Nature is humanity’s oldest and most constant companion and a popular subject of songs for centuries. If you want to put together a soundtrack for your cross-country road trip or get in the mood for your upcoming nature hike, these songs are the best selection for you.
Top 23 Songs About Nature
“Mother Earth” by Within Temptation
The title track of the Dutch symphonic metal band’s second album, “Mother Earth,” the song is a perfect lead to an album all about nature’s striking beauty and power.
It describes nature as an eternal mother who will continue creating beautiful things like animals, rivers, and mountains until the end of time. Humans are temporary and will never understand her intentions, but take comfort in the never-ending cycle.
“Coyotes” by Don Edwards
The singer of Don Edwards’ 1998 country hit (written by Bob McDill) laments the loss of “the old days” when animals and wilderness were untouched and how out of place he feels in a world of technology.
Many people were introduced to it when it was featured as the end credits song of the 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, which explored the tragic death of Timothy Treadwell, an environmentalist who rejected contemporary society and wanted to live among animals and nature.
“A Winter’s Tale” by Queen
This track from the 1995 album Made in Heaven is a blissful depiction of the beauty of nature in “winter-fall.” The moon and sky, birds, and rain are described in loving detail.
The song was inspired by lead singer Freddie Mercury’s experiences at Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Mercury wrote down what he saw and felt looking out the windows at nature scenes outside.
“Seminole Wind” by John Anderson
Released in 2015 on Anderson’s album Country Grass, “Seminole Wind” is an ode to Floridian nature specifically.
The singer knows that the environment is undergoing permanent change, such as drained swamps. He calls on the “Seminole wind” he knows so well to keep blowing, so at least one thing will remain.
“The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky
This powerful avant-garde work was released in Paris in 1913. It caused a riot among an audience who did not know how to react to something so unconventional.
Called “Sacred Spring” in Stravinsky’s native Russian, the famous orchestral piece tells of the coming of spring. It also represents the associated pagan rituals centered around becoming one with the Earth and nature.
“Procession” by Nightwish
A 2020 release by metal band Nightwish, this song calls on its listeners to appreciate the longevity of nature. It is sung from the perspective of the many endangered animals that once lived alongside humans. Now they are close to disappearing because of humans’ actions.
The “procession” of the title refers to the endless births, lives, and deaths that nature produces; Earth is referred to as an eternal cradle to house new creations. Humans could aid in the process if they chose but often choose to disrupt and endanger it.
“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye
Like the rest of the tracks on Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On, “Mercy Mercy Me” is a lament for the damage done to nature by oil drilling, radiation, and other artificial poisons. It expresses a desire to return the world to how it was before such destruction began.
Gaye was advised against recording the song by his manager, Berry Gordy, who did not think songs about environmental issues were marketable. However, Gaye insisted. He said that he wanted to make people “take a look at what was happening in the world.”
“(Nothing But) Flowers” by Talking Heads
The rock band’s 1988 release, part of their final studio album Naked, sings of a near-future where modern civilization has been forcibly reclaimed by nature. Although it is more beautiful, the narrator wants to return to how things used to be because his old life was more convenient.
The song is filled with memorable before-and-after imagery, such as a parking lot that has become an oasis, a Pizza hut overrun with daisies, and a shopping mall covered in flowers. It sets the scene of a world reclaimed by nature better than many other songs.
“Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver
This famous 1971 country hit is a euphoric ode to the scenery of West Virginia, as the narrator delights in driving home to the place he considers “almost heaven.” The age of its trees and mountains gives the state a sense of majesty.
It was notably featured in the 1995 Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart, where the protagonist’s translation of the song not only connects her to her love interest but represents her desire to find a solid path into a future that will make her happy.
“The Hills Are Alive” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Most famously sung by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film adaptation of the musical The Sound of Music, this is one of the most well-known songs about nature.
The song opens the musical with Maria’s full-hearted expression of joy and love for the mountains she lives in, which affects her so strongly she doesn’t know what to do with herself. The film version adds to the scale of the song with some beautiful shots of the German Alps near the Austrian border.
“Ridin’ the Storm Out” by R.E.O. Speedwagon
The title track of the rock band’s 1973 studio album, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” captures a moment in the life of the narrator and his lover as they wait out a powerful storm together.
The narrator explains that in the city they might be safer from the elements. But they would prefer to be exactly where they are: as close as they can get to nature, living a calm and easy life under the full moon and stormy sky.
“Gaia” by Tiamat
Swedish metal band Tiamat lends its powerful sound and voice to a song that describes the danger of nature more than its beauty. “Gaia” characterizes nature as a force that is not malevolent, but vengeful and out of patience with the way it has been treated by humans.
The song describes the destruction that occurs when the Earth lashes out. Rain falls without end and oceans rise in whirlpools. While the extreme weather is a blessing to plant life, humans and animals will all inevitably drown.
“River in the Rain” by Roger Miller
One of the most famous songs from the 1985 musical Big River: the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, based on Mark Twain’s classic 1884 novel, “River in the Rain” is sung by Huck and Jim as they sail down the Mississippi River on their raft.
The two declare that they will keep loving the great river whether it is calm or choppy, whether it looks beautiful in the sunlight or floods away their few possessions. The song ends with them expressing a desire to see the sea into which the river empties.
“The Sun is Burning” by Simon & Garfunkel
This 1964 release from Simon & Garfunkel’s debut studio album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, takes a much more cynical view than many other songs about nature. It describes nature as a fleeting joy that will be inevitably destroyed by mankind’s worst creations.
The song begins with a beautiful but slow day, with drifting clouds and bees busy pollinating the flowers under a burning hot sun. But the lyrics become more and more ominous as the song goes on until finally, it culminates in an apocalyptic bomb blast that outmatches the sun for heat and smothers it in nuclear winter.
