Some of the most powerful songs are written about escaping to a better place, whether it’s for a fresh start or to get away from a negative situation in life.
There have been countless songs written about escaping over the years. It’s a topic that’s used by songwriters in all of the popular genres, from country to folk, to hip-hop.
In this guide, we’ve listed a wide range of songs about escaping. You’ll find tracks from familiar artists across all musical styles and from various decades. We also have a Spotify playlist with all of the songs listed below at the bottom of the page.
1. The Zephyr Song by Red Hot Chili Peppers
|Album||By The Way|
Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of those rare bands that can produce music of quality in various styles. “The Zephyr Song,” which was released as a single from the band’s 2002 album By The Way, is a song that explores the subject of escaping with another person to start afresh.
The guitar riff that is central to the catchy sound of this song could be played by a beginner, but it proves that sometimes it serves a song better to keep things simple.
2. Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters
|Album||There Is Nothing Left to Lose|
This anthemic track by American rock legends Foo Fighters has been a mainstay of the band’s live sets since it was released over two decades ago. It’s a song that is written about trying to find meaning in your current situation but also flirting with the idea of escaping to somewhere new. The chorus ends with the line “make my way back home and learn to fly,” which perhaps indicates that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. This is one of the Foo Fighters’ most famous songs and reached a peach position of 19 on the Billboard Hot 100.
3. Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
|Album||(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)|
From the epic intro to the even more memorable end section, “Free Bird” is a masterpiece in classic rock songwriting. This song is about having an insatiable hunger for discovery and wanting to escape from one’s current circumstances.
“Free Bird” is one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s best-known tracks and was often played at the band’s live shows in the 1970s. The guitar solo towards the end of the song by Allen Collins is another notable part of this song. “Free Bird” is one of my favorite songs that use metaphors in a way that makes the song even more powerful.
4. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Bob Dylan
|Album||The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan|
Bob Dylan is one of America’s most treasured songwriters, with his imagery-filled lyrics winning him many accolades over the years. In “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Dylan sings about the painful decision to leave a loved one, escaping to the new life that awaits.
This track also showcases Dylan’s fingerstyle guitar playing, which is not a technique he heavily used in his early folk songs. The song is a folk classic that has been covered by an array of other artists.
5. A Sweeter Place by Selena Gomez ft. Kid Cudi
Former Disney star Selena Gomez has established herself as a solo pop artist thanks to songs like “A Sweeter Place” from her 2020 album, Rare. This song features rap legend Kid Cudi, best known for songs like “Day N’ Nite” and “Pursuit of Happiness.”
Lyrically, this pop song explores the feelings that we get when we think about moving to a place where we can escape from the negative things in our lives.
6. Escape from LA by The Weeknd
A dark, melancholy R&B track is something that Canadian artist The Weeknd is renowned for creating, and “Escape from LA” certainly fits into that category. This song was included on the 2020 album After Hours and is about two lovers realizing they need to escape from the city of Los Angeles if their relationship is going to survive.
7. Exodus by Bob Marley and the Wailers
Many people class Bob Marley as the most iconic reggae artist in history, mainly for his work with his band, The Wailers. In 1977, they released the classic album Exodus, and the title track became a global hit.
As the title suggests, this song is about fleeing a certain place and escaping to a better life. Marley’s raw and emotional vocals blend with the sound of The Wailers brilliantly.
8. Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver
|Album||Rhymes & Reasons|
John Denver wrote some magnificent songs in his life, and “Leaving on a Jet Place” is one of his most popular compositions. Penned when he was a relatively unknown artist, this folk song would be the catalyst for his fame.
The song’s lyrics are about deciding to escape from a place with no plans to return. Surprisingly, it never charted in the US, despite being one of Denver’s best-known songs. If you love “Free Bird” check out our playlist of songs about flying away.
9. Society by Eddie Vedder
|Album||Into The Wild|
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder was invited to write and record the soundtrack to the 2007 movie Into the Wild by director Sean Penn. Vedder agreed and produced a stunning collection of tracks that perfectly suited the wanderlust theme of the film.
“Society” is a highlight of the album. The song features lyrics such as “Society, your crazy breed/I hope you’re not lonely, without me,” and is inspired by the freedom that comes with escaping.
10. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash
English rockers The Clash spearheaded the punk movement that swept the nation in the late ’70s and early ’80s. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a song written about trying to decide whether to remain in a certain place or to escape to another location. It was sung by Mick Jones and became the band’s only number 1 UK single.
