If you’re looking for some inspiration to change the world, this list is for you!
But, even if you’re not, you can still enjoy these songs by some of the greatest music artists in history.
Here is my list of the best songs about peace, each filled with profound statements about war and politics.
1. “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer
This song about peace was released as the lead single from Mayer’s third studio album in 2006.
It achieved commercial success as a single and won the Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Grammy Awards.
Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times coined the song “a lovely and anger-free ode to a vaguely dissatisfied generation”.
Mayer broadened his fan base with this track, by infusing a blues and R&B-influenced sound.
2. “Imagine” by John Lennon
“Imagine” is the best-selling single of Lennon’s solo career, with the lyrics encouraging listeners to imagine a world of peace, without materialism, without borders separating nations and without religion.
Lennon said, shortly before his death, that much of the song’s content came from his wife, Yoko Ono.
A 2002 UK survey conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book named the song about peace the second best single of all time!
3. “People Have the Power” by Patti Smith
This rock song about peace, written by Patti Smith and Fred “Sonic” Smith, ranked at number 22 on NME’s “Singles of the Year”.
In 2019, Smith performed the song about peace with 250 volunteer singers at The Public Theater.
Covered by both U2 and Bruce Springsteen, this peace song sure got our lungs burning as we scream at the top of our lungs: The people Have the Power!
4. “Get Along’” by Kenny Chesney
Rolling Stone Country describes this song about peace, saying that it “encourages altruism in a world that only gets more complicated when one strays from savoring the simple pleasures.”
Chesney said “When I heard this song, beyond how good the rhythm felt, I was amazed how simply they broke all this stuff down. Get along…find the common ground…know the basic stuff is where the joy, the love, the happiness is.”
5. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
This song about peace expresses themes of hope and features uncredited vocals from co-producer Pharrell Williams.
“Alright” received four nominations at the 58th Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Best Music Video, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, winning the latter two.
The song was associated with the Black Lives Matter movement after many youth-led protests were heard chanting the chorus, leading it to be coined the “underlying anthem” of the movement.
6. “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen
This song about peace came after Springsteen had released very little new music, due to him having parted ways with the E Street Band, gotten married again and had children.
He later said, “I was having a hard time locating my rock voice …”
But, after writing this peace song, he felt it was “as good as any songs like this that I’ve ever written. It was like, there’s that voice I was looking for.”
7. “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” by Jackie DeShannon
This song about peace was originally performed in 1969 by Jackie DeShannon, who composed it with her brother Randy Myers and Jimmy Holiday.
In the US it was DeShannon’s highest-charting hit, reaching number 4 on the Hot 100 in 1969, rivaling the success of her signature song “What the World Needs Now Is Love”.
DeShannon focused on peace songs, expressing the need for love and hope in the world.
8. “U.N.I.T.Y” by Queen Latifah
This song about peace paved the way for females to be their authentic selves.
It focuses on confronting the disrespect that women face in society, as well as promoting peace and love toward Black men and women.
“Love a Black man from infinity to infinity” is a part of the song’s unforgettable chorus, and Latifah’s main message is one of love and togetherness.
9. “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon
This is a 1965 popular song about peace with lyrics by Hal David and music composed by Burt Bacharach.
First recorded by Jackie DeShannon, it is thought to be her signature song and most popular recording.
It peaked at number seven on the US Hot 100 and, in Canada, the peace song reached number one.
10. “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
This 1971 peace song was originally inspired by a police brutality incident witnessed by Renaldo “Obie” Benson, who co-wrote the song.
It sold over two million copies, becoming Gaye’s second most successful song on the Motown label.
Gaye had also been inspired by social issues, citing the 1965 Watts Riot as a turning point in which he asked himself, “‘With the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?'”
11. “Zombie” by The Cranberries
“Zombie” is a protest song by Irish alternative rock band the Cranberries, written by lead singer Dolores O’Riordan in memory of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry, who were killed in the 1993 Warrington bombings.
Music critics have long recognised “Zombie” as “a masterpiece of alternative rock”, as well as a grunge number uncharacteristic of the band’s other work.
As of May 2021, Zombie has been streamed over 670 million times on Spotify. Impressive!
