A sunset can be an incredibly beautiful sight to see, so it’s no surprise that so many people have written songs about them over the years. The following 20 songs make references to sunsets in their titles and lyrics, and they’re definitely worth a listen on a warm summer day.
Top Songs about Sunsets
1. Indian Sunset by Elton John
Bernie Taupin’s visit to a reservation inspired the song “Indian Sunset”, according to Elizabeth Rosenthal’s biography His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John. The hardship of Native Americans, whose land was essentially taken from them, is the subject of this song.
This emotional ballad is about the end of a way of life as the White Man’s colonization of the vast American continent ultimately leads to the enslavement and near extinction of its former masters.
With Paul Buckmaster’s majestic string arrangement, this song is one of just a few modern ballads that address the plight of this once-proud warrior race.
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2. When the Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker
Kenny Chesney recorded this as a duet with singer-songwriter Uncle Kracker for his When the Sun Goes Down album. Uncle Kracker is a hip-hop-influenced rock artist, and “When the Sun Goes Down” was his first country chart appearance. The song, released as a single on February 2, 2004, lasted five weeks at the top of the Country chart.
Nashville songwriter Brett James wrote the song “When the Sun Goes Down.” In a video interview, James said he was driving home in his truck after writing a song with Holly Lamar when “this crazy little ditty” came to him.
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3. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by Elton John
The Beach Boys influenced this song, which features contributions from members of the band. The Beach Boys’ sound, harmonies, and how they arranged their songs influenced many of Elton’s compositions, including this one. Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston both performed as backup singers.
As usual, Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics. Taupin was a linguist who continuously looked for new methods to express himself. He told Esquire, “I like to be more interesting than a good old ‘I love you; you love me, my heart will break if you leave me. Throw in a curveball. ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.’ Put a dark twist on them.”
“My only recollections of this is that we wanted to write something big. I mean, big in that dramatic Spectory (as in Phil Spector) way, like ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.’ Hopefully being forceful without being pompous,” lyricist Bernie Taupin said of the song’s composition. “They seem to have a slightly more Brill Building flair to them, so it’s entirely possible that I did,” Taupin observed retrospectively.
4. Hurry Up Sundown by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen sings about “the end of another working day” and “packing your blues away” in the song “Hurry Up Sundown.” This song is one of four unreleased tracks from the High Hopes sessions on American Beauty, a limited-edition 12-inch vinyl EP released exclusively for Record Store Day on April 19, 2014.
Except for the drums, which session player Josh Freese handled, Springsteen played every instrument in the song.
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5. On Sunset by Paul Weller
“On Sunset” is a heartfelt tribute to Paul Weller’s passion for soul music. A brief visit to Sunset Strip, a 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California inspired the song.
Weller told Mojo magazine that finding out that all the venues where The Jam had performed in 1977 had vanished shocked him. The words allude to the notion that those old memories are now part of “someone else’s life.”
On the track, longtime collaborator Steve Craddock plays electric guitar while British trumpeter and flugelhorn musician Johnny Thirkell plays the trumpet.
6. Sunset In July by 311
The first single from 311’s tenth studio album, Universal Pulse, is “Sunset.” The band’s late-night summer shows influenced it. It initially aired on the Los Angeles radio station KROQ on June 3, 2011.
Nick Hexum, a singer-guitarist, revealed the song’s meaning to Spin. He explained that the more fun you have, the faster time passes. “Most nights in July, we’re on stage as the sun sets. You can see the crowd losing their inhibitions as the daylight fades away,” Hexum said. “We get off on watching the crowd at our shows, which inspired the song’s chorus.” He also speculated that they might be high but that they prefer to believe it’s due to the power of music.
Hexum told Spin that he wrote the song while traveling through the Angeles National Forest. “I would write a couple lines and then haul ass around mountain curves until the next line would come to me. It’s a great way to write!”
7. Sunset Lovin’ by Gloriana
Mike Gossin of Gloriana wrote this steamy ballad. The song was written by the guitarist, the band’s producer Matt Serletic, and Nashville songwriter Hillary Lindsey, who has written songs for Carrie Underwood.
