Songs about letting go of unrequited love?
August 16, 2013 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to make a playlist to help me get past an unrequited-love situation. I'm looking for songs where the people actually know each other, not ones where they're in love with a stranger.

I've been in love with one of my friends for quite some time now; they don't feel the same way and I'm looking for music to help me move on. They also did quite a lot of back-and-forth with things so songs like that are helpful too. I'm not looking for songs where it was clear they had a relationship/the person reciprocated at some point.

An example of songs I'm talking about:

Brandy's "Have You Ever"
George Michael's "One More Try"
Taylor Swift's "Red," although that doesn't fit into the category at all, has really been helping.
Tori Amos' "A Sorta Fairytale"
posted by Autumn to Human Relations (38 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Emma Louise - Temporary Friend
Vienna Teng - Unwritten Letter #1
Mika - By The Time
A Fine Frenzy - Almost Lover
Stanton - Your Need For Sleeves (less strictly topical but the relentlessness might be comforting.)

Weird, I don't have as many recommendations as I thought I would, given that this is a situation I am no stranger to :) hugs!
posted by estlin at 6:01 PM on August 16, 2013

The album Longing Was a Safe Place to Hide by Love Outside Andromeda is probably good - Enora came to mind particularly (not very good quality live yt link).
posted by geek anachronism at 6:02 PM on August 16, 2013

Linda Ronstadt - Long, Long Time
posted by Right On Red at 6:13 PM on August 16, 2013

Christina Aguilera - On Our Way

I guess the lyrics are open to interpretation, but it always sounded to me like saying "lets just be friends, and turn the page from the idea of a romantic relationship".
posted by cashman at 6:15 PM on August 16, 2013

I Can't Make You Love Me-- Bonnie Raitt.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart-- Neil Young. Maybe not spot on, but this song is just about perfect when it comes to the melancholy of wanting and not getting, but still feeling like there is more on the horizon...
posted by oflinkey at 6:42 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The cheesy pinnacle of this genre is Michael Bolton's How Am I Supposed To Live Without You. It is so cheesy, it's like, hyper-cheese. You may wanna include it anyway to get all the wallowing over at once and push it into the whole ridiculous "ohmigod I'm acting STUPID" epiphany point, and maybe you'll crack yourself up too.

Nthing Bonnie Raitt, too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fred Knoblock- Why Not Me
posted by wittgenstein at 6:55 PM on August 16, 2013

Sweet Illusion by Ryan Adams
posted by cynicalidealist at 6:59 PM on August 16, 2013

My favorite song in the world is about exactly this.

The Magnetic Fields, All My Little Words.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:02 PM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Duncan Sheik - Barely Breathing.
I come to find
I may never know
Your changing mind
Is it friend or foe?
I rise above
Or sink below
With every time
You come and go
Please don't
Come and go

'Cause I am barely breathing
And I can't find the air
Don't know who I'm kidding
Imagining you care
And I could stand here waiting
A fool for another day
I don't suppose it's worth the price
Worth the price
The price that I would pay
But I'm thinking it over anyway
posted by kbar1 at 7:03 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm not 100% sure the love is unrequited, but Willie Nelson's Angel Flying too close to the Ground is a good one.
posted by colin_l at 7:08 PM on August 16, 2013

I will throw out, Lenny Welch's Since I Fell for You and Kate Bush's Never be Mine. Oh there are so many songs of yearning, regret and what might have been. In an alternate universe you and the friend would have been an amazing couple, but that is not to be. Instead, we have songs of regret, "..the thrill and the hurting.." Stay strong, the pain is exquisite.
posted by jadepearl at 7:13 PM on August 16, 2013

Mood Elevator - At the wedding
"I'm at the wedding...but I'm not the groom..."
posted by bleep at 7:17 PM on August 16, 2013

One of their lesser-known ballads might fit the bill: Def Leppard's Long, Long Way to Go (available both electric and acoustic), from the album X.
posted by AthenaPolias at 7:25 PM on August 16, 2013

Previous ask with songs about falling in love but feeling conflicted. Maybe some of those will be relevant for you.
posted by Michele in California at 8:22 PM on August 16, 2013

A Fine Frenzy - Almost Lover

this one was already posted but i think it really fits what you're looking for. great song.
posted by wildflower at 8:52 PM on August 16, 2013

tegan & sara: goodbye, goodbye
posted by changeling at 9:26 PM on August 16, 2013

Ani DiFranco has a brutal album called Dilate that's about falling for a married guy. Some of the songs (including Untouchable Face, mentioned above) have spoken to me in a similar situation. The title song, Dilate, definitely does.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:30 PM on August 16, 2013

