It wasn’t too long ago that I stood on a beach that stretched out 30 km on either side of me. I stood there and watched the sun set into the sea. It was a ball of glorious color that turned first the sea orange, then the sky, and then the land. And finally, the very beach that I stood on.
Where was the beach? In Holland, I watched all this from a place called Noordwijk. A stunning experience that has never left me.
Many of us can relive moments like that, I am sure, experiences that we have all had. Those memories may well come flooding back as we look for the best songs about sunsets.
Sunsets are some of the most powerful visual experiences we can have. They have been a favorite subject in recent times for photographers and for artists for centuries. I suppose it’s the drama of the colors and the changes that come over the landscape.
Songwriters, too, are not lost on this natural wonder and the changes it brings to how we see things. They use it to represent hope or the end of something we care about, like a relationship that may be slowly passing away.
They use it to describe the end of a chapter in our lives, and sometimes, as a reflection on the past. There have been some great songs written about the sunset. So, let’s take a look at a few, starting with…
Top 50 Best Songs About Sunsets
California Sunset by Neil Young
Growing up, listening to The Beach Boys and the rest, you picture California as an idyllic place. Then, when you get the chance to go there, it all changes as the realities set in. The “Promised Land” for the very favored few, but certainly not for anyone else.
This track from 1985 describes Young’s perception of the “Promised Land” and all it offers. The optimism of a sentiment borne out in so many songs over decades. It is taken from his album, Old Ways.
Something a little different…
He sets out to celebrate the bay area and its sunset, which can be stunning at the right time of year. It is not what might be called a typical sunset song. This is an up-tempo track, very much a country song with plenty of fiddle and strumming guitar.
Maybe not what you would expect from the man who did “Ohio” and “Rockin In The Free World.” Nevertheless, a nice change of style from Mr. Young.
Two Suns in the Sunset by Pink Floyd
At least you know what you are going to get with Pink Floyd. They usually have a statement or two or three to make, all buried in one song. They do like you to work out what level their songs are on. The answer is all the levels; it’s just that some of them go a bit deeper.
This is a track from their album, The Final Cut. Commentaries have remarked that it is about England’s fear of nuclear war. Just England then? If there are countries that are not worried about the potential of that occurring, then I suggest they reevaluate their priorities.
It talks about a “second sun” in the sky that has nothing to do with the natural one. Sunset, in this context, is used as an end, and certainly not as a beginning. There is a certain sadness to the song because it conveys loss.
But, the losses it talks about are those things and times we cannot get back. Those things have ended, and it isn’t possible to return there. It has typically profound lyrics from Roger Waters. Talking about an uncertain future emanating from a lost past.
Whenever Roger writes songs like this and puts in such an emotional vocal performance, is he going back to his childhood tragedy? A tragedy that, in many ways, has fueled much of what he has written over the years. A powerful song about the sunset with a message for everyone.
Wasted Sunsets by Deep Purple
This was a song that I remember caused a little controversy when it was released in 1984. It was taken from their album, Perfect Strangers.
Why The Controversy?
Deep Purple was a band that started what was to be a common theme among other bands and their members. That is, too many egos pulling in different directions. In the middle of all of this was the excellent Jon Lord, who held it together musically.
It is a track that stood out on the album purely because it was so different. The song was written by Roger Glover, Richie Blackmore, and Ian Gillan, which in itself is quite surprising.
It took plenty of criticism from the band’s fans because of this difference. They liked to hear Deep Purple in “rock” mode. Marshall amps turned up to 11 and letting rip. This song was not like that, and to some, it just didn’t fit in.
A Purple “Ballad”
It is one of those songs from them that many people won’t remember. Apart from Blackmore’s guitar work, that is, which is always excellent. His Stratocaster singing away as it usually does.
With some dark lyrics that are full of regret, it is a song that seems to consider the passing of time and the mistakes that go with it. In this case, the sunset is representing that lost time. The atmosphere is melancholy, and the vocal performance, if nothing special, is rather haunting.
Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot
This Canadian singer-songwriter has always been one of my favorites. He has written some great material, and this is one of them.
