There are countless people that become parts of our lives, but only a few can really influence us in a way that we change the way we see the world. One of the most moving forms of love is when a brother faces high waters for other people, especially his siblings. That’s probably why there are numerous songs about brothers where artists thank or remember their siblings.
Today, we’re going to celebrate the love and influence our brothers had on us. The best way to do that is to listen to some of the best songs that highlight how we feel. Here’s a quick list to help us out.
Songs About Brothers
1. “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies
The inspiration for the title of this song came from Father Edward Flanagan, a priest at a community called Boys Town where homeless or struggling young men can find help. He was reading the magazine one day when he saw a drawing where a boy was carrying another boy on his back. The caption reads, “He ain’t heavy Mr., he’s my brother.”
This inspired the priest to commission a statue based on the drawing. However, even before that, the concept of a boy carrying another boy has been present in Boys Town for two decades. There was one boy who can’t walk properly, so the other boys would carry him on their backs whenever they have to go somewhere.
2. “Brothers Under The Sun” by Bryan Adams
Some of the best songs about brothers are about how they care for one another. Despite having to eventually part ways as they become adults, that brotherly love and unforgettable memories of childhood should always remain.
That’s what Bryan Adams is singing about in “Brothers Under The Sun.” The song talks about how brothers will be inevitably linked, no matter where they are in the world because they are still under the same sun.
3. “Boss Of Me” by They Might Be Giants
Not all sibling relationships are fun, inspirational, and full of love. “Boss Of Me” by They Might Be Giants is proof of that. Earl Flansburgh, the estranged brother of They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh, claims that several songs about brothers from the band are about him. John said that this isn’t true, but “Boss Of Me” is indeed about Earl.
John Flansburgh sings the lyrics “You’re not the boss of me now, and you’re not so big” repeatedly in the song. This kind of paints a picture of his relationship with Earl.
“Boss Of Me” was also specifically written and recorded for the TV show called Malcolm In The Middle, later earning They Might Be Giants a Grammy Award for Best Song Written For a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media in 2001.
4. “Highway Patrolman” by Bruce Springsteen
The song “Highway Patrolman” has a rather playful concept to it. It’s about the persona, a highway patrolman, who constantly has to deal with his outlaw brother. This later became the inspiration for a film called The Indian Runner which stars Sean Penn.
The song also talks about a certain flood which we see in the line “When the band played Night of the Johnstown Flood.” This is a real event that occurred in 1889 in Pennsylvania. 2,000 people died that day as 20 million tons of water rushed down a town called Johnstown.
5. “Brother” by Needtobreathe
This song is about the Rinehart brothers Bo and Bear, the guitarist and lead singer of the band Needtobreathe. They were competing against each other, healthily at first, to push the band forward. It did motivate them and made the band famous.
However, they found that after a while, the competition between the two of them became so fierce that all they could see were the other person’s mistakes. They confessed their own faults and realized that having a true brother beside them is more important than the band. That’s when they wrote the song “Brother.”
6. “Brothers In Arms” by Dire Straits
This song was written by Mark Knopfler, the lead singer of Dire Straits. It’s the viewpoint of a soldier fighting the Falklands War. This war is fought between UK and Argentina, both of which were claiming rights over some islands near the Argentina coast.
In the song, Knopfler talks about how the soldier is surrounded by his comrades or brothers on the battlefield while he was on the verge of death. Knopfler says that on a deeper level, “Brothers In Arms” is a closer look at how stupid wars are; how we all live on the same earth but at the same time, we have our own different worlds.
Proceeds from this song were donated to an organization that helps British veterans cope with PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
7. “Does To Me” by Luke Combs
Luke Combs believes that victories in life don’t always come with gold medals. He wrote this song mainly to inspire people to focus on the little victories we get every day. There’s beauty in those successes, and even though they don’t matter to other people, maybe it does to you, which is really the most important part.
In one part of the song, Combs talks about how his brother was sent to prison, and when he was awarded one phone call, Combs was the first person he called. Combs then pawned his guitar to get his brother out of jail.
8. “Unknown Brother” by The Black Keys
Sometimes, we have brothers that are quite distant we don’t know them very well. Other times, some brothers we never meet because they were gone before we got the chance to. However, we still get an idea or a glimpse of who they are through the stories that other people tell us about them. This is kind of what “Unknown Brother” is talking about.
Dan Auerbach, the vocalist of The Black Keys, wrote the song for his brother-in-law. He died young, only a high school student, because of cancer, and Auerbach was mourning this loss when he wrote the lyrics.
9. “Hey Brother” by Avicii
This song is about siblings who would take on anything and never back down from the challenges of life for their brothers or sisters. It was written by Avicii with Dan Tyminski, Ash Pournouri, and Swedes Vincent Pontare.
