Top 21 Philosophical Songs That’ll Make You Think

Music has the ability to not only spar emotion when we listen to it but also capable of expressing ideas from the composer and thoughts that sometimes can be provoking. With the lyrics of these philosophical songs, we, the listeners, are taken through a journey of the fundamental nature of knowledge through language and art.

I found most of these songs to define what it is to be human and live a fulfilling life through an artist’s perspective.

The wisdom in these philosophical songs provides us with a better understanding of ourselves; perhaps they can help you and me through some moments in life.

Nr Song Artist About
1 Running Away Bob Marley & The Wailers Learn More
2 Man In The Mirror Michael Jackson Learn More
3 Imagine John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band Learn More
4 Cats In The Cradle Harry Chapin Learn More
5 The Word The Beatles Learn More
6 A Change Is Gonna Come Sam Cooke Learn More
7 Ironic Alanis Morissette Learn More
8 You Can’t Always Get What You Want The Rolling Stones Learn More
9 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen Learn More
10 Time Pink Floyd Learn More
11 Mother Pink Floyd Learn More
12 Hallelujah Leonard Cohen Learn More
13 An End Has a Start Editors Learn More
14 Echoes Pink Floyd Learn More
15 Pride (In The Name Of Love) U2 Learn More
16 Hurt Johnny Cash Learn More
17 Let Her Go Passenger Learn More
18 Like a Rolling Stone Bob Dylan Learn More
19 Ramblin’ Man Hank Williams Learn More
20 Live Forever Oasis Learn More
21 Fuk Da Police NWA Learn More


Top 21 Philosophical Songs That’ll Make You Think

Here are my top 21 songs that left me deep in my thoughts.


1. Running Away – Bob Marley & The Wailers

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The first song on this playlist is a masterpiece from Bob Marley that was released in the 1970s. It is one of my favorite tracks from the artist. I believe he was self-reflecting on his decision to run away from his birth nation after an attempt on his life.

The track specifically talks about everyone thinking that their burdens are the heaviest, however, we mustn’t judge others without having been in their shoes.

Recommended: 21 Songs About Soulmates That’ll Make You Believe In Love.


2. Man In The Mirror – Michael Jackson

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Man In The Mirror has over 140 million views on YouTube, proving to be one the most famous songs from the iconic kind of pop. The song always sticks with me and makes me think of my deeds, as the composer shows that the first step in changing the world is changing yourself.

Michael’s approach to holding a dialogue with oneself to necessitate is what makes this song stand out. He takes the same approach that Mahatma Gandhi takes, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”


3. Imagine – John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band

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With over 271 million Views on YouTube alone, Imagine has established itself as one of the most famous philosophical songs of all time.

The song’s lyrics always leave me in a state of thought or imagination of our world without the detriments of war, hunger, and greed. This piece shows us how John Lennon understood the essence of things that divide us as humans.


4. Cats In The Cradle – Harry Chapin

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This philosophical piece narrates a story about a father who missed out on his son growing up as he was busy with his career. This is a warning against putting your career before your family.

Originally written by his wife, Harry turned the lyrics into a song and released it after his son was born. It is quite sad that the artist passed away from a car accident and didn’t get time to spend with his son despite his wishes.


5. The Word – The Beatles

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The Word is one of the band’s most underrated tracks from “The White” Album. I found the song’ bass to be quite exciting and the classic song stuck in my head after listening to it for the first time.

Sometimes the most important philosophical themes are the most simple. The Word has a direct message of love to the listeners, and we should ensure that we spread it to those that we care for.


6. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

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This song is probably the most recognizable song associated with the African American Civil Rights Movement The song was released a few months after his assassination, becoming his farewell piece.

The track shows the artist’s fundamental desire for a better tomorrow which is gradually happening over time.


7. Ironic – Alanis Morissette

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Out of the many philosophical songs that I have ever listened to, this track by Alanis stands out as it always gives me Goosebumps when I listen to it. The lyrics show how life can be cruel and ironic.

Since the song’s release by the Canadian composer, it has gained 211 million views on YouTube.


8. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones

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This song is one of the most popular songs of the late 1960s by the English rock band The Rolling Stones. The band released the song on their “Let It Bleed” album, and it was named among the 100 greatest songs ever written by Rolling Stone Magazine.

