"How could I ever forget?Someone died (or is otherwise gone), we're very sad, and we're singing about it. Frequently a Tear Jerker. A Sub-Trope of Songs of Solace. Compare Breakup Song, Death Song. See also Really Dead Montage.
the moment my life was set
That day that I lost you
It's clear as the day we met
How could I ever forget?"
the moment my life was set
That day that I lost you
It's clear as the day we met
How could I ever forget?"
— Next To Normal, "How Could I Ever Forget?"
Songs about Death:
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- "In Loving Memory", "Blackbird" and "Wonderful Life" by Alter Bridge.
- "Summergirl" by The Mayfield Four (the lead singer, Myles Kennedy, is also the front man for Alter Bridge.)
- "Paperthin Hymn" by Anberlin.
- "Emily" by Mary And The Black Lamb
- The entirety of You The Living's "XXXI" album is about the singer coming to terms with his illness and imminent death.
- The first track is called "Grief", then the theme continues to the last tracks, "Sleeper" and "Outro", which detail his suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. "Outro" is just the sound of The Caledonian Sleeper slowing down.
- The trilogy of "XXXI", "Poly" and "Rituals" is about him meeting, falling in love with, and marrying his wife, feeling guilty about becoming sick and dependent on her, and saying goodbye and beckoning her to move on.
- You The Living are still active, with a sick but alive frontman.
- "The Other Side", by Richard Marx (a tribute to his late father).
- "Straight From My Heart", also by Richard Marx,
- The entire "What To Do When You Are Dead" album by Armor For Sleep. The album is a concept album that lyrically explores the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). The trope is inverted, due to the story being told from the point of view of a deceased narrator grieving over his separation from a still living loved one.
- Hitomi Yaida's "Over the Distance"
- X Japan:
- "Tears," which was written in memory of Yoshiki's late father and is Yoshiki's coping with his suicide. This song was later dedicated to be to late guitarist hide as well.
- A Grief Song trilogy of "Without You," "I.V.," and "Jade," which are three songs that compose a dialogue between Yoshiki and hide, and Yoshiki coming to terms with the loss of his beloved friend.
- "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton was dedicated to his son Conor, and later Princess Diana.
- "Amor Eterno" ("Eternal Love"), composed by Juan Gabriel, and one of Rocío Dúrcal signature songs. It's about the composer's pain over the death of his mother. Rocío Dúrcal usually cries when singing it. Have a handkerchief ready.
- The song is sometimes sung in funerals. The lyrics are slightly changed: "El más triste recuerdo de Acapulco" ("the saddest memories from Acapulco") is changed to "el más triste recuerdo de este mundo"("the saddest memories from this world").
- Elton John has performed several of these:
- "Candle in the Wind" from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road about Marilyn Monroe.
- A version with revised lyrics, titled "Candle in the Wind 1997", was about Princess Diana.
- "Song For Guy" was inspired by the death of Guy Burchett, a messenger boy for Rocket Records (Elton John's record label) who died after being hit by a car.
- "Empty Garden" was about the death of John Lennon.
- "Candle in the Wind" from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road about Marilyn Monroe.
- "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.
- The German song ''Ich hatt' einen Kameraden'' (I Had a Comrade) is traditionally sung at memorial services and military/police/fire brigade funerals in Germany and Austria, causing many Manly Tears.
- "Let It Be" and "Julia" by The Beatles, about Paul and John's mothers respectively.
- "Dance with my Father" by Luther Vandross
- "How to Save a Life" by The Fray
- "Hate Me" by Blue October is a unique take on this, as it is about lead singer Justin Furstenfeld's immense regrets following the death of his mother while he battled addiction and the feeling that he took her for granted while she was alive.
- "I Drive Your Truck" by Lee Brice was written about a soldier's brother coping with his death by driving his truck.
- Gruesomely parodied by Tom Lehrer in "I Hold Your Hand in Mine".
- "Night Shift" by The Commodores and "Missing You" by Diana Ross were both responses to the murder of Marvin Gaye.
- "Scarecrow" by Melissa Etheridge, written about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. It was named for the fact the man who found him tied to the fence thought he was a scarecrow at first.
- "All Those Years Ago" by George Harrison and "Here Today" by Paul McCartney are both about the death of John Lennon, as are "Empty Garden" by Elton John (mentioned above) and "Kid About It" by Elvis Costello.
- As well as "Life is Real" by Queen.
- Stevie Nicks has "The Edge of Seventeen" (also about John Lennon)
- Don McLean's "American Pie" from the same-named album is sort of related to this; the refrain mentions "the day the music died", a reference to when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash.
- Admittedly, the entire song is a eulogy for the musical scene of the '50s and '60s and the cultures surrounding it, and is grieving for more reasons than just Buddy Holly's death. It provides a focal point, though.
- Some have also interpreted it as dealing with the civil rights movement, believing that "the three men I admire the most" mentioned at the end of the song and associated with the Holy Trinity might have been meant to represent John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. However, while McLean has kept mum about the song's full meaning, he has admitted, at least, that the line "February made me shiver/with every paper I'd deliver" was indeed, inspired by his reaction to the news of the deaths of the three musicians.
- Another Don McLean song, "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)", also from American Pie, is a song mourning the tragic life of painter Vincent van Gogh.
- "In the Backseat" by Arcade Fire, written about the death of Regine Chassagne's mother in a car crash. The lyrics also serve as a metaphor for growing up and having to take responsibility, for added Tearjerking effect.
