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30 Best Songs About Forgiveness

Navigating forgiveness is one of the most complex emotional journeys for humans to take. Those who deserve an apology and those who did them wrong usually struggle to achieve forgiveness. Luckily, music can step in to help us communicate these complicated feelings.

Some of music’s biggest classic and contemporary stars achieved fame through songs about forgiveness and love. Stream “Record Year” or “People Change” for a reflective vibe, or turn on some Prince or Cher to work through your feelings.

This list of the 30 best songs about forgiveness features some of the largest musicians and their most successful hits. Gain solace from a break-up, build courage to apologize, or achieve acceptance from a failed friendship with these songs about forgiveness.

Best Songs About Forgiveness

“Every Time I Hear That Song” – Brandi Carlile

Grammy-winning American musician Brandi Carlile opened her most successful album with this reflective, mid-tempo song. The album is called By the Way, I Forgive You, which is a lyric about forgiveness within this song. Forgiveness and acceptance provide a thesis for this popular country-folk album.

Accompanied by a gentle plucking of the guitar, Carlile croons about moving on from a lost love. For those who feel independence and have moved on from a relationship but can get pulled back into memories, this is the song for you. Carlile’s emotional voice is the perfect soundtrack to a nostalgic moment.

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“Baby Come Back” – Player 

It’s possible that readers will read the title of this song to the tune of its iconic melody. “Baby Come Back” delivers a classic 70s smooth R&B vibe. This R&B song about forgiveness is performed by a trio from Great Britain. Their unexpected sound generated a signature brand for Player, known as “blue-eyed soul” music.

“Baby Come Back” arrived in late 1977 and quickly hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in January 1978. This song about forgiveness also charted in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” – Bob Dylan

For the broken-hearted who are farther along in their healing journey, Bob Dylan provides a motivational song for the next phase. This folk song features simple instrumentation and Dylan’s signature rugged voice. 

Dylan provides a wise perspective on a past love, able to understand the relationship’s dissolution was ultimately for the best. With iconic lyrics like, “I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul,” and “you just kinda wasted my precious time,” play this song when that person is in the rearview mirror, but some bitterness remains.

“Record Year” – Eric Church 

Like Bob Dylan’s song above, this country tune from Eric Church provides the most comfort to those whose relationship is long over. Church uses clever wordplay in this song to describe his path to forgiveness through album and song titles. The idea is to find healing through music, and wishing they could tell their former loved one about the journey.

“Record Year” is a slow-paced, meditative song. Listeners naturally reflect on their own growth and lessons learned through friendships and romance. Enjoy this bittersweet ode to moving on, and then check out the song titles and albums referenced for more songs about memories.

“People Change” – Mipso

This bluegrass band describes the sensation of being contacted out of the blue by a former love in this mid-tempo, calm ballad “People Change.” No band does bittersweet nostalgia and sincerity like this North Carolina quartet.

The song lyrics about forgiveness within “People Change” describe how quickly memories of someone important can flood back. Mipso ruminates on this, while also holding the tension of not knowing who the person on the other line has become. Stream this moody, low-key song to feel reflective and reminisce.

“The Heart of the Matter” – The Eagles

Like “People Change,” the lyrics of “The Heart of the Matter” also surround a phone call. In this 1994 soft rock hit, The Eagles grapple with learning their former love has moved on. This relatable single delivers a soothing, wise tune for a moment many people may need to endure.

“The Heart of the Matter” takes the high road, and its lyrics wish the former love well. The Eagles sing about forgiveness and an appreciation for the time together. For those in the acceptance part of the stages of grief, this song will soothe the heart and soul.

“Always on My Mind” – Willie Nelson 

This iconic Willie Nelson song joins the dozens of other memorable hits from this legendary country-western singer. “Always on My Mind” combines sentimental lyrics with Nelson’s signature trembling voice for a sweet song about forgiveness and love.

Nelson explains that while it may not appear he was an attentive partner, his love was always on his mind. This 1982 song helps those who have been an absent lover lately or if they can’t find the words to express themselves.

