Need to change the direction your life is heading? Then these songs about new beginnings will give you the inspiration you need.
Here you’ll find songs about creating a better life, about renewal, about starting a new chapter, and about becoming a better person.
A life of bliss may be just around the corner, but you might not know it yet. So get ready to shrug off the old and welcome in the new.
1. “Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton
Here, country star Chris Stapleton reflects on the challenges of the past and optimism for the future. “It’s this idea that no matter how many times you have failed, or things have not gone the way that you wanted or planned, there’s always the opportunity to start over,” he told CBS News.
“I can be your lucky penny / You can be my four-leaf clover”
2. “Follow The Sun” by Xavier Rudd
In this inspiring song, Xavier Rudd reminds us that peace can be found when you reconnect with nature. When this “crazy society” gets you down, “Take a stroll to the nearest waters / And remember your place.” The message here is that humanity (and your life) is but the flap of a moth’s wing in the grand scheme of things, so stay present and enjoy this short life while you can.
“So follow, follow the sun / And which way the wind blows / When this day is done.”
3. “(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon
‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ song captures the optimism of the rekindled romantic relationship between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It’s a throwback to fifties-style rock ‘n roll tune reminiscent of Roy Orbison, or, well, early Beatles.
Sadly, the song is overshadowed by Lennon’s imminent death. The day the song was released (October 27, 1980) was the precise day that Mark Chapman bought the gun he’d use to end Lennon’s life.
We don’t know the time or manner in which we’ll pass, but tragically for Lennon, it was all too soon.
4. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” by Michael Jackson
Any excuse to add this disco banger, and we’ll take it! From his exquisitely produced Thriller album (props to Quincy Jones), ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ reaffirms that you gotta “be startin’ somethin'” (take action, etc.) even when all the odds are stacked against you.
“It’s too high to get over / Too low to get under / You’re stuck in the middle / And the pain is thunder”
This song has the best outro ever… “Ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa
Ma ma se, ma ma sa, Ma ma coo sa.”
5. “Brand New Day” by Sting
Sting’s 1999, pre-millennium track ‘Brand New Day’ radiates optimism, hope, and positivity for the future.
It’s about new beginnings; this song tells us to “turn the clocks to zero” – in other words, to wipe the slate clean and begin again.
If the harmonica sounds familiar, that’s because it’s none other than Stevie Wonder who stepped in to play the chromatic harmonica part.
6. “Pack It Up” by The Pretenders
Sometimes you have to give your partner the heave-ho when they’re no good and choose a new beginning. Or to ‘pack it up’ as lead singer Chrissie Hynde sings.
With a riff reminiscent of the Sex Pistols, this rocker from The Pretenders doesn’t hang around with the insults. From the top of the song, Hynde declares, “you guys are the pits of the world!”
She’s determined to find a fresh start and doesn’t care about the havoc she reeks: “I’m burnin’ every bridge”.
And by the sounds of the guy, you can hardly blame her. She’s better off without his “insipid record collection, that dumb home video center”.
7. “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone
A song that’s brimming with optimism for the future, ‘feeling good’ is one of Nina Simone’s most popular numbers.
The song reminds us there is always hope, however, bleak things may seem.
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good.”
8. “Waking Light” by Beck
From Beck’s 2005 album ‘Morning Phase’, this song speaks to renewal. The lyrics talk about casting off the things that hold us down, whether they be mental, physical, or emotional.
For Beck, it was most surely physical; he’d recently overcome a spinal injury that (tragically, for a singer) hindered his voice.
9. “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
One of those timeless classics you’ll definitely have heard, “I can see clearly now” is another staple in the ‘new beginnings’ canon of songs.
The first reggae song to hit #1 on the Hot 100.
One of the best songs about starting fresh and moving on is also about hope and courage. It will inspire listeners to persevere through the hard times and realize the dark days are behind you.
10. “We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters
‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ is one of the most popular songs about new beginnings ever recorded. No surprise then that it’s also a popular ‘first dance’ at weddings, thanks to its theme of living in harmony and togetherness.
Featuring the clarinet and piano (which became the hallmark of The Carpenters), it reached number two in the US charts, selling over a million copies.
