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41 Songs About Losing A Friend (Death Of A Friend Songs)

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Losing a friend is one of the most difficult and painful experiences. We all endure it eventually, whether it happens because of illness, an accident, or natural causes. Music is one of the best tools to help us cope during those dark times. Whether you are looking for a song to play at a funeral or just something to help you process grief, these 41 songs about losing a friend put those feelings into words.

1. Fire and Rain — James Taylor

“Fire And Rain” might be one of the best-known songs about mourning a friend. James Taylor wrote the song for a childhood friend who passed away without his knowledge. The friend, Suzanne Scherr, died by suicide while he was out of town recording his first album.

His friends and family worried that the tragic news would affect his success, so they did not tell him for six months. Taylor was struggling with drug addiction at the time; he wrote the song mourning his friend while he was in a rehab facility.

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2. All Those Years Ago — George Harrison

George Harrison released the song “All Those Years Ago” in 1981, just a year after John Lennon’s murder. The track reunited the living Beatles members, who had disbanded in 1970. The lyrics hearken back to other Beatles and Lennon songs with lines like “You were the one who imagined it all” and “All you need is love.”

Though the band didn’t necessarily end on good terms, they used the song to honor their former bandmate for his role as both a friend and a musician.

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3. Elephant — Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell’s 2013 song, “Elephant,” tells the story of watching a friend die from cancer. Their relationship slowly changes as her illness progresses, but they continue to try to ignore the “elephant in the room.”

Instead, they focus on coping together by focusing on familiar, mundane things, but it’s impossible to pretend forever. It’s a poignant description of what it’s like to care for a friend who is enduring a long illness.

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4. Song for Josh — Frank Turner

“Song For Josh” was written in honor of Josh Burdett, a security guard who died by suicide in 2013. He was well-known by American punk musicians, having worked security at many concerts and parties.

Turner knew him well and was shocked by his sudden death, which none of Burdett’s friends expected. The song expresses the guilt and grief of wondering if anyone could have done something to help.

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5. They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) — Pete Rock & CL Smooth

“They Reminisce Over You”, also called “T.R.O.Y.,” is a tribute to Troy Dixon, a member of the group Heavy D & The Boyz. Dixon passed away in 1990. A year later, his friends Pete Rock and CL Smooth composed the song over a bassline borrowed from Tom Scott’s “Today.”

The lyrics consist of childhood memories with Dixon and their friendship. It just goes to show that, no matter how famous you become, the memories you leave behind are the simple ones.

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6. I Still Miss You — Keith Anderson

The song “I Still Miss You” was about many people during its composition—first an ex, then a mother, and finally, just about the grief of losing someone that you love.

The lyrics detail all the things the singer has done to try to move past the person he lost, but nothing kills the grief. Sometimes, no matter what you try, everything reminds you of that person. 

7. Lance’s Song — Zac Brown Band

“Lance’s Song” is a tribute to Lance Tilton, a drummer who had played gigs with the Zac Brown Band. He was killed in a car crash in 2010.

The song is a poignant listen for anyone who knows what it’s like to lose a friend while they are still at the peak of their life. The lyrics wrestle with the question of why he had to die young and what he might have accomplished. 

8. Empty Garden — Elton John

Elton John’s song “Empty Garden” was written about his late friend John Lennon, who had been shot 15 months earlier. The titular empty garden refers to Madison Square Garden, where John and Lennon performed several times together.

Since releasing the song, John has rarely performed it, saying the memories are too painful. The lyrics end with the mournful repetition: “Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny”

9. One Sweet Day — Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men

“One Sweet Day” was a 1995 song by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. The R&B song was a tribute to many people, most particularly Carey’s late friend David Cole. During the writing process, her sister was diagnosed with HIV, and the song also became an homage to those who died during the AIDS epidemic.

10. Back on the Chain Gang — The Pretenders

“Back On The Chain Gang” was recorded by The Pretenders in 1982. The band had fired one of its members because of his drug use, only to lose their guitarist to a drug overdose just three days later. The song is about the confusion of losing several friends at once, comparing it to having sand thrown in your eyes.

11. See You Again — Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth

“See You Again” was composed as a tribute to Fast And The Furious actor Paul Walker. He was killed in a car accident in 2013. However, Charlie Puth said that as he was writing it, he thought back on a friend from college who died in a similar manner. The lyrics speak of missing your friend and looking forward to telling them about your time apart.

12. For a Dancer — Jackson Browne

When Jackson Browne’s friend died in a house fire, he composed “For A Dancer” for him. Browne described the song as comparing life to dancing, with death being the performance that we all have to do on our own. When Browne’s wife died two years later, he said the song took on a new meaning for him. 

