16 Top Songs About Disaster

Songs about disaster
Written by Corey Morgan

Songs about disaster

The power of music lies in its ability to unite people from various backgrounds and encourage them to express themselves freely. Music has the power to unite people of all backgrounds and cultures, regardless of their ethnicity, language spoken at home, or skin color.

Everyone has experienced the transformative power of music in the midst of a personal crisis, whether it be a break from overwhelming melancholy, a momentary escape from despair, or the backdrop to a new romantic encounter.

Songs about natural disaster have sporadically permeated the public consciousness since the rise of modern pop music, as people try to make sense of the devastation wreaked by mother nature or pay tribute to the thousands of lives lost in crises both manmade and natural.

As such, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the top six best songs about disasters, whether they be natural or man-made, the consequence of nature putting humanity back in check or the outcome of cultural, political, and historical upheaval.

16 Top Songs about disaster

1. “The Titanic,” by Pete Seeger.

The Titanic (When That Great Ship Went Down)

This song is almost certainly going to be the first song that comes to anyone’s mind when they are asked to mention songs about disaster.

The song was composed within weeks of the disaster of when “the great ship went down.” The song was created by William and Versey Smith with the intention of it being a children song. The lyrics are simple and repeat, “It was sad when that huge ship went down.”

The catastrophe has been described numerous times in songs, most notably in the well-known James Cameron movie. The tragedy occurred on April 15th, 1912, as the ship left England en route to New York City.

The ship, considered the most magnificently constructed of its time, sank after colliding with an iceberg. The songwriter uses the disaster’s microcosmic level as a springboard to reflect on larger-scale inequalities in social class.

2. It’s the end of the world…

Song by R.E.M.

R.E.M. - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

This song was inspired by the dream of REM’s lead singer Michael. It’s about the tiny tragedies that occur in our lives on a regular basis and how those anxieties can build up into something much larger and more illogical, a feeling we probably all share to some extent. The first lines of this timeless song capture the universal feeling of doom and gloom that follows a catastrophic event.

3. We Didn’t Start d Fire

Song by Billy Joel

Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire (Official HD Video)

This is not only a beautiful song, but also one of the most imaginative songs of all time. This may come as a surprise to some listeners. It may have a visceral, adrenalized edge thanks to the embalming sheen of ultra-eighties production shine, but what it gains in vigor, it loses in authenticity and sophistication.

Underneath the lavish staging, however, lies a musical composition that would have been awarded the Nobel Prize even if it had been presented in a gingham affrontery; this would have been more appropriate, given that the song sounds strikingly similar to an old folk rant about history.

Joel covers 118 historical events in the lyrics, moving rhythmically through life from 1948 to 1989 without ever attempting to rhyme, breaking stride, or losing any of the song’s momentum as it builds to a scorching guitar solo. What’s more, he completes the song in less than five minutes.

4. Springhill Mining Disaster, by The Dubliners

The Dubliners - Springhill Mine Disaster

One of the most well-known songs on disaster is this masterpiece “Springhill Mining Disaster”

The town of Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada, has suffered three catastrophic mining disasters. The Dubliners’ “Mining Crisis” is an excellent song that documents the events of that year. At the time of the crisis, there was a ‘bump’ in the earth’s crust that resembled an earthquake. Seventy-five were killed instantly as the roof collapsed, while the remaining 99 were imprisoned but eventually freed.

Irish folk band The Dubliners helped spread traditional Irish music across Europe.

5. ‘Hurricane,’ by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan - Hurricane (Official Audio)

This choice is a pun and an odd duck, but it fails miserably anyway. The black American boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter is the subject of this epic song written by Dylan, who draws a nuanced portrait of his wrongful murder conviction on the basis of race.

Dylan paid a visit to Hurricane Carter in prison so he could hear his side of the tale. At the Lafayette Grill in New Jersey, Rubin Carter and a man named John Artis were accused of killing three people. In the years that followed, both Carter and Artis were convicted despite widespread speculation that the verdict was influenced by racism and shaky evidence.

In the years that followed, Carter penned an autobiography, which Dylan read before paying a visit to the boxer. As the prosecution was “based on racism rather than reason and concealment rather than disclosure,” the charges against the two men were eventually dropped.

Some have criticized Dylan for his song being partly factually wrong, despite his efforts to mobilize support for Hurricane Carter (he raised $100,000 after one charity event). The song, which was once a true calamity of American law, is now widely regarded as one of Dylan’s finest protest pieces.

6. Flood by Clay Jars

Jars Of Clay - Flood

Due to the band’s Christian background, many listeners have assumed that this song is about the biblical flood described in the Book of Genesis. In it, Noah constructs the ark and saves two of each species from the flood.

