18 Of The Best Songs About The Color Yellow

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

For many reasons, yellow is considered a complicated color. It will remind you of the vivid color of butter or the vibrant daffodils. Of course, it’s the color of sunshine and represents energy, optimism, and happiness, among others.

On the other hand, yellow reminds us of unpleasant things such as pus or yellow fever. In many cultures, yellow has negative connotations as well. For instance, it means jealousy in French and death in certain Latin American countries.

But this palette of meanings and connotations of yellow is what makes it an interesting color. Just look at the songs we have gathered below. They are proof of how highly songwriters think of our color of the day. Read on as we explore 18 of the best songs about the color yellow.

1. “Yellow” By Coldplay

One of the most popular songs out there about yellow is one from the British rock band Coldplay. “Yellow” was their breakthrough song released in 2000 from their debut album, Parachutes.

The lyrics evoke a sense of longing, devotion, and admiration for someone special. It’s not necessarily admiration for a romantic interest. It can be anyone special to you. That devotion can inspire you to do things for them, such as writing them a song.

Though yellow is associated with some negative stuff, the song looks at this color as a beautiful hue. It can symbolize the happiness the narrator feels at having this person in his life.

2. “Mellow Yellow” By Donovan

Up next, we have a song with “yellow” in the title. British singer-songwriter Donovan released “Mellow Yellow” in 1966. Its innovative blend of folk rock and psychedelic pop made it an instant hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Until now, the lyrics stir speculations among listeners about their true meaning. Donovan himself explained that the song is about being laid back and cool. He presents himself as a person who possesses a relaxed state of mind.

Alternatively, the color yellow is used to symbolize youthful joy and freedom. This reflects Donovan’s creativity in using color symbolism to evoke emotion and construct imagery.

3. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” By Elton John

Five decades later and Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” still remains relevant. This song reflects the narrator’s yearning to turn away from all the glitz and glamor and choose a simpler life.

The yellow brick road is an allusion borrowed from L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz. It symbolizes the path to success and fame. The song’s lyrics convey a longing for a simpler existence away from the distractions and illusions of stardom.

In addition, the song’s meaning is multi-layered and can be interpreted in various ways. At its core, the song explores the themes of self-discovery, escaping from the confines of fame and fortune, and returning to one’s roots. It reflects the pressure that can come with success and the desire to find true happiness and authenticity.

4. “Yellow Submarine” By The Beatles

One of the most iconic songs with “yellow” in the lyrics is The Beatles‘ “Yellow Submarine.” It talks about childhood nostalgia, escape, and adventure.

On the surface, the song delivers a playful and imaginative tale about a magical underwater vessel called the Yellow Submarine. The lyrics invite listeners to embark on a colorful and joyous adventure, celebrating a carefree and imaginative spirit.

However, “Yellow Submarine” carries a deeper meaning. It’s a metaphor for the hotel rooms where The Beatles lived under pressure at the height of their popularity. Yellow represents their fun time in the company of their friends.

5. “Big Yellow Taxi” By Joni Mitchell

Released in 1970, “Big Yellow Taxi” became one of Joni Mitchell‘s most popular and enduring hits. It revolves around urbanization and the consequences of human actions on the natural world.

The big yellow taxi symbolizes the encroachment of human development and the loss of nature’s beauty and resources. The lyrics lament the paving over of paradise, the destruction of wildlife, and the impact of consumerism on the environment.

The inspiration for “Big Yellow Taxi” came during Mitchell’s visit to Hawaii. She observed the transformation of natural landscapes into concrete jungles. Witnessing the destruction of nature for the sake of progress and commercialization deeply affected her and prompted her to write the song.

6. “Yellow Ledbetter” By Pearl Jam

The 2000 single “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam is up next on our list. The title comes from the tongue twister, “Yellow better, red better.” If you recite it fast, you’ll get “yellow ledbetter.”

The song’s lyrics are open to interpretation, but many listeners believe it’s about the consequence of war. The opening line goes, “Unsealed on a porch a letter sat.” Back in the day, the families of soldiers who died in the line of duty received a yellow army envelope. The color symbolizes the emotional journey of those who deal with loss and grief.

The song is also an ode to people who go to war and make sacrifices. The color yellow represents gratitude and respect for those who serve their country.

7. “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” By Tony Orlando And Dawn

A heartwarming story of love and redemption is what you’ll find in “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn. It quickly became an anthem for those longing for forgiveness and second chances.

The lyrics revolve around a man returning home after being away in prison for three long years, unsure if his lover still wants him. He asks her to tie a yellow ribbon around an old oak tree as a sign of her willingness to take him back.

The narrator is filled with apprehension as the bus comes around his street. To his surprise, relief, and joy, he sees “a hundred yellow ribbons round the ole oak tree.” The yellow ribbon symbolizes hope and forgiveness and becomes a powerful metaphor for the strength of their love.

8. “Yellow Moon” By The Neville Brothers

The soulful song “Yellow Moon” by The Neville Brothers captures the essence of the color yellow. It explores themes of hope, new beginnings, love and passion, and mystery.

The lyrics find the narrator in a helpless situation, asking, “Why you keep peeping in my window? Do you know something I don’t know?” These lines lend an air of mystery as he wonders whether his love interest is alone or with another man.

The lyrics also depict the intense passion he feels toward his woman, but thoughts are running in his head. He wishes that the moon, which “can see the whole damn land,” will tell him if she is faithful to him.

9. “Little Yellow Spider” By Devendra Banhart

The whimsical folk song “Little Yellow Spider” by Devendra Banhart is a unique and fun track to listen to. It may seem childish at first, but the lyrics lean toward a more mature perspective.

At its core, the song focuses on different animals, and the narrator delivers puns and jokes toward all of them. Our color appears in the opening line that goes, “Little yellow spider, laughing at the snow.” The yellow here could symbolize joy and optimism.

