20 Songs About Codependency

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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.

When musicians have realized they’ve become codependent on something, they’ve often turned to their craft and created songs about their feelings. Below, we’ve compiled a list of 20 songs about codependency.

These songs narrate stories about people that are dependent on other people, things, or situations!

1. “Like Smoke” by Amy Winehouse and Nas

In this collaboration between Amy Winehouse and Nas, Winehouse sings about her love for a man. She goes back and forth about how she feels about him in the song “Like Smoke”. First, she discusses that she doesn’t really love him.

Instead of confessing her love, she explains that she just needed company. That’s the only reason she’s with him. She didn’t want to get dependent on him.

But in the next lines, we learn that she really does like him — and she possibly lied about saying she wasn’t dependent on him. In reality, she is.

2. “Suffer the Children” by Tears For Fears

Tears For Fears released their song “Suffer the Children” on their 1985 album The Hurting. In this song, the band discusses how children can be codependent on their parents, as they have nobody else in the world.

In the chorus, the band sings the lyrics, “He’s an only child in an only room / And he’s dependant on you”. Children can’t just be dependent on someone. They are dependent on their parents — and sometimes, their parents aren’t accurately helping their child, which this song points out. 

3. “In the Night” by The Weeknd

The Weeknd’s 2015 song “In the Night” was inspired by the real-life tragic story of Marilyn Monroe. As the song begins, we learn about this fictional woman, inspired by Monroe.

The Weeknd sings about how this woman is young, alone, and made many mistakes. He also sings, “She was numb and she was so co-dependent”.

As the song discusses a woman attempting to live after an assault, this line can be interpreted in many ways. The woman is attempting to live her life; often, to feel safe, she becomes codependent on others. 

4. “Not In That Way” by Sam Smith

In Sam Smith’s 2014 ballad “Not In That Way”, we learn about someone who has fallen in love with another person. However, this person doesn’t love them in the same way. They love them as a friend, not as a romantic partner.

Smith touches on codependency and how much they need the other person in this song, as well. The lyrics say, “And I hate to say I need you / I’m so reliant, I’m so dependent, I’m such a fool”.

5. “Mortal Man” by Kendrick Lamar

In Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 song “Mortal Man”, he talks about loyalty amongst his fans and families. He mentions many notable figures throughout human history, such as Nelson Mandela, as he talks about his place in the world — and what he can do with his voice and public image.

A lot of this song deals with his relationship with his fans and their loyalty. Therefore, a lot of this song also deals with a level of codependency.

Lamar even talks about dependency, stating, “Even though you share the same blood, is it worth the time? / Like, who got your best interest? / Like, how much are you dependent? / How clutch are the people that say they love you? / And who pretending?”

Here, he’s questioning his loyalty to his family, versus his loyalty to his fans or friends.

6. “Sex in the City” by Hobo Johnson

In Hobo Johnson’s 2016 song “Sex in the City”, he discusses city life, dating in the city, financial struggles, and how big city living is actually quite hard.

Dependency on money and other things are also referenced in this song. For example, Johnson discusses how many young women are dependent on looking beautiful. The lyrics say, “Is it their brain that really matters / Or their character that flatters / Or dependant on their beautiful face”.

7. “Fight” by Brockhampton

In the 2017 song “Fight”, Brockhampton discusses the many difficulties they have faced growing up as black men in the United States. Throughout the song, they talk about their childhood and youth to discuss racism, prejudices, and how this has affected their life and future.

They also discuss the dependency that many have on black culture. They say, “I see your culture’s dependent / On what you didn’t inherit”. In these lines, they discuss gentrification and how many people “take” from black culture in this way.

8. “MegaMan” by Lil Wayne

In Lil Wayne’s 2011 song “MegaMan”, he talks a lot about personal situations and how he feels. He also discusses codependency, but not in a romantic sense. Instead, he says that many in the industry are dependent on him.

The lyrics say, “Rap game dependent on me, like a bungee cord”.

9. “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran released his song “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” on his 2011 album +. In this song, Sheeran discusses the codependent relationship that record labels have with him. They need him, but he doesn’t need them.

For example, they cannot make money without him and his talent. However, he can always make money elsewhere, as he is the one who has talent and it is he who writes the songs!

10. “Now I Need You” by Donna Summer

Donna Summer’s 1977 song “Now I Need You” can be seen as a song that hints at a codependent relationship with someone else. In this song, Summer sings about a relationship that has come to an end. However, she’s not happy with how things ended.

