No matter what anyone says, men face challenges in their lives that can be hard to overcome. Doing it and becoming a good man, rather than just some dude, is a challenge unto itself. What masculinity and being a real man mean can depend on who you ask. In this article, we’ll examine that question by looking at 51 songs about men, masculinity, and being a man.
1. What A Man – Linda Lyndell
Linda Lyndell’s classic hit is all about admiring a great man in your life. His love is something that sustains her and amazes her, empowering her and making her feel like she can do absolutely anything. It’s an all-time classic track and frankly a great baseball walkup song as well.
2. The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy
The Boys Are Back In Town is a fun rocker from Thin Lizzy that was released as the first single from their 1976 album Jailbreak. Plenty of theories revolving around the inspiration of the song are out there, but it seems to just be a feel-good track about a group of boys finally making it home and everyone celebrating despite knowing about their wild streak.
3. Man In The Mirror – Michael Jackson
A real man knows how to look at himself in the mirror and admit the shortcomings in their life. This Michael Jackson song is about doing just that, identifying where you’re failing and becoming the change you want to see in the world. And the list of things he wants to see change starts with the man looking back at him in the mirror.
4. Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top
Everyone’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man. In all honesty, the way you dress impacts the way people treat you in a lot of cases, so ZZ Top was giving some solid advice with this song. Especially if you take into account women wanting to be with you more because you actually know how to groom and dress yourself. Take notes.
5. It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls
The Weather Girls scored a big hit with the song It’s Raining Men, which is probably meant to be a sly track about having a bunch of handsome men around for them to pick from. But could you imagine how scary it would be for it to literally rain men from the sky?
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6. Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
Most of the time, you expect a preacher and their children to be pretty well-behaved, but in reality, those kids are often the troublemakers in a congregation. For whatever reason, they tend to have a wild streak about them that needs to breathe. This is exactly what Dusty Springfield was talking about in Son Of A Preacher Man.
7. Real Good Man – Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw has never been apologetic about having a wild streak in his personality, though he gets pretty close on a few occasions when it concerns the people he actually loves. Real Good Man focuses more on the “Take me or leave me” attitude a lot of men have where they don’t plan on changing their ways, but they promise to do right by you if you give them a chance. “He might be a bit rough around the edges, but he’s still a good man at heart” is the main point of the song.
8. Simple Man – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man is a legendary song that has been covered by a number of artists over the years, and it’s an amazing bit of Southern rock advice for how men should live their lives. It takes the perspective of a mother trying to warn her son about the pitfalls of life and give him a bit of confidence when he’s feeling down on himself.
9. Macho Man – Village People
Village People’s Macho Man was more of an anthem than anything else, but it does touch on the way men all want to have a fit physique—even if we don’t do much to attain one. But it also brings up that a lot of fit dudes have an ego about how in shape they are, which is something that happens almost every time.
10. The Man – Aloe Blacc
Men crave some form of recognition, especially when they’ve worked hard to get where they’re at. Aloe Blacc’s song The Man was a huge hit for him and is an announcement to the world that he’s finally made it to where he wants to be.
11. Man In Black – Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash often performed wearing black, which is why he got the title, Man In Black. However, it was this song that explained why he did it. He wore black in solidarity with all the people who were struggling in life, whether they were poor or in prison because he knew what it was like despite the fame and his great music career elevating him from those ranks.
12. The Man I Want To Be – Chris Young
Chris Young’s song The Man I Want To Be is from the perspective of a man who’s lost it all and just wants one more chance to make things right. He finally hit rock bottom and is desperately praying to be able to change into the man he wants to be, rather than the type of man he knows he has been.
13. Piano Man – Billy Joel
Piano Man was a great song from Billy Joel that was all about his experiences as the man behind the piano in a hotel bar. It talks about all the people he met, the conversations they had, and the way it made him reflect on his own life. Oh, and almost every person mentioned in the track was a real-life person he interacted with at some point.
14. One Man Can Change The World – Big Sean Feat. Kanye West And John Legend
One Man Can Change The World is a soulful ballad about the impact one person can have on your life. We all need a positive influence, especially when we’re struggling to find our place in the world or achieve our goals. This song is a testament to the people in Big Sean’s life who helped him climb to the top.
15. My Way – Frank Sinatra
A “My way or the highway” attitude is something you find in men that isn’t always the best option. But every man lives for the ability to live their life on their own terms. Whether that be in how their relationship works or the jobs they take on, it’s a dream for most men despite many sacrificing it to do what they have to do. Frank Sinatra’s My Way is a happy song about living that out, setting a roadmap of how to do it.
16. A Country Boy Can Survive – Hank Williams, Jr.
Men, typically, are expected to be able to take care of themselves and their families no matter what hardships come their way. Whether it’s the very art of survival or just being able to put food on the table, the responsibility often falls in their lap. In this Hank Williams, Jr. song, he lauds the ability of country folks to be able to fend for themselves when the rest of the world goes to crap.
17. Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard’s Mama Tried is all about the influence a mother can have on a man’s life. It’s from the perspective of a man who’s messed up so bad he’s in jail for the rest of his life, but as he sits there, he contemplates how he went wrong and the people who tried to steer him in the right direction. He fell into the trap of masculinity, acting poorly because he thought it was what made him a man.
18. The Man – The Killers
Most of the time, men are expected to be almost emotionless. They don’t feel pain, they don’t break down, and they’re supposed to be the unshakable foundation for other people in their lives. These are all found in examples of The Killers’ song The Man. It is a confidence builder though if you’re feeling down on yourself.
19. I’m The Man – 50 Cent Feat. Chris Brown
50 Cent’s I’m The Man is another song about the come-up. He was born into nothing, but turned his life into an empire with his skills, overcoming a ridiculous number of challenges and not listening to anyone who told him he wouldn’t make it.
20. Better Man – Leon Bridges
Men are undeniably simple creatures. And sometimes, all we want is to be a better version of ourselves. Whether that be for a partner or just to be able to look ourselves in the mirror. Leon Bridges’ Better Man is about trying to be good enough for the woman in his life, wondering what he can do to finally feel sufficient and not run her down so much.
21. Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure
There are very few situations where men are socially permitted to cry. And though that’s a narrative that is changing with new generations, it’s a foundational societal expectation. The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry focuses on that, as the narrator is dealing with a bad breakup in the song but laughs it off to fight away the tears that are welling up in his eyes.
22. Good Hearted Man – Fats Domino
Some men don’t deserve the hand they’re dealt, whether that’s in life or relationships. It feels like it’s the good men who get hurt the most often, which is the topic of Fats Domino’s single Good Hearted Man. A good man is hard to find, and she should be ashamed to have caused so much pain for one.
23. When A Man Loves A Woman – Michael Bolton
It’s also true that when a man loves a woman, she becomes the focal point of his life. He’ll give up whatever he has to for her and overcome whatever challenge is in front of him for a chance with her. Michael Bolton’s song is all about how a man will give up every possession he has, every bit of money, and all his time and effort just to be with the one he loves.
24. He Didn’t Have To Be – Brad Paisley
He Didn’t Have To Be was a heartfelt song from Brad Paisley about what it truly means to be a man. In this case, it was about a stepfather stepping in and becoming the parental figure he needed as a child, even though the man who did it had no obligation to do so. It’s a powerful message for men everywhere about the impact our choices can have and how important we can become in other’s lives if we are willing to be there for them.
25. Brotha – Angie Stone
Angie Stone’s song Brotha is about how she sees the male portion of the African-American community and is essentially a song praising them throughout. It was the second track to come from her Mahogany Soul album and came with an excellent music video.
26. What Would I Do If I Could Feel? – Ne-Yo
If you need a list of things men are typically not allowed to do in society, What Would I Do If I Could Feel? by Ne-Yo provides a pretty good one. It almost feels like he’s expressing the feelings of millions of men that feel the need to be stoic, or else be perceived as weak by all the people around them.
27. Pretty Boys – Joe Jackson
There’s also a fair bit of jealousy among men, as many don’t feel that the ones in ads or on TV are particularly manly. They’re just good-looking. Joe Jackson’s Pretty Boys is a song that goes pretty in-depth on those feelings about how unfair life can be towards men if their looks don’t fit into a certain mold.
28. Father and Son – Cat Stevens
There’s always a point when boys grow into men that they begin to feel the need to beat their own path in life. Father And Son by Cat Stevens dives into this formative period by describing the break between a father and son who just can’t seem to understand each other.
29. Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons
Mumford And Sons’ debut single was a dark one. It’s about the difficulties that people experience as they grow older and the damage that they bring into their own lives through pride and stubbornness, two qualities that are traditionally masculine flaws. One day, those actions will be regretted.
30. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) – Elton John
Elton John’s Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time) is one of the most famous tracks of all time. It’s basically a song that describes the way men feel about putting on a different face at home and out in the world. We’re expected to act differently in both, and sometimes, it’s easy to lose yourself in the multiple aspects of your life.
31. Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
One of the most manly professions you can do is to become a cowboy. For some, it’s a man’s dream, spending time out in nature, being strong, and never complaining. But Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings warn mothers against letting their children be cowboys, as they’ll never be around, and even when they are, they won’t be particularly present.
32. Hard Workin’ Man – Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn’s Hard Workin’ Man is a tribute to all the men working blue-collar jobs out there. It feels impossible to get ahead, but they keep busting their butt just to have a little bit of happiness and make sure the people in their lives are taken care of. Those Friday-night escapades are a necessary release and the only way to keep their mental state in line.
