The sky is a word that has been sitting at the center of poetry and music for a long time. We associated the sky with everything; infinity, freedom, purity, as well as obscurity, religious concepts, and more.
With or without music, we tend to believe that it sets our mood, so naturally, a lot of artists looked at the sky and wrote their lyrics, associating themselves with the sky being bright or dark. So, let’s take a look at some of the greatest songs about the sky and try to understand them deeper!
- 1. The Sky is Crying – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble (1991)
- 2. Northern Sky – Nick Drake (1971)
- 3. The Sky is a Landfill – Jeff Buckley (1998)
- 4. Goodbye Blue Sky – Pink Floyd (1979)
- 5. The Sky is a Neighborhood – Foo Fighters (2017)
- 6. Ribbon in the Sky – Stevie Wonder (1982)
- 7. Midnight Sky – Miley Cyrus (2020)
- 8. The Sky Full of Song – Florence + The Machine (2018)
- 9. Sky Fits Heaven – Madonna (1998)
- 10. Blue Sky – Allman Brothers Band (1972)
- 11. Keep Your Head to the Sky – Earth, Wind and Fire (1973)
- 12. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles (1967)
- 13. Sky – Sonique (2000)
- 14. The Blue Sky – A-ha (1985)
- 15. Hole in the Sky – Black Sabbath (1975)
- 16. Sky – Playboi Carti (2020)
- 17. Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra (1977)
- 18. Bullet the Blue Sky – U2 (1987)
- 19. Ghost Riders in the Sky – Johnny Cash (1979)
- 20. Touch the Sky – Kanye West (2005)
1. The Sky is Crying – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble (1991)
One of the greatest blues standards originally by Elmore James, The Sky is Crying would be the most classical example of poetry where the word sky has been used as a metaphor for the lover’s tears.
There isn’t a single time the word ‘’rain’’ occurs in the piece, however, it isn’t hard to guess that it was a rainy and sad day for a man who lost his lover. Extremely clean and virtuosic guitar solos on this particular version elevate the mood of the song to a higher level and fill the air with the raindrops staying hidden in the text.
2. Northern Sky – Nick Drake (1971)
The most favored song from the debut album of Nick Drake, Northern Sky’s lyrics rather seems like they were written in a catharsis moment, where Drake discovered the feelings he never felt thanks to an unknown figure (probably a loved one).
Incredible production surrounding Drake’s velvet voice was made by Velvet Underground’s J.Cole, where the organ, piano, and celesta create a celestial atmosphere.
3. The Sky is a Landfill – Jeff Buckley (1998)
J.Buckley also used the word sky, but in a much different way than many artists have done before. For Buckley, who often applied political subtext to his lyrics, ‘’the sky has been blackened’’ by the devil, which is the media and music industry.
He gives warnings all through the song, and the sky here is indeed not a romantic one! One of the greatest examples of garage rock, and one of the many in Buckley’s oeuvre where he uses his incredible vocal abilities!
4. Goodbye Blue Sky – Pink Floyd (1979)
With the ‘’Great Gig in the Sky’’ in mind, Goodbye Blue Sky is yet another prolific song where the word ‘’sky’’ is at the center by one of the greatest bands of all time.
The blue sky here is getting further away with dark clouds, characterizing a child pointing out the German planes to his mother before the bombing known as ‘’The Blitz’’.
Despite the dark atmosphere of the lyrics, musically the song carries a piece of sweetness mixed with melancholy, as a reminder of the loss of innocence.
5. The Sky is a Neighborhood – Foo Fighters (2017)
A rather different lens has been put on the word sky with the Foo Fighter’s great alternative rock song. It got all its inspiration from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s ideas pointing out how the night sky we look is in fact inside us, it is also part of us, and the substances creating the space are the same ones created by human beings.
Lyrics depict our changing perspectives and the situation of people trying to find their way in that ever slippery-changing universe.
6. Ribbon in the Sky – Stevie Wonder (1982)
One of the sweetest love songs on the word Sky of our list is from the great S.Wonder! Throughout the song, Wonder uses the ribbon as a symbol of their love, explaining to his lover that their love is not a mere coincidence.
Constant references to praying also add a religious aspect to the song, so the ‘’ribbon’’ might be the destiny defined by God himself for them. Ribbon in the Sky is there for love, and lyrical declaration is empowered beautifully with Wonder’s soft voice and piano accompaniment.
7. Midnight Sky – Miley Cyrus (2020)
Midnight Sky of M.Cyrus is a direct reference to freedom (The midnight sky is the road I’m takin’/I was born to run, I don’t belong to anyone). So she can be lonely, she can face troubles, and ‘’she does not need anyone’s love’’.
The sky here is a dark road she takes with courage, symbolizing a rebel soul. The retro uptight musical background and video celebrate that freedom in a party-like atmosphere.
8. The Sky Full of Song – Florence + The Machine (2018)
When we dive into the sea of Indie-Pop, references to the sky seem to get a deeper turn. This time we see a character who feels stuck in a corner. Songs hanging in the sky seemed to me to the problems faced.
With so many anxious thoughts on her head (thunders), she asks her lover to shoot them with an arrow so can find relief. Supported by a rather minimalistic musical accompaniment, the song focuses fully on F.Welch’s voice& lyrics, which indeed increases the emotional impact.
