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Top 75 Best Songs About Brothers

In the majority of cases, there is an incredible bond between brothers. It isn’t always the case, of course. I know two brothers just eighteen months apart in age who dislike each other so much they haven’t even spoken for twenty years.

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But, that is not the norm. Usually, the bond between them is very real. Finding the best songs about brothers, though, and I mean the best songs, is not that easy. For some people, it is hard to show that bond in words. Opening up your feelings in that way can be awkward and almost cheesy.

Let’s take a look at some of these best brotherly songs that truly express those feelings.

Top 75 Best Songs About Brothers

1
Daniel by Elton John

This is a song from one of Elton’s early albums, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, released in 1973. Bernie Taupin once called this the most misunderstood lyric he’d ever written. 

It became a single on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a top-five record in both countries, as well as being successful all around the world.

Confusion

There have been confused ideas about what the song is referring to. Some have thought it was a younger brother waiting for his older brother to come home from a holiday in Spain.

However, the song is about a soldier returning from the Vietnam War to his home. He is treated as a hero, but he is haunted by the events he was involved in and what he had seen. He realizes he is no hero and just has to get away for some peace. 

Daniel is his brother who sings to him and sees his anguish saying, “your eyes have died.”

A Missing Verse

Once the song was finished, it was a little long. Radio stations have general rules about how long songs can be. To keep them happy, they chopped the last verse. That explains a little more of the story and is one thing that has led to some confusion.

An Interesting Side Issue

Record companies are all-wise and all-knowing. Well, they think they are. They decided releasing this as a single might upset and offend a few people over the pond. 

Can’t really see how. It is not saying anything that didn’t happen. It went to #2 on the American chart, so that was a storm in a teacup. Wrong again, weren’t they?

2
What’s Happening Brother by Marvin Gaye

As we will see as we go through this list, some of the best songs about the relationship between brothers have a recurring theme. Simply put, they are songs about brothers and the effects of war on their relationships.

As with “Daniel,” this is a track from Marvin Gaye that confronts the Vietnam War. But more directly, it confronts the issues in the aftermath. A subject and a condition that is quite often overlooked.

A Masterful Album

Marvin Gaye had lost his singing partner Tammi Terrell to cancer, and he became almost a recluse. This album was conceived in the period when he was struggling with various substances and mental torment following her death. It deals with social issues that were close to his heart.

The Aftermath

A ‘clinical’ term in many ways. But, like so many songs of this period, it tries to deal with the problem that exists in a very real way. It is a complex issue. Many of the soldiers returning from war, in this case, Vietnam, had many difficult personal battles at home to deal with.

This song was written by Marvin Gaye with James Nyx Jr. and has his brother very much in mind. His brother served several years in South East Asia. Struggling to return to a ‘normal’ civilian life after years in Vietnam was never going to be easy.

3
He Was My Brother by Simon and Garfunkel

Another very emotional song about brothers with quite an incredible storyline considering the ‘intelligent’ world we are supposed to be living in. 

The song was written by Paul Simon and was one of his first serious songs with a social comment. It was probably written about 1964 and included on their album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.

Many commentators have tried to infer that this is written about an ‘actual’ brother of Paul Simon, Eddie. Whether that assumption is trying to deviate away from what Simon is saying, I don’t know.

Dark Lyrics

Paul was at college with a friend, Andrew Goodman, in New York. He, along with two fellow civil rights activists, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney, were murdered by a Klu Klux Klan lynch mob in a town near Philadelphia in 1964.

The song is inspired by his friendship with Goodman but includes all three. It is typical of what was to come from the duo later with their close-knit harmonies and great guitar work. But, the dark message in the lyric is never very far away and reminds us of what the song is all about.

4
(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away by The Bee Gees

Here is a group of talented siblings that had their moments. They came from a relatively poor family who emigrated from the UK to Australia. 

During their lives, they have had to endure poverty, alcoholism, and drug abuse. There have been divorces and personal investigations. And then illness and death. No one could say they had it easy.

A Band of Brothers…

Barry Gibb confirms they would often argue and spend months not speaking to each other. But, somehow, the ‘brothers bond’ was always there, and one of them activated a reunion. 

Through all the troubles, they were fiercely protective of each other. This was shown when they all walked off a TV chat show in the UK when one was criticized.

The Disco Period

This song was written during their “Saturday Night Fever” period. However, it was not included in the albums at that time but came out later. Younger brother, Andy, released it in 1978 with Brother Barry helping. Maurice and Robin were nowhere to be seen.

His death ten years later at the age of 30 brought the brothers all together. And when Maurice died in 2003, the two surviving brothers became very close. It remained that way until Robin left us, leaving only Barry.

Lyrically, the song almost sounds like a cry for help. A tender love song in many ways that suited Andy’s voice. And a message to all that life is too short for petty squabbling.

