If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make noise?
The answer may be up for debate, but we know you’ll hear some great songs on this playlist!
Nature has always been a reliable muse for musicians, offering plenty of options for symbolism and metaphors. From feeling lost and confused in a forest to finding solace surrounded by trees, these songs will take you through the different emotions nature can elicit.
Whether you’re a nature-lover or not, you’re sure to relate to some of these songs about trees. Time to get lifted up!
Table of Contents
- A Forest – The Cure
- Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall
- Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
- Birch Tree – Foals
- Old Pine – Ben Howard
- Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
- The Dreaming Tree – Dave Matthews Band
- Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree – Dawn ft. Tony Orlando
- Lemon Tree – Fools Garden
- Little Willow – Paul McCartney
- Shadows and Tall Trees – U2
- Cactus Tree – Joni Mitchell
- A Thousand Trees – Stereophonics
- The Hanging Tree – James Newton Howard ft. Jennifer Lawrence
- Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson
- Speaking with Trees – Tori Amos
- Heart of Oak – Richard Hawley
- Mango Tree – Zac Brown Band Feat. Sara Bareilles
- Pine for Cedars – Dan Mangan
- Four Cypresses – Grizzly Bear
- Lime Tree – Bright Eyes
- Weeping Willow – The Verve
A Forest – The Cure
Hailed as one of the best songs in their entire catalog, ‘A Forest’ was The Cure’s first breakthrough into the UK Top 40. The Cure places you right into the middle of a forest with the atmospheric instrumentation and echoing vocals of this track. The lyrics take you through the story of someone being lured into a forest by a girl’s voice- but this girl turns out to be imaginary. The driving drums and ominous bass lines replicate the panic of being lost in a sea of trees.
Related: Relax with these nature songs.
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall
Gritty vocals, catchy guitar, and a stomp-clap rhythm come together perfectly in this iconic song by KT Tunstall. A great song to scream-sing when you’re mid-crisis, ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ was inspired by a runaway horse but ultimately is about Tunstall’s struggles with figuring out who she truly wants to be. If you feel like your heart has forsaken you, find it in the pumping beat of this song.
Related: Gallop over to our playlist of horse songs.
Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
‘Hunger of the Pine’ is one of alt-J’s most experimental songs. Strings, synth, a Miley Cryus sample (“I’m a female rebel”), and French lyrics all build over an electronic foundation. Despite many different elements, the song comes together seamlessly to compare the feeling of missing someone to the feeling of physical hunger. The music video shows a man running from something through a forest, being shot by arrows, which could further symbolize emotions’ physical effects.
Related: See more songs about missing someone you love.
Birch Tree – Foals
An ode to nostalgia, ‘Birch Tree’ by Foals is perfect for the people who constantly reminisce on the past and are apprehensive about the future. Growing up means leaving the city you were born in, falling out of touch with old friends, and having a ton of new experiences while perpetually feeling clueless. Yannis Philippakis, writer and singer of ‘Birch Tree,’ reviews his past and watches for his future in the form of a flowing river. Though contemplating time can get existential very quickly, the optimistic feel of this song reminds you that time is not always something to fear.
Related: Go down memory lane with these sentimental songs about growing up.
Old Pine – Ben Howard
This song has quite a dramatic backstory. A falling pine tree almost killed Ben Howard on a surf trip with his friends. Rather than write a song about this near-death experience, Howard details the surf trip that followed. You can feel the gratitude for life in the swift guitar strumming and the vivacious drums. The simple joys in life take the forefront in ‘Old Pine’, reminding us to appreciate the little things- we never know when they might be taken away.
Related: Check out this playlist with more songs about gratitude.
Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
Coming in at 385 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 best songs of all time, this song describes the exhaustion that comes from fakeness. The inescapability of fake bodies, fake plants, and fake men and women create intense anger, heard in the raw vocals and intense guitar. The exhaustion leftover when the anger dissipates can be heard in the softer delivery of “it wears me out.” Fun Fact: Hayley Williams and Phoebe Bridgers have each covered this song. Double Fun Fact: In Clueless, Cher calls an acoustic version of this song “crybaby music.”
