist, then you can’t forget “Carry On” by FUN. This 2012 hit was all the rage ten years ago and still holds up well today as a slightly melancholy, slightly optimistic bar anthem.

The beauty comes in the way this song’s lyrics progress. It starts depressing and full of adversity, yet by the time the bridge comes in, there’s a tonal shift to a more motivational message accompanied by an enthusiastic chorus.

“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan

Song year: 1993

While you might remember “I Will Remember You” from those animal abuse commercials, there’s more to this song than just that.

In reality, it’s a song about letting go of someone you love and cherishing the memories you made with them. The song is a tender ballad that speaks to the comfort that memories can bring and helps you cope with those who are gone.

“Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah

Song year: 1995

Goodbyes don’t always have to be sad. Sometimes they are grand and full of hope for the future. “Time to Say Goodbye” is one such instance as the two singers aren’t saying goodbye to each other; instead, they are saying goodbye to their lives before they met.

Not only is this song pleasant to listen to (despite most of the lyrics being in Italian), but it’s home to some of the most powerful, majestic vocals on Earth.

“Hysteria” by Nano

Song year: 2012

Another singer you probably haven’t heard of, Nano, is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter best known for their song “Hysteria.”

If you listen to the ingenious lyrics in this song, you’ll quickly realize this underappreciated rock masterpiece is incredibly meaningful, well-written, and all about letting go of past scars and experiences. Even if the style’s not your cup of tea, it’s a song everyone can relate to and understand on a personal level.

“Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran

Song year: 2017

Written for his deceased Grandmother, Ed Sheeran’s “Supermarket Flowers” is an alluring piece that describes everything she did for him throughout his life.

It’s, in part, a song of grievance, but more so a memorial that describes the positives of her life and shows how he can move on while maintaining her memory.

“See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

Song year: 2015

In an age where almost every song about letting go is about teenage breakups, it’s nice to see one about parting ways with a friend break through to the top of the charts and touch the hearts of billions.

And while part of the song’s success had to do with the Fast and the Furious movie it was featured in, it’s still a great song that tackles saying goodbye with melancholic optimism.

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child

Song year: 2001

Survivor is a pop-R&B piece that muses on the indomitable nature of the human spirit and serves as a reminder of our capacity to endure. It inspires the listener to continue to move forward and to forge ahead in the face of life’s trials and tribulations.

That said, it’s also a song with tons of attitude and empowerment. If you didn’t feel motivated before, you certainly will after.

“Goodbye My Lover” by James Blunt

Song year: 2004

Whether it’s death or a breakup, saying goodbye to a lover is never easy. “Goodbye, My Lover” encapsulates having someone you loved and considered a friend leave your life forever ideally, and puts the pain that comes from those past experiences into words.

Despite the singer believing they could have spent a lifetime together and all the cherished memories, he is still able to say goodbye. While it’s not something he’d soon forget, he is willing to put a foot forward and move on stronger than before.

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley

Song year: 1994

Jeff Buckley’s soulful ballad speaks about the idea of finding peace and solace in the face of loss. The song reflects the concept of letting go and finding hope, even amid grief.

The original singer and writer, Leonard Cohen, also has an incredible recording of the song. Regardless of your preference, both versions are fantastic and unique in their way.

“Amelia” by Tonight Alive

Song year: 2011

Suicide is a complex subject, and most songwriters tend to stay away from the topic unless they have a personal reason to tackle it. In this case, the singer conveys their old friend as someone who died with the pretty indulgence of youth and as an angel who didn’t belong on Earth. She states that even though she has to move on without that friend, she’ll always keep her in the back of her mind and live life in her name.

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day

Song year: 1997

“Good Riddance” is about living your life to the fullest so that you don’t have any regrets when you pass on.

This reflective ballet, which deviates from the band’s normal fast-paced punk rock style, reminds us that we all die eventually in unpredictable ways. It also implies that it’s not death that defines a life but all those memories and experiences leading up to that point.

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Song year: 1983

It’s a pop-rock song that speaks to the idea of holding onto memories and cherishing the love that endures. The song captures the emotions of loss and grief but also offers a message of hope and comfort to those who are grieving through the delicate vocals of The Police.

“Hurt” by Johnny Cash

Song year: 2002

“Hurt” was the last song Johnny Cash sang/covered before his death in 2003. It’s quite sorrowful, and the music video captures the frailty and failing health of the legendary singer in his later years.

He talks about his past accomplishments and success wishing he could go back, yet knowing it’s impossible. It was as if he knew that his time was growing near and was telling us to let go of him just as he had to do countless times before.

“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot

Song year: 1970

This introspective ballad speaks to the idea of loss and the difficulty of moving on. It prompts the listener to look within themselves and to find the strength and resilience needed to keep moving forward, no matter what’s left behind.

“Not Afraid” by Eminem

Song year: 2010

People move on in different ways. Eminem, for example, lets go of the past through fierce aggression and power. The vibrant energy within the bars of “Not Afraid” makes it an iconic rap anthem and sends a powerful message about moving forward as a person.

