Table of Contents
- 1. ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’ by Otis Redding
- 2. ‘Drink The Water’ by Jack Johnson
- 3. ‘I Am a River’ by The Foo Fighters
- 4. ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ by The Band
- 5. ‘Splish Splash’ by Bobby Darin
- 6. ‘Down By the River’ by Neil Young
- 7. ‘Octopus’ Garden’ by The Beatles
- 8. ‘The River’ by Bruce Springsteen
- 9. ‘Ocean’ by Lou Reed
- 10. ‘When the Levee Breaks’ by Led Zeppelin
- 11. ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon & Garfunkel
- 12. ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple
- 13. “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” Bob Dylan
- 14. ‘The Water Song’ by The Incredible String Band
- 15. ‘Water No Get Enemy’ by Fela Kuti
- 16. ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince
- 17. ‘The River of Dreams’ by Billy Joel
- 18. ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- 19. ‘Ripple’ by The Grateful Dead
- 20. ‘Rain’ by The Beatles
- 21. ‘Down to the Waterline’ by Dire Straits
- 22. ‘Black Water’ by The Doobie Brothers
- 23. ‘Grown Ocean’ by Fleet Foxes
- 24. ‘Ocean Eyes’ by Billie Eilish
- 25. ‘Rain on Me’ by Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande
- 26. ‘Moon River’ by Andy Williams
- 27. ‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ by The Beach Boys
- 28. ‘Hold Back the River’ by James Bay
Water has been a popular and enduring theme in music for centuries. From the tranquil sound of a babbling brook to the thunderous crash of ocean waves, the power and beauty of water has captivated musicians and inspired countless songs across a variety of genres. In this article, we will explore the top 28 songs about water, examining the musical styles, themes, and lyrical content of these classic tunes. From blues to rock, country to pop, these songs showcase the vast and varied ways that water has been portrayed in popular music. Some of the songs on this list are reflective and introspective, while others are upbeat and energetic. Many of these songs use water as a metaphor for emotions such as love, longing, and renewal, while others focus on the physical properties of water itself. Regardless of the approach, all of these songs capture the power, beauty, and mystique of water in their own unique way. Join us as we explore the top 28 songs about water, and dive into the deep and enduring connection between music and this life-giving element.
1. ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’ by Otis Redding
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is a soulful and introspective song by American singer-songwriter Otis Redding. Released in 1968, the song features Redding’s signature vocals and a prominent use of the whistling instrument throughout the track. The song was written by Redding and guitarist Steve Cropper, and it became Redding’s biggest hit, reaching the top of the charts after his untimely death.
The song’s lyrics are a contemplation of life, as Redding sings about sitting alone on the dock of the bay and watching the tide roll away. The melancholic tone of the song is tempered by the underlying hope that things will get better in the future, and the whistling solo adds a sense of lightheartedness to the song.
Overall, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is a timeless classic that captures the essence of Otis Redding’s soulful sound and his gift for expressing complex emotions in a simple and accessible way. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, but the original version remains a standout and a defining moment in soul music history.
2. ‘Drink The Water’ by Jack Johnson
“Drink The Water” is a mellow and introspective song by American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson. Released in 2001 on his debut album “Brushfire Fairytales,” the song features Johnson’s signature laid-back vocals and acoustic guitar playing.
The song’s lyrics are a reflection on the challenges of modern life and the need to find inner peace and tranquility. Johnson sings about the pressures of conformity and the struggle to maintain one’s identity in a world that values material possessions and superficiality. The refrain of “drink the water, drink it down” is a reminder to focus on the simple pleasures of life and to find contentment in the present moment.
Overall, “Drink The Water” is a poignant and thoughtful song that showcases Jack Johnson’s unique blend of folk, rock, and pop influences. The song’s message of finding peace and simplicity in a complex world resonates with listeners of all ages and has made it a fan favorite. The song’s understated instrumentation and Johnson’s soothing vocals create a relaxing and contemplative atmosphere that perfectly complements the song’s introspective lyrics.
3. ‘I Am a River’ by The Foo Fighters
“I Am a River” is a powerful and emotional song by American rock band The Foo Fighters. Released in 2014 on their album “Sonic Highways,” the song features frontman Dave Grohl’s dynamic vocals and the band’s trademark hard-hitting instrumentation.
The song’s lyrics are a reflection on the passage of time and the struggles and triumphs of life. Grohl sings about the ups and downs of the human experience and the need to find strength and resilience in the face of adversity. The refrain of “I am a river” is a metaphor for the unstoppable force of human spirit and the power of perseverance.