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13. In My Life — The Beatles

One of the Beatles’ first major hits, “In My Life” was mostly a tribute to the memories of childhood. But several of the lines also refer to friends who were lost along the way, such as “Some are dead and some are living, In my life I’ve loved them all.” The line is said to reference Stuart Sutcliffe, the group’s original bassist, who died in 1962.

14. Return — OK Go

“Return,” recorded by OK Go in 2002, describes the fruitless frustration of losing a friend during their youth. There is nothing we can do about them dying, but it makes us grieve when we think about all the things that they should have been able to experience. Losing a friend is always difficult, but it’s even harder when they were at the start of their life.

15. The Last Carnival — Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen composed “The Last Carnival” in honor of a lifelong friend. He said that he first started writing the song to process the friend’s death from melanoma and to make sense of his loss. The song describes how difficult it is to realize that someone who was always there can suddenly be gone.

16. You’re Never Over — Eminem

Eminem composed “You’re Never Over” for his late friend, the rapper Proof, but it took him many tries and several years. He said that he had always wanted to create an homage to Proof but could never quite get it right. He finally managed to express his grief four years later.

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17. Bird Song — Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead recorded “Bird Song” in 1973 as a tribute to Janis Joplin, with whom they had performed several times. She passed away in 1971 at the age of 27. But despite her short career, she is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. “Bird Song” speculates that anyone who sang so sweetly must be happy, even after death.

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18. Dancing in the Sky — Dani and Lizzy

“Dancing In The Sky” is a 2016 song by Dani and Lizzy. The song contrasts the purported happiness of heaven with the grief of those who remain on earth. The lyrics speak directly to the lost loved one, asking them if they are happy and at peace now that they have passed away.

19. Brendan’s Death Song — Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Brendan’s Death Song” was written about Brendan Mullens, a booker who helped launch the career of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song contrasts the lyrics, intended to be a “celebration of life,” with a darker, more intense instrumental bridge that expresses the band’s grief. It’s a perfect example of how we can celebrate and mourn a friend at the same time.

20. Light Years — Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam’s “Light Years” is about losing a friend suddenly and without the chance to say goodbye. The lead singer described the friend as someone who seemed never to have done anything wrong. It just goes to show that sometimes life—and death—simply aren’t fair. The band described the song as their official goodbye to her.

21. Gone Too Soon — Michael Jackson

“Gone Too Soon” wasn’t originally Michael Jackson’s song—it was first performed by Dionne Warwick. The song was written in honor of many friends in the music industry who died young. Jackson had a highly emotional response to the song and released a version in honor of Ryan White, a teenager who was expelled from his high school after being diagnosed with AIDS. 

22. I’ll Be Missing You — Puff Daddy Featuring Faith Evans & 112

“I’ll Be Missing You” was a 1997 collaboration by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans with 112. It was written in honor of Puff Daddy’s friend and fellow rapper, The Notorious B.I.G., who was killed in a shooting earlier that year. The song weaves together melodies from the deceased’s favorite songs.

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23. Wave Goodbye — Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell released “Wave Goodbye” in 1999 as a tribute to his late friend Jeff Buckley. In it, he expresses the difficulty of finding the words to express the love and grief of a late friend. Ultimately, he says he can’t put the feelings into words and can only wave goodbye. 

24. Stars — Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter composed the song “Stars” to help with her grieving process for a friend. Though she never divulged the exact circumstances around her friend’s death, she implied that she had died by suicide and that it had been long expected. She said she wrote the song to help the next person trying to process their grief. 

25. I Wish — R. Kelly

“I Wish” is a song about all the people who the rapper lost in his life, from family members to friends. A remix was released entitled “I Wish.” The lyrics express the fruitless longing of wanting to go back to the memories of lost loved ones.

26. Roll on John — Bob Dylan

As musical contemporaries, Bob Dylan and John Lennon crossed paths many times over the years. After Lennon was murdered in 1980, Dylan contemplated writing a tribute to him. But it wasn’t until he toured Lennon’s childhood home in 2009 that he was inspired to write “Roll On John.” 

27. Black Gives Way to Blue — Alice in Chains 

The song “Black Gives Way To Blue” was recorded by Alice In Chains as a tribute to their late lead singer, Layne Staley. The lyrics are intended to be hopeful, describing how after the long night of grief, the morning sky appears and promises a new day.

28. Mike’s Song — Walk Off The Earth

Canadian indie band Walk Off The Earth composed “Mike’s Song” in honor of their late member Mike Taylor. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2018 at the age of 51. Known to fans as “Beard Guy,” Taylor was known for his deep voice, his talent on instruments such as guitar, piano, and organ, and his stoic demeanor on camera. 