“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Song year:1981

Most of the songs on this list have been tonally melancholy, dreary, and overall sad. Sure, a few of them have optimistic meanings, but they’re not exactly “happy songs.”

Sometimes, you need inspiration and enthusiasm to move on. “Don’t Stop Believing,” for example, is a classic rock tune that continues to motivate and invoke joy to this day. Not only is the message inspiring, but so is the melody.

“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

Song year: 1983

This pop-py song characterizes the process of letting go and finding hope after loss, whether it be via a breakup, death, or otherwise. It encourages listeners to move forward and find comfort in the memories of their loved ones, knowing that loss is normal and that it repeatedly occurs throughout one’s life.

“In My Mind” by Amanda Palmer

Song year: 2011

“In My Mind” is light-hearted instrumentally but fairly deep with its lyrics. It’s a song about looking at yourself as a person and realizing you’re not who you aspired to be when you were younger.

Despite this, you keep moving forward in life because you accept yourself. Once you realize you could never have met your unrealistic standards, you forget the past and find comfort in your own shoes.

“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

Song year: 1997

Meant to reflect the events within the massively successful movie Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On” became something more than just a soundtrack. Paired with the beauty of Celine Dion’s luscious vocals, the lyrics about letting go of a lover speak volumes to listeners globally and are a sensation that continues to reach hearts decades later.

“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler

Songs About Moving On

Song year: 1988

“Wind Beneath My Wings” is a ballad that expresses the idea of finding comfort and solace in the memories of a lost loved one. It encourages listeners to hold onto the love that endures and use it as a source of strength rather than a point of weakness.

“Everybody Lost Somebody” by Bleachers

Song year: 2017

Contrary to what the song title makes you believe the song is like, “Everybody Lost Somebody” is a triumphant, upbeat anthem of victory. It’s a nonchalant way of saying everybody has someone they lost, but that’s okay, and you’ll always be able to move on.

“The Middle” by Jimmy Eats World

Song year: 2001

Jimmy Eat World’s hit “The Middle” is an alternative rock track that lyrically expresses the idea of finding hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

The song encourages listeners to keep moving forward, even when life gets tough. It’s fast-paced, uplifting, and has guitar riffs that make this tune iconic amongst college students and struggling individuals.

“Piano Man” by Billy Joel

Song year: 1973

Sometimes, moving on means grabbing a drink and putting those painful memories aside. Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” is a somber reminder that everyone has their own issues to deal with and that loneliness isn’t exclusive to one person.

It takes a realistic perspective as it describes various people struggling in their own ways, yet enduring through it all and coming together under the songs of piano man, who makes them feel a bit better.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel

Song year: 1970

This emotional ballad speaks to the idea of support and comfort in the face of loss. It encourages the listener to find comfort in friends and loved ones and reminds us that it’s crucial to rely on their love and strength as we navigate the challenges of life.

“In The End” by Linkin Park

Song year: 2001

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you do or how hard you try; you’ll end up six feet under regardless. The whole point of this song is that it’s meaningless to ponder on the mistakes you make or hurt yourself because of how badly you fail since you’ll end up in the same place as everyone else when your time comes.

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

Song year: 2009

This country-pop fusion explores the idea of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity. It inspires the listener to keep pushing forward and to maintain their optimism in the face of life’s challenges, which can be translated to moving on from loss.

“Someone Like You” by Adele

Song year: 2011

This one is a powerful ballad that tells the story of a broken heart and the heart-wrenching process of moving on. The song is filled with raw emotion and a sense of sadness but also a sense of hope for the future.

Adele’s vocals are, as always, gracious and full of beauty.

“If You Were Here” by Poe

Song year: 2001

When someone dies, it’s the people they leave behind who cry. Eventually, those teary emotions fade, and we’re left to wonder what could have been.

As “If You Were Here” talks about in its lyrics, it’s sometimes comforting to imagine those gone souls and think about what they’d say to you if they were still alive. Sure, it’s depressing to ponder about, but it’s a valuable coping measure and a poetic way to keep someone’s memory alive.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis

Song year: 1995

This song tells the story of a girl, Sally, who leaves the singer. She eventually comes to regret it and hates herself for how badly she treated him, but when she goes to apologize, he’s with another girl. Sally states that she cannot live without him, but it’s already too late. All she can do is accept her mistakes and understand she can’t fix them.

What this story teaches us is that we’re going to make mistakes, and we’re going to regret them. All we can do is live with them and tell those who we’ve hurt not to look back in anger.

“Rescue Me” by Madonna

Song year: 1990

Madonna’s “Rescue Me” is an energetic pop-dance track that emphasizes the importance of resilience in navigating the tumultuous waters of life.

It encourages the listener to seek out the strength within themselves and to forge ahead, even when faced with uncertainty and change.