12. “Where Is the Love” by Black Eyed Peas
Will.i.am said the inspiration for this 2003 song about peace came from the anxiety following 9/11:
“On our last day (of recording sessions in San Francisco), as I was packing my equipment, I saw the first plane fly through the World Trade Center (…) I thought it was a film. The fear of driving back home, y’know going over San Francisco bridge. That 10 minute drive across the bridge felt like an hour.”
13. “We Are Here” by Alicia Keys
“We Are Here” is a song by American recording artist Alicia Keys.
The peace song describes Keys’ frustration with both national and international issues, including the conflict between Israel and Gaza and the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Keys later launched a movement, called the We Are Here Movement, calling for a more equal and just world.
She donated $1 million of her own money divided equally amongst 12 groups.
14. “Heal The World” by Michael Jackson
This peace song is about Jackson’s wish for humanity to make the world a better place.
In a 2001 Internet chat with fans, Jackson said that “Heal the World” is the song he was most proud to have created.
The song was played at the funeral of James Bulger, and Jackson donated the song to be used for the James Bulger Red Balloon Centre, a school for children who are being bullied or have disabilities.
15. “People Get Ready” by The Impressions
This 1965 song about peace is the Impressions’ signature hit, reaching number-three on the Billboard R&B chart.
Rolling Stone magazine named “People Get Ready” the 24th greatest song of all time and it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Martin Luther King Jr. named the song the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement and often used the song to comfort people.
16. “Ripple” by Grateful Dead
Robert Hunter wrote this song in 1970, at the same time that he wrote several other hits.
“Ripple” has a similar melody to the gospel hymn “Because He Lives,” which was published a year later.
This song about peace is relaxing and sweet, created by the soft guitar and harmonizing vocals.
17. “One Day” by Matisyahu
This great peace song expresses a hope for an end to violence, and a prayer for a new era of peace and understanding.
In an interview with Spinner, Matisyahu said: “‘One Day’ is the song I’ve been wanting to make since I started my career. It is an anthem of hope with a big beat, the kind of song that makes you bob your head and open your heart at the same time.”
18. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War
“Why Can’t We Be Friends?” is a song about peace by the funk band War from their 1975 studio album of the same name.
It uniquely features each band member singing their own verse, which is an interesting structure.
The peace song was played in outer space when NASA beamed it to the linking of Soviet cosmonauts and U.S. astronauts for the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project. Pretty cool!
19. “We Want Peace” by Lenny Kravitz
In early 2003, Kravitz released the track “We Want Peace” as a protest against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and he performed this alongside famous Iraqi singer Kazem Al Saher at Rock the Vote.
The loved download-only peace song reached number one on the world internet download charts.
20. “Freedom” by Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar
This is the peace song which became an anthem for the George Floyd protests and saw a subsequent 625% rise in streams.
Upon release the song was met with great critical acclaim, with Everett True writing that the song “roars like thunder, and threatens to topple governments in its wake”.
Rolling Stone complimented “one of the most striking political statements of [Beyoncé’s] career”.
21. “Love Train” by The O’Jays
“Love Train” was released in 1972, reaching number one on both the R&B Singles and the Billboard Hot 100 the following year, making it the O’Jays’ only number one record.
The peace song has been considered one of the first songs of disco music, with the song’s lyrics mentioning unity within a number of countries, including England, Russia, China, Egypt and Israel, and the continent of Africa.
22. “One” by U2
Tensions among U2 almost prompted the band to break up until they achieved a breakthrough with the improvisation of this song about peace.
The lyrics, written by lead singer Bono, were inspired by their fractured relationships and the German reunification, with the lyrics describing “disunity”.
“One” was released as a benefit single, with proceeds going towards AIDS research.
Furthermore, it is often used by the group to promote human rights or social justice causes.
23. “Give Peace a Chance” by Plastic Ono Band
This anti-war song was written by John Lennon and recorded in a performance with Yoko Ono in a hotel room.
It is the first solo single by Lennon, released in 1967 while he was still a member of the Beatles.
The song about peace became an important anthem of the American anti-war movement during the 1970s, and still remains prominent today.
24. “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
Released in 1963, “Blowin’ in the Wind” has been described as a protest song and poses a series of important questions about peace, war, and freedom.
Mavis Staples expressed, in Martin Scorsese’s documentary, how she could not understand how a young white man could write something that captured the frustration and aspirations of black people so powerfully.