- Hello! Project and its related artists do this quite a bit. They also subvert it, too.
- "Hurt" by Christina Aguilera.
- "Goodbye Friend" by Bowling for Soup, about a suicide and the singer's guilt ("maybe I could have changed things").
- If the song is not about heroin, chances are any given Alice in Chains song is this. Special mention to "Would?" "Died" and "Get Born Again."
- "Slipped Away" by Avril Lavigne, which she wrote about her grandfather's death.
- "He Was A Friend Of Mine", a traditional folk song that has been covered by many performers. The version by Willie Nelson played during the credits of Brokeback Mountain.
- Sarah McLachlan, unsurprisingly, has at least three of these - "I Will Remember You", "Angel" and (one for the Buffy fans) "Full of Grace".
- "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro. It turns into one in the last few verses.
- "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen (but more often its cover versions).
- The album Believe by Disturbed was inspired by the death of singer David Draiman's grandfather. "Darkness" in particular was about moving on.
- Save Our Last Goodbye from their album Immortalized is dedicated to Bob Sanders, a close friend of the band, who died of pancreatic cancer. It includes a voicemail from him at the beginning, talking about chemo and hoping for good news.
- In addition there's also Inside the Fire about the singer's girlfriend who committed suicide.
- "All My Love" by Led Zeppelin, written in memory of Robert Plant's son Karac (who died of an illness).
- "When The Tigers Broke Free" by Pink Floyd is about the death of Roger Waters' father in World War II during the Operation Shingle at Anzio, Italy. Likewise, the main character on The Wall also lost his father the same way (albeit the song is not actually featured in the album itself, but was later released in the album The Final Cut).
- "Mother" from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon and "Julia" from The White Album by The Beatles are both about Lennon's mother.
- "Wake Me Up When September Ends" by Green Day from American Idiot.
- "J.A.R." (written to a friend of Mike Dirnt who had died) as well, even though that's more upbeat.
- "Gone Too Soon" from Dangerous by Michael Jackson was originally about his friend Ryan White, who died of AIDS at age 19. More recently, it has also been attributed to Jackson's own death.
- The appropriately named "Tearjerker" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, about Kurt Cobain. Also "Transcending", on the same album, about River Phoenix.
- "Dani California" is about the death of the title character, off of Stadium Arcadium. "Death of a Martian" is about bassist Flea's dog Martian, and the B-side "Joe" is about The Clash's Joe Strummer.
- "My Lovely Man", off Blood Sugar Sex Magik, was written in tribute to Chili Peppers' guitarist Hillel Slovak, who died in 1988.
- "Breakfast Table" by Chris Rice.
- "4am Forever" by Lostprophets
- "He Was My Brother" by Simon & Garfunkel.
- "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa, as featured on the soundtrack to Furious 7. This particular track was recorded in memory of Paul Walker, and used in the ending send-off from the aforementioned film.
- "My Best Friend" by Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris, for exactly the same reason as above.
- "My Lover's Gone" by Dido.
- "Think of Laura" by Christopher Cross.
- "Aubrey" by Bread.
- "Biko" by Peter Gabriel, a tribute to anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, killed in police custody.
- Another Gabriel tune, "I Grieve", has been used in many films during a Tear Jerker moment. The album it came from, Up, has a number of these, since at the time, Gabriel had just lost his father, and he was still recovering from the trauma of not being able to contact his daughters when they were in New York City during 9/11 (they were okay, though).
- "Gone Away" by The Offspring.
- "Come Back" by Lesley Roy
- "Matthew 25:21" by The Mountain Goats pays tribute to John Darnielle's late mother-in-law.
- "Blood Brothers" by Iron Maiden.
- Initially the song was not a particularly grievous one on its original release, but during the tour for its album Brave New World it became a grief song due to bassist Steve Harris losing his father.
- "Why" by Rascal Flatts. "What Hurts The Most" also qualifies.
- "You're Gone" by Diamond Rio.
- "The Thing About Grief" by Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set.
- Inverted by Pearl Jam with "Other Side".
- "Just Breathe" kinda counts as a straight example, though.
- Riot Act has a few songs mourning the PJ fans who were trampled to death in a Danish festival, most notably "Love Boat Captain" ("lost nine friends we'll never know, two years ago today").
- Jimi Hendrix, "It's Too Bad", about Hendrix's troubled relationship with his half-brother Leon.
- "Elle G." by the Newsboys
- My Chemical Romance produced their Concept Album "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge" in honor of Gerard Way's recently deceased grandmother Helena (see the song "Helena"), whom he was close to. A Grief Album, really.
- "Let Me In" by R.E.M. was recorded live in the studio after the death of Kurt Cobain.
- "Camera" was about the death of an R.E.M. friend from Athens, Georgia who died in a car crash.
- "When You Go", "Summer's Over", "I Hate California", and a number of others by Jonathan Coulton
- "To Live is to Die". Somewhat unusual in that it's almost entirely instrumental except for James Hetfield reciting a short piece of poetry composed by the departed subject of the song, fallen Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.
- "The God That Failed", about the death of James' mother.
- "Until It Sleeps" is about his parents' battle with cancer.
- "Eva" by Orgy, on their science fiction Concept Album slash Rock Opera Vapor Transmission. Notably, the album is about real people, and Eva is one of only two individuals named by real name, and the only one whose role was explained: she was the late mother of one of their producers.
