There are some amazing images that we see, and rainbows are one of those. They make a strong visual impression, perfect for lyrical and metaphorical expression.
From a scientific point of view, it is majestic. Observing the light spectrum divided up into its various hues is one of the most beautiful sights on our planet. When it occurs, which is not that often in some parts of the world, it will make you just stop and stare.
Whatever you are doing can become almost irrelevant, and you just stare at its natural beauty. The analogies linking it to the sun and rain are endless and provide great descriptive opportunities for songwriters.
There is something special about rainbows, and they offer a range of emotions. Hopes, dreams, the future, and our happiness are all inspired by the sight of a rainbow. And the fact that all rainbows are unique offers extra inspiration.
The view and illusion can be altered by what view you happen to have, very much like a disagreement in a relationship.
So, a tour of how songwriters have expressed these different emotions is going to give us some great music. Let’s take a look at some great songs about rainbows.
33 Songs About Rainbows of All Time
Pocketful of Rainbows by Elvis Presley
This is a song taken from his 1960 film “G.I. Blues,” which was partly shot in Germany before his release. Did all the general intake get that option, I wonder? The most remembered song from this musical comedy was “Wooden Heart.”
“Pocketful Of Rainbows” wasn’t going to win any awards for its songwriting…
But, it fitted the film and the atmosphere very well. The song was written by Fred Wise and Ben Weisman. The song was recorded in Los Angeles, but the film scenes were shot in Germany.
That entailed lip-synching, which in those days was rather basic. Elvis lip-synched to his own voice, but Juliet Prowse did hers to Loulie Jean Norman’s voice. Additionally, the scenery is very nice being filmed in Rüdesheim am Rhein in Germany.
Rainbow Eyes by Rainbow
If you are expecting the usual serving of rainbow themed songs, then you will be very surprised with this track. It is taken from their 1978 album, Long Live Rock n Roll, and interestingly was chosen as the final track on the album. No big finish here, then.
There is a feeling of something else here…
I can’t make up my mind whether it is Hendrix’s “Little Wing” or something else. It’s not that it sounds like it. But the lengthy solo guitar entry with plenty of interesting chords is the same idea.
There is a nice string arrangement, the introduction of a flute, and no screaming Blackmore soloing. I told you that you would be surprised. It goes completely against the grain of what you might expect from songs about rainbows.
Blackmore released the song again, in 2008, on an album, Secret Voyage. That was part of a project under the name of “Blackmore’s Night” with his future wife, Candice.
Blackmore included a guitar solo on that version…
The version from Long Live Rock n Roll is the one I prefer. Possibly because it comes so unexpectedly at the end of the album. However, it is more likely to be the orchestrations that add to the song and the atmosphere.
Love in a Rainbow by Brian May
This is what Brian May is best at. Working on new ideas, and especially with new talent, produces more imagination from what is his considerable musical mind.
I am probably going to get my head bitten off here, but this desire to go back to what it was with Queen does nothing for me.
Well, it does; I find it all rather distasteful…
A few of us that were around when Queen suddenly arrived from their previous incarnation, “Smile,” in West London. They were exceptional even in the early days. They all played their part, but the band was about Freddie on stage.
So, all these holographic images of him touching hands with Brian May in a concert is, well, yuck. Additionally, none of those people I referred to who were around managed more than an hour in the film before just having to leave it. You could never replace him, so why try?
Brian At His best
He works here with Kerry Ellis, an English theater actress with an outstanding voice. May produced her second album called Anthems. Furthermore, he wrote or co-wrote several songs on that album. They then began working as a duo and recorded a live album, Acoustic by Candlelight.
“Love In A Rainbow” was taken from a further album where they collaborated again called Golden Days. The album reached #27 on the UK chart.
The track talks about being free and free to give love, using the rainbow as an example of a beautiful thing. As I said, Brian May is doing what he is best at with a great new voice to work in partnership with.
Sunshine, Lollipops, And Rainbows by Lesley Gore
Lesley Gore was not what she is sometimes portrayed as being. She was not a talentless, one-hit wonder. In fact, she was a good singer, songwriter, and actress, and there were plenty of strings to her bow.