25. “Pipes of Peace” by Paul McCartney
“Pipes of Peace” was written by the famous Paul McCartney, and released as the title track of his 1983 album of the same name.
It reached number 1 on the UK singles charts, and also on the Irish singles chart.
In Surrey, a video was shot for “Pipes of Peace”, depicting the famous 1914 Christmas truce between British and German troops. Poignant!
26. “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” by George Harrison
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” is one of Harrison’s most popular songs, and features a series of impressive slide-guitar work.
Harrison sings of his desire to be free of karma and the constant cycle of rebirth, later describing the song as “a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it”.
27. “One Love” by Bob Marley and The Wailers
One Love” is a ska song about peace by Bob Marley’s group The Wailers from their 1965 debut album The Wailing Wailers.
It was rerecorded as part of the 1970 medley “All in One”, which contained reggae reworkings of their early ska songs.
The single became one of Marley’s biggest hits and has been included on many of their subsequent compilation albums.
28. “Peacekeeper” by Fleetwood Mac
This song about peace is by Fleetwood Mac, written by guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham in 2003.
Warner Bros selected the song as the first single of his album, Say You Will, describing the peace song as “walking a line between something quite modern and something quite familiar”.
29. “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles
This song about peace topped sales charts in Britain, the United States and many other countries, and became a loved anthem for the cultural embrace of ‘flower power philosophy’.
Since 2009, Global Beatles Day, an international celebration of the Beatles’ music and social message, has taken place on 25 June each year in tribute to their Our World performance.
30. “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens
This 1971 song about peace is taken from Cat Stevens’ album Teaser and the Firecat.
He re-recorded the song in 2003 for the charity War Child, which has a mission to support children and young people affected by armed conflict and war.
31. “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield
Written by Stephen Stills and performed by Buffalo Springfield, this popular peace song reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967.
The title was added after the song was written, and does not appear in the lyrics which features thoughts about the anti-Vietnam protests and promotes peace among all.
32. “Holiday” by Green Day
“Holiday” is a protest song by rock band Green Day, released in 2006 and written as a commentary about corporate greed and corruption.
The song achieved popularity across the world, possibly due to being written at the time of the Iraq War.
Green Day’s lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said “This song is not anti-American, it’s anti-war.”
33. “peace” by Taylor Swift
“Peace” is a song that combines R&B, funk and jazz.
Lyrically, Swift pledges her commitment to her lover while discussing the negative impact of her superstardom on their private life.
Many music critics named it one of the best songs she has ever written, and coined it as her most autobiographical song.
34. “World Peace Is None of Your Business” by Morrissey
Morrissey is well-known for his outspoken attitudes to politics, war, and peace.
This song backs that up, and is about the rejection of the political system and government..
“Work hard and sweetly pay your taxes” is just one of the many profound lines in this song about peace.
35. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles
The song conveys the narrator’s disappointment at the unfulfilled potential for universal love, which he refers to as “the love there that’s sleeping”.
The song serves as a comment on the disharmony within the Beatles after their return from studying Transcendental Meditation in India in 1968.
36. “I Wish You Peace” by The Eagles
Are you facing a problem that only you know about and can’t disclose to anyone?
This song might be just what you need to pick yourself up and find peace.
The narrator gives a ray of hope to people suffering silently, and he wishes them shelter from the raging wind and kind words during sad times.
37. “Ceasefire” by Christina Aguilera
Are we not tired of the needless drums of war all around?
In this song, Christina called for a “Ceasefire,” and she preached that everyone should embrace peace, even for just one day, and let’s see what happens afterward.
If we all embraced peace, we would have defeated hate, war, conflict, and divisions that have continued to threaten our existence.
38. “Peace Sells” by Megadeth
Nothing could be compared to a life full of peace and tranquility.
Megadeth used a nice rendition of smart music to decry the treacherous act of people who act the opposite of what they say.
Everybody wants peace, but few walk the talk, “Peace sells… but who’s buying.”
He further posited that peace would continue to elude us until we are ready to walk the path of peace.
39. “911 For Peace” by Anti-Flag
Why has wickedness become the order of the day across the world?
Why has everybody embraced the spirit of killing and maiming fellow humans?