11. Thugz Mansion by Tupac Shakur
Rapper Tupac Shakur was a prolific artist when he was alive, and a lot of his music has also been released posthumously. “Thugz Mansion” was included on the album Better Dayz and has become a favorite amongst fans of the late rapper.
This track’s lyrics are about escaping to a place where none of the negative things in life exist, with Tupac fantasizing about what such a place would be like. Tupac is an absolute legend and this is one of the best songs about escaping of all time.
12. From the Sun by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Many modern bands and artists have attempted to make their music sound like it is from the 1960s, but few have been able to do this as convincingly as Reuben Nielson, better known as Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The album II was made using vintage tape machines and analog outboard gear combined with digital recording methods, giving it a unique sound. “From The Sun” is one of the standout tracks and is written about the dangers of escapism. If you like this song, check out our playlist of songs about sunshine. Many of the songs on that playlist also talk about getting away to a happier place.
13. Ramble On by Led Zeppelin
|Album||Led Zeppelin II|
Written by guitarist Jimmy Page and lead vocalist Robert Plant, “Ramble On” is a song that combines elements of hard rock, blues, and folk. It was released on Led Zeppelin’s second album, and along with the notable array of guitar tones featured in the song, it is memorable for the lyrics, which are about feeling like it’s time to escape and travel the world.
14. Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado
Canadian pop singer Nelly Furtado was one of the best-selling artists of the noughties, best known for hits like “Say It Right” and “Promiscuous.” In 2000, she released an album that combined elements of pop and folk and contained the hit single “Like A Bird.” This melodic, upbeat track is about the innate desire to move from one place to another, escaping the traps of staying in the same situation for too long.
15. Leaving on a Jet Plane by Peter, Paul, and Mary
|Album||Rhymes & Reasons|
This simple but catchy pop song has been covered by several artists, but the most successful commercially was Peter, Paul, and Mary’s 1969 version. It opens with the line “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go” and continues to describe the feelings that knowing you’re about to leave a particular place and people evokes.
16. Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s 1980 album, The Wall, may not have had the impact the earlier Dark Side of the Moonor Wish You Were Here did, but it is still considered a prog-rock classic.
“Run Like Hell” is a song that is highly underrated. It has a disco-rock sound, with reverb-draped guitars. The lyrics explore the topic of getting away from everything in a hurry.
17. Going Underground by The Jam
In 1980, The Jam was one of the best-known young bands in Britain. With their energetic brand of new wave rock fueled by frontman Paul Weller’s excellent songwriting, the band churned out several hit singles, including “Going Underground.”
Despite not appearing on any of the band’s studio albums, this song remains one of the band’s most popular. It details the problems facing British society at the time and wanting to escape from them by “going underground.”
18. Old Yellow Bricks by Arctic Monkeys
|Album||Favorite Worst Nightmare|
When Arctic Monkeys released the follow-up to their hit debut album, the band had only just entered their twenties. Favorite Worst Nightmare contained quality songwriting throughout that belied their age and proved that the Sheffield band wasn’t simply a one-trick pony.
“Old Yellow Bricks” is a song inspired by the story of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Its lyrics talk about escaping the confines of your life situation but not knowing where you will end up.
19. Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles
Ray Charles had his fair share of trials and tribulations in his life, as is brilliantly documented in the biopic Ray, starring Jamie Fox in the lead role. However, the blind singer was able to convert a lot of his troubles into excellent songs, like “Hit the Road Jack.” This bluesy R&B number is about escaping from the mess that you’ve made by grabbing all of your belongings and hitting the road.
20. Whatever By Oasis
|Album||Stop the Clocks|
“Whatever” is one of Oasis’ best-known tracks, but it surprisingly wasn’t included on any of the band’s studio albums, barring the compilation Stop the Clocks, which was released a decade later.
This song is centered on the theme of escaping, moving on to something new, and being “free to be whatever I like.” It’s another reminder of the songwriting capabilities of Noel Gallagher and the vocal talents of his brother Liam.
21. Waterloo by Abba
Swedish pop outfit Abba are amongst the most successful musicians in history, but there was a time when they were an unknown act trying to make a name for themselves. In 1974, the group entered the Eurovision Song Contest and won it with the single “Waterloo.”
The chorus lyrics of the song are “Waterloo, couldn’t escape if I wanted to,” and it deals with the topic of not being able to leave a place or situation because you’re too attached to escape.
22. I Want to Break Free by Queen
With an iconic music video and catchy chorus, Queen’s “I Want to Break Free” is one of the best-known songs about escaping reality. This track has a syncopated bass line and a solid drumbeat that accompany frontman Freddie Mercury’s powerful vocals as he sings about wanting to escape the confines of his life.
