These days, it seems wherever we look, there are people, races, countries, and even citizens of the same country at odds with each other. Disagreements, arguments, and divisions are the order of the day. Often fanned by ignorant, self-serving politicians. It is quite overwhelming at times.
But, there have been times when music has attempted to bring us together, to provide a sense of unity. Songs that, in some cases, became anthems. Others that just stay with us. So, let’s take an in-depth look at the best songs about unity.
These are songs that inspire us to realize nothing is achieved by looking down the barrel of a gun. Never will be. There is a far better way. And some songwriters have captured that idea and created music that brings people together.
Just when we feel like giving up, there is a shimmer of light in the distance, often created by a piece of music. Music has the motivation to make the world a better place if we will let it. It asks us to “Come Together,” to “Give Peace a Chance,” and it affirms that “All We Need Is Love.”
So, let’s take a look at some of this memorable music, starting with the classic…
Top 50 Songs About Unity
What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong is recognized as a “jazz great.” He was right at the forefront of the changes that occurred in jazz over the decades. I didn’t ever think that his vocal performances were at the same level as his trumpet and cornet playing.
However, there was a level of sincerity in his voice that endeared you to whatever he did. It made him unique amongst his contemporaries.
It was first released in 1967, and even though it was a flop in America, it went to #1 in the UK. Written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss, it touched a lot of people. As a result, it’s one of the most well known songs about living in peace.
Armstrong sings about the beauty of creation, trees, the sky, having friends, and newborn babies. A reminder that we don’t own this planet; we are merely taking care of it for our children. As they will do the same for theirs.
Good Morning, Vietnam
It was always a nice song but not one to get over-excited about. At least until this film included it in its soundtrack. For me, the song took on a new meaning when viewed in that context.
The soundtrack in the film starts peacefully but then descends into the barbarism that some people are capable of. Suddenly, the song became a symbol that the need for unity was more than just a need. It was a necessity.
The song was re-released in 1988 following the film and almost reached the Top 30 in America. If there is a song that demonstrates the need for unity, this would be one to consider.
People Get Ready by The Impressions
The Impressions were a band challenging the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles in the 60s. They were never a Motown band, being signed instead to ABC Paramount.
They chose what was, in some ways, a similar path to The Temptations. Most of the Motown stable were interested in shiny suits, some lame dance routines, and making money for their masters in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles.
The Temptations changed their subject material to reflect their opinions. The Impressions also had songs that reflected the social and political injustices of the time. And, in their midst, they had the great Curtis Mayfield.
“People Get Ready,” released in 1965 from the album of the same name, might have been called a gospel song. It certainly had a religious flavor.
This song had a similar effect to “We Shall Overcome,” released by Pete Seeger a couple of years before in 1963. Written by Mayfield, it had a theme that became an anthem for the growing Civil Rights Movement.
Leaving an impression…
It was their best-known recording, reaching #14 on the American chart. Until he left the group to pursue a solo career in 1970, they struggled to repeat that success. It’s been covered by plenty of people, with some rather unlikely artists included in the list.
Jeff Beck, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Vanilla Fudge, Seal, and Greg Lake, to name a few. A simple message in a powerful song about unity.
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next by The Manic Street Preachers
Not much room for misunderstanding in the title of this song from The Manic Street Preachers. It was the first single released from their fifth studio album in 1998 called This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.
They were a band from Wales who were what might be called an ‘alternative’ post-punk rock band. For me, they were always a bit of an enigma. They were a band that you thought you ought to like because you had respect and sympathy for much of the lyrics in their work. But, on the other hand, they were hard to enjoy because of the way they presented their sound.
We often see anti-Vietnam war songs. Not so many anti-Iraq war songs. But that is what this is. The band believed that the war was instigated for reasons that had nothing to do with the aims laid out. They thought it might have had an alternative agenda. They weren’t wrong, were they?
It is a cry against injustice wherever it is, and reminds us that unless we are unified against these actions, it will be our children lying dead on a battlefield for no reason other than corporate greed. Something to think about, I think. A powerful song with great lyrics.
