It’s no secret that music can be a great source of inspiration.
For many, listening to the right song at the right time can help them power through a tough workout or get through a tough day at work.
But what about when you’re on the water?
Whether you’re out for a leisurely paddle or powering through some serious whitewater, the right song can be the perfect addition to your experience.
So, what are the best songs about being on the water?
We’ve compiled a list of 20 of our favorites, ranging from well-known classics to lesser-known gems.
Whether you’re looking for something to get you pumped up or help you relax, we think you’ll find something on this list that you’ll love!By the way, if you’re searching for songs about being on water, you may also like some of our other playlists, like songs about waves, songs about drinking, songs about falling, songs about fishing, and songs about hometowns.
Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
“Cry Me a River” is a song by American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake.
Released in 2002, it was the lead single from his debut solo album, Justified.
The song was written by Timberlake and Scott Storch, and produced by Storch.
It samples Carrie Underwood’s “Mama’s Song”.
The song features Timberlake singing about the end of his relationship with former girlfriend Britney Spears.
The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked it at number 15 on their list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon And Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is a song about hope and comfort in the face of adversity.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years, but it was originally released as part of Simon and Garfunkel’s fifth studio album of the same name.
The album was a commercial and critical success, winning multiple Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” remains one of the duo’s most popular songs, and its message of hope continues to resonant with listeners today.
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Smoke on the Water, by Deep Purple, is a song about being out on the water and facing turbulent skies.
The lyrics reflect the theme of adventure, as they describe wandering out into the unknown in search of new experiences.
This sense of exploration and excitement is heightened by the musical composition itself, which uses dynamic shifts to create a sense of tension and anticipation that builds throughout the song.
Together, these elements create a track that evokes a sense of both wonder and danger, making it ideal for anyone who loves life on the open sea.
The River – Bruce Springsteen
The River is a song by Bruce Springsteen that speaks to the transformative power of water.
The lyrics reflect the singer’s feelings of being on or near the water, whether on a boat, in a kayak, or in the ocean itself.
This sense of freedom and adventure is characterized by images of being “washed away,” riding the tide, and finding new horizons.
Overall, this song embodies the themes of exploration and reflection that are so often associated with traveling by way of water.
Water – The Who
Water is one of the most powerful forces in nature, and it can be both a blessing and a curse.
The song Water by The Who explores this duality through its lyrics, which paint vivid scenes of the turbulent nature of water.
The song begins with an image of danger and peril, as the singer dreams about being adrift in the middle of a raging storm wave.
But the verses then shift to more hopeful images, such as watching bathers jumping into a shimmering sea or drinking from an icy stream.
Ultimately, this dynamic portrayal reflects how our experience with water is always changing, depending on where we are and what we’re doing.
Down To The Waterline – Dire Straits
Down to the Waterline is a song about being on the water, exploring the connection between humans and nature.
Throughout the lyrics, we hear imagery that evokes feelings of solitude, freedom, and awe.
The singer describes navigating his ship through foggy waters and taking in magnificent views of the sea.
He also talks about watching seabirds fly overhead and hearing the sounds of waves crashing against the shore.
Whether you are a skipper or just a landlubber, this song will transport you onto the open seas and into the heart of nature’s majesty.
So raise your sails and let your imagination roam as you sing along with Down to the Waterline by Dire Straits!
(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
“Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” is a song about being on water, and it captures the peace and stillness of this unique environment.
The opening lines of the song immediately set the tone, with quiet chords gently floating over a subtle beat.
This calm atmosphere continues throughout the rest of the track, as melancholy lyrics take center stage.
Whether describing reflections on the water or simply appreciating the cool breeze that softly caresses one’s skin, this song paints a vivid picture of what it feels like to be out on open water.
Rock Me On The Water – Jackson Browne
Rock Me On The Water is a song written and performed by Jackson Browne.
The song is about the aquatic life and the experiences that one has while out on the water.
The lyrics are written from the perspective of someone who is reminiscing about their time spent on the water and longing for those moments again.
The song has a simple acoustic guitar progression and a mellow vibe, which makes it perfect for summertime listening.
There is also a sense of yearning in the lyrics, which gives the song an emotional resonance.
Rock Me On The Water is a classic jackson Browne song that perfectly captures the feeling of being out on the water.
Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Have You Ever Seen the Rain is a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival that explores the idea of being on water.
It paints a picture of a world where everything is awash in rain, with the narrator lamenting about feeling like he’s living under constant drizzle and soaked in moisture.
Through vivid imagery, the song communicates an intense sense of longing for something dry and solid to ground us.
It also suggests that sometimes we can get so caught up in our routines that we overlook what truly matters, forgetting to take time to appreciate our surroundings.
When The Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin
“When the Levee Breaks” is a song written by Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, drummer John Bonham and singer Robert Plant.
The song was inspired by the 1929 disaster in which the levees protecting New Orleans from the Mississippi River burst, resulting in widespread flooding.
The song is based on a folk song called “Ole Miss”, which was popularized by Memphis Minnie and recorded by Led Zeppelin in 1970.
The original version of the song was over seven minutes long, but the band shortened it for their 1971 album, Led Zeppelin IV.