“The Oak and the Ash/The North Country Maid”
This British folk song dates back to 1650 and has been covered by such artists as The King’s Singers, Isla Cameron and Louis Killen, and The Watersons. Though the lyrics are often changed, the heart of the song remains the same.
Its lyrics are a seventeenth-century prototype of all the songs of today about eschewing modern urban life for a simpler rural one. The narrator openly disdains “the court [and] the city resort.” She longs for her home country, where she used to play and dance in its fields and behold the flourishing trees of the title.
“This Land” by Hans Zimmer
“This Land” can only be heard in full in the soundtrack of the 1994 Disney classic The Lion King. In the film proper, it plays in part over Mufasa teaching young Simba about the circle of life, and Mufasa’s ghost appearing to adult Simba.
Being an instrumental piece, it represents nature more abstractly. It embodies the way the characters’ homeland is kept in harmony simply by respecting the natural order and later expresses hope that even the worst damage done to it can be restored.
“If I Could Divide the Smell of Flowers” by Catman Cohen
“If I Could Divide the Smell of Flowers” comes from Canadian indie artist Catman Cohen’s 2005 album How I Want to Live: The Catman Chronicles 2. It makes the case that not only would all humans benefit from accessibility to nature but that it is something all humans deserve.
The narrator expresses a desire to share the smell of flowers with everyone suffering or lost in life who cannot connect to nature, such as incarcerated people, the elderly in nursing homes, and laborers who spend their days underground.
“I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash
From the legendary country and rock artist’s 1996 album Unchained, this song is fairly self-explanatory. It is about the joy of travel and how liberating it is to see every part of nature that the United States has to offer.
The song begins with the narrator hitchhiking near Winnemucca, Nevada. In response to the driver’s question about where he has been before, he begins a litany of the many countries, cities, and landmarks he has beheld around the world, from deserts to mountains.
“Wind” by Appalachian Winter
This American folk metal band often uses themes of nature in their music. Specifically, they are inspired by the climate and landscapes found in the Appalachian Mountains of the northeastern United States.
Another song that glorifies the destructive power of nature, “Wind” tells of uncontrollable gale winds and ocean waves besetting all life on Earth. It is the doing of an angry Earth itself, which is described as a “beast” and a “savage mother.”
“Oak, Ash, and Thorn”
A folk song with its roots in twentieth-century Britain, “Oak, Ash, and Thorn” is a love letter to the tree life of England. It describes the trees as relics that have been growing since before the country was founded, and praises the many uses that each variety of tree serves.
Its lyrics were originally a poem by Rudyard Kipling titled “A Tree Song.” In 1970, folk artist Peter Bellamy put the words to music and made it the title track of his album Oak & Ash & Thorn, released in the same year.
“Colors of the Wind” by Steven Schwartz and Alan Menken
This ballad is the most famous thing to come out of the otherwise lackluster 1995 Disney film Pocahontas. It is about the wonder of the environment of the eastern United States and the animism practiced by the Native Americans living there. It emphasizes how rewarding and important it is to be in harmony with nature.
Sung by Judy Kuhn in the film, the song won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, as well as the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media.
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This 1969 release from the Southern rock band’s studio album of the same name features their characteristic love for the American South and their nostalgia for the nature found there.
The narrator expresses a longing to go back to the simplicity and warmth of his childhood home. Its bayous, catfish and dragonflies, and peaceful nights are a refuge for him when the rest of the world is too chaotic to handle.
“Earth Song” by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson released this 1995 ballad as part of his ninth album, HIStory: Past, Present, and Future: Book I. It is a direct call for awareness of environmental issues and war violence, and an expression of sorrow at the lack of solutions to the problem.
The song goes hand-in-hand with other Jackson hits such as “We Are the World” and “Heal the World” which expressed the wish to make the world a better place. Its lyrics are a plaintive plea for people to question what the results of apathy towards social issues will ultimately be.
“Alaska” by Maggie Rogers
“Alaska” is another song that venerates the natural beauty of a specific U.S. state. The narrator returns to Alaska after an unspecified time spent away, counting on time spent in nature to heal her after breaking off a bad relationship.
She describes the breathtaking scenery with awe, saying that the glaciers, streams, and impossibly fresh air are so grounding that they make whatever pain she experienced before feeling like a dream.
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
If not the most famous song on this list, his 1967 Louis Armstrong classic is certainly the most optimistic. It was an instant hit when released and is still successful today, being covered by such artists as Willie Nelson and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and featured in media such as The Muppet Show, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Good Morning, Vietnam.
Among the many things the narrator sees to convince him that the world is a wonderful place are parts of nature in all their stunning color. Everything from day and night, the clouds and rainbow in the sky, to the trees and flowers are treated with the utmost importance.
“Flowers” by Anaïs Mitchell
Written in 2010 and later becoming part of the 2019 Broadway smash hit Hadestown, “Flowers” is a lament for natural beauty lost and never again regained, a casualty of capitalism and industry domination.
It is the character Eurydice’s only solo in the musical, as she regrets her choice to sell herself into eternal servitude in Hades’ underground factory. She sings of all the beautiful things on the surface that she is doomed to forget: sunlight, the sky, and fields of flowers.
“We Are What We Are” by Sonata Arctica
This Finnish power metal band often uses nature in the background and themes of their music, with several songs being sung from the perspective of wildlife, usually wolves. Their 2016 release “We Are What We Are” is less of a call for action and awareness regarding the destruction of the environment and more of an expression of despair.
The narrator introduces himself only as “a human,” and berates himself and the listener for the disgraceful way humanity has treated its only Earth. He goes on to say that humans could change course and save the Earth but never will because it goes against their nature.