One Love / People Get Ready by Bob Marley
Whether you like reggae or not, this is a song that transcends genres and style. It has become more than just a reggae song. Rather it has become another song that might easily fit under the anthem banner.
A reworking of his original ska song from his time with the Wailers and taken from his album, One Love. Released in 1977, it reminds us of how important it is to be of one heart and mind and to come together.
In the lyrics is the message that the world is going to be a better place, where everyone can be happy. It is a song that is still extremely popular today, and there have been plenty of covers. A powerful reminder that having unity and a feeling of togetherness is for the benefit of all.
Imagine by John Lennon
If there is one song that was inevitably going to be included on a list of songs about unity, it was going to be this one. Contrary to what some believe, this was not a Beatles song. “Imagine” became his best-selling single and was released and re-released on multiple occasions.
Of course, it is. Especially Vietnam. But, if you look at the lyrics, it is pretty much anti-most things. He slams away at all the things that divide us. Culture, wealth, religion, and a few other things. They all get it. One could hardly fail to disagree with him.
He was one of the first prominent musicians to write about what he saw as the problems in the world. It became a campaign for him and Yoko. He conducted his campaign in strange ways at times, which brought derision from some. However, the message was always right.
Echoed around the world…
Ex-American president, Jimmy Carter, said that in all of the 125 countries he visited in an official capacity, “Imagine” was heard more often than anything else.
It has, of course, been covered on record and in concerts by everyone and their dog. Some believing in and expounding its message. Others just wanting to jump on his bandwagon.
It is a song that talks about unity. But, before we start analyzing the lyrics too deeply, let’s remember something. John said, “Imagine” that’s all he asked.
Lean on Me by Bill Withers
This is a song that must be considered one of the most important songs about togetherness and unity ever written. There is a universality in the language of music that means it can apply to everyone. This song shows that.
Released in 1972, it talks about how we should treat our fellow man, and how we can be their support, how they can lean on us if they need to. Withers wrote the song, and it was taken from his second studio album, Still Bill.
It went to #18 in the UK and was #1 in America for three weeks. In an interview, he said that he felt the need to write something. He was just shocked at how easily society was destroying itself. In many ways, he is probably right. The question is, what can we do about it before it’s too late?
Give Peace A Chance by John Lennon
Back we go again to John Lennon, and I am going to be brief here. Everyone on the planet knows this song. It was a single that John released with his Plastic Ono Band while he was still a member of The Beatles.
Released in 1969, it became an anti-war anthem throughout 1970. It went to #2 in the UK and #14 in America. Pete Seeger led a crowd of half a million who sang it in Washington at an anti-war rally. He interspersed the natural breaks in the song with cries of “Are you listening, Nixon?”
Another anthem, the list just goes on and on.
You’re The Voice by John Farnham
This was a single release in 1986 that was also inspired by anti-war demonstrations. The message at one particular rally in London was clear and spoke very loudly for understanding and unity. And also very firmly against weapons of any description.
This song came from that experience. It was a brave move to release it as a single. We all know how some countries like to flex their “muscles.” The song included a memorable line “We’re all someone’s daughter, all someone’s son. Yet we look at each other, down the barrel of a gun.”
It also included something rather different. The middle solo was played on bagpipes.
It went to #1 in the UK, Australia, Sweden, and West Germany. And, it featured in the Top Nen of a dozen more countries. Of course, it flopped in certain countries. We won’t name them, but you could probably guess which ones.
It is a song that talks about the futility of fighting each other. Much better to look at the things we share than the things that make us different from each other.
Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan
No list discussing the importance of unity and togetherness would be complete without something from Bob Dylan. This was written in 1962 and released on his 1963 album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
Undoubtedly, a Dylan masterpiece, like so many others, he became the voice of a rebel for generations. Someone willing to stand up and say, “No!” His protest songs moved people and still do.
The lyrics set a series of questions but give no answers. Only that the answer is “Blowing in the Wind.” Perhaps he meant it is obvious to people that aren’t blind, stupid, or both.
Dylan wrote poetic songs. Songs with great insight. Take a look around; his message is still relevant today.
