Old friendships can be so complicated and dramatic and painful. Or they can be life-affirming. My favorite people are mostly old friends, people who have shown up in my life year after year and month after month. They’re the folks who have lived through more than one season of life with me, who have taken care of me through breakups and breakdowns, friends who have celebrated new jobs or graduations or first dates with me.

But of course, not all friendships last. Sometimes in life, we’re all forced to let go of people. Especially if you’re not the one deciding to do the letting go, moving on can be excruciating.

What do you do when someone ends a friendship?

Letting go can be good for you, I guess, like eating your vegetables and going to bed on time can be good for you (I’m not great at doing those things either). So, I’ve taken what is perhaps a silly approach to my problems: I made a playlist of songs for moving on.

I feel like it helps to sit a little in the sadness of the moment. “Bluebird” by Viren is a simple instrumental track, peaceful with a little hope, but makes me feel like I’m sitting in the sad. “Let It Go” by James Bay is the song that got me through my worst breakup, and for good reason. I also stole my friend Esther’s breakup song: “Jealous” by Labrinth. “Todo Homem” by Zeca Veloso captures the longing to belong.

Despite some sad lyrics, the upbeat sound of “Supalonely” by Benee makes being lonely seem not so bad, while “Perdu” by Angèle leaves me angry in a useful way. “Leave Me Alone” by Amaarae touches on the value of being alone and the value of self.

I am a creature of nostalgia, always chronicling the past and looking backward at sweet memories, glossing over the bad times. What is nostalgia but the sweet in the sad? I wanted songs that honor that nostalgia. Twenty One Pilots “Stressed Out” is on the sadder end of nostalgic. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams and “Thinking About You” by Norah Jones both reminisce sweetly on good times.

“For Good” from the musical Wicked is perhaps too on the nose for the situation of an old friendship ending…but it’s also a pretty great song to belt along to in your car if you’re feeling sad and dramatic.

Moving forward creates new space in life for new relationships, new places, new people, new joy and fresh sorrow. So my playlist ends with a song about embracing possibility, “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.

If you have any suggestions for songs that capture the bittersweet feeling of letting go, or the joy in letting go, let me know.

On a side note, I’m biting my tongue after raving about how much I enjoy the heat when we’re getting day after day of over 98-degree weather. I’ve added some new songs to my summer playlist, courtesy of reader Theresa Alonzo, that I hope will revive my summer spirit even in this heatwave.

She sent me some quintessential summer sounds, samples that I didn’t know I knew, like “Soulful Strut” from Young-Holt Unlimited and the theme from “A Summer Place” by Percy Faith and his orchestra. She suggested some classic summer jams: “Summer Breeze” from Seals & Crofts and “Surfin USA” by the Beach Boys. Her suggestions included “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas and “Grazing in the Grass” by The Friends of Distinction. My favorite song on her list was “Summer” by War, which is six minutes of summer groove that might have the power to reshape my attitude.


Cathy Cook, El Defensor Chieftain