11. “Begin” by Shallou Ft. Wales
Shallou (Joe Boston) is an L.A.-based producer and singer who makes ambient, house melodies with soulful vocals reminiscent of Chet Faker, Bonobo, and, at times, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver).
‘Begin’ sounds gorgeous and glistens and glides as it goes. It’s a dreamy composition, the audio equivalent of stepping into a hot, lavender-infused bath.
The words ask for forgiveness: ‘change your mind, ’cause I wasn’t thinking right, we can begin at the top’.
We all need to forgive each other sometimes.
12. “New Rules” by Dua Lipa
A new beginning is usually the end of something; in this case, it’s a bad relationship.
It’s basically a break-up song with a difference: the words are a rallying cry to women to take charge when they’re in a bad relationship. As such, it’s about female empowerment or ‘girl power’.
The ‘new rules’ are very clear: One, don’t pick up the phone, Two, don’t let him in, Three, don’t be his friend.
Great game plan.
13. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
One of the best songs about new beginnings is The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by George Harrison.
The song describes the long, cold lonely winters in England, which have a habit of going on a bit. It’s also a metaphor for the later years of The Beatles, where the band had to handle more of their business affairs (accounting, etc.) since their manager Brian Epstein died in 1967 (which, unsurprisingly, George hated).
The sun is a symbol of optimism and a brighter future. It was one of the first pop songs to feature a Moog synthesizer.
Tom Petty said of this song in Rolling Stone magazine: “No piece of music can make you feel better than this. It’s such an optimistic song.”
14. “New Morning” by Bob Dylan
Somewhat of a ‘born again’ song, though not in the religious sense (interestingly, that would come later), Dylan’s ‘New Morning’ (also the name of the album) was his first album of the ’70s.
This song is about renewal but also about a fresh start, a ‘new morning with you’. It’s reminiscent of the laid-back country music style heard on his ’60’s album, John Wesley Harding.
Note: I couldn’t find a good Dylan version of this song on YouTube, so I included this cover (pretty good, isn’t he).
15. “Out on the Weekend” by Neil Young
Neil Young’s No. 1 album ‘Harvest’ put this Canadian songwriter on the map, and the first track, ‘Out on the Weekend’, set the scene nicely for the excellent album that would bring to the world the songs ‘Old Man’ and ‘The Needle and Damage Done’.
In contrast to his guitar-heavy, grungier work of ‘Down By The River’ with the band Crazy Horse, this sounds more like a country song.
The theme is autobiographical and is about his lonely pursuit of success as a musician.
He will ‘find a place to call my own and try to fix up, start a brand new day’. It’s one of the best songs about new beginnings and starting a new life away from home.
16. “Absolute Beginners” by David Bowie
‘Absolute Beginners’ fuses ’50s-style ‘doo-wop’ with a modern (at the time) ’80s sound. The result is a gorgeous-sounding, horn-laden groove that captures the theme of ‘young love against the odds’ perfectly.
Bowie was keen to get an innocent-sounding female vocal on the track (he said he wanted ‘a shop girl’) so one of the session musicians (Kevin Armstrong) went and grabbed his sister – 22-year-old Janet Armstrong who was working at a shoe shop at the time – to come and sing on the track.
17. “One Day Like This” by Elbow
The last song on Mancunian Elbow’s landmark album (The Seldom Seen Kid), ‘One Day Like This’ is a brilliantly written, uplifting song about the morning after.
This autobiographical song (it’s supposedly about singer Guy Garvey’s then-girlfriend author Emma Jane Unsworth) perfectly captures the sheer delight he’s experiencing with a new love ‘lying with me half awake’.
He’s on top of the world, ‘so throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year will see me right.’ (‘see me right’ here means ‘will do’)
18. “Brand New Friend” by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
A new friendship is another less-talked-about type of new beginning in this brilliant folk pop song.
As we discussed in our playlist of friendship songs, good friends are the elixir of life. You should cherish the ones you have, and nurture new friendships whenever they appear.
19. “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco
This song came about when Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie realized he needed to set his sights higher, even if it meant failing on the way. “I hit a point when I realized I had to aim high and fail, fail, fail in order to keep growing,” he said in an interview.
