Michael McDonald – “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near),” is a soulful reflection on love and loss. At its core, the song is about the struggle to accept the end of a relationship. Despite the clear message from his former partner that things are over, McDonald finds himself repeatedly forgetting this painful truth, especially when he’s near this person. The song masterfully captures the feeling of denial and difficulty moving on. It’s about the human tendency to cling to the past, even when reality tells us it’s time to let go. McDonald’s soulful voice adds depth to the lyrics, conveying a sense of longing and heartache.

“I Keep Forgettin’” is more than just a breakup song. It’s a journey through memory and heartache, a tune that speaks to anyone who’s ever struggled to let go. It’s not just the words, but how they’re delivered, that tells the story of a heart struggling to come to terms with the loss.


“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” Lyrics Meaning

Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’” opens with a powerful confession: “I keep forgettin’ we’re not in love anymore.”This line sets the stage for a narrative of denial and the inability to accept the end of a relationship. The repetition of “I keep forgettin'” throughout the song serves as a poignant reminder of the struggle between reality and memory. When he’s away from this person, perhaps he can convince himself that the breakup is real, but every encounter shatters this illusion.

The lyrics “Every time I see you smile, hear your ‘hello'” illustrate the trigger of his memory lapse. It’s the small, familiar gestures that reignite old feelings, making it difficult for him to accept the new reality. These lines speak to the power of memory and how it can keep us tethered to the past.

The chorus, “I keep forgettin’ things will never be the same again,” is a lament for the change that has occurred. It’s about facing the hard truth that what was once a source of happiness is now a source of pain. The song captures the essence of a universal human experience: the difficulty of letting go of what once was.

The Story Behind “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)”

The song, released in 1982, came when McDonald established his solo career, transitioning from his role in the Doobie Brothers. Writing a song about struggling to accept the end of a relationship could have been a metaphor for his experiences of moving from one phase of life to another. It’s common for artists to draw on their personal experiences, and the emotions McDonald conveys in this song suggest a deep connection to its theme. The repeated lines about forgetting the reality of a situation reflect a common human tendency to resist change, especially when it involves letting go of something or someone important.

What makes this song resonate with so many is its authenticity. The emotions it conveys are universal, and McDonald’s delivery is heartfelt and genuine. It’s not just a song about a breakup; it’s a narrative about the human experience of clinging to the past and the painful yet necessary process of moving forward.

In exploring the story behind “I Keep Forgettin’,” it becomes clear that the song is a reflection of the universal journey of transition, change, and acceptance. Whether it’s the end of a romantic relationship or a period of personal growth, the song speaks to the difficulty of letting go and the courage it takes to face a new reality.