She burst onto the scene in 1963…
Courtesy of her record “It’s My Party.” That went to #9 in the UK and #1 in America. The song was written by John Gluck, Herb Weiner, and Wally Gold. It was taken from her album; I’ll Cry If I Want To. Other hit records followed as she established herself at such a young age.
“Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” is a happy song about rainbows and fun that creates a nice warm atmosphere. Originally, it was released on her album, Mixed-Up Hearts in 1963.
It came out as a single in 1965 and reached #13 on the American chart to coincide with its inclusion in the film “Ski Party” of the same year.
At the Rainbow’s End by Hank Snow
Hank Snow was a Country singer born in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he spent his early life. He was known for singing songs about traveling around, and this song is about a journey.
This is a song that is indicative of his journey through life. Although, as a character, he didn’t seek out fame and fortune, he achieved it to a degree.
The song is all about that “pot of gold” that awaits you at the end of the rainbow. His journey through life, through his music, means he found it.
Chasing The Rainbow by America
I suppose you could call America an American band made in England. It was there they got together two miles from where I lived at a USAF base in Ruislip, West London. Their fathers were stationed there.
It was from there they got together and formed the band…
Their sound was forged through stories about America, the country. The debut single in 1972, “A Horse with No Name,” is still their most successful and was recorded at Morgan Sound in London.
It was released from their album, Here & Now, in 2007. It had been a long time since their last album, Human Nature, which was released in 1998. They seemed to fall out of favor quite quickly as the American Soft Rock scene seemed to disappear.
As with the last song, it is all about chasing your dreams. Trying to achieve what appears to be impossible but quite often isn’t.
Rainbow Country by Bob Marley
Here is a man who needs no introduction. Mention “Reggae,” and the first name that will usually come to mind is Bob Marley. This is a track from his album, Soul Rebel, released in 1970, which was his first album released outside of Jamaica.
This is another interpretation of the meaning of a rainbow. The rainbow in certain movements signifies freedom from discrimination. This can be applied to both sexuality and freedom from discrimination against color.
Not A New Idea
The use of the rainbow in a flag or banner is not a new idea; it goes way back to 15th Century Germany. Theologian Thomas Müntzer used it to develop unity of his reformist preaching ideas. It has since been used in various ways as a rallying point for causes and things that need change.
Marley was aware of this and talks about how he felt a sense of freedom once apartheid in South Africa had been dismantled. The rainbow in his song represents diversity and an acceptance that there could be a place where we all live together in harmony.
Rainbow Connection by Willie Nelson
A rebel amid the usually conservative world of Country music. Willie Nelson must go down as one of the greats. Rainbow Connection was the 49th (yes, 49th) studio album of his long career.
It has an interesting backstory for a song. It was included in “The Muppet Movie,” and his daughter, Amy, while still a child, heard Kermit sing it. For years, she pestered her dad to record it. He finally did in 2001, and Amy helped produce it.
The song is full of joyous and happy images of rainbows. It’s a song that talks about rainbows being the connection between earth and heaven. And that they offer us hope for the future.
An Anthem Of Hope
That is how you could describe this song. He started his professional career in 1956, and he is still at. Long may he continue to give us great songs like this.
Make Me Rainbows by Ella Fitzgerald
A lot of song lists seem to include songs by the “Queen of Jazz.” This will be no exception. She was renowned for her “scat singing” and had an impressive three-octave range. But we don’t need to wax lyrical about Ella, do we?
This song is a collaboration with Count Basie. It is a very romantic song with a memorable melody. One that celebrates the sweetness of young love and likens the experience to rainbows.
My Little Town by Simon and Garfunkel
How does this fit on a list of songs about rainbows? On the face of it, it doesn’t seem it should. However, Paul Simon will often go somewhere in his lyrics to use imagery to put his point across. He does that with this song.
“And after it rains, there’s a rainbow – And all of the colors are black – It’s not that the colors aren’t there – It’s just imagination they lack.”
Here, the rainbow is used as something that represents a lack of imagination and creativity. Where things do not follow a set pattern that is going nowhere. He uses the idea of an all-black rainbow with no colors to describe apathy, how everything looks the same and never changes.
