Like it or not, humankind believes in signs. We are always looking for meaning, and sometimes, that means looking for the universe to show us what we are supposed to do. For some people, that means seeing signs in superstitions, while others ask a higher power to show them a sign.
Whatever you believe or not, you can probably relate to these desires. These 25 songs about signs express all the ways that we try to find our way.
1. Gimme Little Sign — Brenton Wood
“Gimme Little Sign” is a 1966 track that is all about trying to read the subtle signs of love. The singer speaks directly to a woman he loves and begs her not to lead him on, but instead, show him the right signs if she wants him to reciprocate. He lists the common signs that potential lovers drop one another: physical affection, companionship, and tender words. If she shows him these signs, he says, he will know that they belong to one another.
2. Signs — Five Man Electrical Band
“Signs” by Five Man Electrical Band was released back in 1970 but tells a story that we can all still relate to today. The title mainly refers to physical signs, which list various rules expected by society. These include “No Trespassing” and “Membership Required.”
But as the song goes on, it becomes clear that these literal signs are also metaphorical signs of hypocrisy and judgment from people who think that they’re superior. The song has been covered many times by other artists, some of whom have added their own lyrics.
3. The Sign — Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters’ song “The Sign” compares being in love to worship. The singer says he has no religion but the person he loves does, and they will follow with a religious devotion—provided, of course, that he or she gives them a sign.
The song draws a clever parallel between prayers asking God for a sign of his approval and potential lovers showing signs of interest. We don’t know what the sign is—and neither does the singer—but he firmly believes that it will provide him with all the answers he needs.
4. SIGNS — Demun Jones Featuring Struggle Jennings
Demun Jones’ song “SIGNS” is a mixed metaphor, describing both literal street signs and signs that show you are heading in the right direction. It also ties this image into the idea of religious faith and trusting in God, with lyrics: “So boy you better pay attention when I give you signs, Now pick up the pace and show ’em all you got the spine, It’s blasphemous not to use the tools that I designed.”
His ultimate conclusion is that as long as he continues following the signs on his path through life, no matter how obscure they are, everything will turn out right.
5. The Sign — Ace of Base
Ace Of Base released “The Sign” in 1993 and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo that year. The song is about recognizing the signs that a relationship isn’t meant to be: “I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes.” However, the composers said the song was meant to be open to interpretation since everyone sees signs in their own life that cause them to change their path.
6. Give Me a Sign — Breaking Benjamin
“Give Me A Sign” depicts a person pleading with the stars to show them what they should do. They say that they don’t believe in a higher power, but they are desperate enough to call out to one if it’s really there.
The lyrics seem to imply that the singer just went through a breakup, losing the person he thought he was meant to be with forever. However, they are ambiguous enough to be about the death of a loved one or something else entirely. Whatever the true meaning, the song is a perfect example of how we all look for guidance during our darkest moments.
7. Signs of Life — Arcade Fire
“Signs Of Life” is about people who are stuck in their youth, never moving forward. They act like they are living, but ultimately they can’t grow or change—or even find any lasting happiness. The title is metaphorical, referring to signs of meaning in life. It may refer both to these people’s search for a purpose and to the people themselves, since being trapped in the past means that they are figuratively “dead.”
8. Sign o’ The Times — Prince
“Sign O’ The Times” is a 1987 song about social and political issues, including the AIDS crisis, the threat of nuclear war, the war on drugs, gang violence, and the explosion of the Challenger. While it is largely a commentary on the sometimes strange and bewildering events of the 1980s, the title draws on inspiration from doomsday cults. These cults see current events, especially tragedies and disasters, as signs of the end of the world.
Prince’s lyrics suggest that there might be something to these beliefs and that the world is coming to an end—if not because of the Second Coming, then because of the violence and warfare detailed in the song.
9. Tell Tale Signs — Kylie Minogue
Many songs about signs describe the signs of falling in love. Kylie Minogue’s 1989 song is about the opposite. It describes a couple falling out of love with each other and reflecting on the signs that should have made them realize that the spark was gone. These include forgetting anniversaries, never saying “I love you,” and no longer kissing or holding hands.
However, the song ends on a slightly hopeful note as the couple decides to try to regain the love that they’ve lost.
10. Signs — Shriekback
“Signs” is a 1992 song by British band Shriekback. It describes some of the things that people think of as signs—in other words, the labels they assign to people and places. It seems to describe what people would think of as a “bad” neighborhood or “unsavory” people, including black clothing, earrings, graffiti, hairstyles, leather, and drugs.
The song contrasts these with the “signs” of a prosperous person, illustrating the absurdity of judging people by arbitrary things.
11. Warning Sign — Coldplay
“Warning Sign” is a song by Coldplay that recalls a past relationship. The singer describes how he was looking for a sign that it was time to leave his ex, only to realize that he was actually just looking for an excuse. Now, he regrets losing her and wishes that he could go back to her. It is a stark warning to anyone who tries to escape the consequences of their actions by blaming the universe instead of taking accountability.
12. Sign of The Times — Harry Styles
Harry Styles’ 2017 song “Sign Of The Times” is surprisingly dark and melancholy. It seems to describe apocalyptic horrors and warfare and coldly tells the listener not to cry, as it all is simply “a sign of the times.”
