20 Of The Best Songs About Breathing Or Breath

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Breathing is an essential part of human life. It’s one of the most natural functions of our body that we are born knowing how to do. Without breathing, we cannot go on living.

We all know how difficult life can get. Perhaps you’ve had your breath taken away by a breakup or been suffocated by a toxic relationship.

Sometimes breathing deeply is all you need to feel better. And if you’re up for it, listen to the songs we have compiled specifically for this topic. So here is a list of 20 of the best songs about breathing or breath. Read on!

1. “Harder To Breathe” By Maroon 5

The American pop-rock band Maroon 5 had a vice grip on musical culture in the 2000s. And their debut single, “Harder to Breathe,” had an emotional, intense take on the feeling of breathlessness.

This song enables listeners to see the difficulties of recovering from a heartbreak. As time goes on, the male figure in the relationship finds it “harder and harder to breathe” without his lover.

The upbeat tempo of the song sets it apart from other heartbreak songs and was received well by critics. “Harder to Breathe” set the stage for the success Maroon 5 would find in the future.

2. “Just Breathe” By Willie Nelson

Dying is a part of living. In Willie Nelson’s song “Just Breathe,” he expresses the importance of saying what you need to say to ensure your loved ones know how much you care – before it’s too late.

In the lyrics, “Practiced are my sins, never gonna let me win,” Nelson realizes he’s not perfect and life will come to an end. This verse is followed by a statement that even though he’s not perfect, he wants to do all that is in his power to ease the pain of his lover before he goes.

Originally performed by Pearl Jam, “Just Breathe” is a timeless classic that Nelson covered with his son in 2012.

3. “Breathe” By Taylor Swift Ft. Colbie Caillat

Here’s another creative, musical rendition of the difficulties of breathing after a breakup. Taylor Swift‘s song “Breathe” takes you on an emotional rollercoaster as it talks about heartbreak and struggles.

Adding Colbie Caillat to the vocals was the right move. Her voice added that ethereal quality that made the song more poignant. And with the line “never a clean break, no one here to save me,” this song is the perfect way to ensure listeners are all in their feels.

We have come to know that Taylor Swift is a seasoned heartbreak songwriter. Perhaps because she draws her inspiration from personal experience. “Breathe” is the perfect example of how talented Swift is at composing this type of song.

4. “Breath” By Breaking Benjamin

Musical artists will compose songs with lyrics tough for listeners to interpret. Unfortunately, they don’t provide a cut-and-dry meaning to the song. Instead, they leave it open to interpretation. This is what Breaking Benjamin does with their song “Breath.”

There are varying theories about this song’s meaning. It could be about a toxic relationship or a battle with oneself. Just look at these lines: “You take the breath right out of me, you left a hole where my heart should be, you got to fight just to make it through, ‘Cause I will be the death of you.”

For a toxic relationship, these lyrics tell you how one left the other feeling empty. But they want them back even when knowing they are not good for one another. On the flip side, listeners take these lyrics to be about battling with one’s self and how something needs to change to make it through.

5. “American Oxygen” By Rihanna

No need to wonder about the lyric intention of Rihanna’s “American Oxygen.” This song contains some strong and authoritative lyrics. Listeners know that Rihanna is praising the opportunity America offers its residents.

The song starts with the words, “Breathe out, breathe in, American oxygen, Woah, Every breath I breathe, Chasin’ this American Dream.” She goes on to express that no matter who you are, America offers an opportunity for all.

If you watch the accompanying music video, you’ll see immigrants flocking into America. Some are leaving behind harsh living conditions to see what the “land of opportunity” has for them.

6. “Since U Been Gone” By Kelly Clarkson

Let’s focus on the brighter side of the breakup. That is, the feeling of relief that leaving someone toxic brings. If you are familiar with the line “Since u been gone… I can breathe for the first time!” then you know it’s Kelly Clarkson‘s song.

These powerful, simple lyrics are a reminder for everyone suffering from heartbreak. Breakups aren’t always easy. But when you have songs like “Since U Been Gone,” you quickly realize that you are okay, and maybe it was for the best.

