Goodbye means different things in our world. People leave and say goodbye each day for various reasons. Some are saying goodbye to a bad relationship. Some are saying goodbye to their current life situation and looking for something new – a job, a setting, a family. Sometimes we can’t control life’s situations and we have to say goodbye to those we love as a result of death.
Whatever the situation there are country songs to let us know we aren’t alone.
Here are the best goodbye songs of all time.
50. What Might Have Been – Little Texas
Little Texas was a big band in country music back at the turn of the ’90s. The guys tried to bring a little bit of the rock band scene from the ’80s into country and they succeeded for the most part. What Might Have Been was one of the band’s biggest hits. The song is about a guy trying desperately to get over a woman. He keeps thinking about what might have been if things had worked out. He knows he has to say goodbye to the relationship, but he is struggling with it.
49. The Dance – Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks’ The Dance is one of the most popular country songs of all time. The song actually has a very simple lyric. I remember watching an interview with former Brooks’ road guitarist Ty England (later a solo artist) as he described the simplicity of the words in the song. The Dance is about saying goodbye to the past while being thankful for everything that happened. England thought the simple words in the song allowed listeners let the song mean whatever it had to mean for each person. It’s a great song that connects with just about everyone that hears it.
48. One More Day – Diamond Rio
Diamond Rio was one of country’s biggest bands during their run in the ’90s and early ’00s. The band reached what may have been the peak of their career with One More Day. The song peaked high on multiple charts becoming a crossover success. The tune is mostly left open for interpretation although it’s a goodbye song. Losing someone leads to powerful emotions and leaves all of us thinking that it would be wonderful if we could only have one more day with the person we miss. One More Day seemed to take on meaning for the loss of Dale Earnhardt as both events happened around the same time.
47. The Long Goodbye – Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn had a ton of hits. Their biggest goodbye song was The Long Goodbye. The song has an aching sound to it. Lead vocalist Ronnie Dunn pours emotion into the lyrics of a guy realizes that he must breakup and say goodbye to his lover. The situation just wasn’t working out and both needed to realize that the love doesn’t have a chance. It’s a little bit pop-country with a little adult contemporary in it. I like this song and like when I still hear it on occasion on radio.
46. Gone – Montgomery Gentry
Montgomery Gentry had a huge string of hits starting in ’99. The guys have a mixture of rocking tracks with attitude to even a few slow songs with passion and emotion. Their biggest hit to this point has been the song simply called Gone. The song is about a guy that’s dealing with the loss of his woman. The song is an in-your-face attitude song that shows the emotion of losing someone you loved. It isn’t always drown the sorrows. Sometimes there is more anger and face it like a man type reaction and that’s what this song is.
45. Gunpowder & Lead – Miranda Lambert
Here is a sassy song from budding superstar Miranda Lambert. It’s hard to picture anyone else singing this kind of goodbye song. Gunpowder & Lead is about a good woman that has reached the final tipping point with her abusive boyfriend. She heads home, loads the gun, lights a cigarette and waits for the bum to come home. This certainly isn’t a drown the sorrows kind of song. It’s in your face and taking care of business song that really says goodbye in a brash way.
44. She Wouldn’t Be Gone – Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton scored a number one hit wit this sad goodbye song. He’s singing about a guy that just lost the love of his life because he screwed up. He starts thinking back to all the things he could have done to make her stay in love with him. After a breakup we all go through this phase of wondering what we could have done to change things and make the relationship better. The reality is it probably would have never worked. Not everybody is made for each other. Sometimes it’s best to move on and say goodbye.
43. She Never Cried In Front of Me – Toby Keith
Toby Keith is known for his bravado, but the powerful country singer has a soft side as well. For this song he belts out emotion and heartache. The narrator’s former lover is now officially married to another guy. The narrator can move on with his life. He’s still struggling to say goodbye though. He says that he didn’t realize she was unhappy. She never cried in front of him. It’s a sad song that can even serve as a bit of lesson.
42. I Saw The Light – Wynonna
Wynonna had a tough task when she went out as a solo act in the early ’90s. Wy and her mother had ruled the ’80s as The Judds. Wynonna came out strong though with a string of hits including the rousing I Saw The Light. The song is about a woman discovering that her lover is cheating. She reacts and realizes what she needs to do. She says goodbye to the guy and looks forward to her new life.
