Reba’s song is a similar heartbreak song about someone who keeps going on trips up north and leaves the singer behind.
Now, the singer is this song seems to be in a more committed relationship than the signer from “Northern Air.”
The person in Reba’s song is working so long that they are just never home (I could also argue that maybe this other person is cheating, but the working argument fits more):
“You spend an awful lot of time in Massachusetts Seems like every other week you’ve got a meeting waiting there Business must be booming or could something else Be moving in the air up there…”
While Wade’s song is about this other person’s fear of commitment, both songs are about a relationship that is not working because one of the people is a different place, specifically somewhere up north.
Both women in these songs talk about the loneliness they are now forced to feel because this other person is gone.
Wade doesn’t want to sleep alone, and Reba is the one who feels cold the most.
What I love about “Northern Air” so much is that it creates a different type of relationship than the one we see in “Whoever’s in New England.”
The couple in “Northern Air” are definitely broken up (if they were ever together in the first place). The singer confessed their feelings through song and through simple words, but they were rejected:
“That night that I confessed my truth Didn’t know it would upset you…”
This other person wasn’t ready for something more or didn’t feel the same way, and in the end, they ended up leaving.
But the singer still has a home for them to come back to.
The other person in “New England” is away to make the relationship better. They are working to give the singer a better future:
“You say that it’s important for our future An executive on his way up has got to play the part…”
Yet, despite how absent this person is, they (like in the other song) always have a home to come back to.
Both of these songs work with the loneliness and heartbreak of a partner living somewhere else while you’re the one left behind.
But Wade’s song takes this a step further by having this other person no longer in the singer’s life except for the lingering feelings.