The music video for “Hey Brother” features two young boys who were brothers, and how it was like growing up in America during the war. The younger brother was played by Jack Estes, who also played a character in a TV show called Modern Family.
10. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa
Charlie Puth wrote the lyrics to the melodic chorus of this song. He wrote it partly for his friend who died in a motorcycle accident. Coincidentally, Puth enlisted the help of Justin Franks when writing the song. Franks said that he also lost a friend the same way.
The song was used in the movie Furious 7, which also became a tribute to Paul Walker who died in a car accident in 2013. In the film, Vin Diesel and Walker were friends, often referring to each other as brothers and the crew they have as family.
The song plays when Walker and Diesel part ways while driving in their cars. Puth envisioned Diesel sending Walker a final message that reads “I’ll tell you about it when I see you again.”
11. “Brother Mine” by Suzanne Vega
“Brother Mine” was the first song Suzzane Vega wrote as an amateur musician. She said that it was inspired by Judy Collins’s “Liverpool Lullaby.” She wanted to dedicate a song that has the same tough tune to her brother who, even though gets into fights frequently, she loves dearly.
She started writing the song when she was only 11 years old and was able to finish it after three years. The lyrics, however, were fictional. Most of the things discussed in the song didn’t really happen to her, and despite not growing up in the country area, she said she loved country music so much that she always wrote songs in that field.
12. “Daniel” by Elton John
There are two versions of the song’s story because of Elton John’s decision to cut off the last verse. The final version talks about two brothers told from the perspective of the younger one, who parted ways.
However, legend has it that if the last verse was included in the song, the real story behind it becomes clear. It was written by Bernie Taupin, and it talks about a soldier who fought in Vietnam returning to his country.
Upon his return, he found that he still couldn’t find peace. Instead, he left America and flew off to Spain for a better life. Taupin, on the other hand, explains that the song still explains the story even without the last verse.
Whether it did or did not relate to war, we couldn’t say, but we’re a hundred percent certain that this belongs to the list of songs about brothers.
13. “The Bewlay Brothers” by David Bowie
“Bewlay” is a pseudonym David Bowie used for a couple of his ventures. First, the Bewlay Bros. was the name Bowie, Colin Thurston, and Iggy Pop used when they produced the album Lust For Life. Secondly, Bowie also set up a publishing company which he named Bewlay Bros. Music.
However, the song “The Bewlay Brothers” is a bit more personal. It describes, albeit fictional, his relationship with Terry, his schizophrenic older brother. Terry was the one who introduced him to modern jazz.
Bowie explained that while it may talk about his brother Terry, the song has multiple meanings, too. He didn’t use the title “The Bowie Brothers” because he doesn’t want it to be limited to just another one of those songs about brothers.
14. “Perfect Love” by Marc Cohn
This song was written by Marc Cohn, which is the love story of his brother and his wife told from his perspective. His brother and his wife found love around the time that America was on a downward path, so the song also reflects the political and social plight of the country back then.
In the first parts of the song, Cohn talks about how his brother and his wife worked together one summer and then proceeds with the line “Well, that was right before the Fall.” Cohn says that “Fall” refers to both the season and the downfall of America.
15. “Blood Brothers” by Luke Bryan
This song was written by Bobby Pinson and Brett James. It’s about looking back to the days when he and his “Blood Brothers” were younger and how they would run the small town they were living in.
Luke Bryan says that he loves how the song brings him back to his past and how the memories of him growing up and his childhood resonate in the lyrics. Well, maybe we’ll hear more songs about brothers from Luke Bryan in the years to come!
16. “Brother” by Kodaline
This song from Kodaline is a tribute to the brothers who became our best friends. Without even learning about its history, “Brother” talks about that brotherly love where you’re ready to face and give everything for your brother.
On the other hand, it’s also about losing your brother and how you both grow old but the bond will always stay the same no matter what age you both are. Kodaline delivers this message without even trying to use cheesy lines or overly-sentimental tones.
Perhaps it’s a nod that even though we might lose our brothers, that’s just how life is, and what matters most is that we cherish the memories they leave behind.
17. “7 Chinese Brothers” by R.E.M.
This song was loosely based on The Five Chinese Brothers, a children’s book published in 1938. The book is about a Chinese tale including five brothers who have supernatural powers. Ten years after the song was released, another version of the book was published. This time, the book features seven brothers.
The first parts of the book talk about one of the brothers gathering an entire ocean in his mouth to help a boy catch fish. That’s why the chorus of the song goes, “Seven Chinese brothers swallowing the ocean.”
18. “Brother Song” by Circa Survive
More often than not, Circa Survive writes their songs collaboratively. However, “Brother Song” was mostly written by Anthony Green, it being a personal song for him. It’s about his three older brothers who introduced him to all sorts of music, but largely grunge and metal.
