15 Of The Best Songs About The Color Red

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Red is a bold color that demands our attention. Stop lights and stop signs are red so they can be seen easily. Many fast food signs also use this color.

Red is often used to express emotions ranging from love and joy to anger. It is the color of protection, but it’s also a color of warning and danger! To top it all off, red is the color of blood, symbolizing birth and death.

With so many sides to red, it’s no wonder there are many different songs featuring this color. Read on as we take a look at 15 of the best songs about the color red.

1. “Lady In Red” By Chris De Burgh

Let’s start this list with a song with “red” in the title. Chris De Burgh released his hit song “Lady in Red” in 1986 from his album Into the Light.

In this song, a man sees his wife or lover at a party wearing a red dress he doesn’t remember her wearing. He notices how different she looks and how she seems to be catching the attention of everyone else in the room.

The song leaves a message about seeing people we know so well in a different light. Sometimes we see them almost as strangers and recognize in them a beauty that we’ve been blind to. It’s about seeing and appreciating what you have.

2. “Red Rain” By Peter Gabriel

Our next song with “red” in the lyrics is Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain.” The single was featured in his 1986 album, So, and reached #3 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart.

According to Gabriel, the song was inspired by a recurring dream. In it, he was swimming in his pool while drinking red wine. In another version, he saw human-shaped bottles falling off a cliff. As they smashed onto the ground, red liquid seeped out of the bottles.

The red rain in the lyrics is reminiscent of blood. It’s a song about tragedy, pain, danger, and loss. The singer cannot avoid or stop the red rain and has to come to terms with it.

3. “Red Red Wine” By UB40

In addition to all the other things red is, it is also a type of wine. Red wine has a very different connotation than white wine. It is darker, less innocent, and the choice of drinkers who want to forget. That’s what you get from UB40‘s “Red Red Wine.”

The song was written and initially recorded by Neil Diamond, but UB40 took it to the top of the charts.

This song celebrates red wine for its ability to help a man forget about his girlfriend after a breakup. It’s the only thing that makes him feel good and helps him get through the pain. But this knowledge also makes him feel sad and bad about himself.

4. “Red Right Hand” By Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

This Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds song is from their 1994 album, Let Love In. The title and inspiration for “Red Right Hand” come from John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost.

The song is about a stranger who comes to town, a nightmarish, mysterious, powerful, probably supernatural stranger. This person can and will offer you anything, anything you need, anything you desire. But he doesn’t care about what happens to you.

The red right hand is a warning and refers to the stranger’s dark, hidden plans and murderous intentions.

5. “Red Rubber Ball” By The Cyrkle

The legendary Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel, along with Bruce Woodley of The Seekers penned “Red Rubber Ball.” When the American rock band the Cyrkle recorded it, it became their first hit.

In the lyrics, we find a man celebrating the end of a relationship. While some would have been heartbroken, he is grateful it has to end. His lover, after all, does not give him the attention and affection he deserves.

The song is about bouncing back after a breakup. The man is hurt and a little bitter but is ready to get over it. He compares the sun to a red rubber ball, which is a strange image, especially since rubber balls don’t shine. But the sentiment is clear: breaking up is hard, but you have to move on.

6. “I Saw Red” By Warrant

Up next is a song that mentions “red” with a negative connotation. The expression “seeing red” normally means entering a state of rage-filled shock. That’s what happens behind Warrant‘s “I Saw Red.”

The song came out on the band’s 1990 album, Cherry Pie. In the lyrics, we find a man who is very much in love with a woman. He puts her on the pedestal, even saying she can take the place of the moon and stars. And then he walks in on her cheating on him with some other guy.

In the song, red also refers to the singer’s heart, to the pain and emotional bleeding this woman has caused him. He sees red as all the love they share leaves him.

7. “Red” By Taylor Swift

In Taylor Swift’s “Red,” the singer compares emotions an ex stirred up in her to different colors. There is a color for losing him and a color for missing him. The color for loving him is red.

Red is an intense color. All other colors pale in comparison. In the same way, love is an intense emotion, and it can overtake all other emotions. It can make you forget the pain for a while. But in the end, it only makes a breakup hurt more.

This song is about learning what to do with the leftover love after a relationship and how it doesn’t disappear. The singer can only reminisce on their once passionate love.

8. “Red High Heels” By Kellie Pickler

The 2006 country song “Red High Heels” is one way of saying, “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.” This song was from Kellie Pickler‘s debut album, Small Town Girl.

In the lyrics, we find a woman whose love doesn’t know what he wants. She’s not about to wait for him, so she goes out in her red high heels with an ex.

