In compiling this list, and subsequent play list of ‘friend’ songs, the aim was to try and focus on songs that were about friendship, trying to avoid any obvious inference of romance or suggestion intimacy. Just friends. And who better than to contribute to such a list than a group of friends who happen to be Disc Jockeys. There are a few obvious friend songs that were omitted simply based on personal opinion, like That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick and friends, and Friends by Bette Midler, the former being somewhat campy and the latter being just downright annoying.
Other great songs often associated with friendship were left out as well, like You’re My Best Friend by Queen, which, after a few careful listens seemed to be specifically aimed at a love interest more than a good buddy. Some of the songs on this list could certainly be deemed as something one would dedicate to a love interest, but can also stand apart as a tune about the meaning, or in each song’s case, the different meanings of friendship.
So to all our friends out there, these songs are for you.
“You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor
Although the song was written by Carole King, but she never released it as a single… but James Taylor did, and it stands as his only number one hit, charting in the summer of 1971. It won two Grammys, one for James (Best Pop Male Performance) and one for Carole (Song Of The Year). One might say that You’ve Got A Friend is one of the all-time classic friend anthems.
“Lean On Me” by Bill Withers
Just one year after Sweet Baby James hit with You’ve Got A Friend, Bill Withers came out with the soulful classic Lean On Me. The message is virtually the same, professing the virtues of friendship and being there for one another when times get tough. Coincidentally, like Taylor’s hit the year before, this is Wither’s only single to chart in the number one position in the summer of 1972.
“You’ve Got A Friend In Me” by Randy Newman
Randy Newman’s hit song from the movie Toy Story goes far beyond the friendship of Buzz Lightyear and Woody (one might say “to infinity and beyond”), and it’s message reminds us again of standing by your friends, defining friendship for a whole new Pixar generation.
“I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts
Again, the repeated message of being there for your friends, and a theme song for a television show called Friends, incidentally about six friends of the generation Y persuasion trying to make their way in the mid-nineties. The Rembrandts charted at #17 with this friend tune in 1995.
“Friends” by Elton John
Very little information exists about this Elton John song. Apparently it never charted in the Billboard Top 40, and we can’t be certain if it’s about being friends, having friends, or making friends (or perhaps all of them at the same time). Although it’s likely this is the most obscure song on our list, it’s a friend standard.
“Thank You For Being A Friend” by Andrew Gold
Best known as the theme from the television show Golden Girls, Andrew Gold’s friend song was originally released as a single in 1978. Unlike some of the earlier friend tunes on this list, this is the first to thank the friend for being the friend as opposed to offering the gesture of friendship.
“With A Little Help From My Friends’ by The Beatles
‘Friends’ in the plural is the subject of this Beatles classic, or one might say “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. Surprisingly, this universally recognizable friend anthem, and the second track on the legendary Sergeant Pepper album was never released as a single, and therefore never charted in the Billboard Top 40.
“Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War
Our list concludes with the most unique friend message of all from War, which instead of professing, appreciating or otherwise recognizing friendship, this tune asks to be friends. Why Can’t We Be Friends was another non-Top 40 charting song, and was later re-recorded by the band Smashmouth.
Click the play button below to hear the listed tunes