Pain and suffering are emotions that we all have to go through. Sometimes, they are not our fault but in other cases, the pain and suffering can be self-inflicted. You don’t have to look too far to find the best songs about pain & suffering.
Of course, it is a common and well-used theme for songwriters. They write about it to express and observe the pain and suffering of others. But, occasionally, they write about themselves.
It becomes almost a personal therapeutic way of handling it. It has happened to them and left a scar and it is one way of healing, to talk about how they feel. We shall look closely at one such writer and their song a little later…
But What About The Listener?
Is it comforting to hear others sing songs about suffering and pain? Does it help us if we go through it as well? Or, maybe, it is just that the music or the song is good and great just to listen to. They are both emotions that have helped to create some great music. So, let’s take a look at a few.
Top 50 Best Songs About Pain & Suffering
My Immortal by Evanescence
This is a memorable song about pain and suffering taken from the band’s first album, Fallen. This was the album that also gave us one of their greatest and most-known songs “Bring Me To Life”.
Both songs became fixtures in many of their live performances. “My Immortal” was released in 2003 and was the third single taken from the album. It was written by singer Amy Lee, guitarist Ben Moody, and David Hodges who played keyboards.
It is very much a cross between Metal and Gothic genres in style, a power ballad with a slow, steady tempo. As a result, it ranks among the best songs about pain & suffering.
The song has a difficult subset matter for some people as she is singing about someone close to her who has died. At first, she feels the spirit close to her and it helps to ease the pain.
Finally, she comes to terms with the fact that they are gone and not coming back. Her mindset changes and she wishes it would leave her alone.
The song was well-received and critics especially noted the piano part. Something that showed in so many of their recordings later. It reached #7 in the UK and America.
Everybody Hurts by REM
REM was a band that gained a lot of popularity in the 1990s and this song was one of their best known. It was taken from the album, Automatic For The People, released in 1992.
They were often known to write lyrics that took some thinking about and often made some sort of political comment. And, nowhere was this more prevalent in their track “Shiny Happy People”, which was pure satire aimed at the Chinese Government for the way they portrayed the events in Tiananmen Square.
“Everybody Hurts” was a song written for young people. It makes plenty of references to the hurt that comes to everybody and that it is okay to suffer it.
It reached #7 in the UK, #29 in the American charts, and was popular throughout Europe. They were an excellent band, and, Michael Stipe, a very good singer, and frontman.
A Bit Extra
A bit of trivia for you that you may not be aware of. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin wrote the string sections. Once you’ve got him involved in the orchestrations you have a hit record.
Love Hurts by Nazareth
So, there we all were, nice and comfortable with our music. ‘Soft’ rock was pretty much the order of the day. Songs like “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” and Steely Dan’s brilliant “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”.
The early 70s were a time when, in some areas, the music went to sleep a bit. It needed waking up. But, then from Scotland came the band with the voice.
A Bit Extra
Dan McCafferty and Nazareth did just that. They had already made a bit of noise, but this track showed how good he and they were. McCafferty had something else.
A hard rock singer with all the vocal gravel you need, but he was different. And, he could sing in tune. That made a pleasant change to some who we had been listening to for ten or so years who couldn’t.
A Great Song
The song was written by Boudleaux Bryant. It had been a hit for the Everly Brothers in the early 60s and, of course, Roy Orbison’s version was popular. But then, there was this.
The song has an interesting theme in that it portrays the feelings of love as just imaginary. Furthermore, it is an illusion that we create for ourselves and it doesn’t really exist. All this illusion does is bring us heartache and pain.
It was #1 in five countries around the world. However, it only reached #41 in the UK. But, it did better in America where it reached #8.
Pain In My Heart by The Rolling Stones
This is the Stones’ cover of a song that Otis Redding recorded. It was included on their second album in the UK and several compilations since. It was the title track of Otis Redding’s first album and was written by Naomi Neville.
A mournful song but performed in a different way from how Otis performed it. Nevertheless, it became a popular song in Stones’ concerts for years.
