Songs can solicit a wide range of emotions from the listener. Love, fear, and heartbreak are all common topics in music. There is a song out there for every occasion. There are even songs about running and other niche topics. Music is exactly what many people need to help them deal with the death of a loved one or friend too.
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There are hundreds of songs about dealing with the death of a beloved person, but below you will find 20 of the best songs about losing a friend out there.
This song is all about the conflicting emotions that come along with dealing with the death of a friend or loved one. Browne expresses his confusion and uncertainty in “For a Dancer,” and compares it to being lost. This Jackson Browne song is still remembered and played to this day for its relatability and excellent storytelling. Everyone is confused after the death of a friend, and Jackson Browne expresses his confusion perfectly on this track.
Paying homage to friends who have passed away is a common topic in hip-hop music, but no song encompasses that feeling more than this classic song from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. In fact, it’s still considered a staple in hip-hop music today despite being almost a two-decade-old song. The song was created in memory of hip-hop legend Easy-E, and it won a Grammy in 1997.
Pink really stepped out of her comfort zone with this song. More famously known for mixing her rebellious attitude with pop music, Pink decided to take a more intimate route with “Beam Me Up.” This track was released later in Pink’s career on her sixth studio album, and that’s exactly what makes it such an interesting stepping stone in her career. Pink proves she gets better with age with this one.
This song was an instant hit when it was released in 2015. While reserved for a niche audience and not as relatable as some of the other songs on this list, it still deserves a spot on the list due to its raw emotion and the personal connection shown between Cole Swindell and his lost friend. Cole begins by describing a perfect day surrounded by friends and familfy before acknowledging his lost friend. The song serves as a way for Cole to catch up with his friend by describing how his life has changed and sharing recent events.
Considered by diehard RHCP fans as one of their most underrated songs, “Brendan’s Death Song” combines hollowing music when memorable lyrics to craft one of the greatest songs about dealing with the death of a friend. This song is made great due to excellent background vocals and incredible writing and wordplay. Fans of RHCPs are likely all too familiar with this song, but it’s worth a listen for everyone.
There’s a reason “Gypsy” is still one of Fleetwood Mac’s most beloved songs. While not as slow and somber as many of the songs on this list, Fleetwood Mac intends to celebrate rather than mourn. The song is about Stevie Nicks’ longtime best friend. Her friend died of leukemia, and Fleetwood Mac created this song to pay homage to their life. It’s a great song for anyone who is dealing with the loss of a friend due to cancer or sudden disease.
Better compared to Gil Scott Heron than Jay-Z on this track, Big K.R.I.T perfectly combines blues, soul, and hip-hop in this masterpiece. The song begins with Big K.R.I.T questioning a lot of things in his life. It isn’t revealed until over mid-way through the song what’s really on his mind. He’s dealing with the death of his best friend, and he’s having trouble keeping himself together. “I lost my friend this morning. I woke up screaming her name,” Big K.R.I.T sings. “You meant so much to me. I’m scared I won’t be the same,” he continues as he confesses what truly has him upset.
Michael Jackson’s discography is littered with songs like this once you dig deeper than his most commercial hits. “Gone Too Soon” has everything an emotional song like this needs to be great. It begins with beautiful similes as Jackson describes exactly what it’s like for a friend to die too soon. “Like a castle built upon a sandy beach,” Jackson sings as he describes the feeling of losing his friend. The music video is just as beautiful as the song itself.
More akin to poetry than rapping, Jay Electronica and Jay-Z show exactly what hip-hop is capable of with this song. Considered by many to be the best song from Jay Electronica’s debut album, A.P.I.D.T.A was crafted the night of Kobe Bryant’s death. Jay Electronica’s vocals were inspired by the love he had for his mother, but Jay-Z’s emotion is fueled by the death of his good friend, Kobe Bryant.
Many older songs have a way of staying relative and relatable decades after their recording, and there’s no better example of this than with James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” This song has been helping people deal with the death of a loved one or friend for around 40 years, and it’s sure to be played for many more years to come. Taylor describes all the highs and lows of his life, singing about everything he’s ever seen, experienced, or lost. Despite everything he’s experienced, he explains that he wasn’t quite ready for the loss of his friend.
Finneas sings about losing a friend suddenly and unexpectedly, like “ice in the summer heat”. He describes struggling to move on from the loss and obsessing over it in in his song-writing, stuck on the fact that there is no one he can blame for what has happened.