According to Billboard magazine, Gossin got inspired to write the song after watching a couple of lovers utterly unaware of what was going on around them. He remembers being driving a golf cart the day after a festival when it broke down about a mile away from the venue.
“I didn’t have my cell phone, so I just decided to hang with some fans at a nearby RV park and wait for somebody to find me,” he explained. Suddenly, he came across this pair making out in a car, completely oblivious to their surroundings.
Gossin wrote the song about that rare opportunity to have the perfect night, with the perfect girl, in the ideal setting. It’s that time when you don’t care where or when it all happens – and the world comes to a halt around you.
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8. Early Sunsets Over Monroeville by My Chemical Romance
“Early Sunsets Over Monroeville,” tells the story of a man and his wife fleeing from vampires. Unfortunately, a vampire bit his wife. Despite her protests, he had to kill her before she becomes a vampire herself.
Monroeville, Pennsylvania, is the location of the mall scenes in the film Dawn of The Dead. According to lead singer Gerard Way, the movie was the inspiration behind the song.
The man and his love are hiding from the live dead, who are on their way to kill them. They can’t leave because mountains surround the town. The living dead attack the woman, and she transforms into one of them. Because she and he loved each other, the decision to kill her made “things harder at best.” Though he loves her, he must confront the harsh fact that to survive. He must take a gun to her and “End this direst.”
9. American Sunset by Bruce Sudano
Many Americans got frustrated with the country’s failing health-care system, long-standing racial disparities, and a botched response to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020. They pondered if the period of American exceptionalism instilled in the public for generations had ended. Bruce Sudano offers his voice to those who believe their country is steadily crumbling in “American Sunset.”
Sudano said he wrote “American Sunset” because his country’s future concerned him. He worried that everyone would continue to decline unless America changed its ways. Sudano listed self-assurance, blatant pride and arrogance, unfettered greed, deception, denial, and the erasure of truth as reasons for this. He also mentions the massive and growing inequality, which is an excellent basis for revolution.
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10. Red Sails in The Sunset by Bing Crosby
“Red Sails in The Sunset” was a massive hit in the United States in 1935, topping Your Hit Parade for four weeks and selling over a million copies of sheet music. Various artists recorded the song, including Louis Armstrong and Paul Anka, but most famously Bing Crosby.
James Kennedy penned the words to this song after watching a sunset with his artist sister in Donegal, Ireland, according to Don Tyler in Hit Songs 1900-1955: American Popular Music of the Pre-Rock Era. Will Grosz (better known as Hugh Williams) composed the music.
11. Sunset Soon Forgotten by Iron & Wine
Iron & Wine’s album Our Endless Numbered Days contains the song “Sunset Soon Forgotten,” which is the fourth track on the album. The song catches the faint echoes of a period you remember merely for its ordinariness or because it occurred to you for some reason or another that you could forget it someday. In Good Company, a 2004 dramedy, featured the song as well.
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12. Sunrise, Sunset by Bright Eyes
“Sunrise, Sunset” is about how simple yet complex life is and all the lies and substitutes we must endure. “To the sunrise and the sunset. The master and his servant have the exact same fate. It’s a sunrise and a sunset. From a cradle to a casket. There is no way to escape,” the lyrics sing. It implies that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we do. Everything will end up the same. Here, Conor Oberst underlines death’s inevitability, particularly time’s steady death march.
This song is solely about the large picture of life and all the “meaningless” events that build up to death or the ultimate moment when you are entirely overwhelmed and have nowhere to turn. It demonstrates how little things, such as a scribble or a sonnet, are. It’s a sad song that is also straightforwardly honest.
13. Sunset by the xx
This song is the closest the xx have come to recording a dance track yet. “Sunset” is an example of a type of song that the band was very into, according to singer-guitarist Romy Madley Croft.
Croft told Spin magazine that the band was especially into melancholy dance music. Croft mentions that Everything but the Girl’s song “Missing” is a perfect example of that song style and that it is also one of her favorites.
Jamie Smith’s parallel career as a DJ-producer outside of the xx also impacted the music. Smith told Spin Magazine that he was DJing on his own and listening to a lot of dance music while on tour. He added that they were having a good time and wanted to write something with the dancing influence but not to let it overpower the song.