“How to Save a Life” – The Fray

“How to Save a Life” beautifully describes how it feels to have a friend or loved one who is struggling, and it’s unclear how to help. This pop song’s driving tempo contributes to an overall frantic and high-energy feeling of losing a friend.

Sometimes it’s impossible to know the right thing to do or say. Therefore, this The Fray song provides a rare song for self-forgiveness on this list. Piano-driven rock song lovers will enjoy this ode to complicated relationships and doing what you can to help others.

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“We Can Work it Out” – The Beatles

The Beatles kick off this song with a classic high-tempo introduction, imploring someone to “try to see it my way.” This ode to compromise provides a memorable Beatles song about forgiveness.

Friends or lovers who find themselves in a stalemate can benefit from the wisdom within the Beatles’ lyrics. If being right or being wrong is the sticking point within the relationship, become inspired by the upbeat and hopeful tune of “We Can Work It Out.”

“Reunited” – Peaches and Herb 

Sometimes saying an apology can lead to a happy ending. “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb provides one of the most iconic singles on this list. This 1978 R&B song about forgiveness celebrates reconciliation between two soulmates.

“Reunited” reached number one in the United States, Spain, and Canada. This song remains a cultural touchstone to represent people coming back together, whether it’s for sports montages or cartoons. David Hasselhoff sang “Reunited” when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

“Once” – Maren Morris 

Pop-country crossover artist Maren Morris sings wise song lyrics about forgiveness throughout this soulful hit. Morris released her debut album in 2015, including this soulful, soaring ballad. Morris sings about a dissolved relationship while also recognizing the true love that did exist. 

Often we only think about healing in terms of the person whose heart is broken, however, the person who does the breaking also searches for peace. “Once” by Maren Morris provides a comforting song for those who broke up with someone they truly loved.

“Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” – Adele 

Adele’s 2018 album 25 became a profoundly healing album for the brokenhearted. In addition to the award-winning single “Hello,” the song “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is a terrific song about forgiveness.

This soulful, mid-tempo dismisses a former relationship and suggests the person improves their behavior for their next lover. Adele shows off her range in this song, displaying floaty high notes and deep, rich low notes.

“I Want You Back” – N*SYNC 

Before they became global superstars, N*SYNC debuted with this pleading love song about forgiveness. Paired with jaw-dropping dance moves and a classic late 90s wardrobe, this single catapulted this boy band to international stardom.

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“I Want You Back” introduced us to Justin Timberlake, who sings lead vocals on this single. Even though it was the group’s first song, this classic pop/R&B song about forgiveness lands on N*SYNC’s 2005 greatest hits album.

“Amazing Grace” – Elvis Presley 

“Amazing Grace” may be the quintessential song about forgiveness. Often played at funerals, this song describes the ultimate forgiveness some religious believers claim waits for them at the end of life. Even if that message doesn’t resonate, the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” remain inspirational.

This Elvis Presley version offers a chance to enjoy this classic song in a new way. Many other versions of this song exist, from serene piano instrumentals to uplifting gospel interpretations.

“Hello” – Adele

“Hello” by Adele burst onto the charts in 2018 after the singer had been away from the studio for years. This soulful song features Adele’s signature voice, belting out song lyrics about forgiveness. 

While many of the songs on this list are for those nursing a broken heart, Adele provides a powerful tune to help break the ice when needing to deliver an apology. Her emotional voice drips with sincerity as she apologizes for everything she has done. Anyone who really needs to emote can reliably turn on Adele to help them become inspired.

This power ballad remains an instant classic. “Hello” was awarded Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards.

“I Forgive You” – Kelly Clarkson

The saying that forgiveness is a gift to yourself is apparently how Kelly Clarkson feels through her lyrics for “I Forgive You.” She repeatedly says I forgive you, I forgive me, that mistakes of some magnitude take more than one person. 

Clarkson, who popped on the scene after winning American Idol in 2002, sings many songs about relatable relationships. The words “I forgive you” show the freedom that comes with forgiveness allows you to move. As Clarkson says, “I start to feel again.”