5
Oh Brother by James Taylor

This is a James Taylor track from his New Moon Shine album of 1991. It is a heartfelt plea to someone though it never identifies exactly who. He just calls him ‘brother.’ But that doesn’t have to mean literally.

Clearly, in Taylor’s writing, he wants to help, but this is where it gets a little confusing. He writes the lines:

“Don’t assume that the life you left, Is the life you have to lead.”

Indicating that someone close to him has left. He talks about when he comes home but then follows that up with:

“You forget to remember, to never die young.”

A typically heartfelt James Taylor song, beautifully written and played. Easily one of the best songs about brothers.

6
Brother Louie by Hot Chocolate

A very underrated band in so many ways. Not only were they pretty good live, but they also had at least one hit record every year from 1970 to 1984. There aren’t many acts that can claim that record anywhere.

This particular song reached #7 in the UK in 1973. It was produced by Mickie Most and included a cameo voice role from blues legend Alexis Korner.

They were a straightforward bunch of guys, no ‘Prima Donas,’ which is something worth noting in the music business. But, what they did have was a sense of social comment. They quite often wrote songs about incidents they had either seen or read about. “Brother Louis” was one such song.

Forbidden love…

The song tells of a love affair between a black woman and a white man. The man’s parents can’t handle it and disown him. 

Singer Errol Brown who co-wrote the song with Tony Wilson, when asked, would say the song came from personal experience. But, he would never elaborate.

A Cover

The song was covered by an American band, The Stories, about six months after Hot Chocolate’s UK success. Hot Chocolate was rather unknown in mainstream America, and The Stories cover version was a big hit over the water.

7
The Greatest Discovery by Elton John

Let’s change tack a little now and look at the brotherly aspect in a slightly different way. This song takes us right back almost to the very beginning of Elton John’s work with Bernie Taupin. Together they came up with this great track about brothers.

A Journey

The song takes us on a wondrous journey, brilliantly told in the lyrics by Taupin. The story revolves around the excitement and joy a little boy has at the arrival of his new brother. The first meeting is when he begins to realize that they will be side by side for life.

He begins to picture a wondrous journey as they go through life together and all the love that will bring. The adventures that will grow just as they do. He also realizes how much the new member of the family means to him already.

He is yet to learn that these feelings will intensify with age. And, he is yet to appreciate just how much he will mean to him in the future. A very beautiful song dealt with in a sensitive way that makes it special.

8
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by The Hollies

This is a song that was found by The Hollies guitarist, Tony Hicks. It was written about a boy’s home that had been set up in Nebraska. Outside of the home was a statue of a boy carrying another boy on his back. Underneath the legend, ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.’

The statue referred to a real incident when a boy at the home who wore leg braces was often carried around on the backs of his friends. The home was called “Boys Town,” and writers Bob Russell and Bobby Scott used the title and the symbolism to create a great song. 

There have been other claims to being the inspiration for the title. But, Tony Hicks says quite clearly it was “Boys Town” in Nebraska that the song was about.

A Big Success

This popular song about brothers went to #3 in the UK and #7 in America and became, in many ways, The Hollies’ signature tune. A great song with a great message of treating everyone we meet as our brothers.

An interesting side issue, the piano player in the session, was paid 12 English Pounds for the job. At the time, he was known as Reggie Dwight; he later became known as Elton John.

9
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by Joan Baez

This is a very strange song for me. For some reason, which is quite unfathomable and illogical, I get very emotional about this song. I have no idea why. Perhaps in another life, I was there, if you believe in that sort of thing, which I don’t, but anyway.

The Band had a huge hit with it in 1969, and it was written by Robbie Robertson. But, it is the Joan Baez version I have included here.

Historically Accurate?

Just for a pleasant change, it appears to be. The song refers to Union Army raids behind Confederate lines in Southwest Virginia towards the end of the American Civil War in 1865. It talks about the hardships the people were suffering as narrated by a poor Southerner. 

“In the winter of ‘65, we were hungry, just barely alive.”

He is a non-slave holder whose brother has been killed and who has lost his livelihood. He is trying to make sense of a conflict that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, including one of his own.

Stunning Emotion

It is a song that packs a powerful punch and is quite stunning in the emotion she produces in her voice. If it hadn’t been for my last song, this would have been my choice as one of the best songs about brothers.

10
Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits

Not anywhere else to finish a list that includes songs about brothers than with this masterpiece. It has had its fair share of interpretations, but it isn’t as complex as some like to pretend it is.

He wrote the song during the war in the Falkland Islands in 1982. The message was simple. War is stupid and folly, and so are those that perpetuate aggression and violence at whatever level. End of subject. Don’t need to elaborate on that.

