20 Songs About Hearing

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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.

Songwriters have discussed hearing in different ways throughout the decades. As a result, many songs about hearing loss, someone not listening, or trying to listen to one’s heart have become popular!

Below, we’ve ranked the 20 best songs about hearing, in all their different forms!

1. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye

Many artists have covered the wonderful song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” over the years. From The Miracles to Creedence Clearwater Revival, artists in different genres made their own versions of this song. However, Marvin Gaye’s version continues to be the most beloved and popular one today!

Gaye was the third artist to release this song. He released his version in 1968, and the song subsequently became a soul classic, thanks to his rendition!

In this song, Gaye sings about how he learns that his romantic partner is no longer his, as she’s been seen with another. He learns about the end of their relationship through others’ gossip — through the grapevine!

2. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” by The Rolling Stones

Our next song is “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” by The Rolling Stones! The Rolling Stones released this song on their excellent 1971 album Sticky Fingers. This seven-minute track came about thanks to a jam session the band had, with no idea it was being recorded!

There are many ways to interpret this song. For the most part, Mick Jagger sings in the beginning about trying to get the attention of a girl. The lyrics say, “Can’t you hear me knockin’ on your window? / Can’t you hear me knockin’ on your door?”

3. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

David Bowie released “Space Oddity”, one of his greatest songs of all time, in 1969. The song was pushed out by his record label to capitalize on the Apollo 11 moon landing. In fact, some news stations even played this song when showing footage of the moon landing!

“Space Oddity” tells the story of Major Tom, an astronaut in space who talks with his team on the ground on Earth. However, as the story progresses, his team loses communication with him. Towards the end, the repeated lyrics are as follows: “Can you hear me, Major Tom?”

While many people assume “Space Oddity” is about exactly this, other listeners do feel the song has a deeper meaning that pertains to drug addiction. 

4. “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

To this day, “Folsom Prison Blues” is considered by many to be one of the best Johnny Cash songs. It’s a classic! In this 1955 song, Cash sings about hearing a variety of different sounds while in prison.

For example, the song begins with Cash singing, “I hear the train a-comin’, it’s rolling ’round the bend”. Cash, who sings as a prisoner in this song, hasn’t been out of incarceration in a while. So, hearing something as normal as a train causes him to miss the outside world. 

Later, Cash sings about hearing the train again, singing, “When I hear that whistle blowin’, I hang my head and cry”.

5. “Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads

Talking Heads released “Life During Wartime” on their 1979 album Fear of Music. The song details a narrator who is a part of a war or civil unrest movement. Throughout the song, David Byrne sings as the narrator, talking about all these different things that he has heard.

Through this, listeners learn about the narrator and his almost post-apocalyptic life.

When Talking Heads first released “Life During Wartime”, the song became a hit and landed on the music charts. To this day, many consider this song to be one of the band’s very best!

6. “Holler If Ya Hear Me” by 2Pac

This 1993 song details many frustrations that Tupac experienced and felt during the recording of the song. In many ways, this song has become a song about resistance, especially when discussing political and social change.

Throughout the song, Tupac sings, “Holler if ya hear me”. He tells others who feel the same way he does about this injustice to yell if they understand what he’s saying. 

7. “Cry For Home” by Van Morrison

Van Morrison released “Cry For Home” on the 1983 album Inarticulate Speech of the Heart. There are many ways one could decipher the meaning of this song. For the most part, Morrison sings to a romantic partner or loved one and his desire to return home.

Throughout the song, he sings about hearing the cry for home. He assures his loved one that when they hear his cry for home, he won’t be far. He also sings about how if they cry for home, he’ll be there for them.

8. “Heard ‘Em Say” by Kanye West

Kanye West released “Heard ‘Em Say” as the third single off his 2005 album Late Registration. The song became a huge hit and landed on many top music charts after its release.

Throughout the song, West talks about how difficult life can become. However, he also discusses how things can happen for a reason. For example, at the beginning of the song, he sings the lyrics, “And I heard ’em say / Nothing’s ever promised tomorrow today”.

As a result, he sings about hearing throughout the song, explaining what he’s heard throughout his life.

9. “Hear Me” by Imagine Dragons

The 2010 Imagine Dragons song “Hear Me” also deals with hearing. In this song, the band sings about certain issues and insecurities they have. As they struggle, they feel that nobody is listening to them.

In the chorus, they sing, “Can nobody hear me? / I’ve got a lot that’s on my mind”. This song can also be seen as a song where the narrator is in a difficult romantic relationship. They feel that their partner is not listening to them at all. 