“Purple Rain” – Prince

Ever the innovator, “Purple Rain” represents a movie, song, and album by Prince in 1984. “Purple Rain” dramatizes the artist’s life somewhat, including many themes of betrayal and forgiveness. 

The titular song pleads for the reconciliation of a former relationship and a return to simpler times. Turn the healing to another level by watching the film Purple Rain, which won the Oscar for Best Original Score.

“If I Could Turn Back Time” – Cher

For those who have said things they regret, legendary diva Cher has the words to help express that sadness and waiting for forgiveness. “If I Could Turn Back Time” highlights Cher’s signature vocals with this soaring power ballad. 

Almost as famous as the heartfelt lyrics is the iconic music video. Step back in time and enjoy Cher’s over-the-top wardrobe while dancing around a ship filled with sailors from the United States Navy.

“Sorry” – Justin Bieber

When a relationship is as high profile as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, the song about forgiveness must go big too. This upbeat dance hit delivers a straightforward apology in his quest for a second chance. This tropical dance-pop song combines reggaeton beats, EDM rhythms, and Bieber’s laidback vocals. 

“Sorry,” a 2015 single from Justin Bieber, smashed several records. After three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, this pop superstar and “Sorry” finally lost their number one spot to Justin Bieber’s hit single “Love Yourself.”

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” – Elton John 

Being able to acknowledge that something is problematic is the first step toward being able to do it. In that song, Elton John repeatedly says, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. “Instead of simply not saying sorry, he questions what he’s gotta do to make someone love him, make them care, and make them want him. And in addition to it being hard, he confesses that it is indeed sad. 

“Back to December” – Taylor Swift

Known for her autobiographical songs about love and forgiveness, Taylor Swift’s “Back to December” makes the list of the 24 best songs about forgiveness. In this slow ballad, Swift sings of her regret about her last encounter with a past love. This 2010 country-pop crossover song won the Teen Choice Award for Best Break-Up Song.

Those working through a complicated break-up and deeply missing a lover can take solace in this Swift classic. Turn this one on to examine where it all went wrong.

“Wings of Forgiveness” – India.Arie 

India. Arie is a singer who rarely asks questions. Instead, she makes statements and affirmations. And that is what she has done and “Wings of Forgiveness.” She starts, “I just want you to know…” and says she was dead wrong. And her need for forgiveness compares forgiveness to a human right.

For example, she says if Nelson Mandela can’t forgive his oppressors, surely I can’t forgive you for your passion. And in straightforward terms, India. Arie makes a bold statement about how love should be.

“Pray for Forgiveness” – Alicia Keys

Pray and forgiveness are both extremely biblical, yet cheese talks about her own delusions in this pop song. However, early in the song, she professes that she can pray for forgiveness and look for answers because pretending it’s too hard. This beautiful ballad repeats the phrase “Pray for Forgiveness,” look for answers several times

“Ms Jackson” – OutKast

This wacky, upbeat hip hop song about forgiveness pleads with a mother figure for permission to apologize to her daughter. “Ms. Jackson” proved to be as autobiographical as Taylor Swift’s above song. Andre 3000 of Outkast wrote this song to appeal to the mother of his child, to ask for forgiveness and pledge to be a good father.

While a heavy and true-to-life topic, this catchy hip hop beat provides a slinky dance floor hit. Stream this single as a funky lament from the legendary Outkast album, Stankonia. “Ms. Jackson” ranks as the duo’s first number one single and won the 2001 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

“Betty”- Taylor Swift

Released in 2020, “Betty” is from Taylor Swift’s eighth album, Folklore. The song is in a story format and is in a first-person perspective. Songs about forgiveness lyrics often focus on wrongdoing, and Swift centers that theme on a teenage boy named James.   

In the song, James attempts to get Betty, a girl he likes, to take him back after he wronged her by starting a relationship with another girl, Inez. He expresses his regret over hurting Betty in the first part of the song and says that he lashed out at her because of jealousy.