Originally written for Pink, “Since U Been Gone” was the highlight of Clarkson’s Breakaway album. This song is still popular these days.

7. “I’ll Hold My Breath” By Ellie Goulding

Up next is a beautiful song from English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding called “I’ll Hold My Breath.” This upbeat and energetic track is a reminder to enjoy life and take risks you may not normally take.

The lyrics of “I’ll Hold My Breath” take you on a journey of a young woman who is willing to risk it all and do anything for the love of her life.

The only catch is that she doesn’t have the reassurance she needs that her true love is willing to wait for her. Therefore, she will hold her breath and do everything in her power to prove to him that she is the one.

8. “Take My Breath Away” By Berlin

Another song with “breath” in the title is Berlin‘s “Take My Breath Away.” You’ve probably heard this song from the movie Top Gun. This ballad goes hand-in-hand with the feature film and has become a cult classic.

The song is about a longing for someone who is out of reach due to prior commitments. It also reflects the complexity of the relationship, as shown by the verse, “When the mirror crashed, I called you And turned to hear you say If only for today, I am unafraid.”

In the movie, the main characters are officers who are separated from each other for some time. The phrase “take my breath away” reflects the euphoria they feel when they meet again.

9. “Still Breathing” By Green Day

Our next track is another song with “breathing” in the lyrics. Green Day‘s “Still Breathing” has some heavy meanings, as shown in the stories of a gambler, a single mom, and a soldier escaping death.

Despite the hardships they face, they stand strong. The chorus goes, “Cause I’m still breathing, Cause I’m still breathing on my own.” This is a reflection of their overcoming their adversities.

In addition, “Still Breathing” shows how humbling life is. You might face challenges and feel down but it’s possible to overcome them with the right mindset.

10. “Breathing” By Lifehouse

Up next on our list is a Lifehouse song that mentions “breathing” in a religious light. This group is known as a contemporary Christian band and bases its music on its relationship with God. So it’s no wonder that the song has a religious meaning behind it.

“Breathing” is about one’s desire to sit in God’s presence and bask in His glory. The verse, “Even if you don’t wanna speak tonight, That’s alright, alright with me,” indicates the purity and simplicity of the relationship.

The verse continues, “‘Cause I want nothing more than to sit outside of your door, And listen to you breathing.” This gives a different perspective of the awe of the man to his Creator.

11. “The Breath You Take” By George Strait

The powerful message behind George Strait’s “The Breath You Take” might leave you in tears. It will make you reminisce on the little moments in life that meant the most.

The verse “Life’s not the breaths you take, But the moments that take your breath away” sends such a powerful message. It tells us to not only live life but cherish and create those lasting memories.

The song continues with lyrics that inform listeners that life is short and fleeting. It is important to take time and enjoy it. Otherwise, life will pass us by.

12. “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing” By Shania Twain

Another song for the breakup playlist is “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing” by Shania Twain. The lyrics, “I’m doin’ fine now, I’ve finally moved on, It’s not so bad, I’m not that sad,” indicate that she is over the breakup and ready for the next chapter.

However, the contradictory verse “And it only hurts when I’m breathing, My heart only breaks when it’s beating” says that even though she acts like she’s okay, there is no escaping the hurt. In other words, she is barely surviving without him.

Many people can relate to the message of this song. Think about a time when you told others that you were fine. Yet deep inside, you were hurting. That’s what Twain meant.

13. “Breathe (2 AM)” By Anna Nalick

Sometimes, we just need to take a deep breath so we have a clear perspective of what we’re going through. Listen to specific moments and stories in Anna Nalick‘s “Breathe (2 AM).”

The song focuses on three stories, the first of which is said to be about a woman going through an abortion. The second is about a soldier struggling with alcoholism. The last is about the singer herself struggling to put words into paper.

It seems like a sad song at first. But it’s actually an inspiring song that reminds listeners to “just breathe.” Take it easy, and remember that there’s always “a light at each end of this tunnel.”

14. “Lose My Breath” By Destiny’s Child

The high-energy song “Lose My Breath” by Destiny’s Child was a staple of the mid-2000s. It was one of the four singles from their album Destiny Fulfilled.