9. Sky Fits Heaven – Madonna (1998)
In this lesser-known electronic-dance take of Madonna, there are spiritual references as this was the period she was still into Kabbalah. So the sky here fits into heaven, just as ‘’a child fits mother’’ or ‘’fate fits karma’’.
Those are all signs to take according to the song, as life is depicted as a road to walk. The song carries a nostalgic taste as it uses many materials we heard in 90s electronic music.
10. Blue Sky – Allman Brothers Band (1972)
The first of the ‘’sky songs’’ includes the color blue of our list, Blue Sky by Allman Brothers Band, and probably the most relaxing tune among all others. It might feel quite lame for some to refer to your lover as ‘’You’re my blue sky and sunny day’’, but I guess there are moments all of us feel this up when in love.
It is impossible to stay still with those beautifully articulated guitar solos, enchanting rhythm giving an absolute feeling of happiness and charm.
11. Keep Your Head to the Sky – Earth, Wind and Fire (1973)
The word sky and definition of the cool gather with this amazing soul hit of the 70s! The sky here is used as a direction towards ‘’hope, self-trust, truthfulness’’ and that was achieved partly with religious references.
Soft and convincing vocal lines of P.Bailey touch our hearts, and each time the title of the song appears in the lyrics, we hear a vocal chorus making it like a mantra for troubled times.
12. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles (1967)
Released in one of the most prolific albums of psychedelia, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lucy in the Sky is surely one of the first songs that come to mind when thinking of songs using the word sky.
There had been claims on the relation of the song with the usage of acid, as the first letters of the title give the word LSD. While Lennon said that this was just a coincidence, Mccartney gave opposite reports. Anyhow, this legendary classic is still effective enough to take you high up in the sky!
13. Sky – Sonique (2000)
An unforgettable hit from Millenium, hearing the ‘’Sky’’ always makes me smile with its short intro and verse, which are both great marks of electronic dance music of the late early 2000s.
With its simple title unlike others, the sky here is a reference to a reaching point of happiness and ecstatic feelings. Freedom is mentioned too, but it is conditioned by becoming one with the lover, she can only ‘’fly up to the sky’’ once she is one with her lover.
14. The Blue Sky – A-ha (1985)
Another song with the title ‘’Blue Sky’’ is from one of the most popular bands of the 1980s, starts directly with moving drum machine patterns and echoed vocals already picture a heavenly space.
However, the lyrics are filled with melancholy, so blue here must be depicted as a little episode of disappointment expressed in a short time of two and a half minutes.
15. Hole in the Sky – Black Sabbath (1975)
The loudest and most protest of the songs on the sky in our list (along with J.Buckley’s lyrics) is surely the one by the Black Sabbath. Covered by many metal bands to this day, Hole in the Sky is a classic with its amazing riffs, and sharp vocal lines representing a visionary experience for the listener.
Lyrics as well are great templates for the next generations, can be referred to many concepts, from life in prison to Apocalypse. The hole then is an escape to heaven as the lyrics suggest.
16. Sky – Playboi Carti (2020)
Unlike the previous songs, that strong rap tune already turned into a classic doesn’t refer to the sky except in one short line. With a mellow tune being the backbone of everything told throughout the song, Sky depicts complete chaos in a man’s life, surrounded by problems and without a solution.
The sky here might be a reference to all this mess he sees from a bird’s eye view in a high state of mind (I’m so high, man, I can’t even feel sh*t).
17. Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra (1977)
This progressive pop classic of the band has been voted the ‘’happiest song of all time’’ in a variety of charts. I don’t know about that but it is indeed moving with its perpetual piano patterns, and smooth vocal and guitar lines.
Nothing to go so deep with the lyrics, it directly depicts a sunny day with a clear blue sky and refers to it as a person who has been missed for so long. Well, a great tune if you need a piece of smile on your face at any moment.
18. Bullet the Blue Sky – U2 (1987)
Some wait for the Blue Sky sweetly, some others suggest shooting it. Not easy to grasp from the lyrics with a first look, the song was a protest written right after the USA’s military intervention in Nicaragua.
Bono shows his vocal quality at its highest, the song is built with heavy riffs on a bold bass line, with wavy drum lines picturing a sky darkened by the ‘’evil’’ referred to in the lyrics.
19. Ghost Riders in the Sky – Johnny Cash (1979)
One of the most effective versions of classical western hit by Stan Jones, Ghost Riders in the Sky by J. Cash seems to never get any older in the passing years. Telling the tale of a cowboy chased by evil spirits, the story has its origins in European myths.
In Cash’s version instrumentation is so well made with a player piano and short brass lines, that in a blink of an eye, you can feel yourself riding in Wild West.
20. Touch the Sky – Kanye West (2005)
Based on a sample from the 1970s, this early hip hop hit from the West is also the song Lupe Fiasco made his debut. Again with the references to drug usage, the song is a manifestation of a lifestyle told by West.
According to that, he refuses ‘’any kind of pessimism’’, and against all odds, he will beat all those obstacles (‘Fore the day I die, I’ma touch the sky). The sky here to me seems like the ‘’limit’’, and the idea suggested is living a life on the edges.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list giving an insight into the songs related to the sky and how the word sky is perceived differently by each artist. I believe the genre of music also shaped the meaning of sky for the songwriters, and what is left to us is a bunch of essential songs to listen to & enjoy. See you on another list!