Despite its length, the song became one of Led Zeppelin’s most popular and well-known tracks, thanks to its catchy riff and powerful vocals.
In recent years, “When the Levee Breaks” has been used in a number of films and television shows, cementing its status as a classic rock song.
Water Under The Bridge – Adele
Water Under The Bridge is Adele’s latest hit, a song that touches on the complex emotions associated with being on water.
Throughout the track, Adele reflects on her past relationships and experiences, exploring how they shaped who she is today.
She sings about both the joys and struggles of navigating life on water, expressing her heartfelt yearning for deeper connection to others.
With its soulful melodies and raw lyrics, Water Under The Bridge beautifully captures not only what it means to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, but also how living life on water can be both challenging and uplifting.
Overall, this is a truly transformative song that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt conflicted about being on water.
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head – B.J. Thomas
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head is a song written by B.J. Thomas and released in 1968.
The song is about the joys and troubles of being on water.
The opening lyrics describe the feeling of raindrops falling on the head, and how it can be both refreshing and annoying.
The second verse talks about how rain can make everything seem more beautiful, including the colors of the rainbow.
However, the third verse acknowledges that rain can also cause problems, such as floods and thunderstorms.
Rain – The Beatles
The Beatles’ song “Rain” is aptly named, as it is all about the powers and mysteries of water.
The song talks about how rain can both refresh and cleanse the world, as well as bring people together.
It also reflects on how rain can be a metaphor for life itself – sometimes calm and serene, and other times wild and unpredictable.
In the end, “Rain” is a beautiful tribute to the element that sustains all life on Earth.
And like all great art, it helps us to see the world in a new and different way.
Black Water – Doobie Brothers
“Black Water” is a song about the lure of being out on the open water.
It was inspired by a fishing trip that Tom McFee took with his father.
The song became a massive hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
It has since been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
In addition to its commercial success, “Black Water” has also been praised by critics for its catchy melody and evocative lyrics.
Down By The River – Neil Young
Down by the River is an iconic song by Neil Young that explores his relationship with water and what it means to him.
Throughout the lyrics, Young conveys a sense of profound connection to the water, calling it “the only truth” and saying that he can “load up the raft and go for a ride.”
He also sings about feeling at peace and in harmony with this element of nature, noting that “there’s no place / I can be without missing home” when he is on the river.
Truly, this powerful song truly captures the essence of being on water, its beauty and mystery, its deep emotional impact, and the sense of freedom and adventure that comes from connecting with it.
The River Of Dreams – Billy Joel
The River of Dreams is one of Billy Joel’s most iconic songs, a heartfelt ballad that speaks to the power of water and our connection to it.
This song explores the strong emotions that come with being on water, from wonder and awe to tranquility and excitement.
Whether we are on a boat, rafting down a river, or simply floating on top of the waves in the ocean, there is something magical about being surrounded by water and experiencing its endlessly shifting surface.
And as this song beautifully reminds us, these feelings are deep-rooted in our very DNA; for as long as we have existed as humans, we have been connected to water in some way.
Madman Across The Water – Elton John
Madman Across the Water is a song about being on water – the vast expanse of water that makes up our oceans, rivers, and lakes.
This idea of limitless waters evokes images of freedom and possibility.
The singer compares himself to a madman in the track, perhaps to illustrate the sense of recklessness and possibility that comes with being immersed in liquid space.
Whether alone or in a boat with loved ones, being ‘on water’ is a place of escape from the daily grind, where impossible dreams can become reality.
Beyond The Sea – Bobby Darin
Beyond the sea is a song composed by Jaques Brel with English lyrics written by Rod McKuen. It is about hoping to find contentment and love after death.
The song was originally titled “La Mer” and was inspired by an evening Brel spent on the beach with his girlfriend at the time.
Beyond the Sea was first popularized in the United States by Bobby Darin in 1959.
The Hollies also released a successful version of the song in 1964. In 2004, Kevin Spacey starred in and directed a biopic about Darin’s life called Beyond the Sea.
The film featured 16 different covers of the song performed by various artists including Spacey himself.
Beyond the Sea has been featured in many other movies and television shows over the years including Forrest Gump, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and NCIS.
It remains one of Bobby Darin’s most popular songs and has been covered by many artists over the years.
Purple Rain – Prince
Purple Rain is a song by American recording artist Prince.
The song was released as a single in 1984, and it is the title track from his album of the same name.
Purple Rain is a ballad that combines elements of rock, pop, and R&B.
The song features Prince’s signature guitar work, and its lyrics deal with the complexities of relationships and love.
The song is also notable for its connection to water; in the opening verse, Prince sings about being “born on a lake of rain.”
Hold Back The River – James Bay
Hold Back the River is a song by English singer-songwriter James Bay.
It was released as the second single from his debut studio album, Chaos and the Calm (2015).
The song was written by Bay and produced by Jacquire King.
Hold Back the River peaked at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart and number two on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart.
The song’s music video was directed by Joe Connor and features Bay walking through different landscapes, including a desert, a forest, and a city.
Bay has said that the song is about “the battle between holding on and letting go”, and that it was inspired by his experience of living in London.