Overall, “I Am a River” is a standout track on “Sonic Highways” and a testament to The Foo Fighters’ ability to blend raw emotion and hard-rocking instrumentation. The song’s soaring chorus and anthemic quality make it a powerful and inspiring ode to the human spirit. The track builds to an epic and cathartic climax, leaving listeners with a sense of hope and renewal.
4. ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ by The Band
“Up on Cripple Creek” is a classic rock song by Canadian-American group The Band. Released in 1969 on their self-titled album, the song features lead vocalist and drummer Levon Helm’s distinctive southern drawl and the band’s signature blend of rock, folk, and country influences.
The song’s lyrics tell the story of a love affair between the narrator and a woman from Cripple Creek, Colorado. The upbeat and catchy chorus “up on Cripple Creek, she sends me if I spring a leak” captures the carefree and whimsical nature of the relationship, while the verses paint a vivid picture of small-town life and the struggle to make ends meet.
Overall, “Up on Cripple Creek” is a timeless classic that showcases The Band’s unique sound and songwriting style. The song’s playful and upbeat melody, combined with Helm’s distinctive vocals, make it a fan favorite that has stood the test of time. The song’s themes of love, adventure, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world resonate with listeners of all ages and continue to make it a beloved classic in the world of rock music.
5. ‘Splish Splash’ by Bobby Darin
“Splish Splash” is a fun and upbeat rock and roll song by American singer Bobby Darin. Released in 1958, the song features a catchy melody, lively instrumentation, and Darin’s distinctive vocals.
The song’s lyrics tell the story of a wild house party that leads to a spontaneous pool party, with guests dancing and splashing around in the water. The chorus “splish splash, I was takin’ a bath” has become a classic catchphrase that captures the playful and carefree spirit of the song.
Overall, “Splish Splash” is a classic rock and roll hit that continues to be a fan favorite more than six decades after its release. The song’s catchy melody and memorable lyrics have made it a staple of oldies radio and a must-have for any classic rock playlist. Darin’s dynamic vocals and the lively instrumentation make “Splish Splash” an infectious and enjoyable listen that is sure to get listeners up and dancing.
6. ‘Down By the River’ by Neil Young
“Down by the River” is a classic rock song by Canadian-American singer-songwriter Neil Young. Released in 1969 on his album “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” the song features Young’s distinctive vocals, powerful guitar riffs, and a driving beat.
The song’s lyrics tell the story of a man who takes his lover down to the river and shoots her, before walking away and reflecting on what he’s done. The haunting and enigmatic lyrics have led to many interpretations, with some seeing the song as a metaphor for the darker side of love and others as a commentary on the violence and turmoil of the late 1960s.
Overall, “Down by the River” is a powerful and evocative song that showcases Young’s songwriting skills and musical prowess. The song’s gritty and raw sound, combined with Young’s haunting vocals and powerful guitar work, make it a standout in his discography and a classic of the genre. Despite its dark subject matter, the song remains a fan favorite and a must-listen for any rock music enthusiast.
7. ‘Octopus’ Garden’ by The Beatles
“Octopus’s Garden” is a whimsical and lighthearted song by the Beatles, written and sung by Ringo Starr. Released in 1969 on the album “Abbey Road,” the song features playful lyrics, catchy melodies, and colorful instrumentation.
The song’s lyrics tell the story of an underwater adventure where the narrator finds himself in an octopus’s garden, surrounded by beautiful sea creatures and coral. The cheerful and imaginative lyrics are accompanied by a lively beat and vibrant instrumentation, including the use of a steel drum.
Overall, “Octopus’s Garden” is a fun and charming song that captures the playful spirit of the Beatles’ music. Starr’s vocals add to the song’s charm, and the use of a steel drum and other unconventional instruments add to the song’s unique sound. Despite being one of the lesser-known Beatles songs, “Octopus’s Garden” remains a fan favorite and a beloved addition to the group’s discography.
8. ‘The River’ by Bruce Springsteen
“The River” is a powerful and emotional ballad by American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. Released in 1980 on the album of the same name, the song tells the story of a young couple whose lives are changed forever when the narrator’s girlfriend becomes pregnant.
The song’s lyrics deal with themes of love, sacrifice, and the struggles of working-class life. Springsteen’s haunting vocals and powerful instrumentation, including a harmonica solo, add to the song’s emotional impact.
