Music has long been used to convey emotions, thoughts, and feelings the artist thinks are important. Kindness and empathy have been themes of many tracks over the years. Here is our list of the 23 best songs about kindness and empathy.
1. Lean On Me – Bill Withers
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Lean On Me is one of the most memorable songs about kindness and one of the most well-known tracks on our list. Bill Withers released this in 1972, and the song is all about how we need someone that we can lean on in life, especially when we’re going through hard times.
This track was incredibly popular, and it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart. It was ranked by Billboard as the seventh-biggest song of 1972. Multiple artists have since covered this iconic track through the years.
2. Hands – Jewel
Hands by Jewel was released in 1998, and it’s a song that Jewel wrote after battling kidney issues that caused her to lose her job she had thought about stealing a dress from a store. She decided against stealing the dress and, instead, used her hands to write music.
The track goes into detail about how even small choices we make can lead to change. An inspirational song about making the right choices, this reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and made it to the top of the VH1 Top 20 charts.
3. Epiphany – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift released epiphany in 2020, and this song is all about empathy and understanding what someone has been going through. It’s inspirational because it was a track written during COVID and honors all of those first-line responders dealing with the pandemic.
The piano is very slow and steady in the song, and it gives us chills when we hear the brass. This track reached number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went to 11 on the Billboard Hot Rock and Alternative charts.
4. You’ve Got A Friend – Carole King
While we may recognize You’ve Got A Friend by James Taylor, it originally was written and recorded by Carole King in 1971. It earned her Song Of The Year in 1971, and this track has been covered by the likes of Donny Hathaway, Michael Jackson, Anne Murray, and several others.
She had written this song as a response to Taylor when he wrote Fire And Rain and talked about feeling as if he was abandoned by his friends.
5. Treat People With Kindness – Harry Styles
In 2019, Harry Styles released Treat People With Kindness, and his inspiration for the song was David Bowie. He said that this track was a tribute to Bowie, and within the song, we can feel the happiness and joy that occurs when we are genuinely kind and helpful to someone that really needs kindness in their life. Watching someone show appreciation and have their face light up when we are kind to them is what this track is all about, and it’s a lovely song to reflect on those moments.
6. Anytime You Need A Friend – Mariah Carey
Next on our list is Mariah Carey with her 1993 hit Anytime You Need A Friend, which was a gospel-like song that talks about experiencing unconditional love from God during hard times. The track was popular worldwide and hit 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 while peaking at five on the Canadian charts. In Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, and France, the song reached Top 20 status while hitting number one in Finland.
7. Humble And Kind – Tim McGraw
Country superstar Tim McGraw needs no introduction on our list, and his hit Humble And Kind, which was released in 2016, reminds us to stay humble regardless of what our situation in life is. It shouldn’t be a shocker that with the strong message in the track, it won several awards including Best Country Song and Video Of The Year. It reached number one in Canada and the United States on the Country Billboard charts.
8. I’ll Be There – The Jackson 5
A group that needs no introduction on our list is the hit group The Jackson 5, who released I’ll Be There in 1970. We all remember this song playing on the radio throughout the decades, and it’s a track that’s stood the test of time with Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson singing to us about devotion to a previous love.
There’s something sweet about kids singing this song, and it’s a happy tune that is just sweet to listen to. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts and was an international success. It was even put into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2011 and remains an iconic track to this day.
9. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
Pop sensation Cyndi Lauper had a huge hit in 1983 with Time After Time, and this song is all about being empathetic and being there for your friends no matter what. It was catchy, and her voice in this track is inspiring and upbeat. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Contemporary charts and also was a huge international success.
10. Hey Brother – Avicii
Avicii was an artist and record producer from Sweden, and he wrote and released Hey Brother in 2013 as part of his debut album release. The track is about him giving advice to his brother and was inspired by the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This song received international success as it is about being there for someone during difficult times in their life. Even though the track had a bluegrass feel to it, it topped the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs list in the United States and topped the Dance Club Songs charts in America too.
11. Hold My Hand – Hootie & The Blowfish
Cracked Rear View was a critically-acclaimed album from alternative rock group Hootie & The Blowfish, and the hit song Hold My Hand was released in 1994. The track has a chorus that is catchy and fun and easy to sing, which made it a hit when it was released.
