“Hello” – and Goodbye

by Sue Kemple, CEO, My Last Soundtrack

It’s really no secret that the most common theme in music, in almost all genres and across all generations, is heartbreak.

This new Adele song (with its very unoriginal title – Hello, Lionel Richie! Hello again, Neil Diamond!), over which the internet seems to have gone apeshit, speaks (sings?) to this pain from the perspective of the one who broke another’s heart; one who, presumably mired in guilt for years, attempts over the phone to express remorse and, it would appear, even a desire for reconciliation with her former lover.

But in the song, it all comes too late.

After being released fewer than two weeks ago, “Hello” is already the first single to break the million-figure barrier for US downloads in one week, reflecting the aching familiarity so many of us have with that kind of heartbreak.

But the song that holds the record for the most number of total sales in seven days (not even lazy downloads, but sales of actual physical musical delivery agents, such as CDs, cassettes, and vinyl records) is about an even more universal heartbreak: death.

Eighteen years ago, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” Elton John’s tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, set all those records. It was a song not titled “Hello,” but that could have been subtitled, “Goodbye.”

Sure, the song was expressly written in its first iteration to remember Marilyn Monroe, then in this revised version to honor Diana, a global and beloved figure. But no doubt it also expressed for many the pain of losing loved ones much closer to home.

I’m not surprised that a song about losing someone to death still holds that record. It resonates more universally, because unlike for the lucky/committed few who figure out romantic love early and once, death is an experience – and a heartache – not one of us will ever be able to escape.

What are the songs that speak most to you of this ultimate heartbreak? Or the ones that help you face death with a sense of humor, or a sense of courage? Why not create a soundtrack of your own and share it? I created a brief soundtrack with a few of mine. Check it out here!

(FYI: The clip above is not the actual video for “Hello.” It’s a spoof. In case you were wondering.)

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