28 Romantic and Sad Songs about Romeo and Juliet

Many consider it the greatest love story of all time – the tragic tale of two star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, held from each other by the feud in their family.

The play by William Shakespeare is known worldwide, and the tragedy of ill-fated young lovers has found its way into many pop cultural references and homes with films, musical versions, ballets, and more giving voice to the tale.

And, of course, dozens of songs by artists in all genres have told the tale in their own way. Hear these songs about Romeo and Juliet on our playlist below.

Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits

For many folks, this is the first song that comes to mind when that Shakespearean couple is mentioned. Mark Knopfler, the band’s frontman, was inspired to write the song based on his romance with Holly Vincent of Holly and The Italians. The song has Shakespearean language and many references, but it’s been transcended into the contemplation that many of us face today: timing. Timing may or may not work out for couples, but the character in the song knows he’ll always love her.

Related: Hear this song on our list of the most popular acoustic guitar songs.

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Donald Roeser, or Buck Dharma, lead guitarist for Blue Oyster Cult, wrote ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.’ There were rumors and theories about the song’s meaning, but ultimately it’s about the inevitability of leaving this world and going to the next. Some of the lyrics were inspired by Shakespearean words from the famous romance. “Seasons don’t fear the reaper. Nor do the wind, the sun, or the rain. We can be like they are. Here but now they’re gone. Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity (Romeo and Juliet).”

Related: This is one of the easiest beginner guitar songs.

Romeo and the Lonely Girl – Thin Lizzy

This rock song from Thin Lizzy, ‘Romeo and the Lonely Girl,’ clearly has some Shakespearean nods. The song reflects on romances that come and go—quickly shifting—and the lead character sees this lonely woman and thinks, “I’ll make my move now that Romeo’s gone.” But the song takes a turn. You realize it isn’t just about missing your chance but that nobody really knows what someone else is going through.

Related: Check out our playlist of songs about isolation.

The Cinema Show – Genesis

Written by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis, ‘The Cinema Show’ is about a couple getting ready, separately, for their date at the movies one night. Peter Gabriel suggested they use the names Romeo and Juliet instead of the intended “young clerk.” The song actually makes some other literature references, too, including T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land poem.

Related: Bookworms will love the best songs inspired by books.

Love Story – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is known for composing songs based on her real-life experiences, and ‘Love Story’ is no different. When she wrote the song, she was head over heels for a boy her parents didn’t like. “You were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles, and my daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet.'” The record company wasn’t as thrilled with the song as she was, but she fought for it, feeling she had something to prove. The song has become a fan favorite for many.

Related: Find this song on our playlist of the best songs with the word love.

Romeo’s Tune – Steve Forbert

While the title phrase ‘Romeo’s Tune’ doesn’t appear in the actual lyrics of the song, this Shakespearean-themed tune by Steve Forbert certainly fits the title. With the theme of fading into oblivion with your lover, the song hits home for many folks. The song has a colorful history, as well, with attempts by Forbert to record it for his debut album failing, refining the song and trying again, and ultimately resulting in the version we have today, after at least a half dozen recording attempts that just didn’t “land” in Forbert’s mind.

Juliet – Robin Gibb

A 1983 single by British singer-songwriter Robin Gibb, the beautiful song ‘Juliet’ rings true to the themes of the Shakespearean message and hit the charts in various European countries. Gibb found success with the solo song despite being a part of the Gibb Brothers, later known as the Bee Gees. The song isn’t much like anything the band had done, making its success all the more intriguing and fair.

Romeo – Dolly Parton

In the video for this song by country songstress Dolly Parton, ‘Romeo’ features Billy Ray Cyrus in his early music career as the said ‘Romeo’ from the title. Parton and other women singers find themselves drooling over the hunky singer. She didn’t write the song about him, though, but rather it was inspired by her teenage nephew whom she often teased about his love life and playing the Romeo (maybe more Casanova?) and expecting him to get his heart broken as the song tells about.

Romeo & Juliet – Kasey Chambers

This song was on Kasey Chambers’s double album “Dragonfly.” Listening to the lyrics, it seemed to be coming from Juliet’s perspective as the tragic tale unfolds. “When he said my name, ‘Juliet,’ and the morning came, he tried to forget. Say it isn’t so. Say it’s untrue. Love is gonna hurt; love is gonna bleed. Meet me at the church if you died for me.” Chambers said the song was inspired during a photo shoot in the Shakespeare room at the Sydney State Library. “I was so moved by the room, so I went back there and spent the day writing the song in there.”