23. Run to You by Whitney Houston
|Album||The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album|
The soundtrack to the movie The Bodyguard mainly featured songs by Whitney Houston and is one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time. Houston displays her wide vocal range in the song “Run to You,” which is about returning to a lover and escaping an undesirable situation. It’s an emotional R&B ballad that fits perfectly with the movie. This song was also nominated for an Academy Award for “best original song” in 1993 as well.
24. I Want to Go Home by Johnny Cash
|Album||Songs of Our Soil|
The seventh track on country icon Johnny Cash’s 1959 album, “I Want to Go Home ” tells the story of a man who longs for the familiarity of his hometown. Its sound is typical of Cash’s early music, with a plucked guitar rhythm, bluesy chord pattern, and low-pitched vocals that mesmerize the listener.
25. When I’m Gone by Eminem
|Genre||Conscious Hip Hop|
|Album||Curtain Call: The Hits|
There are many sides to Eminem’s music, with some of his songs conveying humor, some more aggressive in style, and others showcasing his introspective, sensitive style. The 2005 single “When I’m Gone” definitely falls into the latter category.
This song is essentially a letter to Eminem’s loved ones telling them how to cope with him not being around if he chooses to escape for a while.
26. Runnin’ (Lose It All) by Naughty Boy ft. Beyonce and Arrow Benjamin
British electronic music producer Naughty Boy teamed up with R&B singers Beyonce and Arrow Benjamin on this 2015 hit single. “Runnin'” includes typically powerful vocals from Beyonce, which are accompanied by fast-paced drum beats and smooth-sounding synths.
Lyrically, this song is about giving up on the idea of escaping from yourself and instead choosing to face up to the circumstances of your life head-on.
27. Walking Away by Craig David
|Album||Born to Do It|
British R&B singer Craig David has reinvented himself as a successful DJ in recent years, but in the early 2000s, he was one of the most promising new artists to come out of the London scene. His album Born to Do It spawned several hit singles, and “Walking Away” is written about making the decision to finally escape from circumstances that have been holding you back.
28. Escape Plan by Travis Scott
Featuring Travis Scott’s signature vocal ad-libs, trap-style drums, and dreamy sounds, “Escape Plan” is a catchy single by the talented rapper. It wasn’t released as part of an album, but a music video was put out on the day that the single became available to the public, and the song quickly gained popularity amongst Travis Scott fans.
29. The Sweet Escape by Gwen Stefani ft. Akon
|Album||The Sweet Escape|
After achieving global success with her band No Doubt in the 1990s, Gwen Stefani made the transition to being a solo star. In 2006, she released the album The Sweet Escape and the lead single of the same name.
Featuring R&B legend Akon, and with a catchy chorus melody, this song talks about needing to get away from everything and escape to a more desirable place.
30. Road Trippin’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers
After guitarist John Frusciante rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he embarked on a road trip to Big Sur with vocalist Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea. This inspired the trio to write the song “Road Trippin,” which would later be released as a single from the album Californication. The song is one of the few by the band that is mostly acoustic, with drummer Chad Smith not present on the trip that led to it being written.
31. On the Road Again by Canned Heat
|Album||Boogie with Canned Heat|
“On the Road Again” by Canned Heat is one of the best songs you’ll find about escaping. With its dark, bluesy sound contrasted by the high-pitched singing, this is one of the most unique tracks to come out of the late 1960s in America. It focuses on the sadness of having to escape from a place rather than looking at it from an optimistic viewpoint. If you’re looking for songs with deep meanings, this is one I certainly recommend.
32. Doesn’t Remind Me by Audioslave
|Album||Out of Exile|
Audioslave was essentially a supergroup that consisted of three members of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave’s Chris Cornell on vocals. The band’s second album, Out of Exile, received widespread praise from fans and the music press.
“Doesn’t Remind Me” is written about escapism. The lyrics deal with the feeling of not belonging anywhere and doing certain things because they don’t conjure up any memories or feelings of attachment.
33. Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf
This hard rock classic has enjoyed popularity for many decades thanks to its catchy chorus and crunchy guitar tone. “Born to Be Wild” is a declaration that sometimes you have to follow your gut instinct and escape the predictable nature of everyday life, instead venturing into the unknown and seeing what is in store. It was written by Mars Bonfire, but the most popular version is this one, played by the hard rock band Steppenwolf.
