12 Songs about Tides that Ebb and Flow

The ever-changing patterns of tides make them the perfect metaphor for many aspects of life. They have a mysterious quality that appeals to many people; anything to do with oceans and the water can have that effect.

How do musicians handle the topic of tides? In a variety of ways, as it turns out! Keep reading to learn about some of the most famous songs about tides.

Tides – Ed Sheeran

In this piece, Ed Sheeran reviews his recent life and how he changed and grew up after getting married and experiencing fatherhood. He admits to and apologizes for his mistakes and points out how much more responsible he’s become since his life has changed. It’s a very realistic song about Sheeran’s personal and professional life.

Related: Listen to more songs about life changing.


High Tide or Low Tide – Bob Marley and the Wailers

Bob Marley appears to ask God to protect humans and inspire righteousness in them with this track. Marley says he will be faithful to God no matter the tides. It could also talk about the parent-child relationship and how a child inspires goodness in a parent—while also discussing these types of relationships concerning God and spirituality.

Related: Check out these songs about parent-child relationships.


The Tide is High – Blondie

In this song, a female protagonist has strong feelings for a guy that, clearly, is very popular with a great number of women. This doesn’t stop her from “holdin’ on,” though, as she is confident that she is worthy of him and will get her chance to be with him one day. The original artists were The Paragons, singing from a male perspective.

Related: Dreaming of someone? Here are some songs about wanting to be with someone.


Undertow – Leonard Cohen

This song seems to tell the brief yet dark tale of someone who sets out on the water. As he sets out at low tide, he doesn’t know how cruel the undertow will be to him. The song could serve as a metaphor for life, as we sometimes make decisions without knowing the intense impact those decisions will eventually have on our lives.

Related: Sail away with these boat songs.


Tides – Bonobo

Bonobo and Jamila Woods seem to be singing about free people who move with the natural tides in this track. People like this cannot be tied down to anyone, love interest or otherwise, and want love to mean freedom for them: “If you love me, let me float away.”

Related: Feel carefree with the best songs of freedom.


The Rising Tide – The Killers

This song talks about being trapped in changing, unpredictable and violent tides, which may represent someone being unable to escape the hardships and injustice of life. This person may try to escape or not face the truth, but life—like tides—doesn’t let people hide from it or avoid its more challenging aspects.

Related: Head over to our songs about being trapped playlist.


Tide Turns – Phish

The protagonist here will wait with someone else—possibly a love interest or friend—”until the tide turns.” No matter how dark or hard times get for this person, they don’t have to suffer in silence or feel alone. The song highlights the importance of being there for others when facing tough times.


Tides – Ellie Goulding

‘Tides’ was inspired by dance tracks that Ellie Goulding heard in her childhood. The song is about fully experiencing the joy of romance and forgetting one’s cares and was designed to have a similar uplifting feel when compared to Goulding’s earlier hit, ‘Anything Could Happen.’ It’s one of the only dance-focused tracks on an album that is otherwise focused on non-dance music.


Tides – The xx

This track compares the ups and downs of an emotional relationship to changing tides. The song focuses on its string arrangement and has a more fun sound than earlier tracks from The xx. The song is also meant to have a mysterious edge that allows the listener to interpret the lyrics in a personal and imaginative way.


Ships + Tides – OneRepublic

In this OneRepublic track, Ryan Tedder uses ship and tide metaphors to illustrate a man’s existential crisis. The male narrator will surrender to God as long as he is allowed to understand what his own life’s purpose is. ‘Ships’ and ‘Tides’ are actually separate songs, with ‘Tides’ being the outro portion.

Related: Set sail with these sea songs.


Prince of Tides – Jimmy Buffett

In this track, Jimmy Buffett criticizes the commercialization and development of Daufuskie Island along South Carolina’s coast. He also discusses the inevitability of change and how everything ends eventually. Buffett reads passages from Pat Conroy’s book of the same name at the beginning and end of the song.


And the Tide Rushes In – The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues address the challenges of arguing in a romantic relationship with this piece. The narrator is frustrated by arguments with a lover but soon is ready to forgive and forget—yet isn’t sure where he stands after such a fight. He seems to wish it didn’t have to be like this.

Related: Here are some more songs about toxic love.


More songs about tides:

  • Vanishing Tide – Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
  • Surfing Moon – The Beach Boys
  • Sweet Thames, Flow Softly – Rufus and Martha Wainwright
  • Ebb Tide – The Righteous Brothers
  • Riptide – Lou Reed
  • Riptide – The Chainsmokers