It's All About Forgiveness...or Is It?

It could have been a whirlwind summer romance or a long-term, committed relationship.  Whatever the situation was, breakups are not easy.  We turn to songs to help us deal with the emotional pain.  Certain songs express the loneliness and emptiness we feel when we ourselves cannot express it.  Other songs express the anger and bitterness of being rejected.  And still others are more celebratory, helping us release the baggage of a bad relationship.  The following list of songs has all the heart-wrenching lyrics and music we need to wallow in our misery.  A couple of those bitter songs are also thrown in for good measure.  And you know at least a few of them by heart, whether you admit it or not!

The songs are listed in order of the year in which they were released.

I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton (1974) – Whitney Houston did a famous remake of this song in 1992 for ‘The Bodyguard’, a movie in which she also starred.  This is one of the few songs in existence where the remake is just as good if not better than the original.  Dolly Parton sings it with such tenderness and sincerity that you believe she just broke up with the love of her life.  Whitney just belts it out with those incredible pipes of hers.  Both women convey the message of the song very well; it didn’t work out between us, and I’m sorry about that, but no matter what I will always love you and wish you nothing but the best in your life.  If only all breakups could be this cordial!

Best lyric: “So goodbye, please don’t cry.  We both know I’m not what you need.” Argh!

I Will Survive – Gloria Gayner (1978) – The anthem that warned trifling men everywhere that their women will leave if they didn’t straighten up. This song is usually an epiphany for women, the moment when they stop crying and shake off that bad memory.  Then they usually go out dancing with the girls.

Best lyric:  “I’m not that chained-up little person still in love with you.”  You tell ‘em Gloria!

Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper (1984) – a nice departure from the usual upbeat and poppy songs that defined Lauper, ‘Time after Time’ was a thoughtful and poetic retrospective.  The lyrics can be very open to interpretation, but it contemplates a post-breakup very well.

Best lyric: “After my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray, watching through windows you’re wondering if I’m ok.”


All Cried Out – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force (1986) – heart-wrenching at its best.   The song is about a woman who fell in love with a wolf who inevitably broke her heart.  How could she help herself?  “My body never knew such pleasure” was a key indicator of how great the relationship was.  The group Full Force added the man’s point of view as he tried to explain what happened and also beg her back.

Best lyric: “Apology not accepted, add me to the broken hearts you’ve collected!”


Heart of the Matter – Don Henley (1989) – one of the most poignant and philosophical of all breakup songs.  Don Henley reflects on his relationship after receiving a phone call telling him that his ex has found a new love.  He’s like an advice columnist who advises that pride and arrogance can ruin love.  And how forgiveness heals all wounds.

Best lyric: “And I thought of all the bad luck and struggles we went through, and how I lost me, and you lost you.”

Pictures of You – The Cure (1989) – Robert Smith, the lead singer of the Cure, was the poster boy for angst in the 1980s.   With his wild nest of black hair and smear of blood-red lipstick, Smith wailed about lost love on just about every Cure song, and Pictures of You was no exception.  The song is simply about memories of a love gone by and how the pictures serve as a painful reminder.

Best lyric:  “If only I thought of the right words, I would never feel the breaking apart my pictures of you.”


You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette (1995) – a man’s worst nightmare; the bitter and vengeful ex-girlfriend.  Ms. Morissette doesn’t beat around the bush in expressing her post-breakup intentions.  She’s incredulous that her boyfriend would actually break up with her for (gasp!) an older version of her!  She’s not going to let him forget what he’s missing…and then the restraining order is issued.

Best lyric: “And every time you speak her name does she know how you told me you’d hold me until you died…until you died…but you’re still alive!”  Yeah, that’s not psycho talk at all.


Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) – Beyonce (2008) – Beyonce picks up where Gloria left off three decades ago.  Girl meets boy, girl dates boy, girl gets tired of waiting for boy to ask her to marry him, girl moves on to other boy.  Plus there’s a really catchy dance video to go along with it!

Best lyric:  “Cause you had your turn and now you’re gonna learn what it really feels like to miss me.”