- Dream Theater's "Take Away My Pain" (about John Petrucci's deceased father) and "The Best Of Times" (About Mike Portnoy's deceased one). There's also "Disappear", which is unusual because James LaBrie wrote it about a hypothetical death scenario, not a personal experience.
- AC/DC: "Hells Bells", towards their deceased ex-singer Bon Scott. In fact, the entirety of Back in Black was dedicated to him.
- Almafuerte's "En este viaje" was written about Ricardo Iorio's deceased wife.
- Michael Kiske wrote "Always", in his first album Instant Clarity, about Ingo Schwichtenberg, his deceased ex-comrade of Helloween.
- The song "Afterlife" from Gamma Ray's album Land of the Free, written by former Helloween lead guitarist Kai Hansen, is also dedicated to Schwichtenberg.
- "Angel's Son" by Sevendust, dedicated to the lead singer of Snot.
- The Grateful Dead's "Bird Song" was written about Janis Joplin after her death, and "Cassidy" is partly about the death of Neal Cassady (its spelling derives from its also being about the birth of staff member Eileen Law's baby Cassidy). "He's Gone" was originally a trope subversion: a slow dirge about erstwhile manager Lenny Hart, who hadn't died yet; he had merely drained the band's bank accounts and vanished. However, after the death of original keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, the song quickly reverted to a straightforward example of this trope in the minds of fans and the band alike.
- There is also a Grief Song about Jerry Garcia; guitarist Warren Haynes wrote "Patchwork Quilt" in memory of Garcia, and has played the song with The Dead and Phil Lesh & Friends.
- Evanescence's Hello, Like You, and My Immortal. The latter was dedicated to Ben Moody's grandfather, according to the liner notes of Fallen. Also The Other Side, My Heart is Broken, Never Go Back and Even In Death.
- Seryoga, by Andrej Bukas, is a particularly heartbreaking example where the narrator describes watching his friend die after being shot by a sniper. It's based off of a real even in the singer's life.
- Nirvana's "Lithium" from In Utero also qualifies, as Kurt Cobain declared it's about a guy who loses his girfriend ("I miss you/I'm not gonna crack") and resorts to religion ("Light my candles\In a daze, 'cause I found God").
- "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World. It was written in memory of two young women, Mykel and Carli, who ran Weezer's fan club and were personal friends of the band. They both died in a car wreck. "Hear you me" was more or less their Catch Phrase.
- Many Type O Negative songs, including "Everyone I Love Is Dead", "Everything Dies", and "Red Water (Christmas Mourning)".
- "The Duel" and "Is Heaven Good Enough for You" by Allison Moorer.
- "Night Comes Down" by Judas Priest. Even metalheads grieve.
- Which brings us to "Watching Over Me" by Iced Earth.
- Pretty much the entirety of Eels' Electro Shock Blues album.
- "Fred Bear" by Ted Nugent is an unusual example of this. While the song is in remembrance of his deceased hunting partner, the song is more a celebration of hunting.
- "Friend of a Friend" and "Word Forward" by Foo Fighters. The former is the only song by the band confirmed to be about Kurt Cobain, and the latter is about Dave Grohl's childhood friend.
- "Friend" was written and recorded in 1992 whilst Cobain was still alive, it becomes more poignant in the updated version.
- Kamelot's "Don't You Cry" and "The Mourning After".
- Tori Amos' "Toast", "Marianne", "1000 Oceans", "Weatherman" and most songs on from the choirgirl hotel (most prominently "Spark", "Liquid Diamonds" and "Playboy Mommy"), which dealt with her grief over her miscarriages.
- "KKK Took My Baby Away" by The Ramones.
- "Harvest of Sorrow" by Blind Guardian.
- The entirety of Neil Young's album Tonights The Night is about two friends who overdosed. One of them, guitarist Danny Whitten, bought his last shot with the severance pay from when Neil fired him. Neil was... shaken up, to say the least, and it shows. Also, some of Sleeps With Angels is about Kurt Cobain, who quoted Neil in his suicide note.
- The song The Needle and the Damage Done is also about Whitten, written while he was still alive (but released after his death) and how heroin destroyed Whitten as a person.
- More recently, "You Never Call" is about Neil's longtime friend and band member Ben Keith.
- David Crosby's beautiful ballad "Guinnevere" is about his fiancèe Christine Hinton, who died in a freak traffic accident weeks before their wedding. It was written before she died, but sung as a tribute to her afterward. "I Could Swear There Was Somebody Here" is his other song for her.
- In honour of Freddie Mercury, the surviving members of Queen wrote, performed and sang "No One But You" for the Greatest Hits III album.
- "Together Again" by Janet Jackson is a tribute to a friend who died of AIDS.
- "I'll Be Missing You" by Sean "Diddy" Combs (then Puff Daddy), dedicated to The Notorious B.I.G..
- "Once in a Lifetime" by Wolfsheim, which is about the loss of the singer's wife and unborn child in a hurricane.
- "He hasn't returned from the battle" by Vladimir Vysotsky.
- "One Moment More" by Mindy Smith, written after her adoptive mother died.
- Within Temptation has "Our Farewell" and "Forgiven", the latter one being written after a friend of Sharon's lost his child though the song itself is about mourning someone who committed suicide.
- "The Other Side" by Paul van Dyk & Wayne Jackson, a tribute to the victims of the Indonesian tsunami. It has a spiritual sequel in the form of "Stormy Skies", which may be a tribute to Hurricane Katrina's victims.
- "Little June" by Groove Coverage, which is about a sister or a friend who was murdered.
