You probably laugh every day even when things aren’t going your way.
Laughter is so powerful that you can acutely feel the absence of laughter when you’re having a bad day. It’s crazy how such a simple thing can make a big difference to how we feel!
These songs about laughing have incredibly diverse themes, but they all come back to the innate action of laughing. Of course, some songs on this list will make you laugh, but many will also bring up introspective or melancholy feelings. Either way, they are tracks you are sure to enjoy!
Table of Contents
- The Old Laughing Lady – Neil Young
- Laughing – R.E.M.
- It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry – Bob Dylan
- Between a Laugh and a Tear – John Mellencamp and Rickie Lee Jones
- Laughter Lines – Bastille
- We Laugh Indoors – Death Cab for Cutie
- After Laughter – Wendy Rene
- The Same Love That Made Me Laugh – Bill Withers
- The Last Laugh of the Laughter – Travis
- Laughing – Crosby & Nash
- I Can Laugh at It Now – Dion DiMucci
- Laugh and Be Happy – Randy Newman
- Don’t Laugh (I Love You) – Ween
- The Laughing Gnome – David Bowie
- Laughing on the Outside – Bernadette Carroll
- Laughing With a Mouth of Blood – St. Vincent
- Laugh, I Nearly Died – The Rolling Stones
- Laughing With – Regina Spektor
- Laughing in the Hiding Bush – Bruce Dickinson
- Laughter in the Rain – Neil Sedaka
The Old Laughing Lady – Neil Young
Intimate vocals and ambient instrumentation add to the intrigue of ‘The Old Laughing Lady’ by Neil Young. The lyrics are ambiguous, but each verse comes back to the character of the old laughing lady. Perhaps this lady represents addiction, death, or general hardship, but it’s clear she’s not exactly a positive figure with lines like “there’s a fever on the freeway, blacks out the night, there’s a slipping on the stairway, just don’t feel right.” The contrast of dark lyrics with a “laughing” lady makes this a fascinating song to try and pick apart.
Laughing – R.E.M.
‘Laughing’ by R.E.M. is a captivating song for having lyrics that don’t quite make sense. R.E.M. focuses more on the feel and sound of words rather than their literal meaning by using alliteration and intricate rhyme patterns. The first line, “Laocoön and her two sons, pressured storm, tried to move,” was inspired by the Greek myth of Laocoön and his two sons.
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry – Bob Dylan
This bluesy track by Bob Dylan has a swinging beat and swaying harmonica solos. ‘It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry’ sounds old-timey and rustic and will have you picturing yourself alone in a cabin in the woods. This song sings about love and how easy it would be to lose it. It only takes a train ride to separate the pair and cause them grief.
Related: Listen to the best songs about staying together.
Between a Laugh and a Tear – John Mellencamp and Rickie Lee Jones
Growing up guarantees a loss of the naivety unique to childhood. John Mellencamp sings about the fine line between happiness and sadness in ‘Between a Laugh and a Tear.’ When “your adolescent dreams are gone,” and you can “count your friends all on one finger,” you know for sure that your time of having a bright, innocent outlook is over. To deal with this realization, Mellencamp offers advice to try and live in the present as much as possible.
Related: See more of the best songs about growing up.
Laughter Lines – Bastille
This bittersweet love ballad features ghostly backing vocals and emotive strings. ‘Laughter Lines’ tells the story of two people that love each other and are preparing to be distanced from one another. It is unclear whether they are family members, good friends, or romantic partners, which helps this song be universally applicable to any kind of loss. Despite their parting, the characters in the song are not sad because they know, “I’ll see you in the future when we’re older…I’ll see you with your laughter lines.”
Related: Missing someone far away? Here’s our playlist of long-distance love songs.
We Laugh Indoors – Death Cab for Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie details a broken love in ‘We Laugh Indoors.’ The narrator was cheated on, and because of this betrayal, he has a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he was in love with her. This song alludes to the tales of King Arthur by saying, “I loved you, Guinevere.” By repeating this line many times and ending the section with a transition into intense guitar and aggressive vocals, we can hear the pain this breakup has caused.
Related: Hopefully, you won’t need this playlist of songs about being cheated on!
After Laughter – Wendy Rene
This retro-style, harmony-heavy track sings about the laughter in a relationship that becomes bittersweet once that relationship ends. Dramatic vocals display singer Wendy Rene’s pain, coming from her heartbreak and from that empty ache where the laughter used to be. Fun Fact: Ariana Grande’s ‘fake smile’ samples this song!
Related: Check out our playlist of songs about heartbreak.
The Same Love That Made Me Laugh – Bill Withers
An anthem for everyone that has experienced unrequited love, Bill Withers’ smooth vocals and jazzy style in ‘The Same Love That Made Me Laugh’ capture the feelings of this unfortunate situation perfectly. “Why must the same love that made me laugh make me cry?” Being in love brings Withers joy, but since it isn’t reciprocated, that same love is the one causing him pain.
Related: Not every soul meets its mate. Here are some songs about one-sided love.
The Last Laugh of the Laughter – Travis
Travis’s ‘The Last Laugh of the Laughter’ is like the quote “all good things must come to an end” in song form. Intermixing English and French lyrics, Travis sings about the very last laugh in a series of laughter—the end of the end. It’s a sorrowful song, but lines that keep coming back to “c’est la vie” (which translates to “that’s life”) show a resigned kind of acceptance that things inevitably end.