29. The Message — Dr. Dre

“The Message” was recorded by Dr. Dre for his late brother, Tyree. Tyree was killed in 1989 while trying to quell a street fight. Dr. Dre names him explicitly in the song’s intro, saying “This one is for my brother Tyree, R.I.P.” Though it is specifically about a sibling, many of the lyrics can also be applied to losing a friend. 

30. No One But You (Only The Good Die Young) — Queen

“No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)” was the band Queen’s song released in honor of their late lead singer, Freddie Mercury. He passed away in 1991 at the age of 45 from complications of AIDS. Elton John was invited to play the piano accompaniment to the song after performing a tribute concert to Mercury. 

31. To Where You Are — Josh Groban

Josh Groban’s haunting ballad “To Where You Are” describes how difficult it is to understand that loved ones are really gone. The song is about how you still feel their presence and it seems like they’re just around the corner. The poignant lyrics say: “I feel you all around me… A breath away’s not far to where you are.” 

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32. Life Without You — Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble

Stevie Ray Vaughn wrote “Life Without You” in honor of his late friend Charley Wirz. The song addresses the deceased directly, expressing the grief of losing him. But the lyrics go on to urge him to go ahead, saying that the angels are waiting for him and it’s time for him to be at peace.

33. J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)— Green Day

“J.A.R.” stands for Jason Andrew Relva, a friend of Green Day member Mike Dirnt. Relva died in a car crash at the age of 19, though Dirndt speculated that he may have died by suicide. The song expresses not only the singer’s grief over the loss of his friend, but also the knowledge that everyone’s life could end at any moment, and we never know when death is coming. 

34. Who Knew — Pink

P!nk said she wrote “Who Knew” in honor of a friend she lost to a drug overdose. The song expresses how shocked she would have been to know that she was about to die and how much she wishes she could have one more moment with her friend. 

35. Sissy’s Song — Alan Jackson

“Sissy’s Song” was written in honor of Leslie Fitzgerald, a housecleaner who went by Sissy and worked for Alan Jackson. She was killed unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident, prompting Jackson to compose the ballad in her honor.

He recorded a simple version of the track to play at her funeral before recording a final version for distribution. It just goes to show that we can find meaningful friendships in all kinds of places.

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36. Connecticut Steps — Into It. Over It.

One of the most difficult parts of mourning is having to go through it alone. The song “Connecticut Steps” was written about the death of a friend of lead singer Evan Thomas Weiss. The song lyrics describe what it was like to learn the tragic news and feel like no one else understood how deeply he was grieving. 

37. My House — Lou Reed

“My House” is a eulogy to Lou Reed’s friend and former teacher, who died suddenly from a heart attack at just 52. The lyrics sound like a poem, full of beautiful imagery to describe his friend.

Reed says that now that the friend is dead, his spirit continues to live in his house, making it more beautiful every day. Whether you can relate to that specific sentiment or not, you have to admit it’s a touching tribute. 

38. Etta’s Tune — Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash, daughter of the late Johnny Cash, is a talented musician in her own right. This beautiful song was a tribute to Etta Grant, the wife of one of her father’s bandmates. Cash said that Etta and her husband were like foster parents to her after her own father’s death.

The first line of the song is “What’s the temperature, darlin’?” which is what Grant always asked her first thing in the morning after having an aneurysm. 

39. See You Again — Carrie Underwood

Though Carrie Underwood doesn’t sing religious songs, she has never been shy about hiding her personal beliefs. For people who believe in an afterlife, the thought of seeing a lost loved one again can be a huge comfort. “See You Again” is about holding onto the hope of meeting again in heaven and knowing that being parted by death isn’t the end of the story.

40. Pretty Angry — Blues Traveler

Sadness and loneliness aren’t the only emotions that come with grieving a friend. It is also common to feel angry—angry at a higher being, angry at the person who died, or just angry at the unfairness of life.

This Blues Traveler song is dedicated to the band’s former bass player, who died from a drug overdose. He happened to be in the midst of an unresolved argument with his brother, and his death caused a host of complex emotions for his friends and family. 

41. I’ll Remember You — Bob Dylan

“I’ll Remember You” is a simple and sweet farewell to a friend who is gone. The lyrics don’t specify what happened—whether the friend passed away, moved, or lost touch. However, they do include the line: “There’s some people that, You don’t forget, Even though you’ve only seen ‘em, One time or two.” We’ll never know who Dylan wrote the song for, but they clearly left an imprint on his life.