- "Moonlight Shadow" by Mike Oldfield (and later Missing Heart and Groove Coverage, especially the piano version of the latter).
- 'In My Darkest Hour', 'Foreclosure Of A Dream', 'A Tout La Monde' and 'Promises' by Megadeth.
- Although technically, 'Foreclosure of A Dream' is about financial loss, namely the loss of the Ellefson family farm under Reagonomics. It is a form of grief, though.
- Dave Mustaine wrote 'In My Darkest Hour' after hearing the news of the death of Cliff Burton, his former bandmate at Metallica. The song is not actually about Burton, but Mustaine produced it during the grief from the tragedy.
- The B-52s: "Ain't It A Shame". It was not written as a tribute to their guitarist Ricky Wilson, as he played on it. However, it was released the year after his death, and so became a de facto tribute to him. There's also Cindy Wilson's solo song "Ricky" which IS directly about him.
- Alfred Schnittke's Nagasaki oratorio, which is obviously about the bombing of eponymous city. The first movement is even called "Nagasaki, the city of grief".
- Simple Plan are known for this. Their most well-known (and infamous) example is likely "Untitled (How Could this Happen to Me?)", written from the point of view of someone who is dying at an accident scene caused by a drunk driver. The video for it (produced in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving) gives the song a Dual Meaning Chorus, having the song sung from the point of view of the drunk driver.
- The Genesis song "Since I Lost You" is about the death of a child (the members specifically wrote it about Eric Clapton's son Conor, mentioned above).
- Genesis member Ray Wilson's "Another Day" is about the suicide of a friend.
- "Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely" by the Backstreet Boys, dedicated to Howie D.'s deceased sister, among other lost loved ones.
- "I Will Never Forget" by Kimya Dawson is a surprisingly angry song about suicide, and is much darker than the tunes most people think of when they hear her name.
- Scorpions' "We'll Burn the Sky" had lyrics by Jimi Hendrix' ex-girlfriend, and is apparently about him.
- "Back on the Chain Gang" was the first Pretenders single after the deaths of two band members, and Chrissie Hynde sounded like she was shaking her first at God. Selena's remake stripped the anger from the lyrics.
- A particularly bitter Vietnam War-era example: "One Last Cold Kiss" by Mountain, about a swan whose mate is killed by hunters.
- "He Was A Friend Of Mine", which was covered by Bob Dylan and The Byrds (on Turn Turn Turn), among others.
- The Whitlams have a couple of these. "Blow Up The Pokies" is about former band member Andy Lewis' struggle with depression and a gambling addiction before he committed suicide. The 'Charlie Trio' of tracks from the 'Eternal Nightcap album' are about the suicide/accidental death of band member Stevie Plunder. "The Curse Stops Here" is about Tim Freedman being the 'last one' of the original band members alive, and his determination to survive while the other two had given in to suicidal thoughts.
- "Byron's Song" by Rebekah Ann Curtis is about the titular friend's death from cancer.
- Skillet has "Lucy" from their 2009 album, which was originally written about an aborted baby.
- Pato Fu's "Canção pra Você Viver Mais" ("song for you to live more"), inspired by a terminal disease of the singer's father.
- Also from Brazil, Barão Vermelho's "O Poeta Está Vivo" ("the poet is alive"), an homage to the band's former singer who died of AIDS.
- Space have 'Bad Days' and 'Avenging Angels' (no, really).
- "Jueves", written for the Madrid's subway bombings by the spanish group La Oreja de Van Gogh
- Delta Goodrem, A Year Ago Today, about an aunt who passed.
- "Wish You Were Here" about a friend who passed while she was out of the country.
- Several of the songs off the Rush album Vapor Trails could be interpreted this way, such as "Ghost Rider" and "The Stars Look Down". Given that the album was written after the death of Peart's daughter and wife and Peart's lengthy recovery from both, it's difficult to not see every song on the album as a grief song in some light.
- "So Far Away" by Avenged Sevenfold, in honor of their late drummer Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan.
- Nightmare, the album that produced "So Far Away", seems to be an entire album of this. The saddest, and most disturbing, is "Fiction", which was written by The Rev and seems to be about his own death.
- Years earlier, the band's second album Waking the Fallen contained "I Won't See You Tonight, Parts I and II", a suicide ballad inspired by former bassist Justin Sane, who survived a suicide attempt but had to drop out because the medications he was prescribed left him psychologically unfit to tour or record.
- "House Carpenter" by Hurt seems to combine this with Obsession Song.
If you're not breathing, why am I
- Gary Numan wrote "A Prayer for the Unborn" when his wife suffered a miscarriage after finally becoming pregnant via IVF treatment. In his early performances you can hear his voice crack with emotion when he sings it live. No word on whether the sonogram typically projected behind him during this song is the real thing.
- "The Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga was written about her grandfather, who was dying, and an intimate moment she saw him share with her grandmother in the hospital. It's not sad, so much as it's about accepting life will always come to an end, but you need to experience life anyways. When she plays the song in a capella, the song shifts to a ballad, and goes become more of a sad grief song.
- "May" by James Durbin.
- "Nur zu Besuch" (translates as "Just Visiting") by the very popular German band Die Toten Hosen. It's about the vocalist's mother and the lyrics describe a visit to her grave. It's very simple and low key, peppered with little ordinary details and mostly avoids Purple Prose and soppyness, and it's all the more effective for it. ("And your garden... It's really doing well. Although you can tell it's missing you very much. And there's still mail arriving, adressed to you in big letters. Even though everyone knows you've moved away.") Unlike most other grief songs, this one ends on a note of acceptance and with the hope for an end to depression.
