Rainbows may be more of an optical illusion or a trick of light. They appear when light strikes water droplets. It sounds simple enough, but a lot goes on behind that.
In the Bible, God made a covenant with His people following the flood that destroyed all living things outside of the ark that Noah built. He promised not to destroy life by the flood again. To seal the deal, God used the rainbow to remind Him of that everlasting covenant.
This is why most people see the rainbow as a sign of hope and new beginnings. As proof, here we have 21 of the best songs about rainbows.
1. “Over The Rainbow” By Judy Garland
One of the most beautiful songs about our topic is “Over the Rainbow.” It’s from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, sung by Judy Garland‘s character, Dorothy.
In the song, the text painting alone is to die for. Text painting is a technique where the melody reflects the meaning of the words. For instance, when Dorothy sings “somewhere” at the top of the verse, the melody makes an octave jump up. It’s as if it’s going over a rainbow. So simple, yet so perfect.
The lyrics describe a place where troubles melt away, and dreams come true. Dorothy sings about a world beyond the rainbow where problems are far away. The central message is one of hope and the belief that anything is possible if you keep dreaming.
2. “Rainbow Connection” By Kermit The Frog
The Muppet Movie gave us a terrific rainbow song. Sadly, people often write it off just because a puppet sang it. But that’s a big mistake. “Rainbow Connection” has a folksy, simple melody that lets the lyrics speak for themselves, with only Kermit’s voice and his banjo competing for any attention.
The song addresses Kermit’s longing for a deeper meaning and purpose in life. Kermit sings about how ephemeral rainbows are while wondering what lies on the other side. As he examines life, he’s hopeful that one day, “we’ll find… the rainbow connection.”
This song with “rainbow” in the title was a Top 40 hit in 1979 and won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe. That must have been a surprise for the movie execs involved in the film who wanted to cut the song.
3. “Rainbow Country” By Bob Marley & The Wailers
Surprisingly, “Rainbow Country” never got much airplay as it wasn’t a single. But it’s a pretty big hit for Bob Marley & the Wailers.
At its core, the song is a tribute to Marley’s home country, Jamaica, a place that represents a paradise for him. In the lyrics, he talks about the beauty of his home island. For him, it is a rainbow country, one that’s free.
He’s joyful that he “feels like dancing.” It gives him hope for better times for its people. In a way, the song calls on the Jamaican people to work together to make a better future.
4. “Rainbow In The Dark” By Dio
The powerhouse guitar work was front and center when the heavy metal band Dio released “Rainbow in the Dark” in 1983. It helped drive the piece to #12 on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart. But frontman Ronnie Dio hated the song. Too bad, because it’s pretty great.
Heavy metal fans worldwide latched onto it, making the song a standard of the genre. In the lyrics, the narrator sings about feelings of loneliness and isolation. He feels lost in the darkness.
However, the rainbow he looks for in that darkness symbolizes hope for the future and optimism he desperately tries to retain.
5. “Rainbowland” By Miley Cyrus And Dolly Parton
Singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus invited her godmother Dolly Parton to be a part of her 2017 album Younger Now. The pair recorded “Rainbowland.” It’s now a song with two identifiable voices, and you can hear how much they love each other.
You hear Dolly first, as the song starts with the charming inclusion of a voicemail she left for Cyrus. It’s unbearably adorable.
The lyrics describe a place where everyone can live in harmony. There’s no concern about race, class, gender, or anything else in this delightful place of peace. Instead, the song offers hope and a call for unity through diversity. What a nice thought.
6. “She’s A Rainbow” By The Rolling Stones
The 1967 single “She’s a Rainbow” showed that The Rolling Stones aren’t just your run-of-the-mill blues-rock band.
In the lyrics, the narrator sings about a woman full of life with charms he can’t resist. It’s a song about how great this woman is, noting how “she comes in colours everywhere.”
To be compared to a rainbow is indeed high praise. And we can tell from such a description that the woman is not just beautiful in appearance. She’s the epitome of someone who enjoys life and maintains a positivism that makes life colorful.
7. “Rainbow” By Kacey Musgraves
Another song with “rainbow” in the lyrics is Kacey Musgraves‘ “Rainbow.” It came from her album Golden Hour and gave her a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year.
