20 Songs About Being a Man and Masculinity

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

Society has long put many constraints on how men can act. Thankfully, in the past few decades, artists have begun to call out society and embrace their own versions of masculinity — while bashing toxic masculinity in the process.

In this article, we’ve listed 20 songs about being a man and masculinity. From “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure to more empowering songs like “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, this list has introspective songs and powerful hits!

1. “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy

“The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy, first released in 1976, was initially inspired by a gang in the band’s hometown. However, the song has taken on many new meanings since its inception in the 1970s.

Now, so many people listen to this song — and it can often be seen as one of the best male empowerment songs. Try listening to this song and not being pumped up or energized!

2. “Samaritans” by IDLES

“Samaritans” by IDLES talks about toxic masculinity and real masculinity. The song opens with the band going through all of the toxic things boys are taught at a young age. However, as the song goes on, the singer explains that he wants to cry — and that doesn’t make him any less of a man!

The band also goes on to sing, “The mask of masculinity / Is a mask, a mask that’s wearing me.”

3. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

The classic song “My Way” by Frank Sinatra is often touted as the type of music real men listen to. In this track, Sinatra sings about his life. Sure, he’s made mistakes — but he’ll never kneel to another. Instead, he’ll be his own man and do things his way!

He sings, “For what is a man, what has he got? / If not himself, then he has naught / To say the things he truly feels / And not the words of one who kneels.”

4. “Nobody’s Hero” by Rush

In “Nobody’s Hero”, Rush explores what truly makes someone a hero. At the beginning of the song, the singer describes a friend he used to know. This man was gay and unfortunately died from AIDs. The singer talks about what it is to be a man, and how masculinity is often portrayed in these situations.

So, he sings, ”I knew he was different in his sexuality / I went to his parties as a straight minority / It never seemed a threat to my masculinity / He only introduced me to a wider reality.”

5. “One Man Can Change the World” by Big Sean

“One Man Can Change the World” by Big Sean, which also features John Legend and Kanye West, explores how any man could do something wonderful with his life. Big Sean talks about his own life and his influences, as well as his struggles.

Above all else, no matter what, he never wants to forget what others told him: “Remember one thing, that one man could change the world.”

6. “Friday Fighting” by Sam Fender

In “Friday Fighting”, Sam Fender describes what his hometown in England was like during bar crawls. Everyone is out for the weekend and looking to blow off steam after a long week at work. As a result, many people end up in fights.

Fender takes the time to talk about masculinity in these situations. He sings, “On the corner with the reprobates / That you will call your mates for all the years you’ll waste / This toxic masculinity / It’s all that I can see in floods of thirsty streets.”

7. “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure

1979’s “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure is definitely one of the best songs about masculinity! Throughout the song, the singer describes situations that hurt him and break his heart. He feels so lost and alone, as he wants to beg for forgiveness but knows he can’t. Because of society and what he’s been taught, he hides his emotions.

So, he sings, “I try to laugh about it / Hiding the tears in my eyes / ‘Cause boys don’t cry.”

8. “Man In the Mirror” by Michael Jackson

“Man In the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, released in 1988, follows the singer as he sings about wanting to change. This song is all about being a good man. As Jackson wants to be a good man, he realizes that he has to start working on himself from within to bring about good in the world.

He sings the lyrics, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways / And no message could have been any clearer / If you wanna make the world a better place.”

9. “The Man” by The Killers

“The Man” by The Killers explores male empowerment as the band sings about being the best man around. The singer explains all of the things he has, such as money and gas in his car. He also explains that he doesn’t care about the other men — mere boys — around him. They’re nothing compared to him.

So, he sings, “I got skin in the game / I got a household name / I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man.”

10. “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens

1970’s “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens, which appears on the album Tea For the Tillerman, explores the relationship between a father and son. The father doesn’t want his son to leave him and move on with his life. The son, meanwhile, feels that he must leave if he’s to become his own man.

11. “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)” by Elton John

While “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)” by Elton John mainly talks about an astronaut in space, the song can also be seen as a reflection of what it is to be a man in everyday life.

For example, many men struggle with how they are perceived at home versus who they really are. This can be seen in the lyrics, “And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time / ‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find / I’m not the man they think I am at home.”

12. “Song For You” by Chicago

1980’s “Song For You” by Chicago opens with the lyrics, “Want you to know, I’m a man / Say the words and I’ll say it again / Want you to know, I’m a man you can depend upon / That’s all, all I am.”

The singer explains to the one that he loves that he’ll always be there for her. That’s just the type of man he is. She never has to worry about his love for her!

13. “King of the Whole Wide World” by Elvis Presley

In “King of the Whole Wide World”, Elvis Presley describes what really makes a man. While some want money and others want fame, Presley sings that only one type of man can really be king. He sings, “But the man who can sing when he hasn’t got a thing / He’s the king of the whole wide world.”

14. “Better Man” by Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges’ song “Better Man” follows the singer as he struggles to be a better man. He wants to be the type of man that his love can rely on. The song opens with the lyrics, “I don’t want much / I just wanna be a better man / To my baby.”

However, Bridges goes on to explain why he’s not a good man. He wants to win his love back — but he might not be successful in this task, thanks to his misdeeds.

15. “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons

“Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons explores the difficulties in maturing and eventually growing up. The band also sings about how we shouldn’t be so prideful. Instead, we should give love to the people who have always supported us — rather than only pay attention to our own ego and pride.

At the beginning of the song, the band talks about how some men may struggle as they grow up. They were stronger and braver when they were kids. The band sings, “Weep for yourself, my man / You’ll never be what is in your heart / Weep Little Lion Man / You’re not as brave as you were at the start.”

16. “Guys Like Me” by Eric Church

“Guys Like Me” by Eric Church explores an interesting romantic relationship. Church sings about how he’s a regular country boy. He can’t imagine why a sophisticated city girl fell in love with him, as he’s not the type of man he thinks she’d be used to.

Church goes on to describe country men like him, singing the lyrics, “Cause guys like me drink too many beers on Friday after work / Our best blue jeans have Skoal rings / We wear our boots to church / So rough around the edges.”

17. “Born a Man” by Bee Gees

1966’s “Born a Man” by Bee Gees follows the band as they sing about how happy they are to be men. The singer explains that his father told him about his role in life as a young boy. Now, as he gets older, he realizes that he’s glad he was born a man.

Repeatedly throughout the song, the band sings, “I’m glad I am born a man.”

18. “Good Hearted Man” by Fats Domino

1961’s “Good Hearted Man” by Fats Domino explores the end of a relationship. Fats Domino explains that this partner truly hurt him. She treated him terribly — and he doesn’t know why she would do this to him. He explains that he’s a good man, singing that she shouldn’t have hurt him, “Because a good man is hard to find.”

19. “This Charming Man” by The Smiths

In “This Charming Man”, The Smiths describe the meeting of a poor young boy and a rich older man. This rich man has his whole entire life together. So, he takes the poor boy under his wing and gives him some advice about life.

The younger boy is seemingly in awe of this older man, singing that he knows about everything. He’s also charming and never seems to have any worries.

20. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

While anyone can find inspiration in “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, many men can find comfort in this song and compare it to their own uniquely masculine life. The band sings about how they have to leave those they love behind, as they cannot be tied down. They are a bird that must always fly and travel around.

The band then sings the memorable lyrics, “’Cause I’m as free as a bird now / And this bird you cannot change.”