12 Songs About Birds, Flying and Freedom You’ll Love

Songs About Birds, Flying and Freedom

When we listen to music about animals, especially birds, these songs can be taken both literally or figuratively.  And while both methods can certainly produce amazing music, metaphors involving the topic of birds can make for a deep, meaningful songs.

In this article, I’m going to provide you with my absolute favorite songs about birds.  And hopefully, you can find one or two songs on this list that you love just as much as I do.

Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

Jamaican superstar Bob Marley gives us a daily reminder to never let the stresses of the world overwhelm us. This classic roots reggae jam has one of the most recognizable choruses that I would be shocked you hadn’t heard before:

Don’t worry about a thing’
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright

This song is often incorrectly titled because of all the repeated verses and catchy chorus on the track.  Some people think this song is called “Don’t Worry,” while others may hold strongly to the belief that it’s called “Every Little Thing.”  

Both, of course, would be wrong.

To me, this song is tied to nothing but positive feelings. Anytime I hear this chorus, I’m able to realize how small my problems really are. Gilly Gilbert, a close friend of Marley’s, was present while Marley was writing the song. He told author Vivien Goldman in 2006, “I remember the three little birds. They were pretty birds who would come by the window at Hope Road. It was just amazing how he put the words together in a flow.” 

Marley uses these three birds as inspiration for his track. These birds are singing to Marley with their “melodies pure and true,” as stated in the verses on the track. This list wouldn’t be complete without this amazing track.

Bird Set Free by SIA

SIA has such a powerful voice! On this track, she sings in  metaphor, comparing being in an unhealthy relationship to being a bird trapped or caged in. I think this track can be applied to anyone that’s looking to be “released” from something—or someone. 

Bird Set Free by SIA is featured on this album.

The beginning of the track finds the artist struggling to find her voice and speak her mind. In the chorus, she sings:

And I don’t care if I sing off-key
I found myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I shout it out like a bird set free

From these lyrics, you can see that SIA has finally found her voice—literally and metaphorically. Once we hear the chorus, you can hear how her voice grows. The “bird” heard in this song symbolizes freedom, as the caged bird is now free and able to fly high.

I absolutely adore this song and its beautiful message of not being afraid to break free from whatever has you in shackles.  

Pretty Little Bird by SZA featuring Isaiah Rashad

I love everything about this song. The angelic vocals from SZA and the deep, bassy instrumental pair nicely with Isaiah Rashad’s raspy rap verse in the bridge. On this track, SZA’s old lover is being compared to a phoenix in the opening verse:

You are but a phoenix among feathers
You’re broken by the waves among the sea
They’ll let you die, they’ll let you wash away
But you swim as well as you fly

SZA'a album entitled CTRL

A phoenix is a mythical bird associated with Greek mythology. These birds are immortal and can obtain new life from the sun. 

I’ve listened to this track so many times and it resonated with every listen. I realized that I have a “phoenix” in my own life. Sometimes, I like to hold onto relationships that are already dead. Yet, the phoenix is immortal, but that doesn’t mean the relationship is, as well. 

No matter how many times we try to get that flame back, it just never works out. I think the only difference here is that SZA actually hopes to see this person in another lifetime. She continues to carry this symbolism through the rest of the track. I love when artists draw inspiration from concepts, myths, or even folklore. I think it actually forces the listener to slink back further in their seat and actually contemplate how certain themes can pertain to their own lives. 

Bird of Beauty by Stevie Wonder 

This groovy tune comes from Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale album. Here, the song Bird of Beauty has a strong Brazilian influence. He even has a couple of verses in Spanish on parts of this track.

Take a chance and ride 
The bird of beauty of the sky 

There is so much life has to offer us. On this track, Wonder is telling us to take a break and ride with the bird to explore the world. 

I just love how this song sounds. In fact, listening to it with noise-canceling headphones is a getaway in itself. I’m able to escape reality for a few minutes and just soak in all the beautiful chords. 