Related: Cry until you laugh with these songs about letting go of someone you love.
Laughing – Crosby & Nash
Sometimes the simplistic views of childhood are not so naive after all. In ‘Laughing,’ David Crosby sings about various things and people that he thought would enlighten him to ways of the world, but each time these views were mistaken. “Only a child laughing in the sun” has the true knowledge of how to enjoy life. Ambient vocals and twangy guitar create that nostalgic atmosphere of wanting to go back to simpler times.
Related: Feel young again with these songs about childhood innocence.
I Can Laugh at It Now – Dion DiMucci
The sweet relief of finally letting go of heartbreak is mirrored in the upbeat style of ‘I can Laugh at It Now’ by Dion DiMucci. He sings about a lover who constantly went back and forth in their commitment to the relationship. “It wasn’t funny then, but honey, I can laugh at it now.” Now that DiMucci has realized his worth and the unacceptable behavior of this person, he can look back and laugh at the situation. It’s the best song to listen to when you need some encouragement to get over someone.
Related: Look forward while listening to the best songs for moving on.
Laugh and Be Happy – Randy Newman
‘Laugh and be happy’ is simple but good advice. This soulful song has a joyful beat to mirror the message of being happy, further supported by horns and lighthearted vocals. Losing faith in yourself can be hard to recover from, and it’s not as simple as it sounds just to shift your mindset into a positive one. Relaxing to the peaceful ‘Laugh and Be Happy’ can give you at least a brief respite.
Related: You’ll be delighted when you hear these happy songs.
Don’t Laugh (I Love You) – Ween
Admitting your feelings for someone is terrifying! There is always that deep fear, no matter how illogical, that the person will laugh you away and not take your affections seriously. The song ‘Don’t Laugh (I Love You)’ by Ween sings about that fear. This love is steady through the seasons, but all that’s left for the narrator are memories of this other person. They hope this person will come back to them but are also scared to see them again if the feelings are not returned.
Related: Head over to our playlist of songs about loving someone you can’t have.
The Laughing Gnome – David Bowie
The name of this silly song, at least on the surface, is not a metaphor. ‘The Laughing Gnome’ by David Bowie is actually about a laughing gnome and features sound effects and dialogue from the chipmunk-voiced gnome. Upbeat horns and lighthearted conversation between Bowie and the Gnome make for a comical listening experience that’ll make you smile (even if it is a bit endearingly cringe).
Laughing on the Outside – Bernadette Carroll
The lyric “I’m laughing on the outside, crying on the inside” sums up the theme of this song. ‘Laughing on the Outside’ by Bernadette Carroll details the duality of being in love and the pain of trying to go about your day while dealing with heartbreak. You’re expected to keep up appearances and act normal, but all you can think about is the love you have and can’t give to this person. Carroll’s warbling, emotional vocals ensure that we hear her pain.
Related: If you need a break from laughing, here’s our playlist of crying songs.
Laughing With a Mouth of Blood – St. Vincent
This song talks about the desperate life of an artist pursuing their dreams. This person has a lot of hopes but no way to achieve them. They are not quite ready to give up, though, choosing to laugh through a mouth full of blood rather than admit they might not be totally equipped to handle their situation. Anticipatory drums and strings and singer Annie Clark’s soft vocals create that feeling of confused desperation.
Related: If they don’t believe in you, get encouraged with these songs for underdogs.
Laugh, I Nearly Died – The Rolling Stones
The narrator of ‘Laugh, I Nearly Died’ has traveled around the world and seen many sights, yet his wanderings have no actual direction. He feels lost, tired, “looking for [his] soul” and never finding it. Tenacious vocals and crashing drums create an intense atmosphere, and repetition of the last couple of lines emulates that feeling of fruitlessly searching described in the lyrics.
Related: Visit the great outdoors with these songs about seeing the world.
Laughing With – Regina Spektor
‘Laughing With’ by Regina Spektor talks about the phenomenon of people turning to faith when faced with hardship or loss, even if they had been a nonbeliever their whole lives. “No one laughs at God in a hospital, no one laughs at God in a war,” yet religious jokes are pretty common. Spektor expresses her frustration with this back-and-forth attitude towards faith in this piano ballad.
Related: Get inspired by these old gospel songs.
Laughing in the Hiding Bush – Bruce Dickinson
An intense rock song with heavy metal guitar riffs and vocals, ‘Laughing in the Hiding Bush’ by Bruce Dickinson views a children’s game through a cynical and ominous lens. It’s unclear exactly what the game is, but it’s probably some version of hide-and-seek or cops and robbers. The children are laughing while they hide, and the style of this song makes that innocence transform into something sinister.
Laughter in the Rain – Neil Sedaka
Feel that sappy romcom experience getting caught in the rain with someone you love through ‘Laughter in the Rain’ by Neil Sedaka. The joyful strings, heartfelt horns, and lovesick lyrics like ‘”hear laughter in the rain walking hand in hand with the one I love” make this a beautiful love song.
Related: Complement the pitter-patter of rain with the best rain songs.