- "Goodbye My Lover" by James Blunt was just meant to be about a break up, according to Word of God. But considering the amount of people playing it at their spouse's funeral, Word of God hardly matters in this case.
As strong as you were, tender you'd go / I'm watching you breathing for the last time / A song for your heart, but when it is quiet / I know what it means and I'll carry you home./ I'll carry you home.
- Also "No Bravery", which is a grief song for an entire country / people / the person James Blunt was before going to war.
- "Carry You Home" seems to be this too:
- "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday", as made famous by Boyz II Men.
- "My Angel" was written after the death of Kellie Pickler's grandmother.
- Bone Thugs-in-Harmony honored several deceased friends (including Eazy-E) in "Tha Crossroads".
- "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)" by Toby Keith is a tribute to Toby's friend Wayman Tisdale, and has been described as being too depressing even for Country Music.
- Heck, it even got too depressing for Toby himself—he couldn't bring himself to sing it at Tisdale's funeral.
- "Last Kiss" by Wayne Cochran, but Covered Up (to the younger crowd, anyway) by Pearl Jam.
- "Baby Doe" by Steve Taylor, which is about fairly well-publicized cases in the eighties of babies being starved to death.
- "Not For Keith" by Peter Hammill is about the death of his former bandmate in Van Der Graaf Generator.
- "Who Knew?" by P!nk is about a friend who died of a drug overdose.
- Her song "Beam Me Up" is about a friend's baby who died.
- "Another Loss" by Decoded Feedback.
- "A Gray A.M. You Will Never Get To See" by Glass Casket. The song is about lead singer Adam Cody's sister, who was killed in a car crash and who the album was dedicated to.
- Brantley Gilbert's "Saving Amy," about a girl he knew in high school, is an interesting twist in the grief song. It deals with a woman recovering from the death of her fiancée, who died (presumably in an accident) on the night he proposed. However, it's told from the deceased boyfriend's point of view, begging God that while it's too late to save him, it's that "there's still hope for saving Amy" from living her life grief-stricken. It then goes on to chronicle the woman's slow climb out of depression, and at the end, he thanks God for "saving Amy" when he is reunited with her years later. It's a heartbreakingly powerful song.
- "Youtopia" by Armin Van Buuren featuring Adam Young is another example sung from the deceased lover's point of view, set to an uplifting trance instrumentation. The video has the bereaved girlfriend reminiscing of their happy times together on a camping trip.
- VNV Nation's lonely piano ballad "From My Hands".
- Juliana Hatfield wrote "Trying Not To Think About It" about the death of her friend Jeff Buckley.
- Florence + the Machine: "Never Let Me Go" and "Heavy In Your Arms".
- Taylor Swift's song "Ronan", named for a four-year-old who died of cancer, and using his own mother's words for the lyrics.
- "From Where You Are" by Lifehouse.
- Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" is by itself a standard Breakup Song, but the video has the boyfriend die in a motorcycle accident.
- Public Image Ltd. have "Swan Lake", or "Death Disco" from Metal Box if you own the single, which is about the death of John Lydon's mother. Due to PIL's musical style, this is not immediately apparent.
- R.I.P. Millie by Noiseworks is about a friend who died from cancer.
- Aqua's "Turn Back Time" is quite a contrast to most of their other songs, which are generally silly. Although not explicitly stated in the lyrics, the song is implied to be about someone who died while the person regrets not spending enough time with them, not saying how she really feels, and/or getting into a fight with them just before they died.
- The song "Omdat ik Je Mis" (Because I miss you), about the singer's late parents debuted on the Dutch reality show The Best Singer-Songwriter. It clearly moved the judges and got very positive reviews in the media the next day, to the point where the YouTube video of the audition skyrocketed to over 2,000,000 views in the first weeks (to compare ... there are about 20,000,000 Dutch speaking people in the world)
- Although no specific person is mentioned in the song, Kansas' "Dust In the Wind" is definitely about grieving over the fragility of life and how short it can be. An immediate response after hearing this song has to be "oh my God the songwriter's grandmother/childhood friend/puppy just died."
- Coldplay's "Fix You", inspired by the singer's wife mourning her father's death.
- "Someone's Watching Over Me" by Geri Halliwell, which was about her father who died shortly before she became famous.
- Pride and Fall's "Passionate Pain":
It's cold outside, my lips are tremblingYour blood in my hands, that once held me warmI wanted to trust, I wanted to lustIt's our guilt, our blameThe passionate pain we needNow lay your head down to restI will help to prevent the fallThere's a feeling hidden deep inside meAnd I will manage to lock it inBefore it hurts
- The Smashing Pumpkins had a number, particularly on Adore. Notable examples include "For Martha", "Tear", and "Once Upon a Time".
- Savatage has "Alone You Breathe" on Handful Of Rain, dedicated to Jon Oliva's brother Criss. Criss was a founding member and lead guitarist for Savatage until he was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. The song is dedicated to him but not actually about him or his death.
- "You Can Still Be Free" by Savage Garden.
- "Nefertiti" from Fireaxe's Food For The Gods
My queen, Nefertiti, please don't leave me now.I pray to Aten to give you life anew.My queen, Nefertiti, you're all I'm living for.Aten, why did you take her from me?
- "Ghost" by Indigo Girls
- "Yellow Butterfly" by Meg & Dia.
- "Believe" by The All-American Rejects is about the sudden death of a loved one and hope that they will meet again.
