Written by Kylie Renwick
As life guarantees joy, it also promises heartbreak. We’ve all been there, sitting on the floor with Kleenex scattered around, tear stains on our cheeks. It isn’t easier being the one broken up with or the one having to do it. But one thing always needed is good breakup music to help release the stream of emotions in heart and mind.
American Songwriter compiled a list of the 10 best country breakup songs that lyrically and musically hit the soul.
10. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – Keith Whitley
Maybe I’ve been a fool
Holding on all this time
Lyin’ here in your arms
Knowing he’s in your mind
But I keep hoping some day
That you’ll see the light
Let it be me tonight
Don’t close your eyes
Keith Whitley’s 1988 classic “Don’t Close Your Eyes” has survived the test of time. His lyrics sting just as much today as they did when the song was released. Does the song talk directly about a breakup? No, but for someone whose heart was broken as a result of someone not loving them as much, it does.
9. “The Stranger” – Ingrid Andress
And you play the stranger
I’ll play the girl at the bar
The same place where this all got started
Sometimes I wish I didn’t know you at all
So we could do it all over
And fall all over each other again
Ingrid Andress has a way of writing what the heart wants. The lyric sometimes I wish I didn’t know you at all so we could do it all over and fall all over each other again is beautifully haunting and reminiscent of what was once had before everything changed.
8. “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – Brooks and Dunn
Cowgirls don’t cry
Ride, baby, ride
Lessons in life are going to show you in time
Soon enough, you’re gonna know why
It’s gonna hurt every now and then
If you fall, get back on again
Cowgirls don’t cry
Cowgirls don’t cry but if you need to, please do. This song is a country classic and for every reason. Anytime you put a fiddle in a song it’ll pull the heartstrings.
7. “Tin Man” – Miranda Lambert
Hey there, Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
You shouldn’t spend your whole life wishin’
For somethin’ bound to fall apart
Every time you’re feelin’ empty
Better thank your lucky stars
‘Cause if you ever felt one breakin’
You’d never want a heart
In this beautiful ballad, Miranda Lambert showcases the reality of losing the person you love and how it affects your outlook on life after.
6. “Tomorrow” – Chris Young
Tomorrow, I’m gonna leave here
I’m gonna let you go and walk away
Like every day I said I would
And tomorrow, I’m gonna listen
To that voice of reason inside my head
Telling me that we’re no good
But tonight I’m gonna give in one last time
Rock you strong in these arms of mine
Forget all the regrets that are bound to follow
We’re like fire and gasoline
I’m no good for you, you’re no good for me
We only bring each other tears and sorrow
But tonight, I’m gonna love you like there’s no
Chris Young writes the struggle of knowing it’s time to end the relationship but not having the strength to do so. It’s an inner battle moving on but not wanting to let that person go who you love so passionately.
5. “That Could Still Be Us” – Keith Urban
That could still be us
‘Cause it still is sometimes at night when my eyes are shut
Wish I could say it don’t get to me but it does
And I know I probably think about you way too much
But that’s because
That could still be us
Keith Urban is the king of country heartbreak. The emotions and heartache come through in his tone, putting the listener in pain. This song shows how hard it is to move on amidst the memories of a former love.
4. “Memory I Don’t Mess With” – Lee Brice
That’s a memory I don’t mess with
The girl I was the best with
The one I was obsessed with
Girl, you just don’t get it
I’d fall right back with one slip
Always leave me helpless
Don’t hate me, I can’t help it
Gotta leave us where we left it
You’re a memory I don’t mess with
The games that love plays with one’s mind, during and after a relationship are never easy to deal with. Lee Brice shows that some memories are impossible to forget. Places and things haunt a person with memories of a former relationship. It’s hard to forget that person and often you don’t want to.
3. “Over For You” – Morgan Evans
I would have searched the whole world over for you
Took a flight, through the night
To be that shoulder for you, and
I would’ve let go if you wanted me to
How many times did you say you loved me
When it wasn’t true?
I’m just wondering
How long has it been over for you?
Morgan Evans’ latest single cuts. It poses a question many have asked after being blindsided: How long has it been over for you? And, why are you just now telling me? Could we have not worked it out?
2. “What If I Never Get Over You” – Lady A
It’s supposed to hurt, it’s a broken heart
But to movin’ on is the hardest part
It comes in waves, the letting go
But the memory fades, everybody knows
What if I’m tryin’, but then I close my eyes
And then I’m right back, lost in that last goodbye?
And what if time doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do?
What if I never get over you?
This song presents the question that keeps repeating after a breakup: What if I never get over you? It’s a fear many have had after making the decision to break up or be broken up with.
1. “Better Man” – Little Big Town
I know I’m probably better off all alone
Than needing a man who could change his mind at any given minute
And it’s always on your terms, I’m hanging on every careless word
Hoping it might turn sweet again like it was in the beginning
But your jealousy
I can hear it now, you’re talkin’ down to me
Like I’ll always be around
You push my love away like it’s some kind of loaded gun
Boy, you never thought I’d run
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I can feel you again
But I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
And I know why we had to say goodbye like the back of my hand
And I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man
A better man
The lyrics to this Taylor Swift-penned song hit deep. It outlines the pain of breaking up with someone you’re in love with but know is bad for you. It’s the dichotomy of knowing what you did was right, but still missing them deeply.
There are so many other great country breakup songs that didn’t make the list. Music helps you heal, feel, and process the highs and lows of life. It provides words for times when you have no words to express. That’s the beauty of this art.
Let us know your favorite breakup songs in the comments below.
Photo: Courtesy of UMG Nashville