Pain is a part of life. We are all going to experience suffering at some point, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental. I have always thought that the way you handle your pain, and if you show the capability of learning from it, is what differentiates ordinary people from extraordinary people. Since it’s so common, many songs about pain have been written over the years.
Whatever you choose to do with your pain, you can always count on music to help get you through it. The list of songs below is a great place to start.
Table of Contents
1. Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
|Album||Automatic For the People|
In 1992, the alternative group R.E.M. was at the top of their game when they released their critically-praised eighth studio album, “Automatic For the People.” Formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980, they have had eight songs enter the Billboard Top 100 charts, including four top 10 hits. Although their song Everybody Hurts may not have had as much success as some of their other singles, it is the most heartfelt song they have ever released. While the track isn’t about a specific pain, it’s about the pain we endure every day.
2. Hurt Me by Juice WRLD
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||Goodbye & Good Riddance|
Jarad Anthony Higgins was one of hip-hop hop’s rising stars before his tragic death in 2019. Known professionally by his stage name, Juice WRLD, Higgins put the rap game on notice with his debut studio album “Goodbye & Good Riddance,” although he hasn’t released a few mixtapes before signing his deal with Interscope Records. One of the eeriest songs on his first album was the cut “Hurt Me,” which was strangely prophetic, as he says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but the drugs won’t hurt me.” Sadly, that’s exactly what they did.
3. My Immortal by Evanescence
Amy Lee of Evanescence has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. That’s not surprising when you consider that she has a mezzo-soprano vocal range and is a classically trained pianist. If that’s not enough, Lee was also named the Vocalist of the Year at the 2012 Revolver Golden Gods Awards. That voice is on full display on the tear-inducing “My Immortal,” which is from their debut album “Fallen.” This beautiful song is about the pain you feel when you put everything you have into a relationship, and it fails anyway.
4. Duality by Slipknot
|Album||Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)|
If there is one band that epitomizes pain, it’s Slipknot. They have gone through lineup changes due to illness, personal differences, and the tragic death of a bandmate. However, this Grammy-winning brotherhood from Iowa continues to push through the pain and keep moving forward. They have released seven studio albums, two live albums, and one compilation over their twenty-plus years in music, selling over nine million records worldwide. Their third album, “Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses),” produced the single “Duality,” which is about using one form of pain to relieve oneself from another.
5. Killing Yourself To Live by Black Sabbath
|Album||Sabbath Bloody Sabbath|
In 1969, Black Sabbath made history when they combined hard rock and blues, making an entirely new genre of music that would become known as heavy metal. They had a career that could only be described as iconic, culminating with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Two recurring themes on their albums were darkness and pain, like in 1973’s “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” The record’s fifth track, called “Killing Yourself To Live,” is a statement about how pain, suffering, and misery have now become an acceptable part of everyday life.
6. I Feel Like Dying by Lil Wayne
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||The Drought Is Over 2 (Carter 3 Sessions)|
New Orleans-born Dwayne Carter is one of the greatest rappers ever. Lil Wayne is well-respected by his peers and has earned praises and accolades throughout his career, which began at 12 when he signed his first contract with Cash Money Records. Wayne has released 13 studio, one collaborative, and three compilation albums. He’s also released five EPs, and 29 mixtapes, including “The Drought Is Over 2 (Carter 3 Sessions),” featuring “I Feel Like Dying.” The track is about using drugs to escape reality and the pain you feel when you finally come down.
7. You Know You’re Right by Nirvana
The Pacific Northwest gave birth to the biggest musical trend of the 1990s, and Nirvana was at the forefront. They would become the biggest band in the world before Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. They released three studio albums, five live albums, two EPs, four compilations, and two box sets, including “Nevermind,” which sold over 30 million units. The previously unreleased “You Know You’re Right” was the last song Nirvana recorded. Kurt wrote it to take a shot at his wife Courtney Love, with whom he was having marital troubles at the time.
8. Let It Hurt by Rascal Flatts
Far too often, we try to bury our pain or find something to distract us from what hurts us. While this may be a temporary solution to the problem, it’s detrimental to our mental well-being to consistently avoid any type of confrontation. That’s the point of the song “Let It Hurt” by multi-platinum country music superstars Rascal Flatts. Found on the band’s eighth album, “Changed,” Lead vocalist Gary LeVox said that this song represents the pain that each member was enduring at the time. They were going through changes and made a record. Racal Flatts actually has several songs relating to the pain life can bring and even some legendary songs about jealousy.
