Adele's Welsh dad Mark Evans and mum Penny Adkins split up when she was two years old. Evans returned home to Wales, leaving Adele's mother to bring her up alone. Adele wrote this piano ballad about her need to be loved due to the absence of her estranged father.
When Adele married her long-term partner, Simon Konecki, she hoped for the strong family unit she never had as a child.
I built a house for love to grow
I was so young that it was hard to know
Initially, when the couple started drifting apart, Adele wished to maintain the marriage for the plain reason of being loved. After a while, the singer realized she needed to end the relationship for her own good.
To be loved and love at the highest count
Means to lose all the things I can't live without
Let it be known that I will choose to lose
It's a sacrifice but I can't live a lie
Let it be known, let it be known that I tried
Adele took ownership of her mistakes and promised herself she will come out the other side of her heartache stronger.
I took some bad turns that I am owning
I'll stand still and let the storm pass by
Keep my heart safe 'til the time feels right
Adele recorded the track for 30, an album centered on her divorce from Simon Konecki. Ahead of the release of the record, she shared a video of her singing the intimate song in her living room.
Speaking with Oprah Winfrey, Adele revealed she lost her father to cancer in spring 2021. Shortly before he died, she reconciled with her estranged dad after visiting him and playing him this song.
"My main goal in life is to be loved in love," Adele said. "And so I wanted to play it to my dad being like, 'You're the reason I haven't done that yet.' He was the reason I haven't fully accessed what it is to be in a loving relationship with somebody."
Adele might not be able to perform "To Be Loved" live because of how emotional she becomes when she hears it. "I can't even listen to it. I have to leave the room, I get really upset, I get really choked up," she said.
The songstress added she'll likely perform it to her son in a couple of decade's time. "When I was writing it and singing it, I just envisioned Angelo being in his 30s. I guess I'll sing it to him then."
Adele wrote "To Be Loved" with previous collaborator Tobias Jesso Jr, ("When We Were Young
") The Canadian songwriter also co-produced the track with rock producer Shawn Everett (The War on Drugs, The Killers) and played the piano.