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14. Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks
Ray Davies, the lead vocalist of the Kinks, described the song as a sentimental, lyrical song about his older sister’s generation. When Davies was a student at Croydon Art School, he used to go across Waterloo Bridge every day. The lyrics are about a guy peering out of a window at two lovers’ meeting at Waterloo Station, and the bridge is in London.
While the band was in the process of recording the album, Ray Davies brought this to their attention. Because the lyrics were so intimate, he was hesitant to reveal them. Ray felt it was like an excerpt from a diary that no one had permission to read, according to his brother (and Kinks guitarist) Dave Davies in a Rolling Stone magazine interview.
The line “Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station every Friday night” is widely attributed to actor Terence Stamp and actress Julie Christie’s relationship. Ray Davies, on the other hand, refuted this in his autobiography. He later claimed that it was a fantasy about his sister going off to a new world with her partner and emigrating to another country.
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15. Two Suns in the Sunset by Pink Floyd
“Two Suns in the Sunset” is the last song of Pink Floyd’s 1983 concept album, The Final Cut. It was also Roger Waters’ last contribution to the band before his departure in 1985. This song is about England’s fear of nuclear war. Even when the day is over, the song states the sun is in the east.
In 2003, Roger Waters told Uncut that the song describes a nuclear war and the lingering anxiety of the 1960s nuclear war threat. He added that it’s about having the realization towards the end of life that you might have when you’re alive and well, and you think to yourself, “Hold on a minute, maybe this is what I should do.
16. Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset by Luke Bryan
Luke Bryan tells the account of a father employing him to paint a lake house in exchange for free housing in “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset.” When his daughter arrives, a summer romance ensues.
Bryan explained that the song “talks about love in a summer and summer love. It doesn’t get any better than summer love way back when. And then when you say ‘Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset, Repeat,’ that’s what you do in the summer. You wake up. You go get your tan on, and the sun goes down and you do it over and over.”
17. Sunsetz by Cigarettes After Sex
Sunsetz is a song about a man struggling to cope with the absence of his girlfriend (or possibly ex-girlfriend). With the lyrics “Sunsets / We wander through a foreign town / Strangely, there’s nobody else around,” the song depicts one of the narrator’s happiest days in a bittersweet way. Longing, recollections, and “visions of such sweet days” are prevalent themes in the song.
18. Sunsets For Somebody Else by Jack Johnson
According to an interview with eTown, this song references people who work in advertising, sales, or something in between. Johnson wrote this song while on a surf trip in Micronesia, and he claims that being on boats constantly inspires him to write music.
According to Billboard, Johnson’s lines “You tell yourself just to turn away/but you know you’ve already lost” and “I know I’ve seen that vacant stare/selling sunsets for somebody else” have a soothing touch that distinguishes the song from others by Johnson. Other lines, such as “You find yourself looking up at night, from the bottom of the earth,” captivate the listener and transport them to a beach on a hot summer day.
19. Sun Don’t Go Down on That by Dustin Lynch
In the song “Sun Don’t Go Down,” Dustin Lynch thinks nostalgically about a past romance. Lynch wrote this song with the help of his producer Ross Copperman and lyricist Jon Nite.
He described the song as one of his favorites because it features him singing about his feelings a decade or more ago. He is delighted by the song, but he is also sad because he hasn’t felt that way in a long time. But it’s also thrilling for him because he believes there’s someone else who can make him feel that way again.
20. What Makes the Sunset? by Frank Sinatra
“What Makes the Sunset?” is a song Frank Sinatra recorded under Columbia Records. Anchors Aweigh, a 1945 American live-action/animated musical fantasy comedy film directed by George Sidney, featured this song.
Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn wrote the songs for the film, which starred Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, and Gene Kelly. In the movie, two sailors go to Hollywood for a four-day shore vacation, meet a small kid and his aunt, an aspiring young singer, and try to help her secure an audition at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The best songs about sunsets are those with relaxing, carefree melodies that match the warm and gentle feel of the sunset. The listed 20 songs about sunsets, which range from soft pop to jazz, all feature these qualities. Listen to them while watching a sunset and feel like your cares are melting away as the day ends.