9. King of Pain by The Police
I had an inner debate as to whether I was going to include the original version of this song or the cover by Mudvayne. I opted for the original. Founded in London in 1977, the Grammy Award-winning trio The Police became the biggest band in rock in 1983 with the release of their classic album “Synchronicity,” which sold over 20 million copies. The eighth track on the album, “King of Pain,” was the lead vocalist and bassist Sting’s way of dealing with his recent divorce and the inner turmoil amongst the members of the band.
10. Beautiful Pain by Eminem (Featuring Sia)
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (Deluxe Edition)|
Pain isn’t always destructive or debilitating. Sometimes we can use the painful memories of the past as a way to construct a better, brighter future for ourselves and our loved ones. You know that you have something truly special when you can take something as ugly as pain and allow it to morph into something beautiful, which is the message Eminem is trying to convey on “Beautiful Pain,” which is a bonus track from the Grammy-winning deluxe edition of “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” with some help from the Australian pop star, Sia.
11. Hurt by Christina Aguilera
|Album||Back to Basics|
Christina Aguilera is the most talented singer on the planet because of her four-octave range and her ability to hit and hold high notes for long periods. She is also a five-time Grammy Award winner and often called the “Voice of a Generation.” On her fifth Studio album, she decided to change things up a little on the appropriately-titled “Back to Basics.” One of the most amazing songs on that album was “Pain,” it’s about the pain you feel when you run into your ex after a really bad breakup.
12. Suicidal Thoughts by Notorious B.I.G
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||Ready To Die|
Brooklyn’s own Christopher Wallace, also known by his stage name Notorious B.I.G, is rap music royalty. Besides a few niche outliers, most rap artists’ songs depict them having a good life, complete with all of the finer things that money can buy. However, the album “Ready To Die” was praised for shattering the stigma of senseless violence in rap, and the track “Suicidal Thoughts” is about the impending sense of doom Wallace had that his death was coming soon, as well as the worthlessness he felt from his depression.
13. Broken by Seether (Featuring Amy Lee)
There are times when you will be hurt so badly that the pain will leave you feeling broken. This pain can stem from a multitude of problems, like the death of a loved one or a breakup in a relationship where you thought everything was great. The latter is the meaning behind the song “Broken,” from Seether’s debut album “Disclaimer,” although the version with Amy Lee is on the soundtrack to “The Punisher.” At the time they recorded the song, Seether frontman Sean Morgan was dating Amy lee, which made the track personal.
14. Cuts Like a Knife by Bryan Adams
|Album||Cuts Like a Knife|
Canadian-born Bryan Adams has carved out a successful rock and pop music career, with 11 top-10 songs and four number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, as well as winning the Juno Award for Song of the Year in 1984 for his top-20 hit “Cuts Like a Knife.” The title track from his 1983 studio album is a song about the pain you feel after a devastating breakup and finding out that your former love is with somebody new. I don’t care who you are. That’s never a good feeling.
15. Pain by Three Days Grace
When someone says that they’re numb, you would automatically assume that they have no sensation or feeling in their extremities. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. What they generally mean is that they have been through so much they are completely void of any feelings. The pain of being known is an entirely different kind of hurt. When Adam Gontier sings this track from their second album, “One-X,” you can hear how desperate he is to feel anything, including pain. Sadly, Gontier and the band parted ways after 20 years together. If you’re looking for songs with pain in the lyrics, then this is one you’ll definitely want to listen to.
16. Run To the Hills by Iron Maiden
|Album||The Number Of the Beast|
There hasn’t been a group of people who have suffered as much in the history of the United States, or maybe even the world, as the American Indian. Their tragic pain at the hands of the Spanish conquistadors in 1565 European settlers in 1587 in different forms of art, including music. On the track “Run To the Hills,” which is on the album “The Number of the Beast,” Bruce Dickinson details the plight of the Native Americans at the hands of the settlers. The song peaked at number seven on the UK charts.