This is a song from 1974 that talks about some concerns he has about his partner. She has gone out for the evening while he sits at home as the sun goes down, writing songs. He wonders who she might be with and what she might be doing. One of his songs that shows his “storyteller” side.
Sunset Grill by Don Henley
You might think that Don Henley was the “big boss man” of The Eagles. He always came across that way. He had this “don’t mess with me” look and sound to his voice. Also, he knew what he wanted from the music. Often that might not fit in with the rest of the band.
So, when The Eagles finally split, you might think he would be the one who felt most comfortable carrying on performing. He might have had the most success as a solo artist, but he was far from comfortable with being “out front.”
Glenn Frey was comfortable with it. He had been there, “out front,” but Henley sat at the back. He could hide back there if he felt like it, but as a solo performer, there was nowhere to run to.
Some Great Music
But, in the relatively short time, he was solo, he produced some great tracks. Especially from the album, Building The Perfect Beast.
Released in 1984, this was the fourth single from the album. Not released as a single in the UK, it went to #22 in America. So, maybe not the most successful song about sunsets, but no doubt a unique one.
He had the choice of musicians for the recordings, and the bass sound he chose for this track was interesting. He used Welsh bassist Pino Palladino, using a Fender fretless to get that sound.
The song itself is about an actual haunt of Henley’s known as The Sunset Grill. A hamburger bar on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. A good track that was one of the successes he had while he was waiting for “Hell To Freeze Over.”
What Makes The Sunset? by Frank Sinatra
Back in time, we go to the 40s and this song from Frank Sinatra. This was a track taken from the album Anchors Aweigh.
Released in 1945, it is very typical of Sinatra in this period of his career. In the film, he sits at a table doing his lonely crooning thing, of which he was the master.
The lyrics are by Sammy Cahn and the music by Jule Styne. If you like “Old Blue Eyes” in his 40s film period, then you will like this.
Red Sails In The Sunset by Nat King Cole
This is a well-known song written by Hugh Williams and Jimmy Kennedy. Furthermore, if you talk about the best songs about sunsets, then this will be one of the first you may think of. It was first released by Nat King Cole in 1952 and taken from his album, Unforgettable.
The song is written from experiences that Jimmy Kennedy had in Ireland. A local sailboat, the “Kitty of Coleraine,” had red sails, and he would often see it as the sun was going down. He wrote the song one day while watching the scene of the sailboat and the sunset before him.
It was first published in 1935, but Nat King Cole brought out his version in 1952. It has since had plenty of cover versions.
A Story That is Ending
The song is about a love affair that is ending. They are separating and know they will never see each other again. Of course, Nat King Cole’s voice gives this song that heartbreaking edge that he could produce so easily.
No doubt it is one of the greatest songs that talk about the sunset in a very descriptive way.
Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler On The Roof
In the musical, this song is sung at Tzeitels’ wedding. She is the daughter of Golde and Tevye. It talks about the two young people concerned about growing up and reaching maturity; how life turns from play to things more serious.
The song talks about those changes and uses the sunrise and the sunset as an illustration of how there will be good times and bad times. It is sung by Tevye as he outlines some of the challenges they may face.
One day, a celebration heralded by the sunrise; the next, a sad day illustrated by a sunset. The song was written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick in 1964 and is one of the highlights of the show.
Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks
In these lists, I usually like to leave a personal favorite until the end. I would have done the same here with this, but for a very special reason that is to follow. Perhaps we could call this a “joint” final song.
That’s because it could easily be called the best song about the sunset. Or, at least it would be if not for the other song below.
A song that is acclaimed the world over…
Rolling Stone magazine ranks it as one of the top twenty best songs ever written – #14 to be precise. Can’t disagree with that. It was released in 1967 and taken from their album, Something Else By The Kinks.
They released some groundbreaking music in what was a relatively short first creative period. Some would argue they created the first heavy rock riff-based song with “You Really Got Me.” This is different and highlights the great songwriting skills of Ray Davies.