Green says that he enjoys singing this song just as much as he did when writing it. It’s very personal to him, and that’s why it keeps him grounded, especially when his current situation is more challenging than usual.
19. “Don’t Brother Me” by Beady Eye
Beady Eye is a band formed by Liam Gallagher after leaving Oasis. It’s a brutally honest take on his relationship with his brother, Noel, who was also a former member of Oasis. The first parts of the song find him singing how much he’s sick of his brother’s lies and schemes.
However, towards the end, he asks his brother to give peace a chance, be a man, and take his hand. Liam explains that it was never in his intention to write a malicious song for his brother. He says that every lyric in “Don’t Brother Me” was written out of love and, well, humor.
20. “Like Toy Soldiers” by Eminem
This one goes out to all the brothers we have whom we may not be related to by blood, but became family to us. “Like Toy Soldiers” tackles two main subjects. First, it talks about the rap community and how feuds are so rampant that people frequently die.
Eminem then goes on to thank his brothers or friends that have his back no matter what. He said that the loyalty of their “soldiers” is worth more than any award that they could get from their songs and careers.
21.“Me & Bobby & Bobby’s Brother” by ABBA
Some of our best memories revolve around the innocence of childhood. Sometimes, that means spending time with our childhood friends and their brothers. ABBA puts this into an art form with their song “Me & Bobby & Bobby’s Brother.”
With the song’s lyrics combined with its melody, ABBA takes us back to the best days of our childhoods and all the fun we had. Listening to this song is as nostalgic as any song can be.
22. “Alfie” by Lily Allen
A sibling’s love is as weird as it can be. Sometimes, we make fun of them and poke humor at their behavior, but it almost always comes from a place of love and care. We hope that’s what Lily Allen is thinking when she wrote “Alfie.”
The song is about his brother’s laziness, lack of clear purpose, and even his love for recreational herbs. Of all the songs about brothers out there, Lily Allen’s “Alfie” is perhaps the most revealing. Thankfully, Alfie Allen seems to have figured it out, having been cast as Theon Greyjoy in the immensely popular show Game of Thrones.
23. “I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice
Sometimes, the people we lose along the way will leave behind things they used to own. No matter how much we try to get rid of them, or how much these things cost and take away space, we keep them with us because those are parts of them.
There are several songs about brothers who passed away that you will find just about anywhere, but Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck” is certainly worth listening to. It tells the story of a guy who drives his brother’s truck because that’s the one place in the world where his brother’s presence is still adamant.
24. “Big Brother” by Kanye West
We’ve already talked about several songs about brothers from another mother on this list. However, we want to make sure that you also add “Big Brother” by Kanye West to your playlist because it’s a really good song.
It’s a lyrical tribute that West wrote for Jay-Z, whom he considered to be his big brother. The lyrics are almost entirely about admiration for Jay-Z, but some parts talk about the most memorable moments he had with his big brother.
25. “Severus And Stone” by Radical Face
Proving the number of songs about brothers who passed away out there, we have “Severus And Stone” by Radical Face. Before we proceed, and before you add this to your playlist, make sure that you have a box of tissue beside you.
Their album The Family Tree: The Roots is about a family named Northcote, albeit fictional. It’s a rather sad song, and it tells the story of a pair of twins, one being born healthy while the other was sick.
The persona then awakes in the middle of the night and finds his brother becoming a ghost. His brother then walks (or floats) toward the woods where the persona followed him. His brother then tied himself to a tree and committed suicide.
Before leaving the world, his brother told him, “Don’t you fear for me / I am where I’m supposed to be.”
26. “Me And My Brother” by 5ive
Don’t put that box of tissue back on the shelf just yet. Perhaps a sadder song about a twin brother is one that involves Will Porter, otherwise known as 5ive. His twin brother, Walter, has been with him for years as they make music together.
However, in 2019, Will received the news that his twin brother passed away. The colossal tragedy left Will devastated. He headed to the studio to process what he was going through and see if there was anything that Walter might have left him.
He saw one track that they both started writing before Walter passed. After three weeks, Will released the song “Me And My Brother” independently and uploaded it on YouTube. It quickly rose to fame, took the music industry by storm, and stole the attention of countless listeners.
Our siblings have been with us ever since we were little. Some were even here since our first day on earth. This inevitably forms a unique kind of love that wouldn’t be surpassed by any other thing we could have in this life.
It’s true that some sibling relationships are rocky, and others are shrouded in distance and isolation. Some brothers or sisters we have may not even be related to us by blood. However, the bond we form with all of them makes them an irreplaceable part of our lives.
That’s probably why artists keep on writing songs about brothers, and we’re certain we’d still have more of them in the years to come. For now, let’s settle with this list, and make sure that you have all of them on your playlist to show the love you have for your brother!