17. Tourniquet by Marilyn Manson
|Genre||Hard Rock, Metal, Nu Metal|
There was a time when Brian Warner, commonly known as Marilyn Manson, was the most controversial figure in hard rock and metal. His music was written to shock or offend anybody who listened. Warner was born in Canton, Ohio, but moved to Florida, where he founded Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. After gaining a strong following with his debut album, Manson was ready to take on the world with the release of his second album, “Antichrist Superstar.” One of its singles was “Tourniquet,” which deals with the pain associated with loving someone.
18. Say Hello 2 Heaven by Temple of the Dog
|Album||Temple of the Dog|
Sadly, most of us will lose a loved one at some point. Hopefully, we won’t have to endure the pain of losing our best friend at the prime of their life, as Chris Cornell did when his best friend Andrew Wood died of an overdose in 1990. Cornell decided to express his pain in his music, creating a one-off supergroup called Temple of the Dog, which consisted of members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The band released one self-titled album and recorded the track “Say Hello 2 Heaven” as a tribute to Wood.
19. Give Me Novacaine by Green Day
Novocaine is a drug that is commonly used by dentists when a patient is about to undergo a painful procedure. While it doesn’t put you to sleep, it will temporarily prevent you from feeling any painful sensations that may occur. However, the pain that Billy Joe Armstrong is singing about on the track “Give Me Novacaine,” which appears on their amazing 2004 punk rock opera “American Idiot,” can’t be helped with novocaine. He is experiencing the emotional pain that comes with a bad breakup and doesn’t want to feel anything at all anymore.
20. Ordinary Pain by Stevie Wonder
|Album||Songs in the Key of Life|
Stevie Wonder is an amazingly talented musician, and his 1976 classic “Songs in the Key of Life” is frequently mentioned amongst the greatest albums ever, with Rolling Stone ranking the album number four on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The fourteenth track on the double album, “Ordinary Pain,” is about the pain you feel in a relationship when you give your all and the other person doesn’t give theirs. You patiently wait for them to come around, but they never do. Eventually, they either step outside of the relationship or leave.
21. Changes by Tupac (Featuring Talent)
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
Tupac Shakur is easily the best rapper ever, widely acknowledged by his fans, critics, and his peers. At a time when most rappers were writing songs about owning the finer things in life, getting as many girls as they can, or committing senseless acts of violence, Tupac was trying to initiate positive change in the world and make it a better place for people of color. It’s too bad that the track “Changes” was posthumously released on a greatest hits compilation. Tupac never got the chance to see the changes he could make.
22. House of Pain by Faster Pussycat
|Genre||Hard Rock, Hair Metal, Glam Rock|
|Album||Wake Me When It’s Over|
A parent must provide love and a safe environment for their children because the pain that we experience as children can affect the way that we see the world as adults. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. There are plenty of children growing up in single-parent homes because one of their parents decided to neglect their duties, which has a detrimental effect on the emotional well-being of the child. That’s what Taime Downe went through with his father on “House of Pain,” from 1989’s “Wake Me When It’s Over.”
23. Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss
|Album||Mud On the Tires|
it’s rare when you discover a song that takes on not one but two of the worst pains the human mind can endure. Those are the end of a beloved relationship and the death of a loved one. Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss were brave enough to take on both in the heartbreaking country ballad “Whiskey Lullaby.” Appearing on Paisley’s third album, “Mud On the Tires,” this song is about the pain of discovering your significant other hasn’t been faithful, and then you end up drinking yourself to death from depression.
24. Ego Brain by System of a Down
|Album||Steal This Album|
Although the Armenian rockers’ System of a Down was at the forefront of the nu-metal movement, they have stuck around long after that genre has disappeared. In 2002, while they were working on a follow-up to their multi-platinum album “Toxicity,” they released a collection of besides and unreleased material called. “Steal This Album!” Because their fans were clamoring for new material from the band. One of those cracks was “Ego Brain,” which is about an egotistical man who has to suffer the pain of knowing that everything he once believed in is wrong.
25. Hurts So Good by John Cougar Mellencamp
No matter what name he’s currently performing under, Indiana native John Mellencamp is a fantastic songwriter whose music transcends genres, dabbling in pop, country, and rock. The song “Hurts So Good” was a huge hit on Mellencamp’s fifth studio album, “American Fool.” It climbed to the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 28 consecutive weeks on the charts. When asked to give an interpretation of this song, John simply said that it was a crude song he wrote while trying to fit in with the guys in other bands.
