“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper” said poet W.B. Yeats.
Whether you believe in magic or not, it’s been the inspiration for countless songs. And as you’re about to see, some of the best songs ever written.
So enough with all this hocus pocus! Here’s our pick of the best songs about magic.
- ‘Strange Magic’ by Electric Light Orchestra
- ‘Northern Sky’ by Nick Drake
- ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- ‘Black Magic Woman’ by Santana
- ‘Rhiannon’ by Fleetwood Mac
- ‘Houdini’ by Kate Bush
- ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder
- ‘Fairy Tale Lullaby’ by John Martyn
- ‘A Kind of Magic’ by Queen
- ‘Abracadabra’ by Steve Miller Band
- ‘Magic’ by The Cars
- ‘Do You Believe in Magic’ by The Lovin’ Spoonful
- ‘Little Miss Magic’ by Jimmy Buffett
- ‘Magic Road’ by Al Green
- ‘Magic’ by Coldplay
- ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ by The Beatles
- ‘Witches Hat’ by The Incredible String Band
- ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ by The Police
- ‘I Put a Spell on You’ by Nina Simone
‘Strange Magic’ by Electric Light Orchestra
From ELO’s 1975 album Face the Music, ‘Strange Magic’ is a hauntingly beautiful song about a captivating woman: “you’re walking meadows in my mind.”
The track is notable for its harmonies and hooks, along with the customary ELO string section.
In the performance above, the band also performs ‘Livin’ Thing,’ which mentions magic too. Two songs for one!
‘Northern Sky’ by Nick Drake
Appearing on Drake’s 1971 album Bryter Layter, this magical song is about the happiness that someone or something (possibly drugs) made him feel.
“I never felt magic crazy as this / I never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea / I never held emotion in the palm of my hand / Or felt sweet breezes in the top of a tree.”
Like much of his work, this song was a commercial failure at the time of release. However, he was obviously ahead of his time, as his music is loved the world over these days.
We could have chosen his song ‘I Was Made to Love Magic’ with its lush string arrangements.
‘Spanish Castle Magic’ by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
From Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love album (1967), ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ was a staple of Hendrix’s live shows, including Woodstock in ’69.
It’s a great song featuring Noel Redding playing an eight-string Hagstrom bass through an Octavia effects unit.
‘Black Magic Woman’ by Santana
From Santana’s superb second album, Abraxas (1970), ‘Black Magic Woman’ became a staple for the band and one of their biggest hits.
The song is actually a cover of an early Fleetwood Mac from 1968 (Santana had a particular love for early Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green) with added conga and timbales to give the song a more exotic feel.
‘Rhiannon’ by Fleetwood Mac
‘Rhiannon’ was released in 1975 and written by Stevie Nicks. The song became a cornerstone of the band’s image and mythology and a live showcase for Nicks’s vocal prowess.
Nicks’ got the idea for the song after reading a book called Triad by Mary Leader, where the spirit of Rhiannon possesses a girl. After writing the song, Nicks subsequently found out that there was a whole mythology around Rhiannon.
“I come to find out, after I’ve written the song, that in fact, Rhiannon was the goddess of steeds, maker of birds,” Nicks explained in an interview.
‘Houdini’ by Kate Bush
No article about magic would be complete without a mention of the great master of illusion, Houdini. And who better than to sing about him than master songwriter Kate Bush.
‘Houdini’ appeared on Bush’s ‘The Dreaming’ album. The song is written from the perspective of Harry Houdini’s wife, Bess.
The line “with a kiss, I’ll pass the key” refers to the theory that Bess used to place the key to his handcuffs on her tongue, then pass it to him secretly when she gave him a good luck kiss before the act.
There’s also a reference to a seance in the lyrics. Houdini promised Bess that he would contact her from the grave using the secret code “Rosabelle believe.”
‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder
Not a song strictly about magic, but it’s such a good song that I figured it had to get a mention.
‘Superstition’ was the lead single from Wonder’s fifteenth studio album, Talking Book (1972). It talks about the dangers of believing in superstitions such as walking under a ladder, the number 13, and breaking a mirror (said to bring seven years of bad luck).
Many people think he sings ‘Superstition is the way’ when he actually sings ‘Superstition ain’t the way.’ The opposite!
‘Fairy Tale Lullaby’ by John Martyn
John Martyn was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist who incorporated folk, blues, and jazz.
He made his first album (London Conversation) in 1967, at the tender age of 19. This song was the first track. The lyrics are full of references to goblins, pixies, and elves:
“I will take you through the magic dancing wood / And I will take you where the goblins are all good / I will take you where the elves and pixies do sing / And I will take you ’round the magic fairy ring.”
‘A Kind of Magic’ by Queen
Written by Queen’s drummer (Roger Taylor) for the sci-fi film Highlander, the lyrics loosely follow the movie’s plot, with the classic “there can only be one” line.
Queen were no strangers to making movie soundtracks. For example, they made the music to action-hero movie Flash Gordon some years earlier (we feature it in our songs about heroes playlist).