- It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest by The Fugs has two:
Ramses the II is dead my loveHe's left from Memphis to HeavenPtah has taken him on his solar bargeAnd walked him to Nat's celestial shoresHeaven is waiting for Ramses IIHe's gone to Ptah's great side.
- "Ramses II Is Dead, My Love"
Do not surround me with wreathes of flowersNor place upon my body the signs of a fetishNor crescent, cross, phallus or sunBut bury me in an apple orchardThat I might touch your lips again
- "Burial Waltz"
- Jacques Brel's "Jojo" was written for his best friend, Georges Pasquier, who had died from cancer. Only half a year after recording the song Brel would die from the same disease. He had announced this on Jojo's funeral: "I'm next."
- PJ Harvey's "To Talk To You" is about the death of the singer's grandmother.
- Sufjan Stevens' album Carrie & Lowell is practically a Grief Album (the titular Carrie being the singer's recently deceased mother). "Death With Dignity," "Eugene," and "Fourth of July" are among the more straightforward song examples.
- "Drink a Beer" by Luke Bryan is about the death of someone close. While he didn't write the song, it was given to him because he was inspired by the deaths of his brother and sister.
- "Over You" by Miranda Lambert, about the death of a boyfriend. It was co-written by Blake Shelton about the death of his brother when he was a teenager.
- Trance producer RAM made the song "RAMelia (Tribute to Amelia)" as a tribute to his wife who had unexpectedly passed away at the time. Much like "Youtopia", the instrumentation is a very bright uplifting melody that manages to still bring the tears on.
- Fat Joe's "I'm Gone", written about Guru, famed Gang Starr MC who had just passed away at the time.
- Gang Starr themselves had a song called "In Memory Of...", dedicated to friends of the group and people they admired who had passed away. Harsher in Hindsight? You bet.
- "I'll Just Say Goodnight" by Canadian jazz singer Carol Medina, written by James Collins about a friend who died of AIDS.
- Depending on how you interpret the song, "Talking to the Moon" by Bruno Mars is one.
- "I Miss You" by Miley Cyrus, about her late grandfather, former United States Senator Ron Cyrus.
- "A New Hope" by Broken Iris.
Always, always out of just reach from my over frustrated, shameful handsAnd I never, never expected that IWould ever, no never, take for granted your precious timeTo your grave I spoke holding a red, red roseGust of freezing cold air whispers me, that you are goneSpent a lifetime of holding on just to let goI guess I'll spend another lifetime searching for a new hope
- "Valentine's Day" by Linkin Park is about a lover that died.
- "Best Friend" by The Rooms is a cheerful song about a man mourning his best friends recent death.
- The entire Neutral Milk Hotel album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is about the singer's obsession with Anne Frank and her death.
There are lights in the cloudsAnna's ghost all aroundHear her voice as it's rolling and ringing through me
- "Cold, Cold Earth", the Hidden Track on Allison Moorer's album The Hardest Part, is about her parents' murder-suicide.
- "M" by Kent is about Jocke Berg's grandparents when his grandmother was terminally ill.
- "Clouds" by Before You Exit is about Christina Grimmie , their tourmate who was murdered after one of their concerts.
- "Blink of an Eye" by Tori Kelly and "Christina's Song" by MAX were also written for her.
- "If Only Tears Could Bring You Back", by Midnight Sons, from Pokémon: The First Movie.
If only tears could bring you back to meIf only love could find a wayWhat I would do, what I would give if you returned to meSome day, somehow, somewayIf only tears could bring you back to me
- "Prologue" from Kotoura-san which plays during the Downer Beginning.
- In the Total Drama story, Legacy, Trent writes a song in tribute to his late girlfriend and first love. In the following years, he sings it at most of his gigs, usually as the closing number.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan made music video Lullaby for a Princess, is about Celestia's grief over having to banish her own sister.
- Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead" from Super Fly.
- In the film version of Return of the King, there is Pippin's song as Faramir's Knights of Minas Tirith charge Osgiliath. In the first film and in the book, Elves sing a tearjerking lament for Gandalf. In The Two Towers movie, Éowyn's song at her cousin's funeral is a heartbreaker, particularly when one deciphers the Anglo-Saxon.
- In the novel The Two Towers, Aragorn and Legolas sing an emotional lament for Boromir.
- In the novel The Fellowship of the Ring, the elves of Lothlórien sing a lay for Gandalf, whom they thought was dead.
- The song "Remember Me This Way" by Jordan Hill was featured in the movie Casper.
- "My Heart Will Go On", performed by Céline Dion, from the film Titanic (1997).
- "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" from The Wizard of Oz is an inversion, in that the death is being celebrated instead of mourned.
- In A Song Is Born, one of the professors remembers his departed wife with the song "Genevieve". The other professors join in and it becomes a bonding song.
Please, I know you're in there./ People are asking where you've been.They say "have courage", and I'm trying to./ I'm right out here for you, just let me in.We only have each other. It's just you and me./ What are we going to do?
- The first 2/3rds of the song "Do You Want To Build a Snowman", while arguably a grief song about an unexplained separation, is fairly fun and upbeat. The last verse, however, is about Anna mourning the death of her parents and desperately trying to reach out to her sister, her only remaining family, one last time.
