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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Songs about Regret and Forgiveness

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here's the latest in the popular series of song lists on compassion, gratitude and so on.  This time, the focus is on regret, forgiveness and reconciliation.  

Music styles include ska, Sesame Street, and salsa-infused hip hop, so hopefully there's something for everyone. 

Teachers, I've included a brief snippet of the lyrics for each song, but be sure to watch the full video and read the full lyrics before sharing any of these songs with your class. I try not to include anything offensive, but with a readership on six continents teaching pre-K through post-graduate, I can't guarantee that everything will be appropriate for your particular context.

Angry Anymore, Ani Di Franco
lyrics; audio + album cover (song starts at 1:00)
"I just want you to understand that I know what all the fighting was for. And I just want you to understand that I'm not angry anymore."

Apology Song, The Decemberists

lyrics; video (audio + album cover)
"I'm really sorry, Steven, but your bicycle's been stolen. I was watchin' it for you 'til you came back in the fall.  I guess I didn't do such a good job after all... So I wrote you this song in the hopes that you'd forgive me even though it was wrong."  

Begin Again, Rachel Platten
official lyrics video
"I need a wrecking ball. I want the sky to fall. I feel so small tonight... I need a tidal wave. Come and wash away all the mess I made  to make it right. I need to make it right."

Blank Page, Christina Aguilera
lyricsvideo (audio + album cover)

"I know there's hurt, I know there's pain... regret choices I've made.  How do I say I'm sorry?"

Everyone Makes Mistakes, Big Bird
lyrics; video from Sesame Street; alternate video (audio + album cover)
"If you make a mistake, you shouldn't start to cry. Mistakes are not so bad, and here is why... Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too. Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people! Everyone makes mistakes, so why can't you?"

Forgiven Me, Mary Mary
lyrics; video (audio with album cover)
"I never ever wanna press rewind, never wanna go back in time.  Not much glory in that story but it's mine.  So I'm loving who I am today, past has passed away.  Finally I have forgiven me."

Forgiveness, Matthew West
lyricslyrics video (audio + photo); video of live performance interspersed with the true story of a mother who forgave the drunk driver who killed her daughter. (Song begins 2:51; from 7:50 on, the message is specifically for Christians.)
"It's the hardest thing to give away, and the last thing on your mind today.  It always goes to those who don't deserve.  It's the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real.  It takes everything you have just to say the word: Forgiveness."

How to Save a Life, The Fray
lyricsofficial video

"Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life." 

Hurt, Christina Aguilera
lyricsofficial live videoASL interpretation by Bradley Laconey

"I'm sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn't do. And I've hurt myself by hurting you."

If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher
lyrics; video of cover by Liss Jones on The Voice UK
"I didn't really mean to hurt you. I didn't wanna see you go. I know I made you cry, but baby if I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I'd take back those words that hurt you, and you'd stay."

I Forgive You, Rachelle Farrell
lyricsaudio + album cover

"It doesn't really matter whether or not I understand. It doesn't really matter whether or not you're still my man. I still love you, and I forgive you."

Less Than Whole
, Eric Paslay
lyricsvideo of acoustic performance and interview (song starts at 1:27)

"There's nothing like forgiveness to resurrect a soul.  Better to give than get it.  I've been forgiven so I'm lettin' you know.  Nobody should be less than whole."

A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You, The Monkees
lyrics; video of ska version by The Specials, followed by original version (audio with photos of the bands and album covers)
"Girl, I don’t want to fight... I’m a little bit wrong, and you’re a little bit right... Don’t know just what I said wrong, but girl I apologize. Don’t go. Here’s where you belong. So wipe the tears from your eyes."

Nobody's Perfect; Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus)
lyrics; video (audio + album cover)
"Everybody makes mistakes... Everybody has those days... Everybody knows what I'm talkin' 'bout... My intentions are good.  Sometimes just misunderstood... Sometimes I fix things up and they fall apart again.  Nobody's perfect."

Regret, by Everything, Everything
lyrics; video of live performance
"Did you ever watch your life slide out of your hands?  Maybe I'm a human?  Trying to click undo, man.  Or maybe I'm automaton.  Oh, how'd it all go so wrong?  Regret! Regret!"

Sad, Maroon 5
lyrics; audio with album cover

“I’m kickin’ the curb ‘cause you never heard the words that you needed so bad. I’m so sad. So sad.”

Start Somewhere, Toby Mac
lyrics; official lyrics video
"I'm tossin' and turnin' on the things I'd undo as I wrestle with the painful truth.  Oh, my sleep escapes me as guilt berates me... But here I am, and there you are.  The space between us is not so far." 

Time is a Healer, Eva Cassidy
lyrics; video (audio with album cover) 
"I found a picture of your smiling face, bringing old memories that I had locked away.  The burden of anger from a heart filled with pain was finally lifted, and I smile at you again.  If time is a healer, then all hearts that break are put back together again.  ‘Cause love heals the wound it makes."

We Can Work It Out, Paul Mc Cartney and John Lennon
lyricsvideo of the Beatlesvideo of cover by Crowd Theory
"Try to see it my way.  Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.  While you see it your way, there's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.  We can work it out.  We can work it out."

What I’ve Done, by Linkin Park
lyrics; video of cover by Brighter Than 1000 Suns

"For what I've done, I start again.  And whatever pain may come, today this ends.  I'm forgiving what I've done."

Wings of Forgiveness, india.arie
lyricsaudio + album cover

"If Gandhi can forgive persecution, surely you can forgive me for being so petty... Let's shake free this gravity of judgment, and fly high on the wings of forgiveness."

You're Only Human (Second Wind), Billy Joel
lyricsvideo (audio with album cover)
"You're having a hard time and lately you don't feel so good.  You're getting a bad reputation in your neighborhood...  You're only human.  You're allowed to make your share of mistakes."

Amazing Grace, John Newton
Live Performance by Il Divo; ASL interpretation; Auslan interpretation; BSL interpretation
This is a hymn by a former slave trader who became influential in the abolitionist movement. It may not be appropriate for secular contexts (use your own best judgment) but I decided to add it to the playlist because it's such a powerful message of forgiveness and because I so rarely find songs interpreted in ASL, BSL, and Auslan.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

(If using these questions with a class or group, please respect participants' decisions about how much personal information they feel comfortable sharing.)
  • Is there someone you're having trouble forgiving?
  • Is there anything you need to forgive yourself for?
  • Are there situations where it's better not to forgive, at least not right away?
  • How can we make amends for something we've done wrong?
  • If you wrote a song about regret, forgiveness, or reconciliation, what would it say?


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