Adele's Someone Like You
posted by restless_nomad at 9:32 PM on August 16, 2013

That's It, I Quit, I'm Moving On - Adele or Sam Cooke.
posted by sacrifix at 9:54 PM on August 16, 2013

Dancing On My Own - Robyn
I'm Not That Girl - Wicked soundtrack
Midnight Confessions - The Grass Roots
Everything You Want - Vertical Horizon
What Do I Have To Do - Stabbing Westward
Gotta Get Thru This - Daniel Bedingfield
posted by SisterHavana at 11:13 PM on August 16, 2013

Mirah - Archipelago. (Simple tune, but oh, the heartstrings...)
posted by progosk at 11:40 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I made a Spotify playlist about unrequited love a while back (for pretty much the same reasons), you may find some of them fit your criteria.
posted by katyggls at 11:50 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

These are mostly grunge and not super peppy but:

Saliva - Always
Stabbing Westward - What Do I Have To Do
Seether - You Bore
Seether - World Falls Away

A little less grungy:
Vanessa Carlton - Rinse
Vanessa Carlton - Fools Like Me
posted by Dimes at 3:05 AM on August 17, 2013

Sting's Why Should I Cry For You.

Even though it's a song about his father, who was a fisherman (or something of the like), the chorus seems to really make sense to me, and verse:

"Sometimes I see your face
Stars seem to lose their place
Why must I think of you?
Why must I, why should I?

Why should I cry for you?
Why would you want me to?
What would it mean to say
I loved you in my fashion".

Vienna, by Matt Costa. Great song about love lost. Requited or otherwise.
posted by readygo at 3:38 AM on August 17, 2013

Correction: Actually, Sting's father was a milkman. No fishing involved :D
posted by readygo at 4:03 AM on August 17, 2013

More Sting:
I'm so happy I can't stop crying
Perfect love gone wrong
Big lie, small world

L Cohen - Famous Blue Raincoat
posted by bunderful at 4:50 AM on August 17, 2013

September by Corb Lund
posted by workerant at 6:06 AM on August 17, 2013

Billy Field, 'You weren't in love with me'.

It's a song from the 80s by an Australian artist with a heartbreakingly beautiful voice. Trust me on this.
posted by Salamander at 9:17 AM on August 17, 2013

"Eros' Entropic Tundra" by Of Montreal
posted by milk white peacock at 9:57 AM on August 17, 2013

A few more:
"I Want The One I Can't Have" - The Smiths
"He Knows I'd Love To See Him" - Morrissey
"We Just Disagree" - Dave Mason (I always thought the lyrics could fit this sort of situation too)
"Vienna" - Ultravox (different song than the one above!)
"Close But No Cigar" - Thomas Dolby
posted by SisterHavana at 2:11 PM on August 17, 2013

My go-to album for unrequited love is Derek and the Dominos' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. It is a fantastic album inspired by Eric Clapton's real-life unrequited love for Pattie Boyd. It's not about letting go, but I found it comforting all the same. The songs are just written and sung with such genuine emotion and pain, you can't help but identify with it. (And feel hopeful, because he did end up with her eventually! But then it didn't work out . . . but that's beside the point.) Great fucking album. If you can't commit to the album at least listen to the original version of Layla.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:00 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eleanor McEvoy's Whisper a Prayer to the Moon is a beautiful song and perfect for this situation.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 6:58 PM on August 17, 2013

hey - the pixies
sludgefeast - dinosaur jr.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 10:05 PM on August 17, 2013

Everything by the 4 tops.
posted by hiddenknives at 11:19 PM on August 17, 2013

Descendents - I'm the One
posted by jbickers at 6:44 AM on August 19, 2013

so this is way late but I stumbled upon this song & got obsessed with it, and it made me think of this thread --

"Song for Zulu" by Phosphorescent

the lyrics slay me. since this is an old thread I'll just paste 'em all here.

Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me
It puts its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing

See the cage, it called. I said, come on in
I will not open myself up this way again
Nor lay my face to the soil, nor my teeth to the sand
I will not lay like this for days now upon end
You will not see me fall, nor see me struggle to stand
To be acknowledged by some touch from his gnarled hands
You see the cage it called. I said, come on in
I will not open myself this way again.

You see the moon is bright in that treetop night
I see the shadows that we cast in the cold clean light
I might fear I go and my heart is white
And we race right out on the desert plains all night
So honey I am now, some broken thing
I do not lay in the dark waiting for day here
Now my heart is gold, my feet are right
And I'm racing out on the desert plains all night

So some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
All that I know love as a caging thing
Just a killer come to call from some awful dream
And all you folks, you come to see
You just to stand there in the glass looking at me
But my heart is wild, and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free

(I hope you are feeling better!)
posted by changeling at 6:26 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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