Nostalgia Tracks: Mariah Carey Teaches Us “Bye Bye”s Aren’t Forever

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey

In the section Nostalgia Tracks, team members discuss their favorite songs, ones that they have a deep connection with. In this installment, contributing writer Kevin Young discusses Mariah Carey’s song, “Bye Bye.” 

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is heartbreaking and devastating at any age.  When I was in eighth grade I lost my grandmother to cancer.  Although I only understood a few Chinese words mixed with her broken English, she meant a lot to me growing up. I miss the many traditional Chinese dishes she would make and her caring yet stalwart matriarchic demeanor that raised three kids and seven grandkids to hustle with integrity.  I even miss being on the receiving end of the foreign obscenities – she would reprimand my cousin and I after causing childhood mischief.

I discovered and immediately resonated with Mariah Carey’s second single  “Bye Bye” off of her album E=MC²  (2008 via The Island Def Jam Music Group).  Right off the bat the somber lyrics spoke to me, from “As a child there were them times I didn’t get it but you kept me in line” and “This is for my peoples who lost their grandmothers.”

This is for my peoples who just lost somebody
Your best friend, your baby, your man, or your lady
Put your hand way up high
We will never say bye (no, no, no)
Mamas, daddies, sisters, brothers, friends and cousins
This is for my peoples who lost their grandmothers
Lift your head to the sky ’cause we will never say bye
Watch: “Bye Bye” – Mariah Carey

It shows her prowess as an artist to turn a personal experience into a soothingly-therapeutic anthem for the rest of the world. It’s evident that Carey took inspiration for this song from losing her father to cancer in 2002 with lyrics “And you never got to see me back at number one”, where she references her smash-hit album The Emancipation of MiMi (2005 via IDJ) topping the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart. She intended to help those feeling down understand that they aren’t alone and that this isn’t the end of the world even though it may feel like it at times. Her message succeeded.

After I stumbled upon her music video for “Bye Bye” on YouTube during the pre-Spotify days, I didn’t know what to expect other than her stellar powerhouse vocals.  Still in a state of melancholy, the lyrics made me feel as though the song was written for me.

The picture slideshow in the music video displays those in Carey’s life who she loss adding her personal touch to drive home the feeling of grief.  Yet the song itself is inspirational in nature from her music video giving viewers a glimpse of her life as a star from going on tour, meeting fans, to taking press photos to demonstrate although she feels sorrow she goes on with her life. It warrants listeners to move forward with their lives too while never forgetting those that they loss keeping them alive through cherished memories.

Mariah Carey © 2015
Mariah Carey © 2015

I must’ve had this song on repeat, manually clicking the song for nearly an hour.  It really helped me endure and accept the fact that death is an inevitable part of life and that your loved ones will always want you to succeed and prosper.

It holds sentimental value to me as Carey really belts out raw emotion in this power ballad.  The crescendo delivery in the final chorus verse still sends shivers down my spine nine years later. It’s benevolently powerful, from her signature whistle combined with the added effect of breaking the fourth wall by speaking directly to the listeners when she croons “it’s hard to say bye bye. So come on somebody say it with me wave your hands up high.” To conclude the song she softens her voice to sing “we will never say bye bye”, an ode to say that loved ones like Carey’s father and my grandmother will always be around in spirt.

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Bye Bye - Mariah Carey
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cover © Mariah Carey 2015
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