“If You Leave” was featured on the soundtrack for the 1986 film, Pretty in Pink. The song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that same year. I remember hearing this song the radio when I was in sixth grade, during the 1986-1987 school year, and falling absolutely in love with it. It’s a song that grabbed me, and over twenty years later, it hasn’t let go.
When you first hear the song, it just sounds like a typical mid-1980s synthpop track, both musically and vocally. But as you listen to the song, you realize the lyrics are about loss and heartbreak. As the song progresses, both the music and vocal delivery increase in intensity, and it all finally explodes right at the end. I think it’s this sense of drama and buildup that really caught me initially. And as I got older, I could relate more and more to the lyrics of the song.
The lyrics for “If You Leave” that have really stood out for me over the years are: “If you leave, I won’t cry / I won’t waste one single day / But if you leave, don’t look back / I’ll be running the other way / Seven years went under the bridge / Like time was standing still / Heaven knows what happens now / You’ve got to – you’ve gotta say you will.” There’s just something about the imagery of the bridge that really captures my interest when I hear this song. Also, there is something about the “seven years” connected with the bridge imagery that also grabs me whenever I hear the song.
I guess my choosing a song from the 1980s as my all-time favorite song isn’t surprising, since I’m a child of the 1980s. This is a song that reminds me a lot of my youth, and of a time before my childhood innocence came to an end. And while I know many people won’t agree with my answer as to what the best song of all time is, I hope that they are at least willing to agree to disagree with me.