We can’t progress as individuals or as a civilisation without reflecting on the lives we’ve lived, whilst encouraging hope and positivity for the years ahead.
Our playlist collects some of the best songs that make you think about life, harnessing atmospheres and messages inspiring you to meditate upon your world.
Songs That Make You Think About Life
1. Coldplay – Everything’s Not Lost
Coldplay’s early discography carries swathes of existential themes and sounds, threaded with lush harmonies spreading like a rich panorama, dreamily hypnotic in their allure, yet undertoned by a subtle sense of darkness and hope.
Everything’s Not Lost is the spellbinding closing song of the band’s 2000 debut album; a far cry from their sound today, captivating and brimming with the essence of wonder as you step towards a positive future.
Coldplay mould their track with tranquillity, painting a calm landscape which blends moments of sparsity with soul-cleansing passion, leading your imagination into dreams and visions of universal contentment after the storm.
With a multitude of wavering sonic elements haunting the backdrop of this cinematic piece, the song harbours the concept of recognising your blessings and curses, whilst dispelling the thought of giving up;
“When I counted up my demons, saw there was one for every day, with the good ones on my shoulder, I drove the other ones away.”
2. Low – Lullaby
Low’s post-punk track Lullaby is a nine-minute masterpiece of soft atmosphere and cutting sadness, gripping every thread of emotion forming your human tapestry.
Its ambience swells and decays beautifully, summoning a hypnotic shroud of meditation which severs you from the real world whilst blurring the line between hope and hopelessness.
Low craft their track with a subtle sense of lethargy to reflect the wandering, weary mind after an endless day, lost in both deep thought and emptiness, with shades of melancholy washing over each captivating harmonic element.
This is a song for when the nights seem to bring no solace, its harmony awakening your star-struck imagination with a strong feeling of nostalgia and reflection upon the sorrows you bear.
3. Louis Armstrongs – What A Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong’s 1967 jazz hit summons a clear-skied daydream detailed with every fragment of Earth’s natural wonders.
This piece has been preserved through the tides of history, heralded as one of the most beautiful songs ever written for its timeless message which resonates through any walk of life.
This is one of the only songs on our list with a message that’s fully graspable by children; giving them a unique opportunity to think about the world they live in with an inspiring, grown-up approach.
Louis adorns every verse with enchanting lyrical imagery, removed from world suffering to exhibit the natural beauty which surpasses all of humanity’s troubles.
But hidden beneath his beaming smile in this iconic performance, is the true essence of a jazz musician; of overcoming deep-rooted personal and cultural hardship whilst longing for a brighter future.
4. The Jam – English Row
The Jam’s 1978 album track, English Rose, is one of the most overlooked love songs of all time.
Their acoustic ambience is stunningly pure for a band known for their shameless mod rock attitude, layered with the rushing sound of waves upon the shore and other atmospheric details which whisk you away into a dreamland of vintage romance.
This track hosts wild gardens of natural imagery that make you think of the freedom you’ve been blessed to live in, and the warm glow of true love which always guides you home;
”I’ve been to ancient worlds, I’ve scoured the whole universe, and caught the first train home, to be at her side, no matter where I roam, I will return to my English rose, for no bonds, nothing and no one can ever keep me from she.”
English Rose is a song to reminisce on the golden days of your life and the lasting peace found with your partner.
5. The Smiths- I Know It’s Over
The Smiths’ use a morbid metaphor in their track, I Know It’s Over, to describe being in love with someone you’re too scared to even talk to, leaving you tormented by a ceaseless feeling of unfulfillment and loneliness.
Their anchoring lyric, “Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head,” symbolises the hardest of endings, whether it reminds you of the death of your relationship, your happiness, youth, or a literal loss of life.
Riddled with haunting melodies, I Know It’s Over makes you think deeply about the life you’ve led and where it has led you; felt most strongly in the following verse which cuts like a hot blade through your fragile heart;
“If you’re so funny, then why are you on your own tonight? If you’re so clever, then why are you on your own tonight? If you’re so very entertaining, then why are you on your own tonight? If you’re so very good-looking, why do you sleep alone tonight? ‘Cause tonight is just like any other night.”
6. John Lennon – Instant Karma
John Lennon’s solo hit Instant Karma is a classic pop-rock anthem encouraging us to rethink our decisions and instincts.
Written under the veil of the Vietnam War, this track reflects the anti-violence sentiments which echoed throughout America during the 60s and 70s, “Instant karma’s gonna get you, gonna knock you off your feet, better recognise your brothers, everyone you meet… why on earth are you there, when you’re everywhere.”
As much Instant Karma is about war criminals and unjust invasion, its message resonates with anyone with guilt writhing in their conscience.
The subtle distortions placed on Lennon’s vocals undertone his lyrics with a sense of threat, or at the very least, a harsh yet dedicated encouragement to make you reassess your morals, “You better get yourself together, pretty soon you’re gonna be dead…”
7. Mozart – Requiem In D Minor
It only seems right to end our playlist of life-inspired songs with the ending of life itself.
Mozart’s final composition, Requiem, is the original musical representation of Death; a piece which conjures the imagination of one’s last days which lie sightlessly upon the inevitable horizon.
Requiem is blanketed in shadows, every light-bearing moment eventually struck down by torrents of darkness, melancholy and seeping fear.
This piece is deeply evocative of mortality, sickness, purity, doom, and seeking the light of God in your last moments.
As a funeral piece, Requiem harnesses a strange yet compelling effect, inciting you to think about your life as if your time is swiftly running out, /thanks to/ the looming presence of absolute dread backlighting every movement of this piece.