Romeo and Juliet – Johnny Drille

Johnny Drille is a Nigerian artist who released a version of the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in 2017. The lyrics linger in the exciting part of the love story, the sweet moments of romance between two people who have their whole lives ahead of them. “Love is a beautiful thing. This love na for you and me. Be my Juliet, and I’ll be your Romeo, my love. It’s the hand of God na Him bring you to me. It’s indescribable what you mean to me. Would you be my Juliet, and I’ll be your Romeo?”

Related: Here’s our sweet and gushy list of the best songs about finding the love of your life.

Romeo – Greg Sage and Wipers

The second single released by punk rock band Wipers, ‘Romeo’ was originally meant to be released on the album “Youth of America” when the session of that name was recorded in Vancouver, Washington. The producers didn’t feel it felt the vibe of the piece, so it was released as a single but rerecorded it in 1983 for their album Over the Edge.

Romeo Had Juliette – Lou Reed

‘Romeo Had Juliette’ is a play on the story of the famous couple set in a modern-day city. The couple is trying to survive the hardships of urban life as the city falls down around them. “Romeo Rodriguez squares his shoulders and curses Jesus, runs a comb through his black ponytail. He’s thinking of his lonely room, then smells her perfume in his eyes, and her voice was like a bell.”

Related: Going through a rough patch? Here are some keep going songs to help you through it.

Romeo – Petula Clark

‘Romeo’ has an interesting historical foundation, not just in the Shakespearean tragedy but in the music itself. The lyrics were set to a 1919 composition by Robert Stolz entitled ‘Salome,’ featuring German lyrics. Jimmy Kennedy turned the tune on its head and wrote the lyrics recorded by Clark in 1961, and received multiple hit rankings around the world.

Romeo Loves Juliet – Rick Astley

A retelling of the classic romance, this song keeps reasonably close to the original narrative with updated details like Juliet’s herbal tea and the mobile phone reference both in the first stanza. It’s not as direct as some—it’s not a narrative song—but it’s about the phase of romance when someone in the equation is still kind of blind to the rest of the story.

Romeo & Juliet – Mr Seed

If you’re looking for the story of a young romance in a different language, try listening to ‘Romeo & Juliet’ by Mr Seed. The song is not in English but in an African language. The artist is known as a Christian artist, which likely adds some unique dimensions to the performance and lyrics.

Romeo – Lucky Dube

Focusing on the positives of love, ‘Romeo’ by Lucky Dube takes a different approach to the concepts surrounding the tale of Romeo and Juliet. The song is from the guy’s perspective as he reflects on life before and after meeting Juliet, what love means to him, and how it has changed him. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Since the day we met, I’ve never been my old self again. You don’t have to believe in everything I say, ’cause to you, I’m just another man until I prove myself to be worthy of your love. I think I’ll prove myself to be worthy of your love, oh (I am).”

Romeo and Juliet – Biz Markie

Marcel Theo Hall, better known as Biz Markie, an American rapper, beatboxer, DJ, singer, and more, gave us a unique take on the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Opening with lines from the play, the song takes us into contemporary times, asking questions about life and death, hope and love, and all the things that make for great music. “‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?’ That’s what Juliet asked, but I don’t know now. Maybe he went to get some roses for you. Yo, I’da I’da I don’t know where he’s at, Juliet. Don’t regret, ’cause he will be back.”

Romeo & Juliet – Salem Ilese

American singer-songwriter Sam Ilese, or Salem Davern, started her career when she was only ten. She’s risen and fallen in popularity throughout her career, with some successes on various platforms along the way, including TikTok and YouTube. Her song ‘Romeo and Juliet’ follows the themes of the original story but with modern references everywhere, from Brad and Angelina to Rose and Jack—bringing tragedies to mind for the person the song is sung to.

