10 Popular Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events

Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events

Music has a way of calming our spirits. The words, meanings, and emotions presented can all speak to each of us in unique ways. Most of us have a few favorites that we enjoy listening to on repeat.

But do you know how many popular songs were inspired by heartbreaking events? If you go deep enough, the inspirations for popular current music can be quite grim. Scroll down to learn the songs inspired by heartbreaking events

1. “The Little Things Give You Away” (2007)

Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Linkin Park’s third album, Minutes to Midnight, was released in 2007, following the success of their first two. The band’s multi-genre popularity continued with tracks such as “What I’ve Done” and “Bleed It Out.”

The album’s lesser-known ballad “The Little Things Give You Away” was a touching homage to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The band’s release two years after the disaster aimed to remember the victims while also criticizing the government’s response.

It opens with an unusual acoustic guitar and singer Chester Bennington’s unique voice. The song defies expectations by depicting the anguish of a hurricane victim. Linkin Park sheds their rap rock roots and presents a heartfelt lament for people who have battled to recover from a natural calamity.

2. “New York Mining Disaster 1941” (1967)

Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events

Before their disco heyday, the Bee Gees were producing rock and folk-inspired singles such as “New York Mining Disaster 1941.” Although the title suggests otherwise, the song was inspired by a mining catastrophe in Wales.

Excess mine waste tumbled down a mountainside and into Aberfan, Wales. Overall, 144 individuals died as a result of the accident.

The Gibb brothers tell a traditional tale about the tragic event, warning everyone of the fragility of life. Despite dealing with a gloomy subject, the innovative song boasts the appealing harmonies that made the band famous.

3. “The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” (2007)

Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events

Dave Grohl formed the Foo Fighters in 1994 as a post-Nirvana pet project. By 2007, they’d won multiple Grammys and toured the world as the preeminent modern rock band. Their impact spread to a group of miners in Tasmania who became trapped in a mine shaft.

While waiting for rescue, one of the miners asked for an iPod loaded with Foo Fighters tunes. This motivated Grohl to repay the favor in song. Guest artist and talented guitarist Kaki King performed a remarkable guitar duet with Grohl.

“The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” is a rare instrumental from the band with one of the most unique song origins in their discography.

4. “Let Him Dangle” (1989).

Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events
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Elvis Costello built a name for himself in the late 1970s and 1980s with his perceptive rock songs. “Let Him Dangle” is no exception, portraying the historic Derek Bentley trial from 1953.

Bentley and his companion, Christopher Craig, attempted to loot a warehouse, but Craig shot and killed a police officer. Although Bentley did not fire the rifle, he allegedly told Craig, “Let him have it.”

This prompted Bentley’s contentious murder trial, in which he was sentenced to death. In a criticism against the death penalty, Costello uses his characteristic wit to present the facts. “Let Him Dangle” deserves a mention for its satirical and unique take on a landmark trial, as only Elvis Costello could sing so.


5. “Wind of Change” (1991)

Songs Inspired By Heartbreaking Events
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By the mid-1980s, most people recognized Scorpions as the heavy metal band responsible for hits like “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” In the early 1990s, the German band shifted gears to address the tremendous changes occurring in Eastern Europe. After witnessing the dissolution of the Soviet Union firsthand, they composed a song to honor the Cold War’s end.

All of these emotions evolved into the power ballad “Wind of Change.” Scorpions’ emotional piece, released two years after the Berlin Wall collapsed, rendered metal listeners contemplative.

Finally, Rudolf Schenker’s triumphal guitar solo rounds out the song. Regardless of your feelings toward hard rock, this song has enough content to satisfy any music listener.

6. “Bastille Day” (1975)

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Rush became well-known for their complicated songwriting and elaborate instruments. On their third album, Rush brought history to life with the song “Bastille Day.” Neil Peart’s lyrics recount the storming of the Bastille in 1789, which sparked the French Revolution.

Rush intended to recontextualize the event for a 1975 audience, reminding them of the importance of questioning authority. While casual fans may prefer songs such as “Tom Sawyer,” this deep track captures a prevailing attitude and importance. Not to mention that it is another in a long line of technically brilliant efforts by Canadian superstars.

7. “Fortunate Son” (1969)

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Creedence frontman John Fogerty created this song while thinking about Vietnam and the draft. A lottery system, which was highly contentious at the time, determined whether or not young men had to serve. Fogerty was inspired by President Eisenhower’s son David when he wrote “Fortunate Son,” which is frequently misunderstood as an openly patriotic song.

David Eisenhower spent his military time in the Mediterranean, while the less fortunate were sent to the Vietnamese jungle. Beyond its extensive use in war films, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s masterwork remains a boisterous protest song. All these years later, Fogerty’s wailing vocals solidify “Fortunate Son” as a classic piece of 1960s fury.

8. “Zombie” (1994)

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By the mid-1990s, The Cranberries were known for alternative successes including “Dreams” and “Linger.” One of their biggest successes was the protest song “Zombie.”

The song, written by singer Dolores O’Riordan, is about the 1993 bombs in Warrington. They were carried out by the IRA as part of a series of attacks intended to put pressure on the United Kingdom to leave Northern Ireland.

Following in the footsteps of other Irish bands such as U2, The Cranberries carried on a long history of chronicling “The Troubles.” The song begins as a passionate wake-up cry to cyclical violence and progresses to a powerful chorus of intense emotion. “Zombie” still rips through our hearts as a visceral call for nonviolence.

9. “Uprising” (2009)


This double platinum song was inspired by the G20 protests in London. In 2009, demonstrators banded together to oppose corporate greed and inaction on climate change. While the majority of the rally was peaceful, an aggressive police force battled with protestors, resulting in the murder of an innocent bystander. Muse frontman Matt Bellamy infused the protests into this glam rock-influenced anthem. Muse’s distinctive 80s flair sets a combative tone, with throbbing performances from all instruments. Bellamy created a song that’s fun to sing along to while yet conveying a powerful message.

10. “Woodstock” (1970)

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In 1969, the renowned Woodstock music festival in New York symbolized the peak of American music and culture. Although she did not attend, singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell captured the atmosphere of the event in this iconic piano ballad. Mitchell’s unique gifts contextualize Woodstock in a wistful and beautifully described tale. Her original version transports the listener back to Max Yasgur’s farm, where music history was altered forever.

Later, Woodstock attendees Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young recorded a hit version. Regardless of who sings it, “Woodstock” brilliantly conveys the mystical aspect of the legendary festival.

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