Overall, “The River” is a poignant and moving song that captures the struggles and joys of everyday life. Springsteen’s lyrics and vocals are deeply personal and relatable, making the song a fan favorite and a classic of his repertoire. The song’s themes of sacrifice and the desire for a better life continue to resonate with audiences today, making it a timeless and enduring piece of music.
9. ‘Ocean’ by Lou Reed
“Ocean” is a haunting and melancholic song by American musician and songwriter Lou Reed. Released in 1990 on his album “Songs for Drella,” the song features sparse instrumentation and Reed’s somber vocals.
The song’s lyrics deal with themes of loss and grief, with the narrator reflecting on the death of a loved one and the emptiness that comes in the aftermath. Reed’s vocals are raw and emotional, conveying a sense of sadness and longing that is deeply affecting.
Overall, “Ocean” is a powerful and moving song that captures the pain and emptiness of loss. Reed’s lyrics and vocals are honest and deeply personal, making the song a profound and unforgettable listening experience. The song’s use of spare instrumentation and evocative lyrics create a sense of intimacy and vulnerability that make it a standout track in Reed’s discography.
10. ‘When the Levee Breaks’ by Led Zeppelin
“When the Levee Breaks” is a blues-influenced rock song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. Released in 1971 on their album “Led Zeppelin IV,” the song features a driving beat, distorted harmonica, and a powerful drum intro.
The song’s lyrics deal with the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, one of the most destructive and deadly floods in American history. The lyrics speak to the despair and loss that accompanies natural disasters, with the “levee” serving as a metaphor for the failure of society to protect its citizens in times of need.
Overall, “When the Levee Breaks” is a powerful and memorable song that captures the raw energy and emotion of the blues. Led Zeppelin’s unique blend of rock and blues creates a sound that is both timeless and powerful, with the song’s message about the fragility of human society still resonating today. The song’s memorable drum intro has become a legendary piece of rock history, cementing “When the Levee Breaks” as a classic of the rock canon.
11. ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon & Garfunkel
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a classic folk rock song by American duo Simon & Garfunkel, released in 1970 on their album of the same name. The song features a gentle, soaring melody and uplifting lyrics that speak to the power of human compassion and support in times of need.
The lyrics paint a picture of a person struggling and in need of help, and the singer promises to be a bridge to help them cross over their troubled waters. The song is a powerful statement about the human condition and the importance of reaching out to help others in their times of need.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years and is considered a classic of the folk rock genre. With its gentle melody, soulful vocals, and powerful message, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” remains an enduring favorite of music fans around the world.
12. ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple
“Smoke on the Water” is a hard rock song by English band Deep Purple, released in 1972. It is one of the band’s most popular and recognizable songs, known for its iconic guitar riff that is instantly recognizable to rock fans worldwide.
The song was inspired by a real-life event in which a fire broke out at a Frank Zappa concert in Switzerland, and the band watched the smoke from their hotel room across the lake. The song’s lyrics tell the story of the event, with references to the band members and their experiences.
The guitar riff, played by Ritchie Blackmore, is widely considered one of the greatest in rock history and has been covered by countless other artists. “Smoke on the Water” remains a classic of the hard rock genre and a staple of classic rock radio to this day.
13. “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” Bob Dylan
“A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” is a classic protest song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in 1963. The song was written during the height of the Cold War and the fear of nuclear annihilation, and it speaks to the political and social turmoil of the time.
The lyrics describe a series of apocalyptic visions and images, which are open to interpretation, but many see as a commentary on the dangers of the nuclear arms race and the threat of war. The song’s haunting melody and Dylan’s distinctive voice add to the sense of impending doom.
“A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” is considered one of Dylan’s greatest works and a powerful example of the protest song genre. It has been covered by many other artists and remains a classic of the folk and protest music tradition.
14. ‘The Water Song’ by The Incredible String Band
“The Water Song” is a folk song by British band The Incredible String Band, originally released on their 1970 album “I Looked Up.” The song is an ode to the beauty and power of water, and the importance of preserving this precious natural resource.
The song features beautiful vocal harmonies, intricate acoustic guitar and mandolin playing, and a gentle, flowing melody that captures the essence of water. The lyrics speak of water in all its forms, from rivers and oceans to rain and tears, and celebrate the life-giving properties of this vital element.
“The Water Song” is a classic of the folk and psychedelic music genres and a testament to the band’s unique blend of influences from around the world. The song’s message of environmentalism and respect for nature is as relevant today as it was when it was first written, making it a timeless classic that continues to inspire listeners around the world.