Not Romeo Not Juliet – Bryan Adams

Opening with a more childish or innocent vibe, though it quickly shifts gears, ‘Not Romeo Not Juliet’ by Bryan Adams is a sweet and painful song about finding the person you belong with and how hard it is if you have to say goodbye to each other. The song is full of vivid imagery of hard living and hard-won romance. “This is a story about a boy and girl trying to find a life in the big world; somehow, they’re together. We’re not Romeo. We’re not Juliet. How long does it take to fill this emptiness? We’re just two lost souls, and baby, we got no regrets.”

Related: It’s hard to say goodbye. Here are the best songs about leaving someone.

Romeo and Juliet – Malcolm McLaren and The World’s Famous Supreme Team

The late promoter and manager of bands like the New York Dolls, Malcolm McLaren, was known for his work with the American hip-hop radio show, The World’s Famous Supreme Team. He worked with artists to craft unique takes on various topics, including the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ in the work of that title. It’s a hip-hop take on the story, opening with provocative lyrics in an a cappella fashion.

My Immortal – Evanescence

‘My Immortal’ is Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody and lead singer Amy Lee’s take on the story of Romeo and Juliet. The song has an otherworldly quality—for which the band is so well known—even back when Moody wrote this as a teenager in high school. The song grapples with the harder parts of the story about two young lovers and does so in a way that leaves the audience haunted. “And if you have to leave, I wish that you would just leave ’cause your presence still lingers here, and it won’t leave me alone.”

Related: Have you been hurt? Listen to these songs about being let down.

Your Kind of Woman – Supertunes

Referencing the concepts of Romeo and Juliet primarily in the use of the name Juliet, the Supertunes lean into heavy electronic hip-hop combined with reggae vibes in the song ‘Your Kind of Woman.’ There are even some biblical undertones in the lyrics, “a good woman is hard to find” (Proverbs), and the searching and wanting and looking for that kind of woman.

To You I Bestow – Mundy

Chances are if you’ve heard ‘To You I Bestow,’ you have seen the film Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. The song is considered by fans to be one of the “hidden gems” of the film’s soundtrack. It’s about vowing to your love that you’d give everything to be together, much like Romeo and Juliet did. The song wasn’t written for the film, but it really couldn’t have found a better setting.

Related: You can hear this song on the Romeo and Juliet movie soundtrack.

They Don’t Know – Kirsty MacColl

Written and recorded in 1979 originally by Kirsty MacColl, ‘They Don’t Know’ has some serious lean-ins on the Romeo and Juliet theme. The song is about a girl in love, but no one seems to approve of the guy. She feels like no one understands—”they don’t know!”—and that no one else believes in true love if they don’t believe in hers.

Happy Ending – Elvis Presley

Ben Weisman wrote ‘Happy Ending’ specifically for the Elvis Presley film, It Happened at the World’s Fair. It was meant to be (and used as) a rousing finale for the movie. Weisman noted that he had to write the song in one night and had to be recorded the next day. The song mentions Romeo and Juliet, focusing on the concept of “boy meets girl” and what a happy ending could be.

Romeo & Juliet – S.O.A.P.

The Danish pop music duo S.O.A.P. featured sisters Heidi “Suriya” Sørenson and Saseline “Line” Sørenson. They released two albums before they disbanded but sold almost 2 million copies of one of their singles. They released the song ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in 1998 on their album Not Like Other Girls. The song references the famous couple as more of a feeling of intense connection rather than tragedy.

Somewhere (There’s a Place for Us) – P.J. Proby

You can’t get any more Romeo and Juliet than ‘Somewhere (There’s a Place For Us).’ The song was written for the musical West Side Story, a retelling of the Shakespearean drama in modern-day musical form. The show has been redone and revitalized many times in many settings, but it always tells the story of Romeo and Juliet and the depth of their tragic love. “I know there’s a place for us. Somewhere a place for us; peace and quiet and open air wait for us somewhere. Time together with time to spare.”

Related: A cover of this song features on our list of popular Broadway songs.

(Just Like) Romeo & Juliet – Mental As Anything

Bob Hamilton and Freddie Gorman collaborated on the song ‘(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet,’ which The Reflections recorded in 1964. The song isn’t straight up about the famous couple, but rather the main character of the song comparing his story to theirs. He’s working hard to find a job so he can get a car to take out his girlfriend and be able to buy her gifts, but he’s not sure their love won’t fall apart if he doesn’t find work soon.

Related: Fuel your job search with our playlist of songs about getting a job.

Photo of author

About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

Read more