The ballad talks about finding hope and resilience during hard times. It opens our eyes to the fact that sometimes, we don’t notice the good things because we are focused on the challenges. As a result, “you’re stuck out in the same ol’ storm again.”
The singer reminds us that there’s always “a rainbow hangin’ over your head.” And if you see it, you’ll see just how beautiful it is, just like life. So she implores us to put away our umbrellas and enjoy the beautiful day.
8. “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” By Judy Garland
After The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland sang another song about rainbows. “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” was recorded for a film called Ziegfeld Girl in 1941. Garland and other artists that covered the song have since elevated it to a classic piece of American music.
The lyrics are rather sad. The singer describes her eternal pursuit of happiness and something better as embodied by a rainbow. The implication is that she never found the satisfaction she was looking for.
Despite the song’s melancholy air (or perhaps because of it), it quickly became a beloved piece of music. But, of course, having Judy Garland sing it probably helped a little.
9. “What A Wonderful World” By Louis Armstrong
Celebrating the beauty of the world and human experience is “What A Wonderful World.” Louis Armstrong first recorded it in 1967.
Though the song mentions “rainbow,” it does not focus on it. The focus is on the overall beauty of the world around us, encouraging us to appreciate it. Even simple things, such as green trees and flowers in bloom, can greatly affect how we feel about our surroundings.
The song steers our attention to the colors of the rainbow in the sky. How pretty it is up not just up there but “also on the faces of people going by.”
10. “Rainbow High” By Madonna
When Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote Evita, a musical based on the life of Eva Perón, they were not writing for Madonna. But The Material Girl made the role her own in the 1996 film version of the show. Here, she did an exceptional performance singing “Rainbow High.”
In this song, Perón is getting ready to go to Europe to gain alliances. This is how she uses her position to help the people of her country. The song also shows us another side of Perón: her obsession with her public image.
In fact, she sings that she must be “rainbow high” to meet the expectations of others. She recognizes the importance of the notion of being dressed to kill or at least “outshine the enemy.” And so Perón gets ready to be spoiled with branded clothing and accessories.
11. “Rainbow” By Kesha
Our next song mentions “rainbow” to symbolize hope. Kesha definitely knows what she’s talking about in her 2017 single “Rainbow.” She’d gone through some dark times in her life, and she wants to share a message of hope with her listeners.
Kesha strips herself bare as she recounts how she “used to live in the darkness.” But she is able to put past traumas behind her and grow as a person. For her, color and rainbow symbolize hope and strength amid the darkness.
And now she’s resolved to put more colors in her life. She uses her big voice to make her point and share this self-empowerment anthem with her listeners.
12. “Rainbow” By Sia
Another message of hope can be found in Sia‘s “Rainbow.” The song was released as a soundtrack for the 2017 film My Little Pony: The Movie.
The song addresses a person who seems to lose hope. While other people don’t see her heart, the singer knows her better. The former sees her as a big dreamer with a big heart.
And when she cries, there’s a rainbow in her tears. Despite her pain, she fosters hope that enables her to overcome her struggles. She believes in herself and in the promise that hard times don’t last.
13. “Rainbow Veins” By Owl City
Up next on our list is Owl City‘s “Rainbow Veins.” The song was from his 2008 debut album, Maybe I’m Dreaming.
Like many rainbow-related songs, it’s about soldiering through difficult times by keeping hope alive and looking ahead. Here, the singer is comforting someone, which could be a love interest or anyone important to him.
He’s asking her to tell him “when it rains.” When she’s feeling this way, he wants to “blend up that rainbow above you and shoot it through your veins.” He’s basically saying he will cheer her up to make her feel better.
14. “Rainbow Stew” By Merle Haggard
In this song, Merle Haggard refers to “Rainbow stew” as a sort of utopian food. He envisions us partaking in the meal when the world is perfect.
The song starts with Haggard describing the dire state of affairs in the world where we live. Then he proceeds to describe a utopian world devoid of wars and replete with peace. He envisions us drinking “free Bubble Up,” which could mean free beer.
But what stands out from the lyrics is the idea of “eatin’ that rainbow stew.” As we are talking about a utopian world, rainbow stew could mean the kind of food that meets the need of the population.
15. “The Rainbow” By Talk Talk
When Talk Talk recorded “The Rainbow” in 1988, they created an experimental piece of music that was unconventional, to say the least, and almost ten minutes long.
