49+ Best Goodbye Songs for Family & Friends

Updated

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What follows is a list of songs about saying goodbye. While it is not a list of the best funeral songs, some on the list are certainly about death.

Since we don’t want you to become dangerously dehydrated from crying over sad songs, we also threw in some “happy” goodbye songs on the list as well. 

Jump ahead to these sections: 

If you're facing a goodbye, why not prepare for it by creating a playlist of your favorite songs? You can even share it along with a Spotify gift card for a unique, personalized gift. 

Here are some ideas. We’ve divided them into categories, so you can pick the right ones to correspond with your mood. 

Tip: If you recently lost a loved one, our post-loss checklist can help you sort through the complicated tasks and challenges you might be facing. 

Best Sad Goodbye Songs

Even though these songs are about saying goodbye, they may not be appropriate choices to play at a funeral. 

1. “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLauchlan

It’s heard at funerals, and it’s played at graduations. It’s been in movies, and the haunting melody instantly brings tears. But what is Sarah McLachlan’s hit song really about? Is it about death, heartbreak, or Alzheimer's? That, my friends, is up for interpretation.

2. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John

Originally, Sir Elton and Bernie Taupin wrote this song to honor Marilyn Monroe. In 1997, a rewritten version was sung as a tribute to Princess Di after she died in a car accident. Regardless of who was being honored, the song is definitely a sad goodbye.

3. “Careless Whisper” by George Michael

George Michael’s song about regret, despair, unfaithfulness, and goodbyes was a big hit in 1984. It was originally recorded when George Michael was part of the pop duo Wham! It’s most memorable lines are “I’m never gonna dance again / Guilty feet have got no rhythm.”

4. “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago

Chicago’s bass player, Peter Cetera, wrote and sang the lead vocals for “If You Leave Me Now.” It was released on Chicago X in 1976 and was one of only five non-disco songs to make it to number one during that period. The song was used in 2010 to raise money to fight breast cancer.

5. “The Dance” by Garth Brooks

This song is about the passage of time, and its poignant melody has made it a popular choice for funerals. But is the speaker in the song talking about someone who has died or a break-up? Perhaps only Garth knows. 

6. “Goodbye My Friend” by Linda Ronstadt

This is a heartbreaking song about the death of a friend. 

7. “Seasons in the Sun” by Westlife

This song, also performed by The Fortunes, is about a man preparing to die when "birds are singing in the sky, and spring is in the air." He asks that his friends think of him, and their seasons in the sun that they spent together.

8. “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney

Listen to this sad country song while thinking about a loved one who was taken too soon. The ending line says it all: “ God knows how I miss you.”

9. “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor

James Taylor lost a childhood friend, but his family and friends chose to keep this “distracting” news a secret. Taylor wrote the song in lament for his lost friend.

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Best Happy Goodbye Songs

Not all goodbyes are sad. Sometimes “goodbye” equals “good riddance.” Sometimes goodbye songs are songs of hope. 

10. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul, and Mary

We know. This song sounds like it should be a sad song. But the speaker in “Leaving on a Jet Plane” hopes that the goodbye he says in this song is not permanent. He asks his beloved to wait for him while he is gone, so they can get married when he returns. 

11. “Good Riddance” by Green Day

This goodbye song should be at the top of the playlist for every 18-year-old leaving for their first year of college. It’s a song about reflection and hope.

12. “Bye Bye Bye” by NSYNC

Ok, maybe this song isn’t particularly “happy,” but the video is kind of funny. And the NSYNC boys are undoubtedly happy to get away from the controlling woman. 

13. “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson

The king of road-trip songs, Willie Nelson’s classic is undoubtedly a “happy” goodbye song. After all, he “just can’t wait to get on the road again.”

14. “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes

Can you even listen to this song without thinking of the end of Dirty Dancing? Even though the song is reflecting on past experiences, it’s happy and upbeat.

15. “So Long, Farewell” by Von Trapp Family Singers

This upbeat song from The Sound of Music is multi-purposed. It can be sung when it’s time for children to go to bed. It can be sung at the end of a music festival. And it can be sung when you are running away from the Nazis. 

16. “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds

This song is played at the beginning and end of The Breakfast Club. Oddly enough, the Scottish group, Simple Minds, had to be convinced to record this song. 

17. “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol

Even if you have said goodbye to your love, it is important to keep dancing. 

18. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is the queen of the “who needs you?” goodbye songs. “Shake It Off” is just one example.

19. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

Goodbyes are sometimes easy. Gloria Gaynor’s power anthem has been inspiring people to move on for generations. 

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Best Funny Goodbye Songs

Whether you are leaving a job you hate or saying goodbye to a toxic relationship, here are some songs that put a lighthearted spin on saying “adios.”

