"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. 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.
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.
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.
Described by AllMusic as "two minutes and sixteen seconds of pure pop magic," "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. 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.
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. It peaked at #34 on the US Billboard charts and #8 on the easy listening chart in January 1970. It was Welch's third and final top-40 pop hit, and his first since 1964.
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. It was only the second time that an artist made the Billboard Top Ten with two different versions of the same song. 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.
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".