Another way to look at the meaning of the song is in the role we have. Turtles, spiders, monkeys, crows, and humans all have particular roles to fill.

10. “Yellow Light” By Pharrell Williams

Our next song, “Yellow Light” by Pharrell Williams, is a perfect addition to any playlist celebrating the color yellow. This vibrant and catchy song features energetic beats and uplifting lyrics that instantly put you in a good mood.

In the lyrics, yellow is a caution and a warning, and the song encourages listeners to proceed with care. On a more positive note, yellow light is used as a metaphor for taking risks, embracing change, and living life to the fullest.

In addition, “Yellow Light” emphasizes the healing power of the sun. The song conveys the joyous and vibrant energy associated with this color. It also encourages listeners to let go of their fears and worries.

11. “Yellow Flicker Beat” By Lorde

When describing her song “Yellow Flicker Beat,” Lorde uses the words “dark and haunting.” She specifically wrote this song for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 about standing up against injustice and embracing rebellion.

The lyrics depict a sense of urgency and determination. They also reference flames, flickering lights, and a desire to break free from societal constraints.

The color in the title symbolizes both hope and danger. It represents bravery in the face of adversity and a warning sign for what lies ahead. The song evokes vivid imagery of this color, painting a picture of strength amidst the chaos.

12. “Yellow Raincoat” By Justin Bieber

In Justin Bieber‘s “Yellow Raincoat,” he sings about finding comfort during tough times. The song uses the color yellow as a metaphor for protection and resilience, symbolizing the narrator’s ability to shield himself from life’s challenges.

Celebrities like Bieber, who live in the public eye, sometimes find it hard to deal with fame. To protect himself from the rain (fame, money, and the girls), he puts on a yellow raincoat. Yellow symbolizes happiness, while the raincoat represents the wall he puts around himself.

The sad thing about the song is that he has to put on a smile to appear happy to the world. But once his raincoat is off, he feels sad again. He relies on this raincoat to keep him safe from everything.

13. “Yellow Hearts” By Ant Saunders

Our next song mentions “yellow” to show the confusion and longing that the narrator feels toward a female friend. This is the idea behind Ant Saunders‘ “Yellow Hearts.”

The confusion arises when the girl “put my name with yellow hearts, Her favorite color like the stars.” Although he has feelings for her, he is not sure what the emojis mean. He cannot figure out whether it means friends or she wants something more than friendship.

In the context of yellow, the color can symbolize the mixed emotions that the song conveys. The lyrics depict his desire to understand what the girl is trying to communicate with him.

14. “Yellow River” By Christie

The British band Christie released the classic rock “Yellow River” in 1970. It became an international hit as it topped the UK Singles Chart and peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song does not specify where exactly Yellow River is located. However, the lyrics were inspired by a soldier going home after his stint in the American Civil War. Although the “Cannon fire lingers in my mind,” he is grateful for the new lease on his life and desires to go back to Yellow River.

We can tell that this place has a special spot in his heart and in his blood. He’s not wasting another moment, for he’ll be returning to Yellow River and sleeping under the moon.

15. “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat” By Say Anything

Once you’ve listened to Say Anything‘s “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat,” you’ll agree that it’s about apathy and laziness. It also explores themes of friendship and the complexities of relationships.

The lyrics depict the narrator as an observer of the people and things around him. He sees his yellow and red cats fighting, his cousin watching MTV all day, and Lou, who is always under the influence of drugs.

He sees these happening, but he does not do anything to change or stop them. He just lets things happen, and he himself is stuck in limbo.

16. “Yellow Balloon” By The Yellow Balloon

Released in 1967, “Yellow Balloon” by The Yellow Balloon embodies the spirit of sunny optimism and carefree joy. It’s a feel-good song that reminds us of the simple pleasures in life and encourages us to embrace positivity.

Quite simply, it’s about a guy who used to hate the rain. But when he falls in love, he begins to like walking in the rain with his lover.

He compares a yellow balloon to love, suggesting that it brings happiness and warmth to dark days. Its vibrant color brings life and optimism, just like love does.

17. “Yellow Moon” By Akeboshi

Japanese folk singer Akeboshi first released “Yellow Moon” in 2007. The song is a nostalgic reminiscence of riding a motorbike under a yellow moon.

The lyrics evoke a sense of warmth and positivity, painting a picture of a moonlit night bathed in golden hues. Akeboshi’s soothing voice creates a serene atmosphere that transports listeners to a tranquil place where they can bask in the beauty of the yellow moon.

The lyrics delve into themes of longing, transformation, and the fleeting nature of time. The song reminds us to appreciate life’s transient moments, much like the ever-changing phases of the moon.

18. “Yellow Eyes” By Rayland Baxter

For our concluding song, we give you Rayland Baxter‘s “Yellow Eyes.” Make no mistake, though. This song is nothing about jaundice or liver disease. Would you believe it if we said that this is a breakup song?

In some places, the song is inspired by Baxter’s experiences as a musician. He recounts how he fell in love with someone he toured with. When they were writing a song, the phrase “yellow eyes” stuck. After completing the song, it’s about a girl with yellow eyes that remind him of a cat’s eyes.

The breakup is expressed in the lines that say, “Find the girl with yellow eyes, And go and break her heart.” The song further explores the narrator’s emotions as he deals with the breakup.

Summing Up Our List Of Yellow Songs

If you’re still reading up to this point, then we take it as a good sign that you love the compilation of songs we have come up with. We hope that, like us, you appreciate yellow more.

We also wish that the songs above showed you yellow in all its glory. It might be the right color to describe the joy and optimism you are feeling right now. So go ahead, make a new playlist that you can always listen to, day in and day out.

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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.