This references watching someone you know and love struggle, and it was such a hit that it reached number two on the Billboard Top 40 and number four on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts with it peaking at 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
12. Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down
The group 3 Doors Down had several hits, but Kryptonite was arguably the song that put them on the map when it was released in 1999. This track goes into the question of whether someone will be there for them during the good times and the bad times, and the uncertainty of it all.
Unlike other songs on our list, this track isn’t inspirational but instead is more about the singer needing to feel kindness from others during times of struggle. It was a success for the band and reached the top of the Mainstream Rock charts, Modern Rock charts, and Mainstream Top 40. It also landed on the Billboard Hot 100 list at number three.
13. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
Released in 1994 by The Pretenders, I’ll Stand By You is a great song to put on when you need a friend, and it’s about being there for someone when they need it the most. Catchy and powerful, it’s an uplifting track about feeling like you’re not alone. This song made it to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and charted in multiple countries with it still seen as a timeless classic.
14. Fix You – Coldplay
Up next is Coldplay with their 2005 hit Fix You, which was about trying to heal someone who had experienced a loss in their life and trying to empathize with them. It’s a song about hope, optimism, and moving on in life while dealing with grief.
The lyrics are powerful, and the track received a lot of praise, including from Rolling Stone. The song didn’t land at number one but peaked at number three on the Billboard Adult Alternative charts.
15. Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
The Four Tops had a huge hit with the 1966 release of Reach Out I’ll Be There, and this song is still popular decades later. The backstory to this track is that there was a discussion about what it is women want, which is someone that is devoted to them through the good and bad times. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and on the Rhythm and Blues Singles charts and remains to this day a lovely and romantic song.
16. Kindness – Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams released Kindness in 2011, and this song is all about why people should be kind to one another. For example, if someone has a broken heart, the kindness of others can help heal it. He lets us know in this track all of the ways that we can be kind and why it may matter to someone going through hard times.
17. Try A Little Kindness – Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell had a hit with Try A Little Kindness, which was released in 1970. It’s all about trying to get people to show more empathy and kindness, which can let the light shine through in times of negativity. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, number two on the Hot Country chart, and peaked at 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
18. I’ll Be Your Mirror – The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground released I’ll Be Your Mirror in 1967, and this song has been one of their most popular tracks and remains an iconic hit even today. It’s a song that delves into empathy and it’s sort of a love track. This song makes it clear that our friends and loved ones can be empathetic to us and show us things about ourselves we didn’t know or didn’t know were obvious to others.
19. Kind and Generous – Natalie Merchant
Released in 1998, Kind And Generous is a track all about thanking someone for being kind and generous. The lyrics to this song are easy to understand, and it’s a track you can play for those you feel grateful for in your life. This was not released as a commercial single, but it did land on the Adult Top 40 at number three and hit number one on the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart.
20. Living For The City – Stevie Wonder
Legendary musician Stevie Wonder released Living For The City in 1973, and it remains one of his most popular songs. While this track is sad and talks about the struggles of poverty and experiencing racism, it’s a song that reminds us how important it is to be kind to others because you don’t know what they are going through. It topped the Billboard Hot Soul Singles and reached eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
21. Count On Me – Whitney Houston And CeCe Winans
This woman needs no introduction as she is one of the best vocalists ever, and in 1995, Whitney Houston released Count On Me, which is an uplifting song we love to sing along to. It’s all about your friend being able to count on you.
It is a track people remember from the hit movie Waiting To Exhale, and both this song and movie are about friendship. Winning multiple awards and landing at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, it’s a classic track that stands the test of time!
22. Song For A Friend – Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz released Song For A Friend, which was released in 2005 and it’s about him thanking his roommate during the times he was struggling trying to become a musician. The gratefulness for the kindness his roommate showed him turned this track into a hit and a song that we all can relate to.
23. Never Gonna Be Alone – Nickelback
Released in 2008, Never Gonna Be Alone was a hit song for the rock band Nickelback, and it’s about being there for your significant other. The track talks about supporting and giving his time and energy to his significant other instead of wasting time on other people or things. It peaked in the United States in fifth place on the Billboard Adult Top 40 charts.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.