I remember getting my first iPod ever in 2010. It wasn’t even from Apple. It was a knock-off brand my parents got me from China. Even if I couldn’t download songs on it, it was the greatest thing to me. I’d listened to the songs that were pre-downloaded in the iPod and ‘When You’re Gone’ was one of them. Which, I think, sparked my love for sad music in any genre. Something about elementary-school me just really wanted to feel sad all the time, despite the lack of life experiences I had. I grew out of that phase relatively quickly, so the songs I used to listen to no longer carry the same feelings it used to. However, this song is one of the only songs to remain in the sad part of my heart.
When I hear the first couple notes play of this song, I get this strange twinge of pain in my soul. Immediately, it throws me back to 2009, when I was just eight years old and first discovering MySpace. I loved this song to the point where I set it as the default song of my page. I wanted everyone to hear it. Eight-year-old me related to this song in the way I felt like I was just dumped by a significant other and was heartbroken, even if I had never been in any sort of relationship before. Hearing her sing about missing somebody so much to the point where every fiber of her being was in need of that one person made me want to fall in and out of love so bad. I wanted to feel that. It was just the type of song that made me want everything and nothing at the same time. I think I might’ve even cried a couple times listening to this song when I was a child.
It reminds me of the better days, when I was younger and had no real reason to feel unhappy. I never needed to miss or lose anyone. Everyone I loved was with me and had no intentions of going away. All of my friends were great to me and remained by my side even up until today. Family members were well and present, actively involved with making sure I was the best version of myself. Despite all the greatness I had going in my life, I remember wanting to feel grief (strange, I know) because I was so curious as to what going through less-than-desired situations felt like. I wanted to know what being dumped felt like, what failing a test felt like, and most importantly (and the most terrible), I wanted to know what losing someone I cared about felt like. Those were horrible thoughts, but to the younger me, those just sounded like inevitable “grown up” things that I’d have to experience in order to become an adult.
Now, I know and I wish I didn’t have that thought in my head when I was a child. Every time I hear this song now, I feel regret. Regret from not treating certain people better, because they’re out of my life now, or regret from not saying things I want to say before I lose the chance to. It almost makes me want to live better and be a more wholesome person. Life is too short to not be a good person.
I sort of have a love-hate relationship with this song. In one moment, it’ll motivate me to be a better person, but in another, it’ll remind me of how good of a life I had when I was younger. The latter is somewhat bad because it’s like a reality check for me. The things I have to worry about now, the grief that I’ve gone through; it’s all resurfaced after hearing this song just once after so long.
Having researched this song in the more recent years, I found out that this song not only implies heartbreak via break ups, but about death as well. Being physically apart from someone because they’ve passed is a whole other type of sadness that I’ve just now realized was in this song. She talks about how hard it is to live on without the other person present. The fact that the lyrics are so simple and straight to the point, in my opinion, makes the emotions so much more raw and understandable.