The lyrics are cloaked in ambiguity and listeners have interpreted them in many different ways. Interestingly, Styles said that it is actually a metaphor for a mother dying in childbirth and having only a few minutes to tell her child to go on without her.
13. Signs — Drake
Drake’s 2017 song “Signs” describes a person realizing that their lifestyle isn’t sustainable and that it is time to slow down. They recognize the signs of pushing themselves too hard and partying too much, such as staying up all night and drinking champagne at breakfast.
People who have dealt with a party lifestyle and addiction can likely relate to noticing the signs that their behavior had turned into a serious problem. Ultimately, no one can push themselves that hard and remain healthy or happy.
14. Sign of The Gypsy Queen — April Wine
“Sign Of The Gypsy Queen” is a 1981 song that tells the story of a Romani woman who can predict the future. Not only do her prophecies bring signs as they come true, but so does her mere presence. People know that she is coming to bring them their fate when they see thunderstorms brewing. Most of them try to run, hiding from their destiny in the shadows. We never find out if they manage to escape her, but we can imagine how it ends.
15. The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” is undoubtedly one of the most famous songs of all time. Released in 1964, the song is a warning to everyone to recognize the signs of a changing world and act on them.
Dylan drew on the events of the Civil Rights Movement and the Counterculture Movement of the 1960s for inspiration, and even directly called out political leaders in his lyrics. Despite this, the song isn’t purely a political protest song but also a prophecy of doom for those who fight cultural change.
16. Warning Signs — Band of Horses
“Warning Signs” was inspired by a real event, during which the Band Of Horses frontman lost his voice onstage in Sydney, Australia in 2016. He broke into tears in front of the crowd, which led him to recognize signs of burnout in his life.
The song draws a comparison to other ways that we might notice this and how when we are really struggling, even keeping our composure at work can be difficult. But when these basic things fall apart, we know that it is a sign of something much more serious.
17. Looking For a Good Sign — Hall & Oates
“Looking For A Good Sign” is about feeling led on by a person that you have feelings for. The lyrics describe getting mixed signals and not knowing which ones are real. The singer is looking for a good sign to initiate a romance, but for now, they feel frustrated, wondering what they are supposed to believe.
The song is up for interpretation: are they seeing the signs that they want to see or are they being led on by the person they love?
18. Signs — Neil Diamond
This poetic song is about how signs from the universe are all around us. They affect our lives no matter where we live or who we are, whether rich or poor. Neil Diamond’s lyrics describe how these signs are what unite us as the human race because they show our shared destiny. They are there for all of us to read as long as we are open to them.
However, he concludes that some of us will never pay attention closely enough to know when they are speaking to us.
19. Signs — Creed
Ironically, “Signs” seems to be a song chiding people for reading signs where there are none. Though the lyrics are ambiguous, they state: “This is not about age… This is not about race… This is not about sex… Can’t you see the signs?”
Some people think that the song is a message to those who read these meanings into other Creed songs, in an ultimate twist of irony. Others interpret it as a warning to notice the signs of bigotry and hatred in society before it’s too late.
20. Julius — Phish
“Julius” is written from the perspective of a person who has received a prophecy of danger coming to them. But without knowing what will happen or how it will come, they see signs of danger everywhere.
Without knowing which signs are truly signs and which are only in their imagination, they do not know what to do. We never find out if the signs are true or whether the singer meets their prophesied fate.
21. Ravens — Mount Eerie
“Ravens” is part love song, part dirge. The song was written about the singer’s late wife, who died of cancer. At the beginning of the song, he describes encountering two ravens. He had the feeling that they were a sign of tragedy coming their way but had no idea what they symbolized.
Ravens have long been considered a sign of impending doom. Even if you don’t really believe in that, it’s hard not to draw connections to signs of tragedy before it strikes.
22. Signs — Homospouses
This song by the band Homospouses names the many signs in the world that signify other things. For the human race, a baby crying isn’t just a noise, but a symbol of life and birth. We see meaning in every part of life, from the big to the small.
The lyrics draw attention to all the small things that symbolize more important themes to us, many of which we might not even realize anymore. Ultimately, the song concludes that both love and hatred are signs of humanity.
23. Signs of Life — Steven Curtis Chapman
“Signs Of Life” asks the question: how do we know there are living beings nearby? The singer compares flying to a strange planet to seeing the signs of life in his own yard and wonders how we would truly know if there was life on another planet.
He asks if the signs of life are truly just physical things we leave behind, or if they are actually more about evidence of love, compassion, and unity. Ultimately, the song asks: what are we really living for?
24. Signs & Symbols — Ishmael I
“Signs & Symbols” is about mankind’s search for meaning. We are always looking for signs that the universe is real and intentional, especially when it comes to love. The singer lists some of the beliefs, mythologies, and superstitions that we follow and how we use them to answer the questions we need to know.
Ultimately, he concludes that the signs are indeed there if we look for them—love is evident all around us, though we might not recognize the signs of it at first.
25. It’s a Sign — Teenage Fanclub
Scottish band Teenage Fanclub released “It’s A Sign” in 2016. The meaning of the lyrics is a bit ambiguous. But the song seems to describe how the singer recognizes that they love their partner and know they are meant to be together.
How do they know this, exactly? They see the signs in their emotions and in the actions of the person they love and conclude that she will lead them to “find [their] soul.” The song is complex and layered, hearkening back to how people can’t always describe what made them know their partner was “the one.”