A Common Expression

He uses the familiar ‘brothers-in-arms’ expression to paint the picture rather than allude to actual brothers. It could be any set of brothers who are fighting in a war, and there have been plenty. My own uncles included. But, even comrades refer to themselves as ‘brothers-in-arms.’

I read somewhere that the song was a ‘celebration’ of an unbreakable bond. It is hardly an apt word under any circumstances; there is nothing to be ‘celebrated’ about war. But, there is plenty to mourn.

A Bit Deeper

He goes a little deeper with his writing. On a radio program, he talked about the divisions in humanity when he says:

“We’ve got just one world, but we all live in different ones.” 

In other words, why can’t we live together? In the song, he portrays a scene where a young soldier is about to die on the battlefield. He is surrounded by his ‘brothers-in-arms’ as he slowly passes away.

One of the greatest songs about brothers from one of the greatest albums. It has worldwide sales of over 30 million copies. Not surprising, this is where we end.

11
Brothers Gonna Work It Out by Public Enemy

12
Brothers by Luke Bryan

13
Brothers in Blood by Malevolent Creation

14
Brother’s Keeper by Rich Mullins

15
Brother John/Iko Iko by The Neville Brothers

16
Brothers Under the Sun by Bryan Adams

17
Brothers on a Hotel Bed by Death Cab for Cutie

18
The Brothers Cup by Red Hot Chili Peppers

19
Two Brothers and a Stranger by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

20
Brother, My Cup Is Empty by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

21
Brothers in Arms by Joan Baez

22
My Brother by Terry Scott Taylor

23
Brothers in Crime by The Ghost Inside

24
The Love Between Brothers by Carly Simon

25
Blood Brothers by Iron Maiden

26
Brother’s Song by Brandi Carlile

27
The Ballad of Jesse James by Bruce Springsteen

28
The Road by Frank Turner

29
The Wolf by Mumford & Sons

30
Johnny and June by Heidi Newfield

31
Brother’s Keeper by Rich Mullins

32
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by Neil Diamond

33
The Boys of Summer by Don Henley

34
Brother’s Blood by Kevin Devine

35
Brothers in the Wind by Roger Hodgson

36
The River by Bruce Springsteen

37
Older Brother by Pepper Rabbit

38
The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert

39
The Wilsons by The Avett Brothers

40
My Brother’s Eyes by Billy Joel

41
Oh Brother by Saint Raymond

42
Brothers in the Wind by America

43
Brother’s Keeper by The Neville Brothers

44
Brothers on a Hotel Bed by Death Cab for Cutie

45
My Brother’s Eyes by The Allman Brothers Band

46
Brothers by The Black Keys

47
Brotherhood of Man by Motörhead

48
Brother Mine by Richard Thompson

49
Brother Can You Spare a Dime by George Michael

50
The Brother by The Pogues

More 25 Best Songs About Brothers

    1. Brother’s Song” by Brandi Carlile
    2. Soul Brother” by Queen
    3. Brothers and Sisters” by Coldplay
    4. Little Brother” by Grizzly Bear
    5. Brothers Under the Sun” by Bryan Adams
    6. Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son” by Damien Jurado
    7. Brothers in the Night by Air Supply
    8. Brothers Under the Bridge by Bruce Springsteen
    9. My Brother’s a Keeper by The Oak Ridge Boys
    10. Brother Against Brother by Gamma Ray
    11. Brotherhood by New Order
    12. My Brother Threw Up on My Stuffed Toy Bunny by The Queers
    13. Brother John by The Neville Brothers
    14. Brothers and Sisters of Azania by Johnny Clegg and Savuka
    15. Brothers in Arms (Extended Version) by Dire Straits
    16. Brothers of Metal Pt. 1 by Manowar
    17. Brother Down by Sam Roberts
    18. Brothers on a Hotel Bed (Live at the Hollywood Bowl) by Death Cab for Cutie
    19. Brothers of a Feather by Chris and Rich Robinson
    20. Brother in Arms by David Knopfler
    21. Brother Where You Bound by Supertramp
    22. Brother to Brother by Gino Vannelli
    23. Brother of Mine by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
    24. Brother Wind by Bobby McFerrin
    25. Brother, My Brother by The Civil Wars

Looking for More Songs About Special Things?

We can help. Take a look at our informative articles on the Best Songs About Magic, the Best Songs About Heroes, the Best Songs About Friendship, the Best Songs About Walking, the Best Songs about Fighting, and the Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine for more great song selections.

Best Songs About Brothers – C0nclusion

So that is my list. It would have been easy to pad this out with ‘average’ songs about brothers. But, I wanted to keep it to just the ‘very’ best. Everyone will have their own opinion, of course, and there may be some I have missed, so I apologize for that. But for me, these are the ‘very’ best.

Until next time, happy listening.

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