41. All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down) – Hank Williams Jr.
This tune preceded the more popular sequel All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight, but it was the settling down song that peaked at the top spot on the country charts. The song has a mellow sound to it as Junior sings about watching his buddies fall by the wayside. As the friends drift off into family life they leave Junior and the partying ways behind. The song includes some of country music’s greats. While a bit of a sad goodbye song it’s still a great one that many can relate to as their enter their post-partying days.
40. Diggin’ Up Bones – Randy Travis
Diggin’ Up Bones is an upbeat and catchy tune from the great Randy Travis. The song is about a guy that’s going through all the things he and his former lover accumulated over their years together. There are pictures, jewelry and many other things that mark their history together. He’s digging through these old bones and remembering the times they had together all while trying to get over the loss he’s suffering from. It’s a well written song that’s performed even better from one of country’s legends.
39. A Picture of Me (Without You) – George Jones and Lorrie Morgan
In 1991 Lorrie Morgan took a classic George Jones song to the top ten on the charts. Both versions of the song receive huge airplay even to this day. There is passion and emotion in both performances. The song actually comes across as a love song, but I’ve included it on this list as a goodbye song for it’s you don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone lyric. I’ve always interpreted this track as one where a person is letting their former lover know that they’re lost without them. They’ve screwed up and want things to go back to the way they were. Most will say the song is about a lover expressing their live, but I’ll always see it as a goodbye song.
38. A Lesson in Leavin’ – Jo Dee Messina and Dottie West
Dottie West originally took this song to the top spot on the country charts in 1980. In 1999 country superstar Jo Dee Messina covered the song with a sassy version and took it to #2 on the charts. A woman has been scorned and tricked by a man. He’s the kind woman think they can change. For some reason they’re drawn to him even though he’s the leaving kind. The woman in the story knows she ain’t going back to him and that someday karma will catch up with him and he’ll get a taste of his own leaving medicine.
37. What Kinda Gone – Chris Cagle
What Kinda Gone is an uptempo tune from country rocker Chris Cagle. The song shot straight to the top three on the charts after its release. It’s a song about a guy that sees his woman leave him. She’s tell him she’s gone and he can’t come to terms with what kind of gone she really means. He’s not sure if she’s coming back but as time passes and she doesn’t return he’s starting to think he screwed up big this time and that she’s not coming back at all. It’s a great song with a common theme most deal with in rocky relationships.
36. I Didn’t Know My Own Strength – Lorrie Morgan
Lorrie Morgan is perhaps one of the most underrated female artists in country music history. She’s often forgotten discussions of artists that had a impact on music. Her songs in the late ’80s into the ’90s was powerful and certainly proved memorable to fans. I Didn’t Know My Own Strength is a song about a woman learning that she has the strength to get over a man. A relationship has ended and the narrator in this story isn’t sure she can overcome the man she’s depended on for so long. Realizing that you may be better without someone has to be an empowering feeling. This song is a great one as sung by one of the best of all time.
35. Goodbye Time – Conway Twitty and Blake Shelton
Goodbye Time is about a guy coming to realize he can’t change the mind of his woman. She’s decided that it’s freedom for her instead of life with him. She’s hitting the road and he’s coming to the understanding that it’s goodbye time. In relationships there can often be one party that has more difficulty saying goodbye. That’s what this song is about. Blake Shelton covered and released the song as a single and it became a hit. He said he knew he had to record it after seeing Conway Twitty’s earlier version. Shelton said he was in awe of the emotion Twitty put into each lyric. The song is one that brings out that kind of emotion for listeners as well.
34. I Can Still Make Cheyenne – George Strait
George Strait came from Texas to Nashville and brought the rodeo with him. His rodeo song I Can Still Make Cheyenne is a classic goodbye song about a guy in love with the rodeo. The song makes it sound like the guy is barely getting by doing what he loves. He calls home to talk to his woman only to find she’s had enough. She tells him she can’t take it anymore and they must go their separate ways. The guy sounds sad, but says goodbye and moves on to the next stop on the circuit.
33. Monday Morning Church – Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson covered a difficult topic with Monday Morning Church. The song is a sad story about a guy saying goodbye to his lover that has recently passed. He’s dealing with anger, sadness, loneliness, and all the other painful emotions that come with losing someone you love. The song bleeds emotion as Alan pours himself into the story. The music of the song put the listener into a somber state as well. Something certain in life is loss and death. It’s something we all deal with at some point. Goodbye songs like this one let us know we’re not alone and that itself can be comforting during difficult times.