Near genius songwriting…
Not many people can hear those three words “Terry Meets Julie” without immediately thinking of this song. The song is about two lovers who meet up once a week on Waterloo Bridge in London to sit and watch the sunset. And, if you have never done it, it is magical in the right weather conditions.
It is almost like someone is passing commentary as they watch them. All they need is each other and their “Waterloo Sunset.” They just want time to stop and to have and share this moment forever. Absolute pure romantic genius from Ray Davies.
A great melody gently performed with such descriptive lyrics, as Rolling Stone says, one of the very best. And, without question, a hugely popular song about sunsets.
Sunset Cowboy (In Concert at the Palace Theatre, October 1972) by Stone The Crows
So, what kept “Waterloo Sunset” from being the final choice on this list of the best songs about sunsets? Let’s finish with a bit of a weepy.
Stone The Crows were in many ways one of the unsung heroes of the early 70s British blues scene. They had a unique style and one of the best female blues singers anywhere at the time in, Maggie Bell.
They also had a great lead guitarist, Leslie Harvey. He was the younger brother of vocalist Alex Harvey who had his own band. Originally from Scotland, they set the Blues scene alight and were destined for great things.
Swansea in 1972
Over a thousand fans packed the auditorium in Swansea one night in May 1972. The levels of excitement rose as the band started to tune up. Then a flash, a scream, and it was clear something was wrong as Harvey collapsed while tuning up.
A short circuit in the equipment, and he was electrocuted in front of the audience. Despite frantic efforts to save him, he was gone. And so, in many ways, were Stone The Crows.
They managed to carry on for a while, and drummer Colin Allen wrote this song about his friend, the “Sunset Cowboy.” It was included on their album, Continuous Performance.
Like I said, a bit weepy…
Ironically, Maggie Bell produced possibly her greatest vocal performance on this song as she remembered her friend. Just like the sunset eventually turns to night, so did the light that was Leslie Harvey.
When the Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney
Sunset Road by Joshua Radin
Nothin’ But a Sunset by Dirt Road Logic
Arizona Sunsets by AJR
Watching the Sunset by The Kooks
Pink Sunset by The Growlers
Sunset and the Mockingbird by Duke Ellington
The Sunset Song by Thea Gilmore
Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow
Sunset Station by Savoy Brown
Sunset Lover by Petit Biscuit
Sunset on the Mississippi by Odetta
Desert Sun by Mötley Crüe
The Sun Sets on the Eastern Bloc by The Libertines
Sunset Over Athens by James Taylor
Two Suns Setting by The Matches
The Last Sunset by John Cale
Sunset on Dateland by John Prine
Sunset Tower by The New Pornographers
Western Sunsets by Justin Townes Earle
Sunset Boulevard by The Blackout
Golden Sunsets by Pierce the Veil
Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon by The B-52’s
L.A. Sunset by Murs
Sunset of Your Life by Ingrid Michaelson
Drown in a Sunset by Christian Death
Sunsets by Powderfinger
Island in the Sun by Weezer
Sunset Soon Forgotten by Iron & Wine
Texas Sun by Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
Sunset Jesus by Avicii
The Sunsets Are So Beautiful by Jimmy Eat World
Sunset Drive by Maria Taylor
Sunset Swim by Thundercat
Sunset Blvd. by Emblem3
Sunset People by Donna Summer
Another Day of Sun by La La Land Cast
Sunrise, Sunset by Harry Belafonte
Western Sunset by Neil Finn
Sunset on Dateland Road by Calexico
Want To Find More Incredible Songs?
We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine, the Best Songs About Walking, the Best Songs About Fire, the Best Songs About California, the Best Songs about Cars, and the Best Songs About Magic for more awesome song selections.
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Best Songs About Sunsets – Final Thoughts
The sunset is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful of all the natural phenomena we get to witness. It can be absolutely captivating. I should think that most of us have, at one time or another, just stood and watched as the sun went down.
It is often hard to put the experience into words. To attach words to the feeling it can generate seems pointless and inadequate in any description they can offer. But I suppose that is where some of the songwriters have stepped in. They have expressed that beauty for us through their music. And some of the songs here do just that.
Until next time, happy listening.