The title tells the story. It’s a song about a man missing his ex. The track is lifted by the uncredited piano but was probably played by Nicky Hopkins.
Long Long Time by Linda Ronstadt
The 70s and 80s produced some great female singers. However, very few could compare with Linda Ronstadt. She had a great voice that took her across many genres. From her original Country status to Rock and great ballads, and even light opera.
In this song, she shows the depth of emotion she can put into a performance. It was taken from her album, Silk Purse, and was written by Gary White.
This is a song about suffering that could also be called tragic. It talks about someone loving someone too much and how the pain will be around for a long time.
Feel No Pain by Sade
This is a song by the British band Sade and was taken from Love Deluxe, their fourth studio album. It was first released in 1992.
Considering the quality of the song and the performance it was rather a disappointment chart-wise. It had only very modest success and reached #56 in the UK and #59 in America.
You sometimes get songs that talk about pain and suffering. But, they can be often very vague in their applications and descriptions. But, this is a song that cuts to the bone and takes no prisoners at all in discussing another sort of suffering and pain.
So, what happens when a man loses his job? What happens if he is the only source of income for the home? Even worse, as applies in some countries, what if the whole family is involved in the working enterprise? What happens then?
In some countries, some limited social payments will give some relief, but barely enough. In other countries, where the governments take an, “I’m Alright Jack” attitude, there is no help at all. The latter is a breeding ground for crime.
A Plea For Help And Understanding
That is what this song is. It talks about a whole family laid off from their work. And, of course, the resultant suffering. It refers to being out of work and how difficult it can be to find new work. Not everyone has been fortunate to gain a good education.
But, one of the messages of this song is for everyone to look out for those in this situation. Help where you can, and not necessarily financially. Give them some motivation to try to get them out of the despair of the cycle of poverty that can surround them. I think it’s called having “empathy”.
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me by Culture Club
Culture Club was one of the bands described as being on the poppier side of “New Wave”. This was a musical counterculture that grew out of the punk scene in the UK.
In many ways, with its flamboyant clothes and makeup, it was the antithesis of punk. Perhaps in some ways a reaction to it. It eventually became an umbrella term that covered anything that didn’t seem to fit in elsewhere in a musical genre.
First Big Success
It was written by the band and was released in 1982. It was their first #1 in the UK and their first release in America reaching #2. The song was taken from their hugely successful album, Kissing To Be Clever.
It has a reggae-influenced style and tells of the pain and suffering between two lovers. So, rather a tormented lyric.
Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor
Sometimes, you come across a song whose performance is painful to listen to. It hurts you as much as it appears to hurt the singer. This is one of those.
The music video was filmed in Paris and the story goes that it was all too much for her as well. There were plenty of tears. I am not getting into all this “the artist formerly known as” nonsense. It was written by Prince and it demonstrated just how good a songwriter he was.
He certainly didn’t need all this precocious rubbish to try and create attention. His music did that for him.
There’s a raw edge to it, seemingly torn by the heartbreak, and she produces a stunning performance. A story about a love lost and just what it meant to her.
This song comes from her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. It went to #1 in 22 countries, including the UK and America. And, it was the biggest selling record of 1990 in the UK.
Someone Like You by Adele
A critic once rather unkindly said that Adele had remarked that she had “suffered a break-up, but wasn’t going to go on about it”. While that was a throw-away line, and possibly a little unfair, I know what he meant.
This song composed by Adele along with production help from Dan Wilson certainly made its mark on the music public. It was taken from her second album, 21, released in 2011.
A real tearjerker…
In “Someone Like You”, she emotionally revisits the result of a broken relationship and the feelings she encountered. It received critical acclaim not only for her performance and the quality of the song. But, for the simple arrangement and production that resisted the urge to overdo it.
It is a touching tale of heartache caused by a broken relationship and the suffering that goes along with it. But, it also emphasizes her innermost feelings that she may never get over it. The story goes that she was in tears while completing the recording.
She said that the song was as much about fear for the future as anything else. Of getting to 40, she says, and accidentally meeting him again, married with children and supremely happy. While she is still on her own and lonely.
