So what’s the perfect goodbye song? I’m not sure there’s anything as immense as Roy Orbison and ‘It’s Over’. The trembling delivery, the staggering beat, the swelling apprehension and worse. The girl has been untrue and she tells Roy that they’re emphatically done. No more rainbows, only lonely sunsets. The song surges for the last time and the sorrow takes us to a hitherto unreachable summit of disconsolation. Even the stars are weeping in the sky
I may have mentioned Soft Cell before and the imperial ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’. Seek out the 12 inch version for the most lonesome clarinet solo, ever. But while Roy Orbison had a kind of dignity in despair, Marc Almond is more theatrical and less generous with his exit. He takes a few bitchy sideswipes as he stumbles out the doors of the Pink Flamingo and into the rain. But beyond the posturing, there’s an ill-disguised heartbreak. David Gray used this in his version of the song. Then he had the smart idea of hitching it onto Van Morrison’s ‘Madam George’ - the tune with the most protracted and soul-shredding outro in popular music. A hundred goodbyes, and it’s still never enough.
Yet on the other side, there is resignation. You will find that on ‘Do What You Gotta Do’, a Jimmy Webb song that the Four Tops covered in 1969. It’s a song about letting go of the lover and telling her to chase those dappled dreams elsewhere. There’s a deal of self-possession at the beginning of the song and then it does something that I normally wouldn't care for. It starts to repeat the early verses. But on this recording, the effect is devastating. All of the poise starts to crack and the voices are faltering. They just about make it through the song before you hear grown men in tears.
We could talk about Scott Walker, Nina Simone or Edith Piaf, but our farewell tour ends with The Verve in 1995 and ‘History’. Lyrics on loan from William Blake, handclaps by Liam Gallagher plus a billowing orchestra. It’s the sound of Richard Ashcroft, lost in London, grieving from a break-up and singing the blues right out of the estuary mud. There was a Times Square sign on the single sleeve that read: “All Goodbyes Should Be Sudden”. And sure enough, The Verve had fractured before the record was even released.
Anyway, I must go. Best wishes and everything. Adieu.