20. “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam

This song has been used at basketball games, political rallies, and game shows. 

21. “Happy Trails” by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans

“Happy Trails” is the trademark song of cowboy singers Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. 

22. “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed

This country singer and film star had a hit with “East Bound and Down.” This goodbye song from Smokey and the Bandit was about hauling Coors beer across state lines. This is the perfect song for a long road trip.

23. “Hello, Goodbye” by The Beatles

Who knows what this song is about? This song was released during a time when The Beatles were experimenting with “randomness” in their music. You can’t have a list of goodbye songs without including it on the list somewhere.

24. “These Boots Were Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra

Although the song itself isn’t funny, watching the video of Nancy Sinatra performing this song will undoubtedly leave a smile on your face.

25. “Take This Job and Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck

How many people have dreamt of saying goodbye to their jobs by playing this Johnny Paycheck classic? Does anyone else think that the singer’s last name is slightly ironic?

26. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” is another song that says, “I’m out of here.” 

27. “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon

Hopefully, when it comes time to say goodbye to your significant other, you will come up with the perfect rhyming couplet. “Hop on the bus, Gus.” Or “Drop off the key, Lee” are excellent examples.

28. “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles

Ray Charles’s mean woman tells him goodbye in this classic song from the 1960s.

29. “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers

Yeah, we know that this song isn’t meant to be funny. It’s intended to be a song of heartbreak and regret. But who can keep a straight face during the long string of “I know”? After all, the lyric is repeated 26 times. 

Best Goodbye Songs for Friends

Saying goodbye to friends is difficult. These songs are a combination of “goodbye” songs as well as “I’ll be there for you” songs. 

30. “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban

This beautiful song with an Irish melody acts as a fantastic tribute to an inspirational friend.

31. “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King

Carole King’s classic friendship song is the perfect song to play to a friend who is getting ready to move away. 

32. “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen

Are you ever surprised by how many songs from the 1970s were sung by Queen? Here is another song about friendship that celebrates those special people in our lives.  

33. “So Long. It’s Been Good to Know You” by Woody Guthrie

Written during the dust bowl, “So Long” is about a person driven west by the horrible storms in the American Midwest in the 1920s. Although the situation was dire, the song is rather upbeat and hopeful.

34. “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” by Bee Gees

This song celebrates the love of good friends. 

35. “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp

Fans of “The Office” will remember Michael Scott’s version of this song called “Goodbye Toby.” Regardless of which version is your favorite, this is a classic song of goodbye. 

36. “Farewell” by Rihanna

“Wherever you’re going, I wanna go.” This underrated hit by Rihanna is the perfect song to listen to when saying goodbye to a friend. 

37. “Tonight, Tonight” by The Smashing Pumpkins

Whether you are leaving high school or flying away on a weird, zeppelin-type contraption, this is a melancholy song that reflects on endings and beginnings. 

38. “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

This song of friendship can be used to send away a friend who is facing an unseen future. 

39. “No Such Thing” by John Mayer

Another end-of-high-school song. John Mayer’s “No Such Thing,” reminds us to live deliberately as we say goodbye to one stage of our lives and enter another. 

Best Goodbye Songs for Family

While there aren’t many songs that say goodbye to family members, there are many songs that talk about missing home. Here are some to add to your playlist if you are feeling particularly homesick.

40. “Home” by Michael Buble

Michale Buble wishes he had never said goodbye as he sings his song celebrating home. 

41. “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel wish they were “homeward bound.” Instead, they are “on a tour of one-night stands, my suitcase and guitar in hand.”

42. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” by Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles

This song is about every teen’s desire to get out of Dodge and regretting that decision later on in life. 

43. “Take Me Home” by John Denver

We choose to ignore that John Denver was from Roswell, New Mexico, when we listen to this song about going home to the West Virginia mountains. 

44. “My Wish” by Rascal Flatt

This song is the perfect one to add to a graduation playlist. “May your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small.”

45. “Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran

This song tells the story of saying goodbye to home and looking forward to returning. 

46. “Homegrown” by Zac Brown Band

This is the anti-goodbye song. It questions the need to ever say goodbye when you have everything you need at home.

47. “I’m Movin On” by Elvis Presley

This story is not necessarily about regret, but it is definitely about saying goodbye.

48. “The Long and Winding Road” by The Beatles

This beautiful song about going down a road that you’ve seen before will remind you of returning home. 

49. “Home” by Phillip Phillips

“Hold on to me as we go.” This song is about leaving but starting over in another location together. 

We hope we've given you plenty of goodbye songs to add to your goodbye playlist, whoever or whatever you’re moving on from.

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