Leonardo da Vinci once said that water is the driving force of all nature. So, we have come to adopt the phrase, “water is life.” For creative minds, water does not have to be literal in meaning; it can carry deep metaphorical messages. Lyrics do not even have to mention water since it could be represented by water sources such as rivers, rain, and the ocean.
Songwriting is like poetry and unless you understand the lyrics, you can never truly feel what the singer is trying to communicate. That said, below is a list of 20 awesome songs about water, with each artist’s interpretation being different.
20. Don’t Go Near the Water by Sammy Kershaw
On October 8, 1991, Kershaw released the album “Don’t Go Near The Water” with ten tracks, one of which had the same title as the album. The song was a creative collaboration effort by Jim Foster and Chapin Hartford, and Kershaw delivered the lyrics beautifully in his country style. The album was his debut, and despite being a beginner in the industry, four tracks were on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. “Don’t Go Near the Water” peaked at No. 12, allowing the country musician to start his career with a bang.
19. Madman Across the Water by Elton John
They say a prophet is usually rejected in his hometown, and this song was not welcomed in John’s home country, the UK. It entered the UK charts at No. 41 and dropped to No.48 before disappearing for good. However, in the US charts, it kept climbing to reach No.8 and later went gold, platinum, and finally, double platinum. The story of a madman in the song is not about anyone in particular, as Bernie Taupin, the songwriter emphasized. Still, it left many to speculate that it could have been about President Richard Nixon, much to the amusement of Taupin.
18. He Walked on Water by Randy Travis
According to Los Angeles Times, the song is about a relationship between a young boy and his great-grandfather. Travis performed the song, and it brought back memories of his younger years with his own grandfather. He recalled throwing rocks at each other with the old man, and neighbors watching in awe at the fun the two were having. This is the ideal song for a person you revere, the one you think walks on water.
17. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
Paul Simon wrote the song after being inspired by a line from the song “Mary Don’t You Weep” by Swan Silvertones. Simon insisted that Art Garfunkel sing it with his church boy voice, and even though he obliged, Garfunkel did not feel the song. It became one of the duo’s biggest hits, and Simon regretted he did not trust himself enough with the song to sing it.
Simon even became jealous of Garfunkel receiving standing ovations, especially after they split in 1970, as he always thought of it as his song. All the same, Garfunkel did an outstanding job, and in February 1970, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained there for six weeks.
16. Walk on Water by Thirty Seconds to Mars
The lyrics ask whether you believe you can walk on water or win this fight tonight. Jared Leto, therefore, clarified that the song is about persistence, fighting for freedom, what you believe in, and change. Consequently, it features footage depicting Independence Day in the US. It was filmed in all 52 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. As a song that calls for hope and optimism, it also became the promotional theme for ESPN’s college football coverage in 2017.
15. Water Under the Bridge by Adele
Adele had been with Simon Konecki for so long that they had a son, Angelo. She was finally coming to terms with the idea that Konecki might be her soulmate. In this song, she is afraid of what the future holds for them but still knows deep in her heart that this is the man for her, and she wants the relationship to work. The singer says they have overcome so much that their love cannot be water under the bridge. Perhaps Adele should have let the relationship be water under the bridge because the two got married in 2018 but divorced in 2021.
14. Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood
This song was written in about two hours, and it came out perfectly. Chris DeStefano drove to his studio at 5 am and began working on musical ideas. He then drove to Underwood’s cabin. When she heard the piece of music DeStefano had written, she was drawn to it and started singing immediately. She even came up with adding “Amazing Grace” as the refrain. According to The Tennessean, she had been eager to perform a spiritual baptismal song, and this was it.
13. Walk on Water by Eminem
Eminem said that this song is about not being Superman and that fans should not expect him to “Walk on Water” every time. He cannot come up with exceptional lyrics every time. He explained that once he started his career, he was like an artist with a blank canvas and the first album was his first painting. By the time he got to his seventh album, the canvas barely had enough space to be painted on, so he worked with what he had. While the rap master insists he does not walk on water and no one should expect him to, he continues to outdo himself every time.
12. Water Runs Dry by Boyz II Men
This song advises couples who gradually drift apart and finally realize that something went wrong along the way. The sweet words once exchanged are no longer said as they no longer cultivate their love. It tells people not to wait until the water runs dry, to avoid getting to a place of no return in their relationships because they will regret it.
11. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple
Unfortunately, a tragedy inspired this song. On December 4, 1971, the Mothers of Invention and Frank Zappa held a concert at Montreux casino. One of their fans got excited and fired a flare gun. He aimed at the roof, which was unfortunately wooden, so it caught fire. The fire spread, and although firefighters tried their best, the casino could not be saved. Deep Purple happened to be in Montreux and got out of their rooms in time to see the smoke on Lake Geneva, giving them an idea for their next song.
10. Down By The Water by PJ Harvey
Harvey once disclosed that she also did not know the meaning of her song because, at the time, she was confused. She said she preferred leaving it to the imagination of her fans to decipher the meaning. Still, Harvey was surprised that some took the lyrics so literally that they thought she had given birth to a daughter by the water and drowned her. However, the makeup in the video was symbolic of her love for dressing up though she paid a huge price for it. The singer could barely swim to the surface because the wig was so heavy when wet.
9. Wade In The Water by The Spirituals
According to OldTimeMusic, we probably will never know who wrote this song that dates back to the slave trade era. However, it has transcended time though with a few tweaks to the verses to make it relevant to modern times. It is believed to have some biblical references to the healing waters at the Bethesda pool. An angel would trouble the waters, and the first person to immerse himself would be healed.
8. River by Eminem Featuring Ed Sheeran
There are mixed feelings about abortion, and this song shows that fathers of aborted babies suffer psychologically when they push women to procure it. Eminem told ABC News Radio that it was about getting something off his chest, so it is unclear whether he spoke from personal experience. Regardless, it helps to raise awareness of the effects of abortion.
7. Waterfalls by TLC
Although the song was released in 1995, it never grows old as its message remains relevant. It is a cautionary tale telling the youth not to indulge themselves in what will lead to their death. The song talks of a son who resorts to earning money illegally and wounds up dead. It also warns of HIV, telling of a man who is taken to his final resting place courtesy of three letters. “Waterfalls” warns us not to go after things that will be our ultimate downfall.
6. Rivers of Babylon by Boney M.
Although the lyrics are obtained from the Bible, in the book of Psalms, the songwriters were not Christians. Trevor McNaughton and Brent Dowe composed the lyrics to pay tribute to the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica where Babylon referred to the oppressive government system. When it was featured in “The Harder They Come,” a crime film featuring Jimmy Cliff, it gained an international audience. Boney M. covered the song, and it became among the top 10 biggest-selling singles in the history of the UK.
5. Head above Water by Avril Lavigne
Lavigne spoke with Good Morning America and said that this song was a prayer to God, asking for help to get through a difficult phase in her life. The songwriting process began one night when she thought she was going to die after battling Lyme disease. She was in bed and had accepted her fate. As her mother held her, the singer began praying; thus, the first line of her song came to her.
4. Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
This is the song that turned Eilish into an overnight success. Eilish’s older brother wrote the song and featured her vocals. It was meant for Eilish’s dance teacher, who wanted an original song for choreography purposes. Her brother had written it for his band but changed his mind and thought his younger sister was a much better fit with her voice. For a girl who never thought about pursuing music as a career, Eilish found her calling with this song.
3. Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake
When love turned bitter for Timberlake and Britney Spears, the only way he could let out his pain was through this song. He even went as far as getting a girl who bore a striking resemblance to Spears to feature in his video. After dating for three years, they ended the relationship, and Timberlake released his first solo, “Cry Me A River,” to talk about the breakup.
2. It Will Rain by Bruno Mars
Mars said that the song adheres to the Twilight Saga theme of the darker side of love. Therefore, he sings that he would need lots of morphine to get over the heartbreak if the girl ever leaves him. It is a song that shows how lost one is after a relationship ends. Mars says there will be no sunshine; only clouds will fill his sky, and it will rain every day. He begs the girl to stay because he can’t live without her.
1. Cold Water by Major Lazer Featuring Justin Bieber and MØ
Ed Sheeran, Jamie Scott, and Benny Blanco collaborated to pen this beautiful song. Blanco had invited Sheeran to his studio, and the air conditioning was not working. Yet, the weather was hot, so they were sweating profusely. Sheeran could only think about cold water; hence, they wrote “Cold Water.” They still did not have the right person to sing it until they were approached to have Bieber, Lazer, and MØ record it, and the trio did the song justice.
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