Music has the incredible power to evoke emotions and imagery. Lyrics about nature, in particular, can transport us to beautiful natural settings we long to experience. Birds are one of the most common nature motifs found in songs. Their flight and songs stir something in us.
If you want to make a playlist of tunes with our feathered friends, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s a quick answer if you’re short on time: Popular songs across genres that reference birds in the lyrics include Blackbird by The Beatles, Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day, Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen, and Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band.
In this comprehensive article, we will uncover an extensive list of songs featuring our fine feathered friends. You’ll find hits from every decade starting in the 1950s along with key details. Get ready to be inspired by the many creative ways songwriters have incorporated bird imagery and symbolism into their lyrics.
Classic Oldies (1950s and 1960s)
“Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day (1958)
One of the most iconic songs featuring birds in the lyrics from the 1950s is “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day. This upbeat track became a hit and remains a beloved classic to this day. The catchy chorus, “Rockin’ robin, tweet, tweet, tweet.
Rockin’ robin, tweet, tweet, tw-eet,” captures the essence of the song and has listeners singing along in no time. It’s a perfect example of how birds and their sounds can inspire great music.
“Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen (1963)
If you’re looking for a song that embodies the fun and carefree spirit of the 1960s, “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen is a must-listen. With its catchy surf-rock melody and humorous lyrics, this song has a way of getting stuck in your head.
The chorus, “Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word,” repeated throughout the song, adds a playful element that makes it impossible not to sing along. It’s no wonder that “Surfin’ Bird” became a chart-topping hit and continues to be a favorite among music lovers today.
“Fly Like an Eagle” by Steve Miller Band (1976)
Although “Fly Like an Eagle” by Steve Miller Band was released in 1976, it’s worth mentioning in this section due to its enduring popularity and influence. This classic rock anthem features the powerful line, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.”
While the song doesn’t explicitly mention birds in its lyrics, the metaphor of flying like an eagle represents freedom and soaring above life’s challenges. It’s a timeless song that has resonated with listeners for decades and continues to be a staple on classic rock radio stations.
For more information on these songs and other classic oldies, you can visit Billboard’s Greatest Hot 100 Singles of All Time for a comprehensive list.
The Beatles and British Invasion (1960s)
“Blackbird” by The Beatles (1968)
As one of the most iconic bands in history, The Beatles were known for their experimental and diverse range of music. In 1968, they released the beautiful and introspective song “Blackbird” on their album “The White Album.”
This folk-inspired track features intricate fingerpicking on an acoustic guitar and Paul McCartney’s heartfelt vocals. The lyrics of “Blackbird” symbolize hope and resilience, using the imagery of a blackbird to represent overcoming adversity.
The song’s message resonated with many listeners during a time of social and political change, making it a timeless classic.
“Bird Dog” by The Everly Brothers (1958)
The Everly Brothers, pioneers of rock and roll, brought their unique harmonies and catchy melodies to the forefront of the music scene in the 1950s and 1960s. “Bird Dog,” released in 1958, is a playful and upbeat track that showcases the duo’s signature vocal harmonies.
The song tells the story of a man warning his friend about a girl who is known for being unfaithful, comparing her to a “bird dog” that chases after anything that moves. With its infectious melody and clever wordplay, “Bird Dog” became a hit and solidified The Everly Brothers’ status as one of the era’s most influential acts.
Singer-Songwriters (1960s and 1970s)
“Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1973)
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s epic ballad, “Free Bird,” released in 1973, is an iconic rock anthem that has stood the test of time. Written by lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins, the song showcases the band’s exceptional musicianship and lyrical depth.
The opening guitar solo, which has become legendary in its own right, sets the stage for the emotional journey that the song takes the listener on. With its soaring vocals and powerful instrumentation, “Free Bird” has become a staple in rock music and continues to captivate audiences to this day.
“Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry (1967)
Bobbie Gentry’s haunting and enigmatic “Ode to Billie Joe” is a folk-pop masterpiece that was released in 1967. The song tells the mysterious story of a young man named Billie Joe McAllister, whose tragic fate is revealed through the conversation of the song’s narrator and her family.
With its evocative lyrics and Gentry’s emotive vocals, “Ode to Billie Joe” draws the listener into its narrative, leaving them with lingering questions and a sense of intrigue. The song’s unique storytelling approach and Gentry’s captivating performance have solidified its place as one of the greatest singer-songwriter compositions of all time.
Punk, New Wave, and Rock (1970s and 1980s)
“Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol (1981)
Billy Idol’s hit song “Dancing With Myself” is a classic punk rock anthem that captures the rebellious spirit of the 1980s. Released in 1981, the song showcases Idol’s distinctive vocals and energetic guitar riffs.
The lyrics of the song depict a sense of isolation and self-expression, which resonated with many listeners during that time. The catchy chorus and infectious beat make it a favorite among punk rock fans.
“Fly By Night” by Rush (1975)
Rush’s “Fly By Night” is a standout track from their 1975 album of the same name. This progressive rock song combines intricate guitar work, powerful drumming, and Geddy Lee’s soaring vocals. The lyrics of the song touch upon the theme of escape and freedom, with the notion of flying away like a bird.
The combination of Rush’s technical prowess and the song’s catchy melodies make it a beloved track in their discography.
Modern Pop, Hip Hop, and Country (1990s to Today)
“Firebird” by Miranda Lambert (2016)
Miranda Lambert, the talented country singer, released her album “The Weight of These Wings” in 2016. One of the standout tracks from this album is “Firebird,” a song that showcases Lambert’s powerful vocals and heartfelt lyrics.
The song tells the story of a woman who finds solace and freedom in the open road, much like the majestic bird it is named after. Lambert’s emotive performance combined with the catchy melody makes “Firebird” a must-listen for fans of modern country music.
“I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner (2016)
Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” became an instant hit when it was released in 2016. The song delves into the dark side of fame and the toll it takes on an individual’s mental health. Despite its catchy electronic beats and upbeat tempo, the lyrics reveal a deeper story of introspection and self-discovery.
Posner’s honest and vulnerable lyrics resonated with listeners, making “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” a chart-topping success. The song’s inclusion of birds in the lyrics adds a unique touch to the overall narrative, symbolizing the fleeting and transient nature of fame.
Birds have inspired songwriters for decades, across all genres of music. As this extensive list demonstrates, our flying friends have found their way into the lyrics of many classic hits over the years. The symbolism of freedom, peace, and nature make birds a powerful motif.
So next time you hear a feathered reference in a tune, appreciate the artistry of the songwriter in evoking the image. Let this collection of bird songs lift your spirits and imagination. Now get ready to spread your wings and fly as you listen to these inspirational tunes!