12 Songs About Serious Subjects

Art has a way of holding a mirror to society and showing its vulnerabilities, fallacies, immoralities and evils.  Art does it in a way that’s entertaining, so people don’t realize the lesson they are being taught.  In the case of music, sometimes catchy tunes mask serious subjects.  Here are 12 songs about serious subjects to ponder.

P.O.D.  “Youth of the Nation”

Subject:  School shootings

P.O.D., which stands for Payable On Death, wrote this single following a 2001 mass shooting at Santana High School in Santee, California, which caused the band to get stuck in traffic while on their way to the studio.  It also is partially inspired by the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.  The song is told from the point of view of three victims of gun violence.

“Who’s to blame for the lives that tragedies claim?

No matter what you say, it don’t take away the pain

That I feel inside, I’m tired of all the lies”

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus “Face Down”

Subject:  Domestic violence

In an 2019 interview with Alternative Press Magazine, frontman Ronnie Winter said the song is about the domestic abuse he and his brother experienced in their childhood.

“Do you feel like a man, when you push her around?

Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground?”

Godsmack “Truth”

Subject:  Adultery

Lighting up the Sky, the album this song is found on, is inspired by a breakup frontman Sully Erna experienced.

“Why can’t you be by yourself

Always needing to be with someone else

So uncomfortable in your own skin

I didn’t realize that time alone meant time with him”

Papa Roach “Last Resort”

Subject:  Suicide

One of numerous rock songs about suicide.  Honorable Mentions:  My Chemical Romance “I’m Not Okay,” Badflower “Ghost” and Three Days Grace “Never Too Late.”

“I’ve reached my last resort

Suffocation, no breathing

Don’t give a fuck if I cut my arm bleeding

Do you even care if I die bleeding?”

Apocalyptica featuring Corey Taylor “I’m Not Jesus”

Subject:  Catholic priest sex abuse scandal

In the early 2000s, thousands of priests were investigated for sexually abusing children.  NBC News reported in 2019 that more than 5,100 clergy members were investigated as possible sexual abusers.  The song is told from the perspective of an abused child who is now an adult.

“I thought you were a good man

I thought you talked to God

You hippocratic, messianic

Child abusing turned Satanic”

Alice in Chains “Rooster”

Subject:  The Vietnam War

The song was inspired by the experiences of guitarist and co-vocalist Jerry Cantrell’s father during the war.

“Walking tall machine gunman

They spit on me in my homeland”

Stone Temple Pilots “Sex Type Thing”

Subject:  Rape

The song was inspired by a girl frontman Scott Weiland dated who was raped by three high school football players.

“I’ll give you something that you won’t forget

I said you shouldn’t have worn that dress

I said you shouldn’t have worn that dress, worn that dress”

Green Day “American Idiot”

Subject:  Government propaganda

The song was written as a commentary on news coverage of the Iraq War.

“Don’t wanna be an American idiot

Don’t want a nation under the new media

And can you hear the sound of hysteria?

The subliminal mindfuck America”

Three Days Grace “It’s All Over”

Subject:  Drug Addiction

Many songs on the album One X were inspired by frontman Adam Gontier’s struggle with drugs.

“The needle’s breaking your skin

The scar is sinking in

And now your trip begins”

Falling In Reverse “Zombified”

Subject:  Cancel culture

Cancel culture is used to refer to “a culture in which those who are deemed to have acted or spoken in an unacceptable manner are ostracized, boycotted or shunned. This shunning may extend to social or professional circles—whether on social media or in person—with most high-profile incidents involving celebrities.”

“You better shut your mouth and bite your tongue

‘Cause you don’t wanna piss off anyone

We’re traumatized by the damage done

Welcome to America”

Chevelle “Face to the Floor”

Subject:  The Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme

Madoff ran a securities firm that earned “undisclosed commissions” instead of the standard hedge fund fee of 1 percent of the total plus 20 percent of the profits.  In 2009, he was sentence to sentenced to 150 years in prison and forced to forfeit $170 billion. The song is told from the perspective of Madoff’s victims.

“Pay up, never wait ’em out

Clever, Madoff, take it all

Take it all”

Iron Maiden “Run To The Hills”

Subject:  The U.S. Army’s wars with Native Americans

The song is told from the perspectives of both an indigenous person and a soldier.

“We fought him hard, we fought him well

Out on the plains, we gave him hell

But many came, too much for Cree

Oh, will we ever be set free?”


Listen to this playlist on Spotify.


This is by no means an exhaustive list.  What songs about serious subjects did I leave off the list that you would have included?  Leave a comment below.  Comments close after 90 days.


Here’s the 4-1-1

Mr. Right is a Myth by Melina DrugaThis blog is a companion piece to The Rock Star’s Wife, a series about sex, family, and rock & roll.  The series has elements of chick lit, romance and erotica and is best compared to The Vagina Monologues for its frank talk of sex and its consequences.  The series follows Cassandra from her teenage years into her 40s as she navigates relationships (both romantic and platonic) — all with music playing a prominent roll.

Book two, Mr. Right is a Myth, debuts August 2023:  Co-ed Cassandra Economos has a plan.  Earn her degree then move into a Chicago penthouse.  If she can meet a guy who accepts her, high sex drive and all, that’s an added bonus.  But how many frogs must she kiss before she meets a prince?

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Author: Melina Druga

Melina Druga is a multi-genre author with a lifelong love of music, books and writing. She is the author of the Rock Star's Wife series, six historical fiction novels and nine nonfiction books. Based in the Midwest, Druga lives with her husband, daughter, black cat and CD collection.

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