It’s definitely one of the best ‘magic songs’ of recent years.
‘Abracadabra’ by Steve Miller Band
‘Abracadabra’ was a huge hit for the Steve Miller Band, spending two weeks at #1 in the US in 1982. Their third US #1 was following ‘The Joker’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Me.’
This catchy pop song as inspired by the American singer Diana Ross who Miller bumped into on a ski slope. After seeing her, “I started thinking about the Supremes and I wrote the lyrics to ‘Abracadabra’ in 15 minutes” Miller explained in an interview at The Dallas Morning News.
‘Magic’ by The Cars
Appearing on 1984’s Heartbeat City album, The Cars ‘Magic’ is about an obsession with a girl. The protagonist is literally under her spell: “there’s magic in your eyes.”
There’s also a nod to the summer season (which, let’s be honest, is most people’s favorite): “Summer, summer, summer / It’s like a merry-go-round.”
‘Do You Believe in Magic’ by The Lovin’ Spoonful
Led by John Sebastian, The Lovin’ Spoonful has many hits in the mid to late ’60s, including ‘Summer In The City.’ ‘Do You Believe in Magic’ is a celebration of music itself.
“Believe in the magic of rock and roll / Believe in the magic that can set you free.”
But also, as the conduits for music, musicians have a magic touch too: “And we’ll go dancing, baby, then you’ll see / How the magic’s in the music, and the music’s in me.”
That’s some chat-up line!
‘Little Miss Magic’ by Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett plays a style of music that embodies the ‘island escapism’ lifestyle (he lives in St. Barts) and has a bunch of devoted fans known as ‘Parrotheads’ (we include his hit ‘Margaritaville’ in our songs about the beach).
But there’s no drinking and hanging out on boats in this song. Instead, ‘Little Miss Magic’ is a heartfelt song from father to daughter when she was just two.
If you have kids, you’ll know all about the wonderment of seeing them grow up. There are some lovely moments in the song: “constantly amazed by the blades of the fan on the ceiling.”
In this video, there’s a sweet conversation with his daughter Delaney about the song’s origins.
‘Magic Road’ by Al Green
From the legendary soul singer Al Green’s 2005 album Everything’s OK.
The ‘magic road’ here is life. You can have it all; just watch out for others, he says.
“On this magic road / You can be anything that you wanna be / But hey, hey, watch out for the little man.”
‘Magic’ by Coldplay
The lead single from their 2014 Ghost Stories album, ‘Magic’ starts with a minimalist, bass-heavy groove that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Radiohead album.
The album was recorded after the breakup of Martin with actress wife, Gwyneth Paltrow. So the line “I just got broken, broken in two” refers to that, one suspects.
‘Magical Mystery Tour’ by The Beatles
Recorded soon after finishing their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ is the title track to the same name (1967) film. It also appeared on the band’s Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack record.
The song is a roll call to board the magic bus: ‘Roll up / Roll up for the mystery tour’ (a bit like the opening title track on Sgt. Peppers).
According to George Harrison, the idea was inspired by the ‘charabanc’ trips people used to go on from Liverpool to see the Blackpool lights. A charabanc was a pleasure trip by bus (or horse-drawn carriage) and was popular in England back when the Beatles were young.
‘Witches Hat’ by The Incredible String Band
The Incredible String Band were a psychedelic folk band with a considerable following in the late ’60s / early ’70s counterculture. They were also an inspiration for various bands, including Led Zeppelin.
‘Witches Hat’ appears on their third album, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and is totally bonkers!
It includes the classic line about monkeys: “Oh, next week a monkey is coming to stay,” and definitely wins the weirdest song on the list award!
If you love their sound, we also feature them in our songs about water playlist.
‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ by The Police
Released as the second single from the album Ghost in the Machine, ‘Every Little Thing She Does is Magic’ was first written in 1976 when The Police went by the name ‘Strontium 90’.
The song is notable for its Caribbean-inspired keyboard, played by Jean Roussel, and one of the few Police tracks to include a piano.
‘I Put a Spell on You’ by Nina Simone
Written by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and covered by everyone from Creedence Clearwater Revival to The Pogues. However, it was Nina Simone’s version that really nailed it.
Here Simone sings that she’s put a magic spell on her lover “cos’ you’re mine.”
More Songs about Magic (or with the word Magic in the title)
- ‘Magic Man’ by Heart
- ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ by Diva Gray & Oyster
- ‘Creole Woman’ by Toby Keith
- ‘Magic Moments’ by Perry Como
- ‘You Made Me Believe In Magic’ by The Bay City Rollers
- ‘Witch Doctor’ by David Seville
- ‘Blue Magic’ by Jay-Z
- ’24K Magic’ by Bruno Mars
- ‘Magic’ by One Direction
- ‘Magic Number’ by Herbie Hancock
- ‘You Can Do Magic’ by America
- ‘All The Magic’ by Natalie Imbruglia
- ‘Magic Touch’ by Rose Royce
- ‘Magic Stick’ by Lil Kim with 50 Cents
- ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ by Peter Paul and Mary