Elsa: Sadness swirls within me like the snow/ I've frozen out the only friend I'll ever know.Elsa: There's no way I can win/ But I wish that I had been there for her long agoElsa: Life's too short...Anna: To be such an oblivious fool/ So reckless that I couldn't seeAnna: Life's too short to be so desperate to be loved/ That I only ever thought of meAnna: I wish I saw things clearly/ I guess that I'm just not the sortAnna: Now all I know is life's... too... short.,.
- Cut Song "Life's Too Short (reprise)" is a grief song sung by Elsa when she was chained at the end and Anna while she is freezing to death.
- "I'll Remember (Theme from With Honors)" was written and performed by Madonna for the soundtrack to that movie, which ends soon after the death of a major character.
- "Bright Eyes", written by Mike Batt and performed by Art Garfunkel, from Watership Down.
- "The Prayer", the pop and classical crossover standard that originated as a Breakaway Pop Hit from Quest for Camelot, can be this depending on which context it's used in.
- Death Of A Pop Idol has Johnny singing one of these However, although the song seems a straight version, from his perspective, it's also a subversion, as the person he's singing about is still alive and well..
- Egil's Saga: After dropping his initial plan to starve himself to death, Egil expresses his grief about the death of his son Bodvar in the poem "Sonatorrek" (Loss of Sons).
- Parks and Recreation featured an Affectionate Parody song, "5,000 Candles in the Wind," for the recently deceased pony and Pawnee's greatest celebrity, Li'l Sebastian.
- "When The River Meets The Sea" from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas .
- Warren Zevon's song "Keep Me In Your Heart" has been used at least twice as Grief Song. Once in Californication and again in House.
Religion and Mythology
- Many of the songs from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
- "It Don't Make Sense" from Parade.
- "How Could I Ever Forget?" from Next To Normal.
- "'Till We Reach That Day" from Ragtime
- All of William Finn's Elegies, but particularly "When The Earth Stopped Turning"
- "Anytime (I Am There)" is the show's real Tear Jerker, but it's sung from the perspective of the bereaving rather than the bereaved.
- "Gone, Gone, Gone," "My Man's Gone Now" and "Clara, Clara" from Porgy and Bess.
- "Candide's Lament" from Candide.
- Parodied in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat with "One More Angel in Heaven". Joseph's brothers know he isn't really dead, but they put on a show of grief for Dad's benefit.
- Played straight with "Close Every Door to Me," where Joseph has hit rock bottom in prison.
- Also parodied in Oklahoma!, with "Pore Jud is Daid".
- "Endless Night" in the stage musical version of The Lion King.
- "Rafiki Mourns."
- "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" is one from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective.
- RENT has two straight examples and a subversion:
- The Dark Reprise of "If I Loved You" from Carousel is an interesting variant, as it's sung from the viewpoint of a deceased person who's about to leave for the afterlife after being allowed to see his wife and daughter on Earth fifteen years after he died.
- "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" from Les Misérables, dealing with Marius' grief and survivor's guilt.
- "Days of Plenty" from the musical of Little Women.
- "Those You've Known" from Spring Awakening. Interesting in that it is sung mostly by the ghosts of the departed.
- Also "Left Behind".
- "No More" could be seen as a variant of this in Into the Woods. For sure, though, "The Witch's Lament" is a straight example.
- Invoked by Urinetown with "Tell Her I Love Her", which is part Death Song for Bobby and this for Little Sally.
- "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" sung by Christine about her father in The Phantom of the Opera.
- The Phantom's mournful "All I Ask Of You" reprise also qualifies, as he is singing about Christine who he believes he has lost forever to Raoul.
- The final scene of Love Never Dies is a series of reprises that are either dark reprises or turn the material into Grief Songs. "Look With Your Heart", "Once Upon Another Time", and "Till I Hear You Sing", in that order, chronicle Christine's death.
- "Supper Time." Holy god, "Supper Time." From the 1933 revue As Thousands Cheer, this number is a black woman wondering how to explain to her kids that their father has just been lynched.
- Notre Dame De Paris: Quasimodo's "Danse mon Esmeralda" (doubles as B.S.O.D. Song), right after Esmeralda's death. He's witnessed the death of the woman he loves and killed his adoptive father. He's resolved to die holding Esmeralda's dead body, because "dying for you is not dying". Yeah, he's pretty broken.
- "Why" in tick, tick, BOOM. Jon has just found out his best friend Michael has AIDS. The song is about Jon remembering the good times he and Michael had, and wanting to make the best of the time they have left.
- "Alabanza" is the neighborhood grieving Abuela Claudia.
- Iolanthe features an inversion in the climactic scene. Iolanthe veils herself so the Lord Chancellor won't recognize her because she'll be executed if he does, and pleads for him to give his consent for her son Strephon to marry a certain ward of the court. She sings the ballad, "If, In the Bygone Years" in an appeal to his memories of his (supposedly) late wife, who is in fact Iolanthe herself.
- Boris Godunov has the Tsarevna Xenia's lament for her late fiancé. This was one of the parts of the opera that was recomposed from the original version.
- The "Totenklage" in Elisabeth combines this trope with Dark Reprise.
- Lestat has both "Sail Me Away" and the brief Dark Reprise of "Right Before My Eyes".
- "I Promise You a Happy Ending" from Mack and Mabel.
- Wicked has "No Good Deed". It's heartbreaking to watch, and considered by some to be just as powerful as "Defying Gravity".
- And then there's Glinda's part in "Finale", which doubles as Dark Reprise of "For Good".
- If/Then has "Learn To Live Without", dealing with Liz's grief over the death of her husband.
- "It's Quiet Uptown" in Hamilton
- Parodied in Curtains with "The Woman's Dead" (and its reprise, "The Man Is Dead").