34. Holy Diver by Dio
Released as the lead single from the album of the same name, “Holy Diver” is one of the best-known tracks from the metal band Dio. Interestingly, the song failed to achieve success in the charts, but it soon became a fan favorite at the band’s live shows. The chorus repeats the line, “Gotta get away.”
35. Runaway by Kanye West
|Album||My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy|
The 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is widely regarded as Kane West’s best work, thanks to tracks like “Runaway.” As the title of this song suggests, it is heavily based on the theme of escaping but is actually about advising someone else to leave due to the heartbreak that they have been caused by another person.
36. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman is an iconic song that has remained popular ever since its initial release in 1988. This folk ballad deals with topics such as regret, optimism, and the need to escape to a new reality. Released on Chapman’s eponymous album, it propelled the singer-songwriter to stardom.
37. You Won’t See Me by The Beatles
The final song on the classic 1965 album Rubber Soul, “You Won’t See Me,” is a song written predominantly by Paul McCartney but released with his band The Beatles. With its upbeat, melodic sound, this song is about escaping from a relationship that is no longer making you happy. It’s an excellent example of The Beatles’ ability to sing complex harmonies.
38. California Dreamin’ by The Mamas & Papas
|Album||If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears|
“California Dreaming” was originally written for folk artist Barry McGuire, but in 1965, The Mamas & Papas released their version, which went on to become a hit single. This song is about dreaming of escaping to the warmth and sunshine of LA, which is a feeling that many of us can relate to in the winter months. In terms of songs about dreams, this is one of my all-time favorites. I lived in California for a long time, so I can resonate with it as well.
39. Old Town Road by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
The original recording of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X was essentially a demo that gained traction when the rapper uploaded it to the internet. This led country legend Billy Ray Cyrus to sing the hook, and the song quickly became one of the biggest-selling singles of 2018.
A blend of country and rap music, the song is about escaping out to the open road on horseback and leaving all of your troubles behind.
40. Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson is one of the most successful contestants from the hit TV show, American Idol, selling millions of records worldwide. Her breakthrough album was called Breakaway, which included hits like “Since U Been Gone” and the title track.
This song, along with the entire album, is largely based on the act of escapism. Its lyrics discuss the longing for something new while still being held in place by current circumstances.
41. Running Away by Bob Marley and the Wailers
This emotional track is one of the standout compositions from Bob Marley and The Wailers’ classic 1977 album, Exodus. Marley had an exceptional talent for writing lyrics and often used simple words to convey his deep, powerful messages. “Running Away” is a perfect example of this and discusses the possibilities that await when you leave your current situation in search of something new. This is easily one of the most iconic songs about escaping ever written.
42. Somewhere Only We Know by Keane
|Album||Hopes and Fears|
Keane vocalist Tom Chaplin is a highly underrated singer, and he gave one of his greatest performances on the hit 2004 single “Somewhere Only We Know” by his band, Keane.
This pop-rock ballad is written about longing to escape to a place that used to be familiar but is now so far away. It was a huge commercial success around the world and established Keane as one of the biggest bands in the UK at the time.
43. Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight
|Album||Midnight Train to Georgia|
“Midnight Train to Georgia” is a soulful song by Gladys Knight and her backing group, The Pips. It was their first song to reach number one on the US singles charts and also won the group a grammy in 1974.
With Knight’s powerful vocals singing a tale of a man who is in the process of leaving everything behind and starting afresh in Georgia, this song became her most famous and is still popular today.
44. On the Road Again by Willie Nelson
Country legend Willie Nelson has enjoyed a long and decorated career in the music industry. One of his most famous songs is the 1980 single “On the Road Again” from the album Honeysuckle Rose.
“On the Road Again” features lyrics about longing to travel and play music, escaping the mundanity of everyday life. It’s a great track to blast out when you’re on a road trip with friends.
45. East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed
|Album||Smokey And The Bandit: Music from the Motion Picture|
In 1977, country singer-songwriter Jerry Reed released the single “East Bound and Down.” The song was included on the soundtrack to the movie, Smokey and the Bandit and was written to fit with the film’s storyline of escaping from the law. It’s the type of song you feel like you’ve heard before, even when you listen to it for the first time, which is always a sign of good songwriting.
46. Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac
|Genre||Rock, Hard Rock|
Sung mainly by Lindsey Buckingham, “Go Your Own Way” is one of the best-known songs from Fleetwood Mac’s iconic 1976 album, Rumours. This song, as the title suggests, is about escaping from a situation that you’re not happy with and making the decision to “go your own way” rather than sticking around.
47. Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz
Lenny Kravitz is an artist that is hard to pin down. He’s made music in the genres of rock, R&B, pop, and more, which is a testament to his versatility. Known for his guitar chops and innovative melodies, Kravitz has written several songs on the theme of escaping, but the most famous has to be “Fly Away,” released in 1998.
48. Farewell by Rihanna
|Album||Talk That Talk|
Pop star Rihanna has been in the spotlight since signing her first record deal as a teenager, and her music has constantly developed with each album she has released. In 2011, she released Talk That Talk, which included the single “Goodbye.” This track is about escaping from a relationship that isn’t working anymore and has a classic 2010’s R&B sound.
49. Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield
“Move On Up” is a song by soul legend Curtis Mayfield. It was included on his self-titled album and was later sampled by Kanye West in the song “Touch The Sky.” With its blends of complex drum rhythms, smooth horns, and syncopated guitars, the instrumental lays down the perfect platforms for the lyrics, which talk about escaping and reaching your destination. In our opinion, this is one of the most powerful songs about moving on of all time.
50. Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix
|Album||Axis: Bold as Love|
Jimi Hendrix laid down countless iconic guitar parts in his career, but it’s hard to think of a song that better demonstrates his incredible talent than “Little Wing.” With its jangly, melodic intro and warm tone, this song became an instant classic.
The lyrics are abstract, as many Hendrix compositions were. However, if you analyze them closely, you’ll find an underlying tone of wanting to escape to a place of peace and tranquility.
51. Dog Days are Over by Florence + the Machine
British indie pop band Florence + the Machine, fronted by Florence Welsh, has received many accolades in their career. They headlined Glastonbury Festival, won Brit awards, and had their music reach the top of the UK charts. “Dog Days are Over” is a song that is about moving into a new phase of your life rather than feeling like you can’t escape from the things that are holding you back.
52. Take the Money and Run by Steve Miller Band
|Album||Fly Like an Eagle|
Steve Miller and his band wrote some exceptional rock songs in the 1970s. The group was known for their expert musicianship and catchy singles, like “Take the Money and Run,” released in 1976. This song, as the title hints, is about two lovers fleeing with some money that doesn’t belong to them.
53. Escape by Muse
In 1999, British band Muse was quickly building up a fanbase. They hadn’t yet developed their sound that would fill stadiums for many years to come, but if you listen to early albums like Showbiz, you can see that the band were accomplished songwriters from the off. “Escape” is one of the highlights from that album. If you enjoy this song, head over to our playlist of songs about running away because I think you’ll resonate with many of the songs there.
54. Going Up in The Country by Canned Heat
|Album||Living the Blues|
“Going Up in The Country” is an old blues song that was originally recorded by Henry Thomas, a Texas-based musician, in 1928. Exactly forty years later, the American rock band Canned Heat released their version of the song, with Alan Wilson’s signature falsetto vocal style.
This song is about escaping the hustle and bustle of a town or city and heading for the countryside on an adventure. The fast-paced, energetic style of Canned Heat’s version adds to this sense of escaping.
55. Runnin’ Away by Sly and the Family Stone
|Album||There’s a Riot Goin’ On|
American funk and soul band Sly and the Family Stone released a lot of great music during their time together. The 1972 album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On, is widely considered one of their best, and it includes the single “Runnin’ Away.” This song is about abandoning everything you know and having to search for a better life and therefore fits with the theme of escaping.
56. Holiday by Dizzee Rascal
|Album||Tongue n’ Cheek|
British rapper Dizzee Rascal teamed up with DJ and producer Calvin Harris on the hit 2009 single “Holiday.” The grime artist raps about taking a vacation to escape the worries and stresses of everyday life. It went on to sell over 600,000 copies, becoming one of Dizzee Rascal’s most successful singles.
57. 8 Mile by Eminem
|Album||“8 Mile” Soundtrack|
The soundtrack to the 2002 movie 8 Mile included some great songs, such as the worldwide hit “Lose Yourself.” Another excellent track that Eminem composed for the motion picture shared its title and detailed his many attempts to escape from his hometown of Detroit before he eventually found success as a rapper.
Spotify Playlist of Songs About Escaping
That does it for this playlist. If you know of any great songs that we missed, let us know in the comments section below.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Butler, Pennsylvania. I’ve been obsessed with music and audio gear for as long as I can remember. I started this website to help people find professional advice related to a wide range of audio topics. We have a number of Audio Engineers on our team who have been designing and fixing audio gear for decades.