15. ‘Water No Get Enemy’ by Fela Kuti
“Water No Get Enemy” by Fela Kuti is a powerful song that celebrates the importance of water in life. With its infectious rhythms and catchy melody, the song speaks to the universal human need for water and the vital role it plays in sustaining us. Fela Kuti, a legendary Nigerian musician, is known for his Afrobeat style of music, which blends African rhythms with funk and jazz. In this song, he brings his unique musical sensibility to the theme of water, creating a sound that is both uplifting and socially conscious. The lyrics of the song, which are sung in a mix of English and Yoruba, speak to the importance of water in agriculture, industry, and daily life, and urge people to respect and protect this precious resource. With its driving percussion and soaring horns, “Water No Get Enemy” is a true anthem of the environmental movement, reminding us that water is not only essential to life but also a fundamental human right.
16. ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince
“Purple Rain” is a timeless classic by Prince, released in 1984. The song has a slow, melancholic opening that eventually builds up to a powerful, emotional chorus, with Prince’s voice conveying a sense of yearning and despair. The lyrics speak of a troubled romance, with the protagonist using the metaphor of a purple rain to describe the sorrow and confusion he is feeling. The guitar solo is particularly notable, showcasing Prince’s virtuosic skills and adding to the overall atmosphere of the song. “Purple Rain” became one of Prince’s signature songs, and has since been recognized as one of the greatest songs of all time, often ranking high on “best of” lists from various publications. It was also the title track of the accompanying album and film, which helped to establish Prince as a major force in pop culture.
17. ‘The River of Dreams’ by Billy Joel
Released in 1993, ‘The River of Dreams’ is a soulful and rhythmic track by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel. The song’s lyrics speak about the journey of life and its many twists and turns, with the river being used as a metaphor for the passage of time. The song’s upbeat melody and catchy chorus, along with Joel’s smooth vocals and the driving drumbeat, make it a popular choice for singalongs and karaoke sessions. The music video for the song, directed by Andy Morahan, features Joel in various surreal landscapes as he sings about his hopes, dreams, and regrets. With its rich instrumentation and introspective lyrics, ‘The River of Dreams’ has become one of Billy Joel’s most enduring hits, earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The song’s popularity has also led to its use in numerous TV shows, movies, and commercials, cementing its status as a timeless classic.
18. ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is a song by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was written by John Fogerty and released in 1971 as a single. The song is a classic rock ballad about the ups and downs of life and the storms that can come with it. Fogerty’s distinctive voice and lyrics shine through in this classic song that has stood the test of time. With its memorable guitar riff and catchy chorus, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is a true classic that has been covered by many other artists. The song has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, and commercials, cementing its place in American music culture.
19. ‘Ripple’ by The Grateful Dead
“Ripple” is a classic folk-rock song by the American band Grateful Dead, released on their 1970 album “American Beauty”. It features gentle acoustic guitar strumming, harmonious vocals, and reflective lyrics that offer poetic insight into life’s mysteries. The song is an uplifting reminder to appreciate life’s simple pleasures and be mindful of the interconnectedness of everything. It is a testament to the power of love, hope, and human connection, with a message that resonates deeply with fans to this day. The chorus of the song, “Let there be songs to fill the air,” has become an iconic line in rock and roll history. The song’s mellow and soothing sound captures the essence of the band’s unique style, which has had a significant impact on American music culture. “Ripple” has endured as one of the Grateful Dead’s most beloved songs, and it has been covered by many artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Jane’s Addiction, and The Black Crowes.
20. ‘Rain’ by The Beatles
“Rain” is a song by The Beatles from 1966 that features complex rhythms, psychedelic instrumentation, and introspective lyrics. It is notable for being the first pop song to use reverse tape effects, which added a distinct sound to the final mix. The lyrics reflect on the cycle of life, love, and how the seasons of the year can influence one’s outlook on life. The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and it was released as the B-side to the single “Paperback Writer.” The song has been praised for its innovative production techniques and its influence on future rock music.
21. ‘Down to the Waterline’ by Dire Straits
“Down to the Waterline” is a classic rock song by Dire Straits, featured on their 1978 self-titled debut album. The song is a showcase of the band’s signature sound, with Mark Knopfler’s distinctive guitar playing and his smooth, almost spoken-word vocal delivery. The lyrics are cryptic, but the song is generally interpreted as an ode to the working-class life of the band’s hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The phrase “down to the waterline” is used as a metaphor for the working-class people who live by the Tyne River and rely on it for their livelihood. The song has a catchy, upbeat rhythm, with Knopfler’s guitar work and David Knopfler’s keyboard playing providing a rich musical backdrop for the lyrics. “Down to the Waterline” is a quintessential example of Dire Straits’ early sound and remains a fan favorite to this day.
