Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

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"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
Single by Neil Sedaka
from the album Neil Sedaka Sings His Greatest Hits
B-side"As Long as I Live"
ReleasedJune 1962
GenreBrill Building, doo-wop
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield
Neil Sedaka singles chronology
"King of Clowns"
"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
"Next Door to an Angel"

"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" is a song recorded by Neil Sedaka, co-written by Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. Sedaka recorded this song twice, in 1962 and 1975, in two significantly different arrangements, and it is considered to be his signature song.[1] Between 1970 and 1975, it was a top-40 hit three separate times for three separate artists: Lenny Welch, The Partridge Family and Sedaka's second version.

Original version[edit]

Neil Sedaka recorded both "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and its B-side, "As Long as I Live" in Italian as "Tu Non Lo Sai" and "Finché Vivrò," respectively, further endearing him to his Italian fans.[citation needed]

In his daily mini-concert on June 12, 2020, Sedaka recalled that the song's iconic scat intro was a result of him and Greenfield being unable to come up with a lyric for that section of the song and Sedaka improvising a vocalise, which they liked so much that they kept it in the finished product.[2]

Described by AllMusic as "two minutes and sixteen seconds of pure pop magic,"[1] "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 11, 1962, and peaked at number twelve on the Hot R&B Sides chart.[3] The single was a solid hit all over the world, reaching number 7 in the UK, sometimes with the text translated into foreign languages. For example, the Italian version was called "Tu non lo sai" ("You Don't Know") and was recorded by Sedaka himself.

On this version, background vocals on the song are performed by the female group The Cookies.

The personnel on the original recording session included: Al Casamenti, Art Ryerson, and Charles Macy on guitar; Ernie Hayes on piano; George Duvivier on bass; Gary Chester on drums; Artie Kaplan on saxophone; George Devens and Phil Kraus on percussion; Seymour Barab and Morris Stonzek on cellos; and David Gulliet, Joseph H. Haber, Harry Kohon, David Sackson, and Louis Stone on violins.

Chart history[edit]

"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - Neil Sedaka 1975.jpg
Single by Neil Sedaka
from the album Overnight Success (UK)
The Hungry Years (US)
  • "Nana's Song" (US);
  • "Lonely Night" (UK);
  • "Stephen" (Australia)
ReleasedDecember 1975
LabelRocket Records (US);
Polydor Records (Int'l)
Songwriter(s)Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield
Producer(s)Neil Sedaka, Robert Appere
Neil Sedaka singles chronology
"Bad Blood"
"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
"Love in the Shadows"

Lenny Welch version[edit]

Though it was originally an uptempo song, Lenny Welch re-recorded the song, reimagined as a torch ballad. Welch had approached Sedaka to see if he had any songs in his repertoire that fit Welch's style; as most of the songs Sedaka had written with his usual partner Howard Greenfield were upbeat pop songs, he did not, but playing around on the piano, he discovered "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" worked well as a slow ballad, so he wrote a new introduction and offered it to Welch.[11] It peaked at #34 on the US Billboard charts and #8 on the easy listening chart in January 1970.[12] It was Welch's third and final top-40 pop hit, and his first since 1964.

Sedaka's 1975 version[edit]

Five years after Welch's successful cover, Sedaka, in the midst of a comeback in his native United States after several years in career decline and a detour through the United Kingdom, re-recorded his signature song in the same style that Welch used. Sedaka's slow version peaked at #8 in February 1976 and went to number one on the Easy Listening chart.[13] It was only the second time that an artist made the Billboard Top Ten with two different versions of the same song.[citation needed] Sedaka has credited Welch's song "Since I Fell for You" as well as The Showmen and Dinah Washington as his inspiration for the new rendition.

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

The Partridge Family version[edit]

"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - Partridge Family.jpg
Single by The Partridge Family
from the album At Home with Their Greatest Hits
B-side"I'm Here, You're Here"
ReleasedJune 1972
Songwriter(s)Neil Sedaka
Producer(s)Wes Farrell
The Partridge Family singles chronology
"Am I Losing You"
"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
"Looking Through the Eyes of Love"

Apart from Sedaka's own reworking of the song, by far the most successful cover of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" was done by the Partridge Family in 1972. While only a medium hit in North America, their version reached number 3 in both the UK and Australia. Their version was never released in stereo until the 2013 Bell/Legacy release, "Playlist: The Very Best of the Partridge Family".

Chart performance[edit]

Notable cover versions[edit]

"Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" has been covered by numerous other artists over the years, including a version by The Happenings, whose version charted at number 67 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1968.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Breaking Up Is Hard To Do Song Review November 29, 2011
  2. ^ Sedaka, Neil (June 12, 2020). "Today's Mini-Concert - 6/12/20". Neil Sedaka's official YouTube page. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 516.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". CHUM Hit Parade. 1962-08-06. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  5. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 30 August 1962
  6. ^ "Official Charts Company". 1962-07-25. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  7. ^ a b Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  8. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, , 1962
  9. ^
  10. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 29, 1962
  11. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Today's Mini-Concert - 7/24/2020". YouTube.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 253.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 218.
  14. ^ a b c "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  15. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  16. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  17. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002
  18. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  20. ^ Top 50 Adult Contemporary Hits of 1976
  21. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1976". Cashbox Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  22. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  23. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  24. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  25. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Songs (A-B)".
  26. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 419. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  27. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002
  28. ^ Billboard Adult Contemporary, August 5, 1972
  29. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/26/72". 1972-08-26. Archived from the original on 2016-08-27. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  30. ^ 1972 in British music#Best-selling singles
  31. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.

External links[edit]