Whether you bid 2019 goodbye with misty eyes, a companionable wave or an upraised middle finger, this is a good time to recall just how fluent and varied country songs are in saying “Farewell,” “So long,” “Adieu,” “Adios,” “Au revoir,” “Catch you later,” “Do you have to go,” “Until we meet again,” “Good riddance” and “Piss off!” Here are 25 examples of that genre to savor before 2020 hits us like Gretchen Wilson on a four-wheeler.
“Even Though I’m Leaving,” Luke Combs (2019)
Let the tears begin. Nothing is quite as emotionally wrenching for both parties as the separation of parent and child. And when the separation has the open-endedness of going off to war or dying of old age, the agony can only be tempered by the assurance of enduring love. If you’re moved by this one, check out Conway Twitty’s 1987 classic, “That’s My Job.”
“Rearview Town,” Jason Aldean (2018)
This guy exits his hometown with almost palpable bitterness, since it offers him only “broken hearts and rusted plows.”
“See You Again,” Carrie Underwood (2013)
In the face of a loved one’s death the promise of love is unbroken and eternal. “This is not where it ends,” she declares.
“Goodbye Time,” Blake Shelton (2005)
In this cover of Conway Twitty’s 1988 hit, the singer concludes that a farewell is the only solution to a relationship that can’t be reconciled.
“I’m Movin’ On,” Rascal Flatts (2001)
Unlike the protagonist in “Rearview Town,” the singer here is wistful (but not sentimental) about leaving a place that will “never allow [him] to change.”
“Goodbye Earl,” Dixie Chicks (2000)
The consummate revenge fantasy in which we wave goodbye to a wife abuser with a convivial drink and a dunk in the lake.
“You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” Patty Loveless (1995)
This is inconsolably sad. Feeling unappreciated, the wife leaves a goodbye note, which the husband reads and responds to with a goodbye call. “You don’t even know who I am,” each tells the other, “you left me a long time ago/You don’t even know who I am/So what do you care if I go?”
“How Can I Help You Say Goodbye,” Patty Loveless (1994)
Herein a tender and understanding mother comforts her daughter through separation from a childhood friend, an unwanted divorce and finally the death of Mama, herself. If this one doesn’t leave you wrung out and gasping for breath, seek therapy immediately.
“Calling Baton Rouge,” New Grass Revival (1989)
The caller has left town but his libido’s stayed behind. Too bad they didn’t have FaceTime back then.
“Five Generations of Rock County Wilsons,” Dan Seals (1988)
The land developers have moved in with their “big diesel Cat” and despoiled all this fifth-generation Wilson holds dear, leaving him no option but a Greyhound goodbye.
“Texas in My Rear View Mirror,” Mac Davis (1980)
Who needs Lubbock when Hollywood beckons? So he hits the road, then hits the wall. Now Lubbock looks much better viewed through his windshield.
“Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” the Oak Ridge Boys (19800)
Mary leaving town with a “traveling man” seemed like a good idea at the time. But Mama knows better and Daddy ain’t one to put up with such foolishness.
“Old Habits,” Hank Williams Jr. (1980)
“I used Life Savers to help me get off cigarettes/But you know for your love I ain’t found no lifesavers yet.” Need he say more about the pain of a lover leaving?
“Farewell Party,” Gene Watson (1979)
Threatening to do away with oneself and even forecasting details of the last rites may not be the best way to reignite a romance. The self-pity in this one is waist-deep.
“It’s Goodbye and So Long to You,” the Osborne Brothers and Mac Wiseman (1979)
One of the most emphatic kiss-offs on record, this bluegrass favorite was revived by Alison Krauss on her Windy City album.
“To Daddy,” Emmylou Harris (1978)
The mother here is a selfless, unloved, but never-complaining drudge until we get to the last verse and the finality of its goodbye note.
“I Will Always Love You,” Dolly Parton (1974)
Everybody in the Western Hemisphere knows by now that this was Parton’s adieu to Porter Wagoner. But it’s done with such diplomatic finesse that it’s worth listening to again. She makes her departure sound like a tribute.
“Last Train From Poor Valley,” Norman Blake (1974)
This is a cinematic gem. It’s winter in a depressed coal camp and, as if that wasn’t harsh enough to endure, the last train leaving is carrying away the out-of-work coal miner’s wife. Too bleak for words.
“Leavin’ and Sayin’ Goodbye,” Faron Young (1971)
It’s one thing to threaten leaving a relationship but quite another to actually do it. Or, as Young sings, “Sayin’ you’re leavin’s so much easier/than leavin’ and sayin’ goodbye.”
“Leaving on a Jet Plane,” the Kendalls (1970)
The singer here isn’t your standard vagabond who can’t wait to hit the road. Why he’s leaving isn’t made clear — maybe off to a job or off to war — but it’s a reluctant and sad farewell.
“Silver Wings,” Merle Haggard (1969)
“They’re taking you away and leaving me lonely/Silver wings slowly fading out of sight.” That’s pretty much the gist of it.
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” Glen Campbell (1967)
What a jerk! All the internal evidence in this song says he’s leaving a woman who’s been good to him. And with only a goodbye note. Dreadful behavior.
“Four Strong Winds,” Bobby Bare (1965)
Ah, the lure of that magical land called Elsewhere. But this guy at least wants his partner to go with him.
“Tragic Romance,” Cowboy Copas (1955)
What else can this fellow do but leave home and roam the world after he’s seen his beloved hugging and kissing another man? And so he does — and therein lies the tragedy. A great story song with a surprise ending.
“Old Shep,” Red Foley (1947)
Dog lovers will be weeping openly by the time this tribute runs its course. How do you end the life of such a faithful friend? Elvis covered this song in 1956.
Well, there you have it. Oh, do you really have to go so soon? We’ll miss you like crazy.