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Farewell songs from the musicals

When the final curtain has come down, you want the songs that say farewell to be special, to say something about your life, your loves, your feelings. 

Listen then, to the musicals, for songs that say particularly appropriate goodbyes and enjoy a grand finale!

Somewhere: West Side Story

One of the finest musical songs ever written. It is achingly sad. Sung first as a duet when Tony admits to Maria that he has killed Bernardo, it is about escaping to a place where ‘peace and quiet and open air, wait for us, somewhere’, in contrast to the killing they know will now escalate.

And escalate it does, culminating in the death of Tony. As Maria holds the dying Tony in her arms she sings a quiet, brief reprise of this beautiful, touching song.

You'll Never Walk Alone: Carousel

This is a very popular funeral song, especially the version sung by Gerry and the Pacemakers, even more so for supporters of Liverpool Football Club for whom this is an anthem. It's the standout song from a brilliant Rogers and Hammerstein musical. It doesn’t matter that it’s a bit of a cliché…there are few farewell songs that can beat it.

If Ever I Would Leave You: Camelot

Camelot is an excellent musical full of memorable songs. This is one of the best, and on several  occasions was literally a show stopper. In a poignant way it’s suitable for a farewell...although Lancelot cannot conceive of leaving Guenevere, no relationship lasts forever and we have to leave our loved ones, or they leave us.

The Party's Over: Bells Are Ringing

A well known song from a not very popular, but extremely good musical. The lyric sums up the realisation that ‘all dreams must end’. It is a sad but philosophic look back on a romantic relationship that no longer exists… ‘They’ve burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away…the party’s over, the candles flicker and dim.’

This version by Doris Day is excellent as are covers by Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole.

I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face: My Fair Lady

Professor Higgin's angry and sad realisation of how much he will miss Liza Doolittle: 'Damn, Damn, Damn, Damn!' is a rare way to start a song, but this is more a spoken performance over a suitable melody. It's a moving and sad reflection on how a man can miss a woman he loves...illogical, contradictory and destructive emotions.

Ever More Without You: The Woman in White

Sad, gushing, sentimental…but really gets the emotions going as Walter hears of his lover Laura’s death. Full on orchestral writing from Lloyd Webber, perfectly structured with a great climax.  A touching song to say good bye to someone who is very dear to you.

Raining In My Heart: Buddy

From the jukebox musical about early rocker Buddy Holly, this is a simple, lilting  teenage torch song. The naively expressed sadness, and Holly’s plaintive delivery, make it an appropriate farewell to someone close.

Goodnight, Sweetheart: Holiday in Mexico

This song was written well before it appeared in the charming musical Holiday in Mexico. It was also the theme for the BBC time-travel sitcom staring Nicholas Lyndhurst. A touching farewell song, here brilliantly sung by doo wop group The Spaniels. For those who like something a little different...

They Can't Take That Away From Me: Shall We Dance

One of the best of a fine list of George and Ira Gershwin songs from this great Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film.

It’s a serene and nostalgic look back on a love affair, and as such a suitable way to say a fond farewell to someone whose quirky habits, whose beaming smile and whose very being you will never forget.

Frank Sinatra made the song his own, but the Ella Fitzgerald version is, in our view, better.  We don’t believe in angels, but if there any, I expect them to sing like Ella.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz

One of the most popular songs of all time, with its wistful evocation of a better place, 'where the clouds are far behind, and troubles melt like lemon drops'. It’s a hugely appropriate song to send a loved one where 'the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true'.

This version is from the Eva Cassidy who died from cancer aged 33.

Goodbye Old Girl: Damn Yankees

A song to say farewell to the woman in your life. In the film it was sung by a baseball player who runs out on his wife to be a star hitter. Taken out of this context, the lyrics are a poignant and sentimental farewell. ‘I’ve got to go but sleep your sleep old girl, our love will keep old girl, till then.’

Who Can I Turn To: Roar Of The Greasepaint, Smell Of The Crowd

This is a beautiful, heartwrenchingly sad song. Every line aches with the fear of missing someone special. ‘With no star to guide me and no one beside me, I’ll go my way and after the day, the darkness will hide me…maybe tomorrow I’ll find what I’m after.’ The realisation of loneliness has never been bleaker.