She means to show her ex off, to prove to her lover that she can live without someone who can’t make up his mind. She knows the allure she has, especially donning her red heels. She’s telling him she’s had enough of him, and she’s moving on.

9. “Li’l Red Riding Hood” By Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs

Listen to the entirety of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs‘ “Li’l Red Riding Hood.” It will surely put a smile on your face once you get to the end.

The group took the beloved and often retold fairy tale and turned it into a song. Surprisingly, it is sung in the voice and perspective of the wolf.

This is a fun song, a bit of a novelty. But as it unfolds, we see the wolf preying on Little Red Riding Hood, like a man at a bar might check out and plan to hit on an attractive woman he sees there.

The wolf hides his predatory nature because he doesn’t want to scare her. All the while, he’s commenting on her looks and being manipulative to increase his chances of getting together with her.

10. “The Red Shoes” By Kate Bush

English singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s “The Red Shoes” comes from her album of the same name. This song was inspired by a character in The Red Shoes, a 1948 British drama film about a ballerina.

A woman who dreams of being a fantastic dancer receives a pair of red dancing shoes. This time, the color red stands for a warning of danger. While she can dance the way she’s always wanted to, it’s the shoes doing it, not her.

This song tells us to be careful about what we wish for. Think about how much we’re willing to sacrifice to make a dream come true.

11. “Sea Of Red” By Judas Priest

Our next song was inspired by the John McCrae poem, “In Flanders Fields.” It is about a large expanse of bright red poppies that sprung up on World War I’s Western front. From this poem, Judas Priest came up with “Sea of Red” from their 2018 album, Firepower.

This is a song for Remembrance Day. As such, it is about remembering and honoring those who fought and died for freedom.

The sea of red in the title refers to two things. One is the field of red poppies. The second is red from all the bloodshed in the war.

12. “Murder In The Red Barn” By Tom Waits

The 1992 Tom Waits song, “Murder in the Red Barn,” is as straightforward as it can be. The single is featured in Waits’ Bone Machine album.

The color red in this song stands for both the barn and blood. In the song, death and murder are underplayed, as creatures are always killed and dying on the farm. What’s another death? A bloody axe doesn’t mean anything.

In the end, the murder is pinned on the wrong person. Several people conspire to put the blame on him, and they’re keeping things a secret.

13. “Red Solo Cup” By Toby Keith

We’ve got another novelty song on our list. Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” is a goofy tribute to, you guessed it, the red, plastic Solo Cup.

Of course, it’s not a tribute to the cup itself, but to what it symbolizes, to the togetherness it has created, and to the crazy dumb memories it’s helped people to make.

If you don’t know, the red solo cup is a mainstay of frat parties and friendly, drunken get-togethers. Party-goers fill their red cups from the keg, the punchbowl, or whatever alcohol is around.

This song celebrates partying, having a good time, meeting new people, and making bad decisions.

14. “Bleed Red” By Ronnie Dunn

In our next song, red symbolizes equality and forgiveness. Ronnie Dunn released “Bleed Red” in 2011 from his first solo album, Ronnie Dunn. The song peaked at #10 on the US Hot Country Songs.

Lyrics-wise, the singer basically says we’re all the same in that “we all bleed red.” We go through ups and downs, we cry when hurt and sometimes say words we later regret.

The song leaves a beautiful message of forgiveness. The singer reminds us to say sorry before it’s too late and to remove the anger in our hearts. There’s no sense in fighting because no one really wins. Both parties are hurt in the end.

15. “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” By Gene Autrey

This list would not be complete without the holiday classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The song was written in 1934 as a promotional holiday gift for Montgomery Ward. It was then turned into a song and first recorded by Gene Autrey.

The song tells the story of a young reindeer born differently. His red nose makes him a freak, and he has difficulty getting along with other reindeer until a foggy night when Santa needs illumination to help him deliver presents.

This song is about embracing who you are, even when people ridicule you. Sometimes what others will discount as a weakness is your greatest strength. Red is also one of the two colors associated with Christmas and is the color of Santa’s suit.

Summing Up Our List Of The Color Red Songs

As you can see, red captures a wide range of intense emotions and images. It’s the perfect color for songwriters to use to express intense feelings, feelings of attraction, and danger.

Whether you’re looking for a song about fire, murder, love, cheating, war, Christmas, attraction, passion, or beauty, look for a song with red in the title.

Check out our selection of songs about the color red the next time you want to plunge into the depths of extreme emotion and imagery.

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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.