The song uses the metaphor of “losing breath” to describe the intensity and effort required in a relationship. The narrator asks her partner to keep up with her and meet her needs. In this context, the concept of “losing breath” signifies the high-paced and demanding nature of the relationship.

In a broader context, the song symbolizes the drive and effort required to pursue one’s dreams. It implies that the members of Destiny’s Child are fully committed to their careers.

15. “Every Breath You Take” By The Police

Released in 1983, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police remains a popular song. It uses the metaphor of breathing to symbolize possessiveness in a relationship.

The phrase “every breath you take” illustrates an individual who is obsessed with his partner. This obsession leads him to monitor her every move, even something as intimate as their breathing. This level of scrutiny reflects an unhealthy level of control in a relationship.

Unsurprisingly, this song is misinterpreted as a love song due to the soothing melody and the seemingly romantic lyrics. In reality, it is about a lover who watches his partner closely. This hints at a darker, more sinister theme of possessiveness.

16. “Breathe Deeper” By Tame Impala And Lil Yachty

Up next is a more modern song called “Breathe Deeper” by Tame Impala and Lil Yachty. Here, breathing is a metaphor for staying calm and composed in difficult situations.

Lyrically, the song emphasizes the power of deep breathing when navigating through challenges. The narrator instructs the listeners to breathe deeper as a way to explore one’s consciousness and find peace amid turmoil.

In essence, the song reminds us of the importance of taking a moment to breathe deeply for calm and clarity. It highlights the importance of staying composed even in the face of adversity.

17. “Breathless” By Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

The rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released “Breathless” in 2004. It was one of the three singles from their album Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus.

Lyrically, the song uses the concept of being breathless to show the overwhelming emotion and intensity of love. “Breathless” often describes a state of excitement or anticipation. In this context, it reflects the exhilarating and overwhelming experience of being in love.

In addition, the song paints a picture of dependence on someone, as addressed by the line, “I am breathless without you.” This suggests that love can be as instinctual as breathing. At the same time, it can be so intense to leave one breathless.

18. “Breathless” By The Corrs

One of the most popular songs of the 2000s is The Corrs‘ “Breathless.” This is the first single of their album, In Blue.

The song uses the concept of breathlessness to convey the overwhelming emotions one experiences when falling in love. The rush of emotions is so intense that it feels like your breath is taken away.

In essence, “Breathless” explores the exhilarating and almost suffocating intensity that comes with affection and desire. It uses this fundamental human necessity as a metaphor for the all-consuming nature of love.

19. “The Breath You Take” By George Strait

From the 2009 album Twang comes “The Breath You Take” by George Strait. Here, breathing is a metaphor for appreciating life’s precious moments.

The song is presented from a father’s perspective as he attends his son’s game. The lyrics are a gentle reminder to savor every moment with your family. It emphasizes that life is not about the number of breaths you take. Rather, it’s the moments that take your breath away.

This suggests the importance of memorable experiences and not just the mundane aspects symbolized by regular breathing.

20. “Breathe In Breathe Out” By Mat Kearney

Let’s end the list of songs about breath with one that has a lasting message. In “Breathe In Breathe Out,” singer-songwriter Mat Kearney talks about a relationship that goes through ups and downs. Yet he’s not going to leave his lover’s side.

What the line “Breathe in, breathe out” says is for his lover to take a moment. Sometimes this is all it takes to clear one’s head. The singer goes on to say that she can break down and cry. But he will stay by her side.

The good thing about this song is that its meaning applies to all relationships. It’s a different feeling when you know that there is someone who reminds you to take a breath and that you can go through anything.

Summing Up Our List Of Breathing Songs

The simple act of breathing in and breathing out is so relaxing. It reminds us that we are alive today because we breathe.

We hope that the songs on our list remind you of this fact. Whether literally or figuratively, breathing helps us take a moment to appreciate our lives. Not just our lives, though, but also the people around us.

Have you found new favorites from the songs above? Create your own playlist so you have something to listen to when you just want to appreciate living. Or breathing.

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.