My Man’s Gone Now: Porgy and Bess

George Gershwin considered this outstanding opera his finest work. It contains several songs which have gone on to be standards. My Man’s Gone is not one of the most popular, but it is a magnificently touching song in which Serena laments the death of her man, and the realisation that now she’s old life has nothing to offer but sadness and working.

Nina Simone’s version is excellent.

My Funny Valentine: Babes In Arms

From one of Rogers and Hart’s less popular musicals, this is one of the most genuine and touching love songs ever written. In the show, Billie pokes fun at Valentine, but gently realises she loves him for his imperfections and doesn’t want him to change.

'Is your figure less than Greek?/Is your mouth a little weak?/When you open it to speak, are you smart?/Don't change a hair for me/Not if you care for me,/Stay little Valentine, Stay/Each day is Valentine's day.'... Not many versus are as honest about love, and it is why it should be considered to say a fond and frank farewell.

This Nearly Was Mine: South Pacific

One of the most popular Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, and one which examines the damage that deep seated racial prejudice does to people, it contains several gorgeous and intelligent songs.

The most touching is This Nearly Was Mine, in which Emile imagines in the most poetic of lyrics the love he might have shared with Nellie had she not rejected him because he had fathered children by a South Pacific island woman.

It is, quite simply, a beautiful song of lost love and a most appropriate way to say goodbye.


I Have Dreamed: The King and I

Another fabulous Rogers and Hammerstein musical which again examines culture clashes and prejudice.

There are few more poignant and yearning songs than I Have Dreamed…and made more so by the ambiguity. Was the love only in the dreams, did this brilliantly painted vision of shared love ever become real?

‘How you look in the glow of evening/I have dreamed and enjoyed the view./In these dreams I've loved you./So that by now I think I know/What it's like to be loved by you.’

So Long, Farewell: Sound of Music

Sweet, jaunty tune with childish lyrics which at same time are touching because of their childlike innocence and views of adulthood as sung by the Von Trapp children.

Say a Prayer For Me Tonight: Gigi

A pretty melody, and a sad lyric which includes this: 'Say a prayer for me tonight/I'll need every prayer that you can spare/To get me by/Say a prayer and while you're praying/Keep on saying/'She's much too young to die'.

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again: Phantom of the Opera

This is the song Christine sings when visiting her father’s grave.The melody is lush and melancholic in true Lloyd Webber style, perfect for this lyric such: 'Wishing you were somehow here again/knowing we must stay goodbye/try to forgive/teach me to live/give me the strength to try.'

Think Of Me: Phantom of the Opera

Another lovely, sad and appropriate farewell song even though it’s the first song in the Phantom of the Opera.  Hearing Christine’s voice and the touching lyrics, who couldn’t think of her and want her to sing again and again.

Thank You For The Music: Mamma Mia

An upbeat song and ideal to say goodbye to a music lover or musician. The virtue is the simplicity of the lyric and the easy melody. And lots of people will sing along, which is always a good way to say goodbye.

Noone But You (Only The Good Die Young): We Will Rock You

Taken from the jukebox musical of Queen hits, in the show it laments the death of young rock stars. There are some sentimental lines in this song that are appropriate to say goodbye to a young family member, who is ‘only flying too close to the sun.’

The Circle Of Life: The Lion King

Homespun philosophy and upliftingly positive lyric that has an appropriate ‘life goes on despite death’ message.

No Matter What: Whistle Down The Wind

A charmingly pretty song from the much adapted musical Whistle Down The Wind. It became a big hit for UK band Boyzone in 1998. It’s about overcoming adversity because of the strength of your beliefs and self-esteem. Overtly Christian in its sentiments, the song says that by having belief you will be ‘sheltered from the storm…I know this love’s forever, no matter what.’

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Jonathan Shepherd wrote on 24 Oct 10 at 3:57pm
Jonathan Shepherd

How about "My dear old Dutch." I've just heard Peter Sellers singing it but i think it goes back to the work House days.

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