Related: Throw out the fakes while listening to this playlist of songs about fake friends.
The Dreaming Tree – Dave Matthews Band
‘The Dreaming Tree’ could represent many things—a memory, a hope, a relationship. Whatever it is, it is long gone, and the song reminisces over the extinct joys of the tree. With a crooning saxophone and impeccable rhythm section, Dave Matthews Band masters the movements between tension and release in this song. The lyrical content of each verse builds the listener’s intrigue, and anticipation rises during the instrumental breaks. It all culminates in the repetition of “take me back” at the song’s end, where we get a prolonged and satisfying rise and fall of the music.
Related: Get nostalgic with these songs about the good old days.
Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree – Dawn ft. Tony Orlando
Based on a story lyricist Irwin Levine read in Reader’s Digest, this song tells the tale of a man riding the bus home after being released from prison. He is on the lookout for a yellow ribbon tied around an oak tree- a sign that his wife still loves him and wants him to come home to her. The upbeat instrumentation and joyful vocals show the narrator’s hope, and this hope pays off when he spots “a hundred yellow ribbons round the ole oak tree.”
Lemon Tree – Fools Garden
While waiting on his girlfriend to meet up with him, Peter Freudenthaler wrote ‘Lemon Tree,’ one of Fools Garden’s most popular songs. The steady beat and swaying vocal delivery simulate that dull, apprehensive feeling of waiting. But, based on the lyrics, it sounds like she never showed. The girlfriend had talked about the “blue, blue sky,” but all Freudenthaler can see is a lemon tree. She sees blue skies; he sees lemon trees—not very compatible! A lemon tree is a pretty ambiguous metaphor, but one interpretation is that it shows the disconnect between this couple.
Related: See our playlist of songs about waiting for someone special.
Little Willow – Paul McCartney
A tribute to the late wife, Maureen, of Paul McCartney’s bandmate Ringo, ‘Little Willow’ creates a unique emotion of sorrowful peace. McCartney speaks to the willow, representative of Maureen, with sweet words like “sleep, little willow, peace going to follow.” McCartney has said he wrote this song to comfort Maureen’s children, and the relaxing feel of the song ensures they do not fear where their mother has gone and that they know her love will always be with them.
Related: Seek comfort with these songs about losing a loved one.
Shadows and Tall Trees – U2
‘Shadows and Tall Trees’ is the title of the seventh chapter in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. It’s a fitting name, as this book inspired the song. With a track full of questions, suspicion, and repetition, you get the impression that the narrator is lost and confused. The shadows and tall trees make it hard to see and harder to know where your path is. Overlapping drum lines and a multitude of various melodies add to the effect of feeling disjointed.
Cactus Tree – Joni Mitchell
The closing song on Joni Mitchell’s debut album, ‘Cactus Tree’ is a beautiful, narrative-style song built over acoustic guitar. Warring between the need for love and the need for freedom, Mitchell describes a woman loved by many and tied down by none. Though she loves to be loved, freedom is her priority, and she is afraid “one will ask her for eternity.” Balancing independence and the desire for love is tricky, and Mitchell flawlessly captures that inner conflict in this song.
Related: Spread your wings with these songs about independence.
A Thousand Trees – Stereophonics
A Thousand Trees’ was written about the story of a football coach falsely accused of being inappropriate with some of the kids on the team. A touchy subject, but Stereophonics handles it well. A cautionary tale against gossip in general, the line “it only takes one tree to make a thousand matches, only takes one match to burn a thousand trees” is quite a poetic way to say that dishonesty can spiral and have a widespread impact, even if that was not the original intent.
Related: Hear more great songs about being betrayed.
The Hanging Tree – James Newton Howard ft. Jennifer Lawrence
If you are a dystopia fan, you’re probably familiar with the iconic Hunger Games series. ‘The Hanging Tree’ appeared in the third book and was composed by members of The Lumineers for the third movie. An eerie song with ominous lyrics, ‘The Hanging Tree’ describes a hanged man calling out to his love, wondering if she will run to freedom or hang beside him. The song becomes a rallying cry for the rebels, and the orchestra intensifying throughout the song is sure to give you chills. Fun Fact: Jennifer Lawrence was terrified to sing this song on set!
Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson
Every winter, ‘Underneath the Tree’ by Kelly Clarkson is inescapable as soon as the Christmas season begins. But we’re not complaining! With a catchy rhythm and euphoric vocals, this song is one of the most upbeat Christmas tunes, entering the global top 10 every holiday season. Clarkson won the first season of American Idol in 2002 and has been delivering hits ever since. In this song, she sings about her gratitude for the person she loves—the only thing she really needs “under” her Christmas tree.
Speaking with Trees – Tori Amos
Tori Amos shares her feelings of grief with the trees in ‘Speaking with Trees.’ It sounds like she can find solace in her grief when surrounded by nature, saying that she is “almost sure” the trees are grieving with her. Coping with loss and a hollowed-out soul, Amos finds hope and peace in the sanctuary of nature.
Heart of Oak – Richard Hawley
‘Heart of Oak’ is Richard Hawley’s tribute to all the people who have inspired and helped him in his life and career. Oak trees are typically symbolic of stability, strength, and longevity, showing how steady these inspirational figures were in Hawley’s life. The passionate electric guitar and deep, warm vocals shape the appreciative lyrics of the song. Fun Fact: one of the lyrics, “when you sang the Bay Of Biscay, the world drifted away,” alludes to Hawley’s friend Norma Waterson, who has a song called ‘The Bay of Biscay.’
Mango Tree – Zac Brown Band Feat. Sara Bareilles
This jazzy, swinging love song centers around a mango tree. The couple uses the shade of the mango tree as a serene paradise to express their love for each other. In this passionate yet lighthearted song, Sara Bareilles’ sweet, smooth vocals mesh with Zac Brown’s soulful chest voice. Fun Fact: a mango tree can grow up to 100 feet!
Pine for Cedars – Dan Mangan
Dan Mangan reflects on the beginning of his relationship with his girlfriend in the acoustic ballad ‘Pine for Cedars.’ In the initial stages of the relationship, both were poor and struggling but able to find happiness in the new love they had found. Mangan lived in Vancouver at the time, and the lyrics contain possible references to roads named Pine Street and Cedar Crescent. “Pine” Street takes on a double meaning as he pines for stability in this relationship.
Related: Feel the love with these songs about falling for someone.
Four Cypresses – Grizzly Bear
This song centers around internal chaos that is replicated in the external chaos of the world. The unusual drum line and unique chords add to the existentialism ‘Four Cypresses’ tries to convey. Life is chaotic, messy, and everchanging, yet it is all we know—”it’s chaos, but it works.” The four cypresses are first seen in a neighbor’s yard and later torn down. Even the tallest trees succumb to the mayhem of human life—and the metaphor expands when you know cypress trees can be symbolic of death.
Lime Tree – Bright Eyes
A mosaic of different experiences from different people, ‘Lime Tree’ is an introspective ballad accompanied by sorrowful strings and haunting harmonies. Tales of death, religion, and falling out of love are all weaved into this deeply emotional song, and it is up to us to interpret where one story ends, and another begins. The ‘old lime tree’ has rotten and ripe fruit, suggesting the duality present in every kind of journey.
Weeping Willow – The Verve
‘Weeping Willow’ deals with the mental struggles and dark thoughts Richard Ashcroft, lead singer of The Verve, has experienced in his life. He searches for companionship and salvation in this song, and his desperation is evident through the repetitive lyrics and the fervent guitar and drums. It’s possible Ashcroft is comparing himself to a weeping willow- mournful, lonely, and looking for someone to understand him and grow beside him.
More songs about trees:
- Kissing Tree – Spencer Lee Band
- Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree – Rosanne Cash
- All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands – Sufjan Stevens
- The Apple Tree – Nina Nesbitt
- One Tree Hill – U2
- Withering Tree – Traffic