The lyrics of “I Lost A Friend” speak to any kind of unexplainable loss and have helped many people process the death of a close friend, but Finneas actually wrote the song about a high school friendship that had fallen apart. He has expressed that the person who the song is about is since back in his life, so it seems that he didn’t lose his friend for good.
Bush pays tribute to friends and family members who have passed away in this heart-wrenching ballad. The track begins with Bush speaking more generally about grief and how it feels to lose a friend, before she starts to speak about specific friends and fond memories she has of them. In these lyrics, she greets her friends and describes what she’s seeing, as if they are right in front of her.
Among those referenced in the track are guitarist Alan Murphy, film director Michael Powell, dancer Gary Hurst and lighting engineer Bill Duffield. Bush also references her mother, relating one of her sayings: “Every old sock meets an old shoe”.
Puth and Khalifa speak to a lost friend in this heartfelt hip-hop track written for the Furious 7 soundtrack. Although the subject of the track has passed away, they are still saving all their stories to tell them when they eventually meet again in the next life.
The song was commissioned as a tribute to Fast & Furious actor Paul Weller and was chosen to be played at the end of the film. Whilst writing, Puth also connected the track to his college friend Vail Cerullo, who died in a motorcycle accident.
Sheeran speaks to a friend who will never meet his daughter in this ballad from his fourth studio album, =. Heartbroken that he will never be able to ask for parenting advice from someone he loves, Sheeran wishes that there was a way to visit his friend and ask all the questions he never got to ask in life.
The song is dedicated to Australian music promotor Michael Gudinski. Sheeran saw Gudinski as a father figure and wrote the song as a way to process his death. He performed it to a crowd of 7,000 at Gudinski’s memorial celebration in Australia.
Ryan O’Neal remembers lessons taught to him by a friend who has since passed away in “Saturn”. A beautiful orchestral arrangement plays behind his vocal as he sings about how much he wishes he could hear those words again and how much he regrets not writing them down. He also realises, though, how true it is that a person’s influence can continue far beyond their death.
Potter struggles to look up at the night sky without grieving her lost friend. Unable to understand her loss, she can’t understand where her friend has gone – all she knows is that they’ve gone too far for her to follow. Potter later said in interviews that although this song is losing about one friend in particular of hers, she wants the track to be a comfort to anyone who has ever lost someone.
Even though Underwood’s friend has passed away, she knows that it’s not the end of their impact on her life. She vows to carry their memory with her until she eventually sees them again in another life. The country pop track is more upbeat than many on this list, signifying Underwood’s optimism that her loved one is still out there somewhere and that the two of them will meet again years down the line. Even though Underwood confesses on the track that she sometimes feels like “my heart is breaking”, she promises that she will “stay strong”.
In the wake of his friend’s passing, Turner can’t understand why Josh didn’t reach out to him for help. “Why didn’t you call?” he asks. “My phone’s always on.” The lyrics are pretty devastating, but Turner also acknowledges that he knows Josh was carrying “too much weight” with him, and he decides to remember his friend in his best moments rather than fixating on how he died.
The track is dedicated to Josh Burdette, the security guard at a popular Washington punk club who was friends with many prominent artists in the American punk scene. Burdette was also mourned by the band Green Day, who had his picture up behind them in stadiums following his death.
Although the band liked the idea that “Light Years” could be interpreted differently by different listeners, Eddie Vedder dedicated the song to friend of the band Diane Muus during a live performance. The lyrics reference losing a loved one unexpectedly and not having the chance to say goodbye. The song was re-worked from an original demo titled “Puzzles & Games” and had several iterations before its final studio version.
Written by the band – in particular Brian May – six years after the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury, “No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)” was dedicated to Mercury and all those who die to young. The lyrics reference a deep grief and the difficulty of navigating through it, as the speaker learns to live life without a dear friend. The song was conceptualised during May’s visit to Montreux in 1996 to unveil a statue in Mercury’s honour.
Despite the topic of dealing with death being so personal to all of us, it’s amazing how different artists have crafted completely different sounds. Each of these songs offer something unique to the listener, describing different situations, different relationships, and different feelings. Some of them celebrate life, some mourn, and some pay homage. No matter the case, everyone will be able to find something to relate to in one or more of the songs above.