Find Your Wings by Tyler, the Creator, Roy Ayers, Syd, and Kali Uchis

This song encourages us to take control of our dreams and soar because the sky’s the limit. This melodic number is from Tyler, the Creator’s 2015 project, Cherry Bomb, which he states to be his most-hated project in an interview with Jerrod Carmichael. 

I remember listening to Cherry Bomb for the first time and thinking of how chaotic each track was. And yet, in the midst of all the craziness, we somehow get this softer track, “Find Your Wings.” 

As a big fan of Tyler’s art, circling back to this album years later, I can truly appreciate this particular entry into his discography. I think it carries some of Tyler’s most beautiful instrumentals, with this song being one of them. 

I think we are all trying to chase something that may seem unrealistic on the surface—at least to those on the outside looking in. For me, it’s great to have an artist you really admire giving you the guidance to reach for the stars. Not only does this track carry a great message, but it also reflects just how creative and talented Tyler is. He’s influenced by many genres and artists, and it’s showcased in this project. I highly recommend giving this song, and the entire album a listen! 

The Bird by Anderson.Paak

Anderson.Paak is another one of my favorites. He has such a 70s or 80s inspirational sound to his music that I adore. There’s a familiar feel to his songs that allows people from all demographics to connect with it. 

The Bird by Anderson.Paak is featured on this album.

On the track “The Bird,” Paak speaks about his family hardships growing up. Despite everything he mentions in the song, from his mother’s gambling problem to his father’s incarceration, he relies on the bird to ease his worries.

The bird with the word came to me
The sweetness of a honeycomb tree
And now I look what’s taking over me
Couldn’t fake it if I wanted to 

I think, for this song, the bird represents hope and the carrier of good news. The bird is coming to Paak to metaphorically encourage him, similar to the “three little birds” mentioned on Bob Marley’s track. 

It’s important to stay optimistic in times of struggle, and that’s what this track does for me! Outside of the lyrics, this song is so simple and smooth, you won’t be disappointed with this jam. I also think this is a great introduction to Paak’s outstanding discography, as it was one of the first songs I heard from him. 

Wings by Mac Miller

“These are my wings,” the late-Mac Miller repeats on this lovely number. Wings is off of Miller’s album Swimming, one of my favorite. This song feels like a personal message that he’s trying to send to listeners letting us know that he’s okay. 

Wings by Mac Miller is featured on this album.

I have always been drawn to the vulnerability he puts in his music, especially on a track like Swimming. Many listeners that have been following Mac Miller know about his drug use (in fact, one of his drug dealers was recently sentenced to multiple years in prison). 

At the end of the day, this record allows us to take a look at ourselves and ponder the question: What are our wings? 

Pretty Wings by Maxwell

I remember hearing this song for the first time in the car and being instantly drawn by the smooth vocals. It’s to no surprise that this song won Maxwell a Grammy for Best R&B Male Performance. 

Pretty Wings by Maxwell is featured on this album.

This track finds Maxwell singing about meeting the right person at the wrong time. 

Found the remedy, I had to set you free
Away from me to see clearly
The way that love can be when you are not with me
I had to leave, I had to live
I had to leave, I had to live
If I can’t have you let love set you free to fly your pretty wings around 

Maxwell is setting this woman free like a bird. Sometimes you have to set free things or people for your own protection.

When Doves Cry by Prince

This was a track my mother played a lot growing up. I loved this song for as long as I could remember. When Doves Cry is one of Prince’s most well-known songs. It was his first Billboard Hot 100 single in 1984, and even re-charted at number eight after his passing in April of 2016. 

Prince had a deep love for doves. He even owned two doves, Majesty and Divinity, during his lifetime.  This song embodies the idea of a beautiful relationship turning toxic. In the chorus, he sings:

Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

Prince and his partner are so in love that when they argue, it’s like doves crying. The peace that doves symbolize is being broken by yelling and screaming. 