The lyrics might not seem to make sense at all. But on closer look, you’ll agree that it’s about the judicial system. The song begins with the observation that “the world’s turned upside down.” The singer could be referring to how someone who should have been convicted got off unjustly.
Meanwhile, he admits his wrongdoings and “repented, changed.” He isn’t convicted of any wrongdoing, but his “time has run.” At this point, it’s a challenge to figure out why the band titled their song like so.
16. “Rainbow’s Cadillac” By Bruce Hornsby
In our next song, the word “rainbow” refers to the name of a man and not something metaphorical. Bruce Hornsby released “Rainbow’s Cadillac” in 1993 from his album Harbor Lights.
Compared to other Hornsby songs, “Rainbow Cadillac” is a bit funkier. The lyrics tell the story of a man named Rainbow who drives a Cadillac. The townspeople gather together at quarter to ten every night just to see him.
The singer describes Rainbow as having an affinity for “fancy shirts and shorts of plaid.” His coat has “more colors than Joseph had.” Hence, why he is called Rainbow.
17. “Make Me Rainbows” By Ella Fitzgerald
This list will not be complete without Ella Fitzgerald‘s cover of “Make Me Rainbows.” The song is a jazz standard that came from the Dick Van Dyke comedy film Fitzwilly.
In the lyrics, we find the singer imploring her beloved to bring good days into her life. She’s asking for “spring in the snow” and “music wherever I go.” She imparts to him her desire for happiness and love.
In particular, she asks him to make her some rainbows, which represent color and beauty. The words imply that seeing rainbows fills her with happiness.
18. “Pocketful Of Rainbows” By Elvis Presley
The 1960 single “Pocketful of Rainbows” by Elvis Presley has some sweet messages to impart to his listeners. Life is not always sunshine, but take it from Presley when he says he doesn’t worry.
Why? Because he’s “Got a pocketful of rainbows, Got a heart full of love.” It’s something he has with him wherever he goes and whatever the season may be.
Apparently, the source of these rainbows and love is someone who truly loves him. Her kisses and hugs arm him for the lonely nights. Indeed, when you find true love, gray skies, worries, and Mister Heartache are the least of your problems.
19. “Rainbow In Your Eyes” By Al Jarreau
In another love song, Al Jarreau uses the rainbow as a symbol of love. He released “Rainbow in Your Eyes” as the title track to his 1976 album.
In this romantic jazz ballad, the narrator declares his love for his lover. Now that he has found true love, he’s not going to let it go. In a way, he’s assuring his lover that he’ll hold on to their love no matter what. The love he found in her, “like a rainbow” in her eyes, is worth fighting for.
What the singer feels is an easily relatable feeling. When you’re with someone who means the world to you, you can do anything. Climbing the highest mountains and crossing seas are nothing because you’re together.
20. “Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows” By Lesley Gore
What’s to love about this song? The happy, summery vibe? The sweet lyrics? For us, it’s everything! “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows” is one of Lesley Gore‘s hits, released in 1965.
Here, as in many of the songs on this list, the rainbow connotes the happiness the singer feels. When she’s with the one she loves, “the rain goes, disappears.” The gray skies are nowhere near because his presence brightens her day.
And when they’re together, she feels wonderful, knowing he’s hers and hers alone. When you add sunshine and lollipops to the equation, then you know that she’s truly happy.
21. “Rainbow Eyes” By Rainbow
You can’t have a list of rainbow songs without one by the hard rock band Rainbow. Aptly, their song is titled “Rainbow Eyes,” released in 1978 from their album Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.
It’s a slow love song that mourns lost love. Right from the beginning of the song, it’s clear that the singer has broken up with her. It could be one of those love affairs that ended because he lost his way.
Now that she’s gone, his summer nights are cold. His feelings are akin to fair lights being taken down, leading to darkness. And all that reminds him of her are her rainbow eyes.
Summing Up Our List Of Rainbow Songs
Rainbows have long represented hope, possibility, and the promise of things getting better. When we see a rainbow, it makes us feel happy because it tells us that good things are coming. Rainbows tell us that after the storm, there are brighter days.
On that note, did you like our list of rainbow songs? We hope you did just like we had fun compiling it for you. There’s no such thing as too many rainbow songs, anyway.