22. ‘Black Water’ by The Doobie Brothers
“Black Water” is a classic rock tune by the Doobie Brothers, released in 1974. The song combines elements of rock, country, and bluegrass, with a prominent banjo riff and a catchy chorus. The lyrics describe a lazy summer day spent by the river, with the narrator enjoying the simple pleasures of life and reflecting on the beauty of nature. The song’s upbeat tempo and feel-good lyrics make it a fan favorite, and it has become one of the Doobie Brothers’ most recognizable hits. “Black Water” was the band’s first single to hit #1 on the Billboard charts, and it continues to be a popular classic rock radio staple.
23. ‘Grown Ocean’ by Fleet Foxes
‘Grown Ocean’ is a song by the American indie-folk band Fleet Foxes. The song is the final track on their critically acclaimed 2011 album, ‘Helplessness Blues’. It is a fast-paced and upbeat track that showcases the band’s signature harmony-rich vocals and intricate instrumentation. The lyrics of the song evoke the beauty and mystery of the natural world, with the ocean serving as a metaphor for the vastness and complexity of life. The chorus, “In that dream I’m as old as the mountains / Still is starlight reflected in fountains,” encapsulates the song’s themes of time, growth, and transcendence. The song builds to a rousing climax with a cacophony of drums, guitar, and vocals that convey the euphoria and wonder of being alive. ‘Grown Ocean’ is a fitting closer to ‘Helplessness Blues’, an album that is both introspective and outward-looking, and a testament to the power of Fleet Foxes’ songwriting and musicianship.
24. ‘Ocean Eyes’ by Billie Eilish
“Ocean Eyes” is a dreamy and ethereal song by Billie Eilish, which highlights her captivating vocals and poetic lyrics. The track, which was written and produced by her brother Finneas, features a minimalist electronic beat that creates a hypnotic and enchanting atmosphere. The lyrics are a metaphorical reflection on love, with Eilish comparing the feeling to the vastness and depth of the ocean. The song showcases Eilish’s ability to convey powerful emotions through her haunting voice and relatable lyrics, making it one of her most popular and beloved tracks.
25. ‘Rain on Me’ by Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande
“Rain on Me” is an upbeat dance-pop song that features the powerful vocal talents of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. The song discusses the idea of embracing and dancing through one’s pain and struggles, using rain as a metaphor for these experiences. The lyrics encourage listeners to let go of their worries and just dance, with lines like “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive, rain on me.” The song’s infectious beat, catchy chorus, and vocal harmonies make it a fun and empowering anthem for anyone going through a tough time. The song received critical acclaim and commercial success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
26. ‘Moon River’ by Andy Williams
Andy Williams’ ‘Moon River’ is a timeless classic, released in 1961. The song was written by Johnny Mercer and composed by Henry Mancini, with lyrics that allude to the romantic journey of two lovers, dreaming and planning for the future. The tune gained immense popularity after it was featured in the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and has since been covered by several artists. The song’s peaceful and mellow tone, accompanied by Williams’ smooth, rich vocals, make it a soothing and comforting listen. The song has a gentle melody that perfectly captures the essence of the moonlit night, adding to its calming and dreamy quality. The song has become a favorite of listeners for its beautiful lyrics, serene tune, and Andy Williams’ impeccable delivery, cementing its place as one of the greatest songs of all time.
27. ‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ by The Beach Boys
‘Don’t Fight the Sea’ is a song by The Beach Boys, released in 1979 as a part of their album “L.A. (Light Album)”. The track is a slow, groovy number, featuring the classic harmonies and instrumentation that the band is known for. The song speaks about the importance of surrendering to the natural ebb and flow of life, particularly when it comes to navigating the ups and downs of romantic relationships. The lyrics encourage listeners to let go of control, and simply allow themselves to float along with the tide, embracing the changes and challenges that come their way.
28. ‘Hold Back the River’ by James Bay
“Hold Back the River” is an upbeat and soulful song by British singer-songwriter James Bay. The track features a driving rhythm section and Bay’s distinctive raspy vocals, making it an instant hit among fans of indie rock and pop music. Lyrically, the song explores the idea of not letting love slip away, using the river as a metaphor for the unstoppable passage of time. The chorus is catchy and anthemic, encouraging listeners to hold on tight and fight for what they want in life. With its infectious energy and heartfelt message, “Hold Back the River” is a standout track in Bay’s repertoire.