It topped the charts in the UK and America and 16 other countries. Furthermore, it was her first #1 in the UK and established her as one of the biggest artists of the time. Very few songs convey suffering and pain like this one does. Therefore, it’s easily one of the best songs about pain & suffering.
Hurts by Emeli Sandé
She arrived in the music consciousness quite late compared with some. “Read All About It, Pt. III” was the single that launched her career, even though she had been well-known before. That went to #1 in the UK.
That was taken from her award-winning album, Our Version Of Events. “Hurts” was taken from her album, Long Live The Angels, released in 2016.
Easy to relate to…
This song tells an all too familiar story in many ways. There can often be someone who loves another so deeply but that love is not returned. There comes a time when the realization sets in. Then, you realize it is just never going to happen between you no matter what you say or do.
In the song, she is trying to remind a former lover of all the good times they have had. But, he just does not remember them. That just adds to the pain and suffering even more.
A Different Style
Quite often, these songs are built around ballads or similar styles based on slower tempos. Not the case here. It starts in a melancholy way, but very quickly the percussion arrives with hand claps and everything going on.
The rhythms take over and add to the energy of her fast-paced lyrical delivery. An excellent track from one of the most underrated singers the UK ever produced.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles
Their sojourn in India studying transcendental meditation had caused as much bad as the good it was supposed to produce. But, one thing that did come from it all was that George Harrison “came of age” if you like.
He retired to his home, Kinfaus, on the Claremont Estate in Esher on his return and began to write. It was there that much of what many people call The Beatles’ greatest album, The White Album, was prepared and took shape in demo form.
Taking the first step…
Freed from the internal oppression he had suffered at times with his songwriting, this song, which took shape in India, was finished. It became a signature track of his.
But, it’s a song that deals with pain and suffering differently. This isn’t about a love-lost relationship. George had always been a sensitive man and one thing he learned from his time in India was the importance of the natural world.
He Had Come To See The Potential
He saw the potential of how love could change the world. Much like John did. However, he chose to describe it in terms of his guitar crying in anguish and pain.
The world’s lack of understanding, in many cases willful misunderstanding, affected him deeply. This iconic song of pain and suffering was one of the great things he produced from those feelings.
Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri
The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve
The Show Must Go On by Queen
How to Save a Life by The Fray
Breathe Me by Sia
Hurt So Bad by Linda Ronstadt
Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley feat. Alison Krauss
Mad World by Tears for Fears
Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin
Hurt Somebody by Noah Kahan feat. Julia Michaels
Torn by Natalie Imbruglia
Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion
Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
Don’t Speak by No Doubt
All Good Things (Come to an End) by Nelly Furtado
Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime by The Korgis
If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher
No Rain by Blind Melon
Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division
Goodbye My Lover by James Blunt
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Say You Love Me by Fleetwood Mac
It’s a Heartache by Bonnie Tyler
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted by Jimmy Ruffin
Fix You by Coldplay
One by U2
In the End by Linkin Park
Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye feat. Kimbra
Love Stinks by The J. Geils Band
My Curse by Killswitch Engage
Last Kiss by Pearl Jam
The Night We Met by Lord Huron
Yesterday by The Beatles
The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand
Here Without You by 3 Doors Down
Home by Michael Bublé
Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day
Looking for Songs with Sentiment?
We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Change, the Best Songs About Heroes, the Best Songs About Crying, the Best Songs About Loneliness, the Best Songs About Crushes, and the Best Songs About Romeo and Juliet for more great song selections.
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And, don’t miss our comprehensive reviews of the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $200, the Best Headphones Under $200, the Best Headphones for Music, and the Best Headphones with Volume Control currently on the market.
Best Songs About Pain & Suffering – Conclusion
As we can see, pain and suffering can come from a variety of sources. Furthermore, it isn’t just about missing someone, or how we miss them.
But, while it is an unpleasant scenario for those going through it, it has given us some great music. These are just a few and I am sure you will have your own favorites.
So, until next time, happy listening.