26. Pain by Soulfly (Featuring Chino Moreno)
|Genre||Nu Metal, Metal|
Suddenly losing a loved one is one of the most excruciating emotional pains that you can endure. People will offer their condolences, but the majority of them will never have to experience this level of loss. They can’t understand where you’re coming from, and hopefully, they never will. That’s the sentiment that Max Cavalera is angrily expressing in the song “Pain,” which is found on their album, “Primitive.” Featuring Chino Moreno from the Deftones, this song is about the suspicious death of Max’s father, Graziano Cavalera, who died suddenly when Max was nine. This kind of pain can sometimes lead to violence, which is why many songs about revenge are rooted in pain.
27. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club
|Album||Kissing to Be Clever|
The pop music world was turned on its ear in 1982 when Culture Club and their enigmatic lead vocalist Boy George released their debut album “Kissing to Be Clever.” One of the singles on that album, “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me,” climbed up the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the number two spot and spending an impressive 25 weeks on the charts. That’s not bad for a song that Boy George didn’t want to release because the song was so personal. It’s about a relationship ending and the emotional pain that ensued.
28. Tearz by Wu-Tang Clan
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
|Album||Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)|
If Tupac Shakur is the greatest rapper of all time, then the Wu-Tang Clan takes the top spot as the greatest rap group ever. This New York-based collective has been making records since 1993, when they released their debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” The second-to-last cut on the record is “Tearz,” and it samples the song “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” by Wendy Rene. The song is about the pain the families of the victims feel after they have lost their loved ones to street violence and the ramifications of having unprotected sex.
29. Love This Pain by Lady A
|Album||Need You Now|
Formerly known as Lady Antebellum, the country music group Lady A struck gold when they released their Grammy Award-winning second album, “Need You Now.” The album turned the group into a heart attack in country music at the time. While the sixth cut on the album may not have been a huge hit for Lady A, it was one of the standout tracks on the record. The song is about being in love with somebody who might not be right for you, but you enjoy it, even though it may bring you pain.
30. Remorse Is for the Dead by Lamb Of God
|Album||Ashes of the Wake|
Formerly known as Burn the Priest, Lamb of God is a groove metal band out of Virginia and has dominated metal for over two decades, thanks to the seething lyrics, crushing riffs, and insane live shows. In 2004, they released what many people considered to be Lamb of God’s finest hour, their third album, “Ashes of the Wake.” The album’s closing track, “Remorse Is for the Dead,” tells the story of a corrupted General who brings fear, hatred, and pain to everybody during his regime, including those who may not be directly involved.
31. Fall Slowly by Joyner Lucas (Featuring Ashanti)
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
Massachusetts-born Gary Maurice “Joyner” Lucas Jr began his career with the moniker Future Joyner but dropped the word future when another rapper who used the name became prominent in 2011.. now, simply going under the name Joyner Lucas, he released the surprisingly successful and amazing album ADHD in 2020. Not wanting to lose momentum, he then released its follow-up, “Evolution,” the same year. On the track “Fall Slowly,” Lucas teams up with Ashanti to record a song about the heartbreaking pain you feel when you suspect that your relationship is slowly falling apart.
32. Bring the Pain by Method Man
|Genre||Rap, Hip Hop|
As a collective, the Wu-Tang Clan has sold over 40 million records worldwide, but of all its members, Method Man is widely considered to be the best. He is the most successful, selling over four million records in his career as a solo artist. In 1994, he released his debut album “Tical,” which was well-received by both fans and critics. “Bring the Pain” was the third track from that record, and Method Man shows us that he’s not about to stand for anyone’s foolishness. If anyone crosses him, there will be retaliation.
33. Hurt by Johnny Cash
|Album||American IV: The Man Comes Around|
We have officially arrived at one of the only cover tunes that I find is better than the original version of the song. In his 67th studio album, “American IV: The Man Comes Around,” Johnny Cash took this song and made it his own, giving it a completely different meaning than Trent Reznor’s version. This is incredibly significant because the word hurt has several different meanings. Trent Reznor was singing about the emotional pa
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.