The song was written after another split…
And, it was produced for one last song between them. They made their “final” split in 1970, and this was released in 1975.
They both ended up releasing it on separate albums. It wasn’t released on a joint album until 1997, when it appeared on a box set entitled, Old Friends. Simon included it in his album, Still Crazy After All These Years. Garfunkel on his album, Breakaway.
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
This is a song written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss and recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1967. Its success in the UK was staggering, where it went straight to #1. It was released again in 1988 after it was included in the film “Good Morning, Vietnam.”
After being a flop in the US the first time around, it reached #32 on its 1988 release. It wasn’t a success in 1967 because the president of ABC records, Larry Newton, didn’t like it and refused to promote it.
“How did he get his job?” is the question I would ask if he can make that sort of mistake.
Perhaps there is a deeper reason…
It is a classic song that celebrates life’s simple things. And the sincerity in Armstrong’s voice carries the day. He talks about the blessings that life offers, and one of those is encompassed in these lines:
The colors of the rainbow – So pretty in the sky – Are also on the faces – Of people going by – I see friends shaking hands – Saying, “How do you do?” – They’re really saying – “I love you.”
Without question, a great song and a great performance. Likewise, it is a track that will always be played and enjoyed.
I Can Sing A Rainbow / Love Is Blue by The Dells
A popular song about a rainbow written by Arthur Hamilton, it was first sung by Peggy Lee in the soundtrack for “Pete Kelly’s Blues” in 1955.
Interestingly, the song is used to teach children about colors. However, two of those mentioned aren’t actual spectral colors at all. That’s because pink is a shade, and purple is a mixture of red and blue.
The Dells did a superb job of it combining it with another song, “Love Is Blue.” It was released in 1969 and reached #16 in the UK and #22 in America.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland
There probably isn’t a better place to end this list than with this track taken, of course, from “The Wizard Of Oz.” It is, after all, the most memorable song about rainbows ever recorded.
The song was written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg and published in 1939. It was written especially for the movie to be sung by Dorothy (Judy Garland). The song was first released as a single in 1939 in its own right that was not a recording from the film.
Another song that uses the imagery of the rainbow to promote a feeling of hope…
In the film, her aunt tells her to go somewhere on the farm where she “won’t get into trouble.” That place figuratively was over the rainbow.
Most people, when hearing the word “rainbow,” might even think of Judy Garland. The song left that much of an imprint on our consciousness. There have been other covers made, but none come close to Garland’s performance.
Chasing Rainbows by Shed Seven
Sunday Shining by Finlay Quaye
Rainbowland by Miley Cyrus & Dolly Parton
Gravity’s Rainbow by The Klaxons
Chasing Rainbows by Big Freedia & Kesha
Lick The Rainbow by Mord Fustang
Rainbow by J3 EDC
Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch
She’s a Rainbow by The Rolling Stones
Colors of the Rainbow by Sevenn feat. Kathy
Rainbows & Waterfalls by Pretty Lights
Rainbow Man by Busy P
Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves
Rainbow by Battles
Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog
Rainbows by 16 Bit Lolitas
Fire It Up by Modest Mouse
Rainbow (Interlude) by Mariah Carey
Rainbow by Sia
Pink Moon by Nick Drake
Want to Find More Great Nature-Themed Songs?
Well, take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine, the Best Songs About Clouds, the Best Songs About Rain, the Top Songs About Rivers, the Top Songs About The Moon, and the Top Songs About Storms for more incredible song selections.
Also, you will want to listen to them. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Most Comfortable Headphones, as well as the Best Headphones Under $200 you can buy in 2023.
Songs About Rainbows – Final Thoughts
So, as we can see, the imagery of a rainbow is very powerful. Whichever way it is used, it gets the point across like very few other visual things. It can and is often used as a thing of beauty. It’s even used educationally to teach children about color.
But, when it is used sadly and reflectively, it is just as inspiring in the way the songwriters make their point.
Pick your favorite example of imagery in any song about rainbows. The next time you see a rainbow, you can consider its meaning.
Until next time, happy listening.