Come Together by The Beatles
We all waited in 1969 for the next album, knowing that time was running out for them as a band. When the split happened, there was shock all around the world.
But, for those in the UK who had grown up with them from day one, that shock was seismic. You looked around for something else to replace them; there was no one.
This was the opening track of the album Abbey Road. The last album they recorded, but not the last they released, Let It Be came after.
It was written by John and was also released as a single paired with George Harrison’s track from the album, Something. Together they went to #4 in the UK and #1 in America.
A campaign song?
Interestingly, the original idea came from a song that John had written for Timothy Leary in support of his election campaign in California. Nothing transpired, and John changed it around a bit and presented it as a track for Abbey Road.
The message in the song is clear, even though the words are more than “interesting.” A great bass line is one of the big plus points. As is the break to the straight four blues feel to finish. When we sat down to listen to Abbey Road for the first time, we knew we would not be disappointed.
All You Need Is Love by The Beatles
Let’s stay with John Lennon to finish this list of songs about unity. There can be little doubt that John’s “All You Need Is Love” became an anthem for an entire generation. It was released as a non-album single in 1967 and contributed to the “Our World” global TV link.
The track started with a few bars from the French National Anthem. And it ended with sections from Greensleeves, Bach, Glenn Miller, and “She Loves You.”
A Peace Anthem
With lyrics affirming what is the most important thing in life, it touched the generation that embraced it. With a simple melody and easy words that would translate, John pitched the composition perfectly. It was written for all races and creeds, a song that would unify.
Happiness is the measure of the song. And that cannot be achieved in any other way than having a love for one another.
A Brief Technical Consideration
As a song, it has a complex construction. And, for those Beatles critics who say their music was basic and predictable, it is time to think again. Timings change from 8/4 to 7/4 with a chorus of 4/4 except for the last phrase, which is 6/4.
The song is in G but starts on a D with the bass shifting between the tonic G and the relative minor of Em. Looking at the score, you see the same note but supported in various other places by a variety of chords. This is something The Beatles often did.
Their Psychedelic Phase
“All You Need Is Love” came from a period when they were very much into their psychedelic phase. Thus, there is plenty of experimentation going on. The changes in meter and the asymmetrical time signature coupled with complex changes make this way above anything else.
Sir George Martin stated it was “The Beatles’ finest hour.” How could you disagree?
We Are Family by Sister Sledge
Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie
Brothers and Sisters by Coldplay
Hold On by Wilson Phillips
Stand by Me by Ben E. King
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Count on Me by Bruno Mars
Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand) by Diana Ross
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
With a Little Help from My Friends by The Beatles
Get Together by The Youngbloods
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor
The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Bob Dylan
Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson
We Shall Overcome by Pete Seeger
Freedom by Beyoncé
Redemption Song by Bob Marley
Better Together by Jack Johnson
All Together Now by The Beatles
Love Train by The O’Jays
From a Distance by Bette Midler
We Belong Together by Mariah Carey
Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
Hold My Hand by Hootie & the Blowfish
Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette
Light My Fire by The Doors
Beautiful Day by U2
We’re All in This Together by High School Musical Cast
Happy Together by The Turtles
Wonderful World by Sam Cooke
I’m Still Standing by Elton John
I’m Every Woman by Whitney Houston
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain & Tennille
Looking for More Inspirational Songs?
We can help. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Dreams, the Best Songs About Change, the Best Songs About Heroes, the Best Songs About Hope, the Best Songs About Not Giving Up, and Songs About Bravery for more incredible song selections.
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Songs About Unity – Final Thoughts
Can unity ever work? I suppose we must hope that one day it might. But, while we have people with control who think about nothing but themselves, it is unlikely. With those people around, we have no prospect of that becoming reality. They need a good dose of unity.
To find meaningful unity, there would have to be a change of attitude from top to bottom. But, it can start at the bottom. It starts with you and with me.
If there was a genuine feeling of unity, not only between nations but between cultures, then even the most corrupt leaders could not stop it. That is something to dream about and aim for.
So, until next time, happy listening.