Instead of moving on or attempting to undergo codependency recovery, she sings that she still needs her ex.

11. “Where Are Ü Now” by Diplo, Justin Bieber, and Skrillex

In the 2015 song “Where Are Ü Now”, Justin Bieber sings about a relationship that has also come to an end. Again, this song hints at a potential codependent relationship, as he still needs his ex. He’s going through a hard time, and he wonders where his ex is now that he needs her the most.

12. “King’s Vengeance” by Thin Lizzy

There are many ways listeners can interpret Thin Lizzy’s 1975 song “King’s Vengeance”. The band discusses different things here, though they do discuss the codependency that children often have.

They sing the lyrics, “But the king shall have his vengeance / While the Queen she represents the innocent / And the child so dependent / But the seasons conquer all”.

13. “Mud Slide Slim” by James Taylor

There are also many ways listeners can interpret James Taylor’s 1971 song “Mud Slide Slim”. Taylor discusses a lot of different things in this song, such as buying a farm and living away from everyone else until the world turns good.

He also sings about how he’s dependent on “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon”. Now, there isn’t any clarification about what these things are.

Some believe Taylor is saying he’s codependent on himself or his music, or possibly even his art or career, as he used to call himself the fictional band name “Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon”!

14. “Doth I Protest Too Much” by Alanis Morrisette

In Alanis Morrisette’s 2004 song “Doth I Protest Too Much”, Morrisette discusses all of the things she is, by saying that she’s not these things. She then quips that she may protest too much.

The song begins with her singing that she doesn’t care that her boyfriend looks at other women. She’s not jealous at all. Obviously, we can tell she is.

Later, she mentions how she doesn’t care that he’s always busy doing other things. She sings, “I’m not needy, I don’t get clingy much / I am not scared, I am not afraid as such / I’m not dependent, rock solid stays in touch / And doth I protest too much?”.

15. “Princess of the Posse” by Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah released her song “Princess of the Posse” on her 1988 album All Hail the Queen. In this song, Queen Latifah talks about how she’s a queen and she’s winning at life. Everybody wants to be her and wants to know how she’s done it.

She also talks about how people are subsequently codependent on her because of who she is. She says, “Stop the lying, the trying / The time buying, you’ve been denying / ‘Cause you’re dependent on me, the princess of the posse”.

16. “Don’t Ever Leave Me” by Judy Garland

Judy Garland’s “Don’t Ever Leave Me” details a romance that is definitely codependent. Throughout the song, Garland sings about how much she needs her man. She simply cannot exist without him. As a result, she begs him to never leave her.

She sings the lyrics, “I’m so dependent, when I need comfort / I always run to you / Don’t ever leave me, ’cause if you do / I’ll have no one to run to”.

17. “Old Gangsters Never Die” by Rick Springfield

Rick Springfield released his song “Old Gangsters Never Die” on his 1976 album Wait for Night. In this song, Springfield discusses someone he used to know. This person was mean and acted like a gangster. Even though this person now says they’ve changed, Springfield knows the truth.

After all, “Old Gangsters Never Die”. Even if they say they’ve changed, they really haven’t.

Springfield also discusses his past codependent relationship with his person. He sings the lyrics, “You had me when I was green, you made me feel so dependent / It satisfied your paranoia to think I really needed you”.

18. “The Guests” by Leonard Cohen

In Leonard Cohen’s 1979 song “The Guests”, he sings about how much he loves someone while guests arrive at a party. Many people are arriving, but Cohen can only say how much he needs and loves his partner.

As a result of this, this song can be seen as describing a type of codependent relationship!

19. “Donna” by Bob Marley

Bob Marley’s song “Donna” can also be seen as describing a codependent relationship. Throughout the song, Marley sings about how much he needs a woman named Donna, as he loves her.

However, there are signs that Donna may not want to be with him. Plus, she may have other issues or situations going on. For example, toward the end of the song, Marley sings, “Donna, pick yourself from off the ground, say something (Donna yes, I need Donna)”.

20. “Codependency” by Orla Gartland

Finally, we have Orla Gartland’s 2021 song “Codependency” — which obviously describes a codependent relationship! In this song, Gartland discusses a relationship where she’s not happy if her partner isn’t happy.

However, the relationship has clear issues. In the chorus, she sings, “I think I’m the problem with you / And I don’t know what to do / And I see that’s why they call it codependency”.

Listen to the full playlist on YouTube here!