- In The Bridges of Madison County, "Always Better" allows Francesca to both mourn her lover and remember the joy of their time together.
- The revised stage musical of The Little Mermaid has "If Only (Triton's Lament)", in which Triton reminisces about his late wife and laments his lack of control over Ariel without her.
- "Missing You" from A Very Potter Musical is one of these, as Harry sings about Dumbledore's death and Quirrell about having been abandoned by Voldemort.
- Also from the sequel, "Guys Like Potter" (Snape missing Lily) and "Those Voices" (about Lily and James, by Sirius and Harry and Snape).
- "Each Night He Comes Home to Me" from the Medal of Honor: Underground OST is about a war widow. As a Bilingual Bonus, you can also hear a German version on a radio in-game.
- "Kimi No Kioku" in Persona 3 Which comfirmed the Protagonist's Heroic Sacrifice
- In Odyssey's "Final Breath", a vocal Eurobeat arrangement of "Border of Life" from ''Touhou 7: Perfect Cherry Blossom", the singer's character longs to join his deceased lover in death.
- "Chorale For Snow White."
- Owen's song Oh, My Izzy! in Total Drama World Tour, while it has a very up-beat tempo is sang right after Owen breaks up with Izzy, and she is taken out of the game due to head trauma.
- Coupled with the Art Shift during the song, which is done in Owen's crayon style (which is his imagination.)
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has "Leaves from the Vine", sung by Iroh at a makeshift memorial shrine for his son who died in the siege on Ba Sing Se. The song also acts as a dedication to Iroh's voice actor, Mako, who had died before the episode aired.
- It Changes from Snoopy, Come Home.
- "Something Is Missing" from Jem was originally about Jerrica looking for her earrings however a later episode repurposed it to be about Kimber mourning her deceased father.
I feel a lost and it's got me kinda shookI keep on searching but it's nowhere I lookSomething is missing in my lifeCan somebody tell me where it's gone?Something is missing in my lifeSomebody tell me where I've gone wrong with my life?
Songs about Partings
- Double example in Ya Uhozhu (я ухожу), which counts for both death and partings. "Ya uhozhu, - skazal mal'chishka ej skvoz' grust' no nenadolgo *Gunfire*,ty zhdi menya i ya vernus', Ushel sovsem, ne vstretiv pervuyu vesnu." *Cuts to war memorial.* Prishyol domoj v soldatskom tsinkovom grobu.
- "She's Leaving Home" by The Beatles, from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- "The Dance" by Garth Brooks
- By Elton John:
- "Blue Eyes"
- "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues"
- "Leaving on a Jet Plane", by John Denver and others
- Project Pitchfork's "Lament" (ambiguous whether this is about just parting or the love interest's actual death).
- The title track on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, about the departure of their co-founder and original frontman Syd Barrett, who was forced to leave due to mental illness.
- Metallica's final song with bassist Jason Newsted, "I Disappear" from the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack mirrored his eventual falling out and departure from the band.
- "Dead To Me" by Melanie Martinez is odd in that it is a Breakup Song, and a bitter one at that, that acts as a grief song as well.
My condolencesI'll shed a tear with your familyI'll open a bottle up, pour a little bit out in your memoryI'll be at the wake dressed in all blackI'll call out your name, but you won't call backI'll hand a flower to your mother when I say goodbye'Cause baby you're dead to me
- While not originally intended that way, Lynyrd Skynyrd ' s "Free Bird." The band dedicates it to Duane Allman in concert.
- Warren Zevon 's "Keep Me In Your Heart" was written as a message to his loved ones just before he died. It's been used a few times (see Live Action TV Below).
- "The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye)" from the Pokémon: 2B A Master album. Although the song itself is a perfectly straight example, when it's actually used in the anime, Pikachu immediately returns as soon as the song is over.
- The ending song to episode four of School-Live! is an English song named "We Took Each Other's Hand" about Miki's feelings for her best friend Kei. The final episode shows Kei Gave Up Too Soon as she would have eventually been rescued with Miki and Taroumaru. She ended up turning into a zombie.
All of your warm tender daysSo many memories with you now goneI feel so lost without you here by my sideWhen I wake up from this dream I want to be with you again
- "Never Gonna Dance" from Swing Time (1936) is a surreal, disjointed song expressing Lucky's sense of desolation when it seems he is losing Penny for good.
- "They Can't Take That Away From Me" from Shall We Dance? (1937) is sung by Peter right after he has married Linda, knowing she's going to divorce him immediately. He sings wistfully about the memories he'll keep from their brief marriage.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol: "When Love is Gone", during Scrooge and Belle's breakup scene. The song was cut from the theatrical version, although the ending credits cover by Martina McBride was retained.
- "This Nearly Was Mine" from South Pacific
- "I've Grown Accustomed to her Face" from My Fair Lady is this for Higgins who is trying to come to terms with his feelings of loss after Eliza walks out on him.
- "Chavaleh" from Fiddler on the Roof is an interesting case, as Tevye has to declare his daughter Chava dead to him after she marries outside the Jewish faith, but this song makes it clear it's not easy for him. He loves his daughter, yet he believes he has no choice but to disown her.
- "For Good", from Wicked.
- "Cute Boys with Short Haircuts" and "Friendship Isn't What it Used to Be" from Vanities: The Musical.
- "I'm Still Hurting" and Jamie's part of "I Could Never Rescue You" from The Last Five Years.