On top of the powerful words, Prince is just an all-around superstar. This song will always bring back good memories of being a kid in the back of my mom’s Pontiac. If you haven’t heard this iconic Prince record, you are definitely missing out. 

Pretty Bird (Freestyle) by Jhene Aiko and Common

Jhene Aiko always has songs that resonate with something I’ve experienced in my life. Whether it be grief, heartbreak, or just self-awareness, Jhene has the cure through her healing music. Here, Jhene sings about someone who is losing sight of themselves. 

Said she had just self expressed herself to death
Now nothing’s left
Nothingness
She finessed it
She the best

This song hits home every time I listen. Jhene is an artist I can relate to, so this track almost feels like a conversation of reassurance. Although she’s speaking in third person, I think this message is something that she wants to soak in, as well. She comes back in at the end of the track and sings the following:

Pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird
You’re so pretty, but why I never see you fly?
Pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird
Please don’t die, please don’t die 

She’s telling us to never give up. We have wings, so why don’t we just fly!

I’m Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado

Is any song list about birds complete without this modern classic by Nelly Furtado?

What’s interesting about most songs about birds is that, while there is no doubt symbolism and metaphor laced throughout, a lot of these songs deal with the topic of someone’s lover being the one they have to let free.  

And, in other instances, the artist flips the script entirely and discusses the fact that he or she is the one that feels caged in by the relationship—and they want to break free of this constriction that they’re facing. 

But what’s most interesting to me on this Furtado track is that neither of those circumstances are in play here.  In fact, on this song, Nelly sings of essentially finding the perfect lover.  His love his honest and true and she knows he’ll always be a reliable person she can count on.
So, what’s the problem?  Well, she is.  Nelly is the problem.  She knows that she is everything that her lover isn’t—and not in a good way.  

She’s not reliable.  And, when it comes to their relationship, she’ll always be the one to cut bait and run.

Or, as Nelly sings it, fly away like a bird.

But it’s not because Nelly is mean spirited—she’s not trying to inflict any pain or anxiety or mental anguish on her beloved.  No, Nelly is just scared.  And in order to protect her heart, she opts to not give her heart at all.

And though my love is rare, rare, rare
And though my love is true, yeah
Hey, I’m just scared
That we may fall through
Yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah, yeah

[Chorus]
I’m like a bird (I’m like a bird)
I don’t know where my soul is (Soul is)
I don’t know where my home is
And baby, all I need for you to know is
I’m like a bird, I’ll only fly away
I don’t know where my soul is (Soul is)
I don’t know where my home is

No Pigeons by Sporty Thievz

The song “No Pigeons” is a snarky retort to TLC’s popular “No Scrubs.” And it’s about exactly as what you’d expect it to be.

“No Scrubs” became an anthem for women that were tired of dealing with guys who overpromised and under delivered.  But “No Pigeons” is the response to that song, and the boys of Sporty Thievz have no problem telling their side of the relationship dating game.

A Pigeon is a girl who be walkin’ by
My rimmed up blue, brand new sparklin’ five
Her feet hurt so you know she want a ride
But she frontin’ like she can’t say hi

“No Pigeons” managed to find pretty solid success, all things considered.  And while many music fans weren’t feeling it, or even believe it was in poor taste, I don’t necessarily feel it’s too tremendously different from listening to a hip hop response or diss record.  Or, even listening to a Weird Al parody of a beloved song.

Conclusion

What do birds represent for me? Well, they represent beauty and freedom. Birds are free creatures, able to soar great heights and capable of looking down on us from vast, almost detached or unbiased perspective. 

I think that if you can appreciate a lot of the symbolism outlined in these songs about birds, then you’ll very much appreciate listening to these songs and perhaps even adding one or two to your playlist rotation!

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This article was written by Destany, with two additions by Michael.

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