“Here’s To Us” by Halestorm

Song year: 2012

Halestorm takes a jaded, in-your-face approach to letting go. As the previous entry mentions, we make mistakes, and we’ve got to accept them. “Here’s To Us” elaborates on this idea by suggesting we should celebrate those mistakes and raise a glass in their honor.

By cheering for them, we belittle their value and make them insignificant when compared to the greater scheme of things. The lyrics of this song are bitter-sweet, and though life is going to keep coming, we can fight back under the prospect that we can drink away the pain at the end of the day.

“How to Save a Life” by The Fray

Song year: 2005

Losing someone is a terrible experience, yet it’s something everyone goes through. It’s this universal relatability that makes this song so moving when we apply it to our own lives and why we listen to it when we’re having trouble moving on.

This song also has heavy themes of suicide and ponders the question of how we could have saved someone before they took their life. There’s no easy answer to the question, which is why the song leaves this point unanswered and left to interpretation.

“The Dance” by Garth Brooks

Song year: 1989

“The Dance “is a calming country melody that reflects on the idea of living life to the fullest, even in the face of loss and grief.

The song encourages listeners to cherish their memories and keep dancing, even when it feels like everything else has stopped.

“Gone Too Soon” by Michael Jackson

Song year: 1991

Written by the king of pop himself, “Gone Too Soon” is a touching ballet written for a friend of Michael who was kicked out of school for having AIDS.

The beauty of the song is that it mourns someone who was taken before their time and pays tribute to them through numerous heart-filled analogies and soothing instrumentals. It’s straightforward, calming, and perfectly captures the feelings of a tragic death.

“Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton

Song year: 1992

“Tears in Heaven” is a tearful track that speaks to the prospect of loss and the profound impact it can have on one’s life. It provides relief and consolation to those who are grieving and helps them find hope and healing in the memories of their loved ones, even if they’re gone.

“Beloved” by Mumford and Sons

Song year: 2018

As “Beloved” talks about in its lyrics, there are times you know that someone close to you is going to pass away. In that case, you must take it upon yourself to comfort them and let them know that they’re loved.

Letting them go is important, but you should never let them leave alone. You should hold their hands and let them draw their last breaths, knowing you care. It’s for this reason that the tune of the song is somewhat upbeat, and there’s a hint of hopefulness in the voice as he sings the words.

“Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Song year: 1992

While the original singer was Dolly Parton in 1974, Whitney Houston took the song to a whole new level in her version 10 years later. Parton’s version is fantastic in its own right, but Houston’s vocals are so incredibly powerful that we had to choose her cover for this list.

You’ve likely heard this song before and know it’s all about saying goodbye. Perhaps in this instance, it refers to a breakup, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be applied to various aspects of a person’s life.

“I’m Still Here” by John Rzeznik

Song year: 2002

If you’re familiar with the underrated Disney film Treasure Planet, then you might know this one.

It’s a touchy-feely song that helps us remember that no matter what, we’re still here, and we’ve got to deal with all the loss and hardships that come our way. That’s why it’s important to remain vigilant, optimistic, and strong.

“Slipped Away” by Avril Lavigne

Song year: 2004

“Slipper Away” was written for Avril Lavigne’s grandfather, who passed away while she was on tour.

As all songs about letting go tell us, death is tough to deal with and tends to stick with you for the rest of your life. It’s even worse when we’re not there, and it happens unexpectedly. The regret of not being there hurts most of all, yet it happens all too often.

“Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac

Song year: 1975

“Say You Love Me” is a classic rock song that speaks to the end of a relationship, with lyrics asking for closure and truth. The song describes feelings of loss, regret, and the need to move on.

“Let it Be” by The Beatles

Song year: 1970

“Let it Be” is about having faith and the strength to let it be when the going gets rough. There are allusions to mother Mary, who is often regarded as a symbol of purity, modesty, and faith, which complements the overarching message of endurance.

The song is one of the Beatles’ rock-defining tracks that made them famous and has touched the hearts of millions over the past 50 years. Even if you’re not religious or have a different faith, this song still has a worthwhile message and is quite pleasant to listen to if you’re ever feeling depressed or anxious.

“Rise Up” by Andra Day

Song year: 2015

Andra Day’s soulful memento presents a message of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. It implores the listener to draw upon their inner fortitude and to rise above the challenges that life presents, regardless of the past.

“Wake Me Up” by Avicii

Song year: 2013

As an artist who was taken before his time, Avicii gave the world hope and inspiration through his music.

One such song that accomplishes this is “Wake Me Up,” as it explores the darkness of adversity and ponders on the unpredictability of life. All you can really do is move forward and keep hoping for a better future.

Best Songs About Letting Go, Final Thoughts

Once again, losing someone isn’t easy. You have to live each day with the memories you made and the hardships you’ve faced, which is why it’s so hard to let go.

Hopefully, you can find a bit of peace within these songs, many of which were written by people who share a similar experience. Remember, it’s not about forgetting those who are gone; it’s about remembering them with a smile on your face.

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