10. “Can You Hear Me” by Enrique Iglesias

Enrique Iglesias released “Can You Hear Me” on his 2008 album Insomniac. In this song, Iglesias sings about a romantic relationship that has gone south. However, he will not let this ruin his night completely, as the chorus can be seen as him going to a club to dance and forgetting about his issues.

This song could also be seen as Iglesias trying to find some sort of distraction from his heartbreak. Regardless, Iglesias repeats the phrase, “Can you hear me?”. As the music the DJ plays is too loud, he cannot be heard.

11. “Hear My Train A Comin’” by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix’s classic song “Hear My Train A Comin’” uses a train as a metaphor, much as many classic blues songs did back in the day. This song also has similarities to Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” in this way, which is also here on this list!

Throughout the song, Hendrix sings about how he can hear his train coming. He can’t wait for it to arrive, as he wants to leave the town he’s in. So, he wants to get on that train.

In many blues songs, trains were metaphors for salvation. Therefore, Hendrix could also be longing for salvation to help him from his misery.

12. “Can You Hear the Music” by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones released “Can You Hear the Music” on their 1973 album Goats Head Soup. In this song, Mick Jagger sings about how wonderful music can be. Even if you’re sad or depressed, music can help lift you up.

He sings the lyrics, “Can you hear the music? / Can you feel the magic dancing in the air?” To Jagger, music is magic. If you listen to this music, you will feel much better!

13. “Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World’s 2001 song “Hear You Me” also deals with hearing. This song sadly details losing someone and how you never know that you’ll never have another chance to be with this person.

This song was written in dedication to two fans, sisters Mykel and Carli Allen, who died in a car crash. The two used the phrase “Hear You Me” on online forums when talking to other fans of the band.

Knowing this background of the song’s origins, “Hear You Me” becomes that much more tragic. The chorus, which is repeated throughout the song, has the lyrics, “May angels lead you in / Hear you me my friends”.

14. “Welcome to the Occupation” by R.E.M.

R.E.M. released “Welcome to the Occupation” on their great 1987 album Document. The song can be interpreted in many ways. For the most part, this song critiques the American government and its policies and violence in other nations during this time.

Towards the end of the song, after the band has critiqued the government and occupation, the band sings, “Listen to me”. This phrase is repeated with urgency until the song ends. This hints that nobody is listening to the real issues and worries that the band and others had at this time.

15. “The Prophet’s Song” by Queen

Queen’s 1975 “The Prophet’s Song” deals with both hearing and listening. Brian May came up with the song after having a fever dream about the Great Flood when he was sick. Thus, the song was invented.

In this song, the band sings about a prophet and seer and all that he says. They listen to him, they recall what they heard. Later in the song, the phrase, “Listen to the madman” is also repeated.

16. “Listen to the Lion” by Van Morrison

Another Van Morrison song! Van Morrison released “Listen to the Lion” on his 1972 album Saint Dominic’s Preview. Often, many people cite this song as one of the very best Van Morrison songs ever!

This song can often be considered vague to some, especially on one’s first listen. However, Van Morrison repeats the phrase “listen to the lion” throughout the song. In many ways, he is singing about listening to the lion within you — the courage that we all have.

Be courageous in your life and do what you can to be brave. Towards the end of this song, he references how his family (and so many others) came to the New World to start something new. They only did this because they listened to the lion in themselves!

17. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Whitney Houston

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is one of the most popular Christmas songs today. Though this song is Christian in origin and though it references the birth of Jesus, Jesus is not explicitly mentioned or named in the song.

The song was written in 1962 by married couple Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. In many ways, this song was first written as a song for peace — though it’s since become a Christmas classic.

Throughout the song, the phrase “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is repeated. Many artists have covered this song over the years. However, Whitney Houston’s version remains a classic!

18. “Heartbeat” by Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield’s 1964 song “Heartbeat” discusses a romance that is true and good. Springfield sings about how much she loves her romantic partner. She both feels and hears his heartbeat and knows that he is true to her!

19. “Listen To Your Heart” by Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys released “Listen To Your Heart” on her 2012 album Girl on Fire. This song details how everyone should listen to their heart — as you may have guessed from the song’s title!

Keys sings that you’ll never know real love or happiness if you don’t listen to yourself. So, you must also listen to your heart. Then, you’ll be able to experience everything life has to offer you!

20. “Stop! Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” by Diana Ross

Finally, we have Diana Ross’s 1973 song “Stop! Look, Listen (To Your Heart)”, featuring Marvin Gaye. This song is similar to the Alicia Keys song we discussed above. Here, Ross and Gaye sing about how if you feel lost or confused, you should listen to your heart.

Hear what your heart has to say. Even if you fall head over heels in love with someone, this is okay! As long as you’re fully listening to your heart!

Listen to the full playlist on YouTube here.