Love has its up and love has its downs. For all the moments when you’re frolicking across a cornfield arm in arm and singing songs by The Carpenters to each other, there’s the times when your face is covered in streaky mascara after you’ve been dumped via Whatsapp. These songs are for the those times, these are songs about missing someone, missing someone hard. Of course, you’ll get over it eventually, but these aren’t tunes for then – these are tunes that encapsulate the sad moments, the 3am ‘I miss you’ text moments. So grab yourself a hankie and an unfeasibly large slab of chocolate, become at one with your misery and get listening to the best songs about missing someone.
1. ‘Back To Black’ – Amy Winehouse (2006)
Amy Winehouse had her fair share of heartache. The title track from her flawless second – and final – studio album was a devastating picking apart of her on-off relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, who had left her for his ex-girlfriend. With Mark Ronson on melancholy doo-wop production, Amy poured her soul into this moving slick of modern Motown, singing “You go back to her/And I go back to black.” Damn.
2. ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ – Bill Withers (1971)
Bill Withers wrote this ultimate ‘missing you’ song while working in a factory that made loo seats for jumbo jets. Unsurprisingly, he quit the day job when this emotive tune became a smash hit. His sweet soul vocal makes the longing in the song even more real. Definitely not toilet.
3. ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ – Dusty Springfield (1964)
This Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned classic is sadder than a box of homeless, orphaned kittens. “I’m so used to doing everything with you/Planning everything for two/And now that we’re through/I just don’t know what to do,” sang the blue-eyed soul diva. Too, too much.
4. ‘Without You’ – Badfinger (1970)
As covered by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, this soft rock ballad by British guitar group Badfinger was once called “the killer song of all time” by Paul McCartney. It is the sound of tears hitting the dashboard of a Ford Cortina. Of crawling into a ball of sorrow on the dancefloor of an Essex nightclub. It is trashy but it’s true.
5. ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Sinead O’Connor (1990)
Released in 1985 by funk band The Family, this Prince tune had to wait five years until Sinead O’Connor bought it to glorious, weepy life and smash hit status. All together now: “It’s been seven hours and 15 days/Since you took your love away”.
6. ‘Miss You’ – The Rolling Stones (1978)
Trust the Rolling Stones to put an extremely funky spin on missing your lover. This 1970s smasher from ‘Some Girls’ shows you the haunted mind of Mick Jagger, as he wails: “I’ve been haunted in my sleep/You’ve been staring in my dreams/Lord I miss you/I’ve been waiting in the hall/Been waiting on your call.”
7. ‘Wedding Bells’ – Hank Williams (1949)
Hank Williams is heartache personified. The king of country music, his lovelorn ballads are all about not quite getting the girl. ‘Wedding Bells’ is the saddest of the lot, with an ex – or unrequited love – inviting Hank to her wedding, leaving him to mope over the day he assumed they would one day share together. Heartbreaking.
8. ‘Missing’ – Everything But The Girl (1994)
“And I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain,” sang Tracey Thorn on this proto-The xx sad song. In other words, she’s missing them bigtime. Thankfully she’s doing it to a banging mid-1990s triphop beat, so it’s not all doom and gloom.
9. ‘When You Were Mine’ – Cyndi Lauper (1983)
Another heartbreak tune penned by Prince, ‘When You Were Mine’ is all about ditching someone you thought was rubbish and only then realising that they were actually pretty great after all. Bollocks.
10. ‘I Need My Girl – The National’ (2013)
On their sixth album, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, The National proved themselves to be the true kings of gloom. ‘I Need My Girl’ is longing for your love as anthropomorphised as a Brooklyn coffee shop at dusk on a chilly autumn night. Lovely, lovely.