Those little bands we wear on our fingers symbolize all types of scenarios when it comes to love. From heartbreak to walking down the aisle, songwriters and performers use the imagery of rings to connect with audiences in many different ways.
From Beyonce’s infamous ‘Single Ladies’ song about getting your man to commit to Johnny Cash and June Carter’s playful ‘Ring of Fire,’ there’s a little something for everybody in this eclectic playlist of songs about rings.
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
“Love is a burning thing. And it makes a fiery ring.” June Carter wrote ‘Ring of Fire’ during a tumultuous early point in her relationship with Johnny Cash. They officially got together in the late 60s, but Cash was still battling substance abuse issues at the time. After they got married in 1968, Johnny stated June saved his life by helping him get clean. June once said she wrote the folksy hit song because she felt like she was in “a ring of fire” when she was with him.
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Belated Promise Ring – Iron & Wine
Samuel Beam, who goes by the stage name Iron & Wine, takes his traditionally southern gothic style of songwriting to a pop-induced edge with ‘Belated Promise Ring.’ Though a bit more upbeat in overall tone, he balances it out with melancholy notes describing “Rebecca,” a girl he gave his promise ring to who “sold it to the waitress on a train” and broke his heart.
7 Rings – Ariana Grande
Viewed as the most’ hip hop’ song Grande’s ever released, ‘7 Rings’ fuses hip hop and R&B genres together along with a melodic sample set to The Sound of Music’s ‘My Favorite Things’ while singing about her lavish lifestyle. “Whoever said money can’t solve your problems, must not have had enough money to solve ’em.” Though Grande is normally known for her powerful vocal performances, she focuses on nearly rapping verses in keeping with its hip-hop-style production.
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it) – Beyonce
“If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.” Beyonce and her songwriting team penned the perfect girls’ night out song with ‘Single Ladies.’ Known for her female-empowered anthems, Beyonce added the song to her growing list of hit singles in 2008. She holds nothing back with her vocal performance, urging all the single ladies out there to give their man an ultimatum: Commit (put a ring on it) or move on. ‘Single Ladies’ is a vivacious dance track sure to get you moving in no time.
Diamond Rings and Old Barstools – Tim McGraw
“I guess some things just don’t mix like you hoped. Like me and you. And diamond rings and old barstools.” This 2014 song about lost love is a Tim McGraw classic. McGraw’s vulnerable vocal performance paired with sultry background vocals by singer Catherine Dunn tugs at the listener’s heartstrings. ‘Diamond Rings and Old Barstools’ is classic country songwriting telling a complicated love story with straightforward poetic lyrics.
Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands – Lee Greenwood
“She stood before God, her family and friends. And vowed that she’d never love anyone else again.” The tune starts out with a romantic tone, painting the picture of a couple at an altar getting married. As the song continues though, the listener witnesses their marriage decline. “The gold turned cold in her wedding band.” As the groom leaves her more and more for various reasons, she is left all alone in her house, or “prison,” as the song references. Ultimately, she seeks refuge in a new man’s arms.
Paper Rings – Taylor Swift
“I like shiny things but I’d marry you with paper rings.” This playful, bubble gum pop hit is featured on Taylor Swift’s 2019 studio album, Lover. “Cat and mouse for a month or two or three. Now I wake up in the night and watch you breathe.” In classic Taylor form, she chronicles a modern-romance story of young love and the fond memories created early on in the relationship.
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Diamond Ring – Bon Jovi
“It’s gonna tell the world, I’m your only man.” Featuring a rare acoustic guitar solo, dynamic harmonies, and lyrics full of romance, ‘Diamond Ring’ tells the story of a man madly in love with a woman. He wants the whole world to know and the diamond ring he’s putting on her finger is the symbol of his enduring commitment to her.
Mood Ring – Lorde
“Can’t seem to fix my mood. Today it’s as dark as my roots.” Lorde takes a satirical approach with ‘Mood Ring’ and pokes fun at the sometimes-bizarre approaches people take via the health and wellness industry to feel better and stay sane. In the song, as she tries sage, meditation, and yoga, she keeps checking her mood ring (a temperature-reactive ring made popular in the 70s) to see if her efforts are working.
Golden Ring – George Jones and Tammy Wynette
George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s marriage and subsequent divorce mirror the story in the song ‘Golden Ring.’ “It’s just a cold metallic thing. Only love can make a golden wedding ring.” Featuring a story about a golden ring symbolizing a couple’s love, marriage, and divorce (and ultimately ending up at a pawn shop), Jones and Wynette officially called it quits about 14 months before the song’s release in 1976.
Diamond Ring – Sheryl Crow
“I blew up our love nest, by making one little request.” Sheryl Crow’s ‘Diamond Ring’ is a stripped-down, acoustic-based song with a lyrical focus. Occasional simple electric guitar runs and a tension-filled drum beat help drive home the heartbreak of the protagonist. She was once madly in love, but lost everything when she started talking about forever with her beau.
Ring – Selena Gomez
“Wrapped around my finger like a ring.” Though the song’s album, Rare, chronicles Gomez’ experiences with heartbreak, she takes the upper-hand in ‘Ring.’ “I’m one in a million, baby. Don’t you agree?” Her fame, notoriety, and independence all drive her ability to “just let it ring” when her many possible suitors call.
Diamond Ring – The Dead South
“That gold is gonna be mine.” The Dead South has a haunting gothic sound and their bluegrass-inspired track ‘Diamond Ring’ is no different. Featuring deep, soulful strings and purposefully strained harmonies throughout the song, it tells the story of a desperate man trying to keep his high-maintenance woman happy.
Silver Wings and Golden Rings – Cher
“It was Friday night, and both of us were lonely.” A metaphorical tune full of heartache, this song is about a woman who has a random weekend romance and falls in love. When she tells the guy how she feels, he confesses he’s actually married and is heading back home. “Silver wings” signifies her telling him goodbye: “And now I guess it’s time for me to drive you to the airport. Hold back all my tears.” If she ever sees him again, she knows she’s “not strong enough to let go…twice.”
Little Silver Rings – The Samples
A fan-favorite among followers of The Samples, ‘Little Silver Rings’ is a classic rock track from the early 90s evoking nostalgic, dream-like feelings. “Why aren’t you here for me to hold?” The song’s open-ended lyrics offer multiple interpretations, including the possibility of it being about a long-lost lover. Take a listen to ‘Little Silver Rings.’ What does it make you think about?
Put a Ring on My Finger – Les Paul and Mary Ford
“Just say you love me. Be faithful and true. And there’s nothing in this great big world I wouldn’t do for you.” Though Les Paul is most famous for his solid-body electric guitar design in partnership with Gibson, he was an accomplished musician as well. His wife, Mary Ford, also played guitar and sang alongside him, keeping up with him note for note. ‘Put a Ring On My Finger’ is a playful tune about a lover’s request for “all your love, a ring, and a kiss.”