In the chorus, James expresses that he wants to come to a party Betty’s throwing to beg for her forgiveness and wonders what she’ll do when she sees him there. At the song’s end, it’s revealed that Betty forgave James when he came to her party.

“Let’s Kiss and Make Up” – Shania Twain

“Let’s Kiss and Make Up” is a 2017 song by Shania Twain from her studio album, Now. Although it’s not one of Twain’s biggest hits, it’s still fun and upbeat. Fred Astaire originally sang it, but Shania Twain puts a pop country twist on the record with her cover.

Twain sings from the perspective of a person who has recently fought with their significant other. In the song, one party tries to reconcile with their partner after their previous disagreements and convince them they shouldn’t break up.

The subject admits to their partner that they have not been perfect but that they should move past their issues and (like the title of the song says) kiss and makeup. It’s a fun, flirty song about forgiveness and love.

“Back to You” – Selena Gomez

“Back to You” is a Selena Gomez song from 2018.The track is an upbeat song about forgiveness and is a perfect choice for dancing.

In “Back to You,” the narrator is someone in an on-again-off-again relationship. The couple fights frequently and breaks up often, yet they always seem to forgive each other and get back together.

The narrator realizes that no matter what happens, they will always forgive the other person. Given their mindset, they find themselves in a constant state of having a broken heart caused by their partner but will never truly let them go.

Many people can relate to the feeling of wanting to forgive someone even though they have hurt them multiple times in the past, and the lyrics of this song perfectly illustrate that feeling. 

“I Want You Back” – The Jackson 5

“I Want You Back” was released in 1969 and was a breakout hit for the Jackson 5. This entry is another instance of r&b songs about forgiveness being inspired by wrongdoing.

Jackson sings the song from the perspective of a young man begging for forgiveness from his former girlfriend. When he and his girlfriend were together, he didn’t appreciate her and cast her aside. Now, however, he is jealous because many other men are interested in her.

The young man professes his love to the girl and begs her to give him another chance at being her boyfriend. He promises to be a better partner in the future because he now knows that he can’t live without her.

“I Want You Back” is one of the oldest tracks on this list, having been released by the Jackson 5 in the late 1960s. Still, as with anything connected to Jackson, the song remains extremely popular. 

“Mamma Mia” – ABBA

Released in 1975 on ABBA’s self-titled album, “Mamma Mia” is a quintessential hit of the 1970s, and one of the band’s most popular songs. It inspired a Broadway musical (one of the longest-running) and two movies adapted from the production.

The song is a true 1970s dance number, and it deals with feelings of heartbreak, disappointment, and forgiveness with a catchy tune and uptempo beat. 

“Mamma Mia” is sung from the perspective of a woman who is frustrated with a male partner and herself. Her partner frequently treats her badly and breaks up with her. Despite all this, she is constantly forgiving him and can’t help but get back together with him.

The song illustrates the frustration of being so in love with someone that you can’t help but forgive them no matter how much they hurt you.

“We Can Work It Out” – The Beatles

“We Can Work It Out” is one of several songs about forgiveness and love by The Beatles. Released in 1965, it is from the perspective of a person in a romantic relationship. They are trying to convince their partner that the two should work out their issues and forgive each other instead of letting them fester.

The person believes that life is too short to have long-winded fights with one’s partner and that these fights have the potential to end relationships. Instead, the narrator believes they should work on seeing disagreements from the opposing side’s point of view so they can move forward.

This catchy track became a big hit for the group and is among their most well-known tunes. The lyrics, about trying to work through a couple’s spat, are relatable to many who have been in a relationship. 

Final Thoughts

Apologizing, saying sorry, and asking for forgiveness from someone aren’t one of the easier things in life to do. It can be stressful, tension-filled, and even rejected.

However, as you have read, sometimes it’s easier when you have a musical rendition of your apology and forgiveness request. Using the ten songs listed above as a guide should help make saying you’re sorry and asking for forgiveness easier.

Music may be the best way to unravel complicated feelings surrounding forgiveness and apologies. In terms of songs about forgiveness, lyrics often vocalize thoughts and feelings.


Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.