7 Country Songs About the Death of a Friend
The call came just minutes after midnight. "She's gone," my best friend's daughter sobbed into the phone.
Twenty-five months and one day before her passing, my best friend of 20 years, Debby, had been diagnosed with cancer and she'd finally given up the battle. We'd known this was coming. I thought I was prepared but the news brought more emotion than I had ever expected; many of them feelings I had never experienced before in my life.
For two decades, Debby, fifteen years my senior, had played both a mother and sister role in my life but now the story of us was over. I was lost and terrified at the thought of continuing on without her but I knew I didn't have a choice.
The Power of Music
I didn't feel our story was complete without an epilogue but I always struggle with words during times like these. Music, fortunately, has always been able to say what I cannot and I again found solace in the lyrics of those songs which best expressed my pain and loss at losing my best friend.
The genres of the songs I added to my grief playlist included many but soon realized the ones I was playing over and over were from the country music genre. Unsurprising as its history is rich with songs unafraid to share their rawest emotions about loss and heartbreak. All of these songs expressed the writers' grief at having lost a close friend and loved one, and give me what I need to write that epilogue of the friendship of Debby and I
Sometimes, however, I pull up the playlist and work through another day of grief. I always begin with these seven songs.
1. Never Get Over You by Miranda Lambert
During a 2012 interview with People Country, Miranda Lambert revealed she wrote the song after hearing her (former) father-in-law's story about his older brother's death. "You never get over it, you just learn to live with it," he's reported to have said and from that came a beautiful song about doing just that.
But you went away
How dare you, I miss you
2. Who You'd Be Today by Kenny Chesney
Writes Aimee Mayo and Bill Luther remind us to have faith we'll see those we miss again someday in this beautiful song sung by Kenny Chesney.
God knows how I miss you,
All the hell that I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place
3. Drink a Beer by Luke Bryan
At the Country Music Awards (CMAs) in 2013, singer Luke Bryan dedicated what would become his next big hit to his late siblings, Chris and Kelly. Drink a Beer, written by Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers, is ballad about learning of the death of a friend and one's manner of saying good-bye.
So long my friend
Until we meet again
I'll remember you
And all the times that we used to
4. See You Again by Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood, along with fellow writers David Hodges and Hillary Lindsay, beautifully express the pain and sorrow we feel when we lose someone close and reminds us we should take comfort in knowing we'll see them again someday.
Gone but not forgotten
I feel you by my side
No this is not goodbye
5. You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell
During a November 2016 interview with The Boot, Cole Swindell and Ashley Gorley said it was two very different emotions which led to the creation of this beautiful song about missing a loved one.
Gorley says the idea first came to him as exchanged texts with his daughter, one in which he wrote, "Wish you could be here." When he shared his idea with and asked Swindell to co-author the song with him, Swindell brought the emotion he was experiencing at the sudden loss of his father. The result is a tear-inducing song of one's struggle to go on while feeling a friend's absence.
They say now you're in a better place
And I would be too if I could see your face.
6. Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song) by Toby Keith
Oklahoma Sooners' star Wayne Tisdale was a close personal friend Toby Keith when he lost his battle with cancer in 2009. Tisdale and Keith shared a love for Oklahoma, sports, and music. In the throes of his grief after Tisdale's passing, Keith wrote a heart-touching tribute to his late friend.
Even though it hurts the way it ended up
I'd do it all again
7. Sissy's Song by Alan Jackson
In this beautiful tribute ballad, Alan remembers the Jacksons' daily housekeeper, Leslie "Sissy" Fitzgerald, who died in a motorcycle accident in May 2007. Using his musical gift to express his sadness over Sissy's death, Jackson wrote Sissy's Song, which he sang at her funeral.
She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
Losing someone you love is never easy but I hope you find as much comfort in these country songs about a friend's death as I did.
Sometimes grief can seem unbearable and overwhelming. There's no shame in seeking help from family and friends, or you can speak with a peer counselor at no cost by calling toll-free (US) 1-800-445-4808.
© 2017 Kim Bryan