This piece is a message to the listeners that our wants and desires will not always materialize and a deeper analysis of the lyrics shows that our souls need deeper connectedness and peace.

Recommended: 21 Famous Songs About Hating Yourself And Self Loathing.


9. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

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The next song in this compilation is undoubtedly one of the best songs in history. To this day nobody knows what Freddie Mercury really meant with the song: he never said anything and the rest of the band remained quiet.

It’s one of those songs that you have to analyze for yourself and make your own meaning of.


10. Time – Pink Floyd

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Out of all the philosophical songs in this playlist, this piece by Pink Floyd has quite a dramatic intro. We are introduced to the song with layers of random sounds that create a perfect melody capturing our attention on what is to come.

This incredible track focuses on how fast time passes, and how we only notice it when it’s too late.


11. Mother – Pink Floyd

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Mother by Pink Floyd was released in 1979, but its message remains relevant today. In this piece, the band makes us think about the importance of raising a child with both parents.

The kid ends up not fitting into society. He’s trapped by his over-protective environment and cannot approach the men around him.


12. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

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Only a few people who sing this track understand that it is not a religious song. Yes, it does contain a lot of religious elements, like the title for example.

An analysis of the song will take you on a journey to discover a story of broken true love, guilt, penance, and of finding peace.


13. An End Has A Start – Editors

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The Editors are one of the most underrated English rock bands of all time. They have some great tracks, such as Munich and Blood.  The song makes us think how futile life is.


14. Echoes – Pink Floyd

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With so many philosophical songs under their belt, this classic band has given many generations a great experience with their masterpieces. The song’s lyrics reflect on the human connection and the potential we have to recognize each other’s humanity and respond to it.

The track is about 20 minutes, a common theme for progressive rock songs.


15. Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2

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Pride is a song by U2 that carries a strong political message about the assassination of Martin Luther King. The tribute is not only about King but also points out instances where champions of peace and equality have been killed so that their efforts are universally recognized.

The profound meaning of this song and others by the band has been a guide to many in life.

Recommended: Top 21 Songs About Chaos And Confusion.


16. Hurt – Johnny Cash

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Though this song was originally released by Nine Inch Nails, Johnny Cash’s version was loved by the fans because his version drives a sad message considering his situation.

The song’s theme takes us through Johnny’s consciousness and reflection on his life as he enters his final days. After listening to the track, it left me thinking about my life.


17. Let Her Go – Passenger

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The lyrics of this song not only take us through the themes of lost love by the artist as it shows us not to take things for granted. In the song’s opening, Passenger points out we need and miss things when they are not there.

This opening and the rest of the song’s lyrics put the listener through a path of self-reflection, not to find themselves in a situation of regret over taking little and significant things in life for granted.


18. Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan is a legendary American composer considered one of the best singer-songwriters of all time. He has penned many philosophical songs across his music career, covering a range of topics such as politics.

In the song, Dylan feels no compassion for a rich woman who fell from grace.


19. Ramblin’ Man – Hank Williams

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This song by Hank Williams is enough proof that a song’s lyrics require the right interpretation to achieve its greatness. While on the surface, it might seem this melancholic piece is about loneliness, after scrutinizing the lyrics, I found that it is about accepting his fate of loneliness by choosing to self-isolate.

His voice echoes the life he was living as the song was inspired by a real story.


20. Live Forever – Oasis

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With most popular songs in the 90s having a depressive undertone or message of wanting to end it all, Oasis took a different approach.

Live Forever carries an essential message of wanting to live and experience life to the fullest. A strong message of optimism and confidence that everyone needs to hear.


21. Fuk Da Police – NWA

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The last song in this compilation is by NWA, which was released in the late eighties. The group was the first popular artist to publicly and aggressively call out the police on their brutality against minority communities.

The raw lyrics, coupled with law enforcement’s involvement in suppressing free speech, resulted in more song advertisements.


Last Words

Some song provides an answer to a question that you had and constantly couldn’t stop thinking about. The thoughts from this compilation of philosophical songs can be the first stepping stone to learning more about your identity and life in general.

The playlist I compiled covered songs from different generations and genres.


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Music is the lifeblood of my veins. I love to listen, play and write music. Being a music band manager is what I love to do mostly because I love working with artists on their personal branding and brand building while helping them find the next level of success.

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