“Had to have high, high hopes for a living / Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing / Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision.”
20. “Brand New Me” by Aretha Franklin
Franklin’s incredible vocal range is on display here as she attests to the transformative power of love in her life. With this new person in her life, everything seems better.
“Just because of you, oh, I feel good.”
21. “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
However bad things are going, you can take some comfort in knowing that nothing is written. Nobody, including you, knows how things are going to turn out. That’s why you have to live life to the full, you never know what may happen. It’s one of the most popular songs about starting over.
“Live your life with arms wide open / Today is where your book begins / The rest is still unwritten.”
22. “A New Day Has Come” by Celine Dion
A beautiful song inspired by the birth of her son, “A New Day Has Come” brims with optimism and hope. Remember that old saying, “There’s always darkness before the dawn.” Well, often it’s true.
“I was waiting for so long / For a miracle to come / Everyone told me to be strong / Hold on and don’t shed a tear.”
23. “Best Day Of My Life” by American Authors
Singer Zachary Barnett told American Songwriter magazine about this uplifting tune, “We wanted to tell this story of how no matter what’s going on – whether you’re stuck at your job or having a bad day – there’s always an escape from that.”
“Everything is looking up, everybody up now / This is gonna be the best day of my life.”
24. “My Shot” by Lin-Manuel Miranda (from Hamilton)
The third song from Act 1 of the musical Hamilton, the story of one of America’s founding fathers (George Washington’s righthand man, Alexander Hamilton). The song’s about taking that one chance (the ‘one shot’) you have to make something of yourself in the world.
“I’m young, scrappy and hungry / And I’m not throwin’ away my shot.”
Recommended: Check out the entire Hamilton Soundtrack.
25. “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
“Coming out” has the double meaning of coming out of the closet (letting people know you’re gay) and was written by Pop icon Niles Rodgers when he visited a gay club in New York City.
“I’m coming out / I want the world to know / Got to let it show.”
26. “First Day Of My Life” by Bright Eyes
A song about the transformative power of relationships. He’s so lovestruck, that it feels like his life starts today. Not surprisingly, it’s become a popular first dance song.
“I could go anywhere with you / And I’d probably be happy.”
27. “Today My Life Begins” by Bruno Mars
Another song about leaving the pain of the past behind and embracing a new start, the heartfelt lyrics will resonate with anyone who’s experienced heartbreak and disappointment but is now ready to move on and start afresh.
“Only have one life to live / So you better make the best of it.”
28. “Brand New Day” by Dizzee Rascal
One thing we all know, life can be really hard. In this tune, Dizzee Rascal reminds us to stand up to adversity and hold on to hope despite life’s challenges and hardships.
“But it’s a brand new day, new opportunities what can I say.”
29. “Easy Come, Easy Go” by George Strait
Sometimes a new beginning involves letting go of accepting when something’s not working anyway. In this song, George Strait lays it all on the line, admitting that “Sometimes two people just don’t get along, it’s time to hit the road”, declaring they should “Call it quits, calling off all bets, it just wasn’t in the cards”.
30. “Dance Again” by Selena Gomez
After a turbulent four-year period that included a kidney transplant and an emotional breakdown, Selena Gomez got her groove back with this little tune. Life’s little pleasures like dancing, feel good again. Yay.
“I kickstart the rhythm / All the trauma’s in remission / No, I don’t need permission / Feels so, feels so, feels so good to dance again.”
31. “Good Days” by SZA
A powerful song about finding hope in darkness during a messy breakup. She told Rolling Stone magazine, “You really have to choose to feel better. You have to. Have to.”
“I don’t miss no ex / I don’t miss no text / I choose not to respond.”
32. “Starts with Goodbye” by Carrie Underwood
With a sentiment similar to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (written by Dolly Parton, if you didn’t know), ‘Starts with Goodbye’ it’s a song about letting go of someone when it wasn’t meant to be. It’s the hardest thing to do, but sometimes it’s necessary.
“I guess I’m gonna have to cry / And let go of some things I’ve loved / To get to the other side.”