33. Dark – Zach Bryan
Dark is an old, unreleased song from new country star Zach Bryan that can only be found on SoundCloud. It talks about the depression men deal with and how they bottle it up and deal with it so it doesn’t get taken out on the people in their lives. The narrator has been through hell, making him who he is now, but he’s trying despite it not being enough.
34. Ramblin’ Man – The Allman Brothers Band
A ramblin’ man is a man who spends all his time on the road, going from place to place, and enjoying a rougher lifestyle than people would expect. This Allman Brothers Band song is about chasing the freedom that comes with the lifestyle despite the toll it takes on the people who care about you.
35. Zimmer: A Man for All Seasons – Robbie Williams
Zimmer: A Man For All Seasons was a song released for the 2003 film Johnny English. It’s generally a track that describes a dream dude that has everything in his life. He’s a spy, he keeps people safe, and he works on secret missions. It’s a good movie too, so check that out.
36. I’m Your Man – Michael Bublé
Michael Bublé’s I’m Your Man is a song about how men will do whatever is asked of them by their lovers. Whatever she needs, he’s going to do his best to provide. Whether it be someone to fight for them or someone to just sit and listen to their problems, he’s going to adapt to the necessary role.
37. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ – Judas Priest
Judas Priest’s song You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ is all about resiliency in the face of challenges. No matter what gets thrown their way, they’re willing to handle it, and if you think you’re going to have your way with them, you’ve got another thing coming your way.
38. Common Man – John Conlee
Common Man was a hit single for John Conlee that was recorded in 1981 and released a year after. It’s a sign meant to relate to the everyday guy just trying to get through life. Whatever is needed of him, he’s going to be a dependable option to call. And he plans on staying that way for his entire life.
39. Tough Little Boys – Gary Allan
Gary Allan’s Tough Little Boys is a song that covers the evolution of men throughout their lives. Young men feel the need to prove themselves manly, never crying or backing down. But once they have kids, they turn into babies again and end up crying at big events in their kid’s lives like graduation or marriage.
40. (I’m A Stand) By My Woman Man – Ronnie Milsap
A good man might be hard to find, but the one in Ronnie Milsap’s song here is one we could all use in our lives. He makes sure to never make his wife doubt his love and is just as much a friend for her as he is a lover. It’s a beautiful track about being an actual adult and the right way to handle a relationship.
41. It’s a Man’s Man’s World – James Brown
It’s A Man’s Man’s World is actually a song that lauds the impact of women in the world. While James Brown lists off all the accomplishments and inventions of men that make our everyday lives as good as they are, he relays that it would be nothing without women. Without the right woman, a man just gets lost in bitterness and darkness.
42. Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind – Kellie Pickler
Kellie Pickler’s song Things That Never Cross A Man’s Mind is an inside look at how women see the way men think. It’s literally a laundry list of the things women tend to worry about or consider that men wouldn’t think twice—or even once—about.
43. Can’t Keep A Good Man Down – Alabama
Alabama’s Can’t Keep A Good Man Down is all about the resiliency of men when life knocks them down. In this particular song, he’s been left by his lover. But the general feeling of picking yourself up and moving on is exactly what most men are expected to do.
44. With Arms Wide Open – Creed
With Arms Wide Open is the song that best describes what it feels like to find out you’re a father, if you’re happy about it that is. The narrator is overjoyed that he’s going to have a child and realizes that now everything has changed and they have to be the best version of themselves.
45. To Be A Man – Dax
Being lonely is an issue that everyone goes through, but it seems to affect men more than it does women. Dax tries to explain what it’s like to walk a lonely road in his song To Be A Man, giving exactly the perspective and thoughts of a guy going through a tough time.
46. Boys in the Better Land – Fontaine D.C.
Boys In The Better Land was the 10th song on Fontaine D.C.’s album Dogrel and shares a lot of themes with other signs found there. It was written after an encounter with a cabbie in Dublin that had a big impact on the artist.
47. Typical Male – Tina Turner
Tina Turner’s Typical Male is an interesting description of the males of the world from a woman’s perspective. She believes—correctly in the song—that she can use her looks to get what she wants.
48. The Man – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s song The Man is essentially her talking about how different her life would be if she was a man. She got a lot of criticism that was often simply because she was a woman, so this track was something of a release valve for her to express her frustrations.
49. Small Town Southern Man – Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson’s Small Town Southern Man is another great country tribute to the men who work hard for their families and are just trying to do their best to be good people.
50. Guys Like Me – Eric Church
Men tend to be simple creatures. We like certain things and get set in our ways. But it isn’t the big moments that do it for us, it’s the small ones. Eric Church’s Guys Like Me was a song that might have been written about a lot of his own preferences, but it was a track that a lot of guys related to because they felt the exact same way.
51. I’m Still A Guy – Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley’s I’m Still A Guy was a—hopefully—satirical song about how manly men view the world and the things around them. And just because you dress them up doesn’t mean you’re going to change the way they think.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.