32. A Little Past Little Rock – Lee Ann Womack
Getting over a relationship takes a lot of will power. Lee Ann Womack came onto the country scene as a traditionalist with a love for classic country music. Her song A Little Past Little Rock is a song about saying goodbye – goodbye to a former lover and former life. It’s difficult to start over, but it’s what’s needed sometimes. The song became a big hit for Womack and helped turn her into a star in country. This song has a universal appeal for anybody dealing with moving on from a relationship.
31. Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song) – Toby Keith
Toby Keith had an unlikely friendship with an NBA and music great Wayman Tisdale. The tall man was a star in the NBA for a number of years for a number of teams. After basketball the star expanded his career as a recording and performing artist. He played the bass guitar in the jazz style and was immensely popular. In 2009 the star passed after what is assumed complications of dealing with cancer, which he had been dealing with for a few years. Toby’s goodbye song to his friend became this song and the song struck a chord with many listeners as well.
30. Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
The song is about living life to the fullest – doing the things you want to do before you pass on. Tim McGraw recorded and released the song right around the time his own father passed. Live Like You Were Dying became a smash hit single and further elevated Tim into superstar status. The song comes not only as a reminder to live life every day as if it’s your last, but to remember to reach out to loved ones to let them know you care. We’re all going to die someday. Remember to say goodbye.
29. Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind – Confederate Railroad
One of my favorite songs is Daddy Never Was The Cadillac Kind. There have been a lot of songs about dads and moms, but this one continually makes me smile when I hear it on the radio. The song has hung around radio for 20 years now and it keeps getting played. The song is about saying goodbye to a dad that has passed. The narrator remembers how his dad was a hard working man that believed in a modest lifestyle without the worry of debt. In times like these the message in the song rings true.
28. I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song) – Brad Paisley
This tongue-in-cheek song from country’s funny man Brad Paisley had folks everywhere laughing at the prospect of leaving your woman for fishing. In the song the narrator is left with the decision of his woman or fishing. He’s addicted to fishing and his love for spending time in the boat takes priority over his relationship. He leaves her for the fish and the rest is history. The song is of course meant to be funny, but haven’t all guys at least thought about what it would be like to fish all day with no consequences?
27. He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
George Jones had a career breakthrough with the song He Stopped Loving Her Today. The song brought the 50 year old country legend back to prominence and he rolled through the ’80s on top. The song is about a guy that goes through life loving his wife until the day he dies. The song is probably always recognized as a love song, but I interpret it also as a goodbye song. The song shows how difficult it is for some to say goodbye to the one they love the most. Even death can’t make some people say goodbye. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing I’m not qualified to say.
26. My Old Friend – Tim McGraw
Losing a friend is one of the toughest goodbyes each of us probably goes through in life. Tim McGraw’s My Old Friend may not be one of his biggest or most remembered hits, but every now and then I hear it and think about the friends I’ve had over my life that I no longer keep in touch with. There were never any actual goodbyes. The years just kind of slipped by and suddenly I realize I haven’t spoken to my former good friends in ages.
25. The Beaches of Cheyenne – Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks grew up loving George Strait and that included the songs about the rodeo. Garth recorded a great rodeo song for his ’96 album. The song was The Beaches of Cheyenne and it’s about two lovers saying a painful goodbye. The guy was a rodeo rider and he couldn’t ride one of the bulls one day. The woman he had left behind couldn’t deal with the pain especially after having a fight with him over his dangerous rodeo lifestyle. Sometimes goodbye doesn’t go as planned.
24. There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney has had so many big hits during his career it’s hard to pick out the best, but fans always seem to be drawn to There Goes My Life and for good reason. The song is about a young guy and gal that have a daughter just out of high school. The little girl becomes everything to the guy and he finally has to say goodbye to her as she leaves for college. The little girl that took over his life started out as a surprise and became everything. It’s hard to say goodbye to something you love so much. The song became huge as it connected with moms, dads, and all the daddy’s girls out there.
23. Kiss Goodbye – Little Big Town
Little Big Town has had an up and down career up to this point. One of their hits was Kiss Goodbye and it’s one of my personal favorite goodbye songs. It’s hard to tell if the song is about losing a woman as a result of a death or if she’s simply leaving for a new life and relationship. Either way the song is great. The quartet has a unique sound as a result of their four-part singing. Kiss Goodbye is a great goodbye song and a great country song in general.
22. Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
The Dixie Chicks brought sass and attitude to country music. For a good five years or so the band ruled the country charts with their brand of music. During the peak of their career the gals released the controversial song Goodbye Earl and it sure helped establish them in the history books as a one-of-a-kind act. The song is about a scorned lover that has taken too much abuse from her man. She finally ends his life and says goodbye to the troubled way of life. It’s certainly not your ordinary goodbye song, but it certainly belongs high on this list.
21. How Can I Help You (To Say Goodbye) – Patty Loveless
This is a classic from the lovely Patty Loveless. The song is all about goodbye. There are three situations where goodbye is difficult for the narrator. First the girl in the song says goodbye to her best friend as her family moves away. Second the woman says goodbye as her husband packs up and leaves. Third the woman has to say goodbye to her mom that had helped her through all the tough goodbyes in life. It’s a sad song, but truly a remarkable country goodbye song.
20. Here Comes Goodbye – Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts chalked up yet another number one hit with Here Comes Goodbye. The song was written by former American Idol contestant Chris Sligh. The song is a slow tempo tune about a guy realizes his woman is about to tell him it’s over and they’ll both need to move on. The song has the classic sound of Rascal Flatts. The emotion in Gary LeVox’s vocal is one of the strong suits of the group and it shines through on this sad goodbye song.
19. Kerosene – Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert skyrocketed to fame with her single Kerosene. Up until this point she was known mostly as a singing contest contestant with just a few minor hits. This song about a woman scorned by love shot up the charts and became a huge hit while making Miranda a household name. It was the first time fans got to see the attitude Miranda could bring to the table. This song and future songs from Miranda changed country music in a way. It changed what female artists could sing about. It was awesome.
18. I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton famously said goodbye to her mentor Porter Wagoner with the song I Will Always Love You. Porter didn’t take the goodbye well but the two remained friends near the end of his life. Dolly was destined for bigger things and needed to spread her wings. She let go of Porter and the rest of her career is history including leasing the song to Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner for the film The Bodyguard, which took the song to even higher heights in popularity.
17. Undo It – Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood described her Undo It song as being mean spirited. The song is certainly full of anger and attitude. The lyrics are about a former relationship and wanting everything that happened to go away and never be remembered. Those are some strong feelings of goodbye especially when you don’t even want to remember what happened or even remember the person at all. The song is catchy with a great melody to boot and it rocked the country world in 2010.
16. Picture To Burn – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is known for taking breakups hard, but what teenager doesn’t take a breakup hard? She writes songs about where she is in her life and that’s how teens react. For her song Picture To Burn she sings about a guy she’s saying goodbye too after realizing he loves himself more than he’ll ever care about her. Sure, things may get more civilized in breakups as we get older, but there is a part of us that still wants to burn that picture of the ex.
15. Kiss This – Aaron Tippin
Aaron Tippin actually wrote this kiss off song with his wife. She made the comment to him in a slight argument that lead to the song. It’s not really a permanent goodbye song in a sense, but more of a get out of here you pig kind of song when a woman has had enough of the BS for one day. She needs a little time to be alone and gather her thoughts before she can take anymore of her man. I’m sure a few out there can relate.
14. Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares) – Travis Tritt
Travis Tritt had his signature goodbye song with the one everyone remembers him for – Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares). The song is about a guy whose girlfriend is having second thoughts about ending their relationship. The guy in the song is more than ready to move on and say goodbye. He wants none of her sorries or take me backs. He gives her a quarter and tells her to go cry to anyone but him.
13. Break Down Here – Julie Roberts
Julie Roberts had her biggest hit up to this point with Break Down Here – a song about breakup and relationships. The song is a haunting story about a girl trying to drive away from her past. She realizes the guy she was with was a dead end road. She knows she needs to say goodbye and move on. She hopes things don’t break down while she fights the last bit of urge to go back. The song is crafted perfectly and it’s a big reason for Julie’s success.
12. Never Had It So Good – Mary Chapin Carpenter
One of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s breakout hits was Never Had It So Good – a great song about breakups, heartaches and saying goodbye. The song has a great country melody. I’ve always loved when this song comes on the radio. The combination of music and great vocals makes it a great country song in general and one of the best goodbye songs of all time. Mary Chapin Carpenter is a talented artist and she left her mark here with this song about letting go.
11. Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks has a few songs that could be named as his most well know, but my vote is for Friends In Low Places – the ultimate kiss off goodbye song. In the song the narrator is feeling a bit lonely after his former lover leaves him. He then realizes he’s got all the friendship he needs even if those friends are in low places as described by the woman. This song appears on just about every jukebox and playlist in America and for good reason – it’s one of the best sing along songs of all time and one used for many, many goodbyes.
10. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood kicks off the top ten with her sassy goodbye song Before He Cheats. The song turned Carrie into a superstar. The single became the surprise hit from her debut album. The song is about a regretful woman looking back on the cheating guy she’s with and how she would change things if she could. When you realize someone isn’t being faithful and just doesn’t respect you…it’s time to say goodbye.
9. You Don’t Even Know Who I Am – Patty Loveless
Here is an interesting song from the wonderful Patty Loveless. She recorded such great songs and this is one of them. The song starts with a woman telling her husband that he really doesn’t even know who she is. She knows she needs to end things and leave him. Later the guy realizes the same is true from his perspective. Things just aren’t working and they both don’t know each other. They say goodbye and move on to new lives.
8. I’m Movin’ On – Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts has a hidden song on their first album that nobody knew would be a huge hit. The fourth single from their debut album became their biggest hit at the time. I’m Movin’ On is a touching ballad where the narrator looks back on all the difficult times in his past. He decides to put things behind him and move on to the next phase in life. He says goodbye to all the things that were holding him back and he’s ready to make a change. It’s a somewhat sad song, but it can also be taken as positive.
7. A Broken Wing – Martina McBride
Watch any of the singing competitions like American Idol or the country versions and you’ll be sure to see a few hopefuls singing A Broken Wing by Martina McBride. This song connected with so many during its initial run that it’s still popular today. Nobody can quite sing it like Martina though. She put so much emotion and passion into the song about a woman breaking free from a bad situation and saying goodbye to a bad life. She finds the good life she deserves.
6. Wide Open Spaces – Dixie Chicks
Does everybody remember when the Dixie Chicks ruled the country world? Those were good times. The Chicks had hit after hit and they put out such wonderful country music. The title track from their first record was Wide Open Spaces – a song about a young girl heading off on her own to figure things out in the world. She says goodbye to her family and her childhood. Her dad makes sure she checks the oil but after that she’s heading off into the great wide open.
5. Stupid Boy – Keith Urban
I included this song on the list because it’s such a unique song and I feel it’s a goodbye song on a few levels. The song was written by Sarah Buxton and Keith Urban turned it into an unlikely hit. In Urban’s version he takes on the role of the stupid boy that tried to hold back the girl in his life. My interpretation of the song is that the girl eventually says goodbye and finds her way while the boy in the song learns his lesson and says goodbye to his stupid ways.
4. Bye Bye – Jo Dee Messina
Jo Dee Messina came out guns blazing with her first hit before hitting a bit of a stumble. She came back strong with her second album. She armed herself with some songs penned by Phil Vassar including this top hit Bye Bye. The song is really about letting someone go and saying goodbye to them and the life you had with them. Hit the road and find your new life with your foot on the accelerator. It’s a happy song as some goodbyes are positive.
3. A House With No Curtains – Alan Jackson
I had to throw in this wild card song on the list. Not many people remember this hit in the immense collection of Alan Jackson classics. I love this song because of the simple melody and simple lyric. The song is a story about two people living together. They used to love each other. They used to care. Now they just go through the motions with no love – living a lie. There needs to be a goodbye in this relationship.
2. You’ll Think of Me – Keith Urban
Keith Urban is a country superstar and he’s touched on seemingly every topic affecting people. With his hit song You’ll Think of Me he captured what it’s like when you break up. You realize things must go on. You realize you have to say goodbye to someone you once loved, but you also know they’ll be thinking of you from time to time because there were some good times.
1. A Better Man – Clint Black
I had to top the list with A Better Man from Clint Black. The song has always been one of my personal favorites. The melody of the mid-tempo song gets me every time. A Better Man is about a guy that’s getting over a broken relationship. He knows things didn’t work out and each person had to say goodbye to the other. In the end he knows he is walking away a better man after all that happened. And that’s what saying goodbye can be about – a new, better beginning.