This song advocates for peace and tolerance between one another and that we should stop the senseless killing that has become one case too many.
“911 For Peace” is a clarion call on all listeners to be peace advocates in their communities and the world.
40. “We’ve Had Enough” by Micheal Jackson
Nobody can deny the fact that Micheal Jackson was an advocate of peace and tranquility across the world.
In this song, he uses high-powered language rendered into music to preach against war, injustice, conflict, and poverty.
He spelled out clearly that the world has had enough of the guns, missiles, and bombs flying everywhere.
The song’s message is clear, “We’ve had enough,” and it’s time for peace to reign.
41. “Changes” by 2Pac Ft. Talent
From the beginning of this song, 2Pac was unequivocal in his advocacy for peace, and he was greatly disturbed by the level of turmoil that has continued to ravage the world.
He emphasized that the problems of the world, including poverty, hatred, violence, racism, and more, can only be solved by a collaborative effort from every gladiator.
The change will only come when we come together to fight our common enemy.
42. “We Are The World” by Michael Jackson
Another powerful song from the archive of the meticulous Micheal Jackson centered around the tumultuous world.
In this song, MJ makes a special case for African nations where hunger, extreme poverty, and malnourishment have taken a toll on millions of people.
In the fourth line of this song, MJ said, “Oh send them your heart, so they know that someone cares,” which was a reminder to everyone to come to the aid of these impoverished people.
43. “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
Inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind,” Sam Cooke came up with this nice rendition of musical artistry to aptly capture the fate of black Americans in the 1960s.
Then, black Americans were subjected to unimaginable maltreatment ranging from racism to discrimination.
Sam Cooke gives a ray of hope that a better tomorrow where peace and tranquility will be the norm is coming.
“It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come.”
44. “War/ No More Trouble” by Bob Marley
This song was released in 1976 during the tumultuous years of the civil war and came with a strong message “No More Trouble.”
“War” is a clarion call on those drumming the beat of war to embrace peace and let sleeping dogs lie.
Bob Marley makes it a point of duty to also call on all concerned parties to come together and break the cycle of violence.
45. “One Blood” by Junior Reid
Understanding that we are first human beings before becoming different nationalities and races will let us take caution in promoting violence.
In this song, Reid affirms that the world can only experience peace when we see one another as brothers.
Everyone should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and nobody should be treated based on his demographic background.
46. “I Don’t Want To Be A Hero” by Johnny Hates Jazz
When you have seen enough of the war to conclude that the result of war is always destruction, these songs prove it.
The song is narrated from the perspective of a soldier who was tired of the endless war and wanted to return to his family.
Even in victory, war is undesirable, unwanted, and unglamorous, and this song is a perfect reminder always to embrace peace.
47. “Revolution” by Dennis Brown
Imagine a world where people are not treated based on unnecessary prejudices.
One factor that has helped polarize people more is the division according to race, ethnicity, and nationality.
For peace and tranquility to return, Dennis Brown advised people to unite and condemn every form of discrimination and oppression.
48. “Pray For Peace” by Reba McEntire
After a series of persuasions to end the needless hatred and violence engulfing the world, Reba resorts to prayers for peace to reign.
If you are the prayer type, you can use the song as an inspiration to pray for peace across the world.
49. “When The Children Cry” by White Lion
The ravaging war is not a respecter of the children; they have also been victims of the unrest.
War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, among others, has seen many innocent kids killed and many rendered fatherless.
This song talks about the evils of killing children in war and calls for an amicable resolution so that peace and normalcy could return to the affected place.
50. “Killing In The Name” by Rage Against The Machine
This song depicts the atrocious conduct of those in authority who clandestinely use their position to oppress people.
It also described how they forcefully get whatever they want regardless of whose ox is gored.
The song advocates that we should all stand up in one voice to fight this injustice so that everyone would live peacefully.
51. “One Tribe” by The Black Eyed Peas
This song advises that we all come together to demand peace.
The lyrics describe us as one Tribe that needs to come together to achieve a common goal.
We are stronger if we are bound by a common goal, and no amount of division should hinder us from standing up for one another.
Songs About Peace – Final Thoughts
That concludes my list of the best peace songs in music history.
I hope you enjoy listening to these hits, and that they inspired you to change the world! They sure did for us.