In lesser hands, “To Say Goodbye” could have been hopelessly maudlin. But Joey + Rory deliver a heavy message with a light touch, without any bells and whistles in the production or the vocal. The end result is that the stories of a woman who loses her husband in a plane crash and of a man who tends to his elderly wife who has lost her memory don’t focus on the tragedy. Rather, there’s an emphasis on the quiet emptiness left in the wake of these events.
Both characters have already accepted their difficult circumstances and are beyond the wild pangs of grief. They’ve moved on to simple regret, and are now mourning that they don’t have one more chance to express their love and ongoing devotion to their partner who can no longer receive it. By going the route of understatement, the record leaves us with a far more potent impact that lingers after the last note has played.
Written by Rory Feek, Joey Matin, and Jamie Teachenor
Listen: To Say Goodbye