However, there is absolutely no connection between that tale and this song. While being interviewed on the radio, the band emphasized that “it is not about Noah!”

7. Landslide by Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan

Landslide (Remastered)

The song seems to be about the end of a marriage or a serious romantic relationship. This woman has spent her entire life working toward her partner’s ambitions rather than her own. However, she is now independent and starting a new chapter in her life. This music represents the end of a relationship  whether that be through death or a literal LANDSLIDE.

8. Natural Disaster – PlainWhite T’s

Plain White Ts - Natural Disaster - Official Music Video HQ

This masterpiece also reflects on songs about disaster, i like this song.

It’s not hard to figure out what this is all about. Just some hot chick who manages to seduce him. Clearly, this has something to do with that. Someone attractive who tempts him with her looks.

Aside from being exceedingly stylish, this tune is also extremely catchy. The Plain White T’s are one of my favorite bands because their lyrics can be really sexy without being obscene or tasteless. It’s quite enticing and does a great job of characterizing the woman or women he’s thinking of.

9. Jimmy Buffett: “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season”

Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season

It gives us a look into his life at that precise time. He was a successful musician who had moved to Key West, where he rented a house on the beach and lived like a rock star.

Assuring myself that the oncoming hurricane won’t cause any major damage. Just like I can’t picture many Keys locals worrying about it. It’s the cost of living there, and you just have to convince yourself that it’s worth it. He went to the pub after waking up with a hangover and ordering a veggie drink spiked with vodka.

So there he is, out and about, perhaps feeling the brisk winds of the approaching hurricane and building up a decent buzz when he encounters something that gives him a song idea. There was a need for him to put it down on paper.

He was probably too drunk to remember the brilliant song ideas he had the night before, and he probably regretted them the next day. So he sat down on the beach and put pen to paper, detailing every moment of his day, setting it to a catchy tune, and CHA-CHING!!

The process of cleaning up might stand in for the effects of alcohol, drugs, or hurricane season in Key West. However, this is exactly what he requires in order to unwind and recharge from living the rockstar life. In other words, it gives him a power boost.

10. Scorpions, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”

Scorpions - Rock You Like A Hurricane (Official Video)

Rudolf Schenker, guitarist for the Scorpions, once said in an interview with Songfacts, “I think ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ is a wonderful rock anthem, which talks about attitude and sensuality.

11. Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”

When the Levee Breaks (Remaster)

The events of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 inspired Memphis Minnie to pen these songs. African-American plantation employees were threatened with firearms and made to work on the levee, heaping sandbags to protect nearby communities.

Because of this, the song goes like this: “I works on the levee, mother both night and day, I works so hard, to keep the flood away.” It was forbidden for Black people to leave the area after the levee breached, so they helped with the relief and cleanup effort while confined to makeshift camps with limited access to incoming supplies. This is one of the songs about disaster that reflect on a lot of things.

12. “In From the Storm” by Jimi Hendrix

Brilliant riff! The message of this song is that you try to leave something you love but ultimately discover that you can’t bear to part with it.

13. Your Brains Jonathan Coulton

This tune is designed to be humorous and lighthearted. Apocalyptic zombie scenarios are completely fictional. Many of Coulton’s tunes are satirical in nature. This song is about a very absurd and unreal situation, so yeah.

14. Jimmy Buffett’s “Volcano”

Jimmy Buffett’s eighth studio album has a title track about the volcano on Montserrat, British West Indies, that he was afraid would erupt while he was recording there.

15. The Decemberists, “Calamity Song”

The Decemberists - Calamity Song

The narrator is describing a dream he had in which he and his friend participated as follows:

After a devastating earthquake in California, the United States is thrown into a post-apocalyptic state in which survivors organize into tribal groups that function independently of the government (like Andalusia and Panama).

Rich people from Wall Street (like Hetty Green) try to assert their authority during the upheaval, but they can’t do so in a society where their previous norms no longer apply.

The Earth quickly consumes and destroys that ill-fated empire (receded into loam). The narrator and his companion have decided to return to their original settlement and establish a new community there. Towards the end, he offers advice on how to go about that.

16. Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire

Eve Of Destruction

Although it was a protest song about political issues of the 1960s, several radio stations censored “Eve of Destruction” due to its antigovernment themes. The issue helped boost the song’s popularity to the point that it quickly became the most downloaded song in the United States.

This song addresses some of the most divisive issues in contemporary American society, including racism, hypocrisy, and injustice. A major inspiration for the lyric was the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.