Can't Remember If We Said Goodbye (Steve Earle/Emmylou Harris)

We can look at failed relationships through many different lenses. The most productive  are probably those lenses that make us see the good things that came from the relationship. Life will be so much better going forward if you can look back on the positive things in the relationship and how you grew as a person from being in the relationship. This number by Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris is achingly poignant. We're not sure that a relationship has to end in saying "goodbye" in whole. Goodbye to what the relationship was and hello to what it will be going forward ... perhaps a good friendship. Not always possible but it's sure a good outcome to strive for.
The Sweetest Thing (Carlene Carter)

Another positive reflection on a failed relationship, this number is hauntingly beautiful. It's all about attitude and how you look at a situation. If you remove "blame", you can always find a positive reflection on the good you had and how you can treasure the memories.
The Dance (Garth Brooks)

This was one of Garth Brooks' biggest hits and deservingly so. Listen to it as many times as you have to while reading the lyrics. This is how we should look at every negative situation, especially the sadness of a failed relationship ... and vow to never stop "dancing".
Lyrics (Sweetest Thing)

In the stillness of the dawn
Our love is dead and gone
The sunrise warms my heart
With memories of you
It's the sweetest thing--remembering

There's a picture in the hall
That I'm leaving on the wall
'Cause there's a look in your eyes
That always made me fall apart
It's the sweetest thing--remembering
When I close my eyes to cry
I can't help but feel a smile
'Cause I think of you and I forget
It hurt to say goodbye

But after all we've been through
It's amazing to me
The sweetest thing's remembering
Oh the sweetest thing--remembering

We wanted love to last forever
And the good Lord knows we tried
But when the rain came pouring down
There was no place left to hide

But after all we've been through
It's amazing to me
The sweetest thing's remembering
Oh the sweetest thing--remembering

It's the sweetest thing--remembering

Lyrics (The Dance)

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king
But if I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain but I'd have had to miss the dance

Click here to view video of Carlene Carter & The Sweetest Thing
Fire Inside (Bob Seger)

One interpretation of this underrated song by Seger is that it reflects the search of a lost companion and the internal struggles the singer must deal with. It's about someone who goes out on the town looking for someone from the past that he loved dearly. He's in a state of rage because only he understands how much he needs this person. On his way through town he notices the phony lovers and lines, the weak, and the "dilettantes." During this visit in town, he notices how weak people really are - "Safe in the knowledge that they tried." All the people in the clubs and the discotheques are secretly looking to fall in love but they can't find it. He is the only one who realizes this and is quite critical of them. The trip sequence ends with the line, "On to the street, on to the next, Safe in the knowledge that they tried. Faking the smile, hiding the pain, never satisfied. The fire inside."

A slightly different twist might be that the song is about a woman and the "fire inside" is lust. While she is lonesome and looking for love, she cannot deny her desires. Her familiarity with the scene indicates that her one night stands are a cyclical pattern of desperation. Even though she is watching her hopes and dreams pass by and realizes that her youth and beauty will fade, she is unable to alter her behavior.

Regardless of the literal interpretation, we see it as a metaphor for being sure we focus on what's important in a relationship and not the superficial garbage we're fed by the media and shallowness that forces its influence on our lives day after day.
Lyrics (Fire Inside)

Theres a hard moon risin on the streets tonight
There's a reckless feeling in your heart as you head out tonight
Through the concrete canyons to the midtown light
Where the latest neon promises are burning bright

Past the open windows on the darker streets
Where unseen angry voices flash and children cry
Past the phony posers with their worn out lines
The tired new money dressed to the nines
The low life dealers with their bad designs
And the dilettantes with their open minds

You're out on the town, safe in the crowd
Ready to go for the ride
Searching the eyes, looking for clues
Theres no way you can hide
The fire inside

Well you've been to the clubs and the discotheques
Where they deal one another from the bottom of a deck of promises
Where the cautious loners and emotional wrecks
Do an acting stretch as a way to hide the obvious
And the lights go down and they dance real close
And for one brief instant they pretend theyre safe and warm

Then the beat gets louder and the mood is gone
The darkness scatters as the lights flash on
They hold one another just a little too long
And they move apart and then move on

On to the street, on to the next
Safe in the knowledge that they tried
Faking the smile, hiding the pain
Never satisfied
The fire inside
Fire inside

Now the hour is late and he thinks you're asleep
You listen to him dress and you listen to him leave
Like you knew he would
You hear his car pull away in the street
Then you move to the door and you lock it when
Hes gone for good

Then you walk to the window and stare at the moon
Riding high and lonesome through a starlit sky
And it comes to you how it all slips away
Youth and beauty are gone one day
No matter what you dream or feel or say
It ends in dust and disarray

Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass
Waves rolling in with the tide
Dreams die hard and we watch them erode
But we cannot be denied
The fire inside

In the last episode of the popular '80s sitcom, Cheers, the characters discuss the meaning of life. Between the humor, you'll find some good advice, especially at the end where Norm makes Sam see what he truly values in life, his one true love.
Robert Earl Keen's, Billy Gray, is ...