There are moments in life that everyone encounters where it feels like you are just not good enough for something. Whether it be love-related or being unable to bring a dream to fruition, not feeling good enough can be quite the struggle. Fortunately, music has the power to convey this feeling quite well, to the point of sometimes being able to overcome the feeling altogether. Here are some of the best songs about not being good enough.
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Song Year: 2004
Elliott Smith was a true master at crafting songs that dealt with heavy lyrical content. Coast To Coast, from his posthumously released album From A Basement On A Hill, is a great example of this.
Coast To Coast is a song about not being good enough for somebody, and that no matter what they try to do, it never meets the satisfaction of the other party. If you’ve never listened to Elliott Smith before, you owe it to yourself to check this track out.
Song Year: 1992
Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album is widely regarded as one of the best live albums of all time. The song Lonely Stranger from this album is another song about not being good enough.
The lyrics of the song are about somebody who goes through life feeling alone. He warns others not to get too friendly with him due to the potential bad outcome. The remarks others make about them not being a good person may be true, but nevertheless, they’ll continue on through life anyway.
Song Year: 1965
The Beatles have had many hit songs in their catalog, and Nowhere Man, from their album Rubber Soul, is an especially touching song. The track was written by John Lennon in frustration about not being able to write a song.
The lyrics of the song paint a picture of a lonely person going through life without an idea of what they want to do, so they instead sit inside and live life in isolation. The song begs to ask the question of whether this Nowhere Man is like the rest of humanity.
Song Year: 1992
Creep is the song that put Radiohead into mainstream success. Granted, it’s nowhere near the band’s favorite song to play, nor does it hold a candle to some of the great music the band has released since their first album. However, this anthem holds a message that bears meaning to so many people.
The powerful lyrics paint a picture of a person who feels they do not measure up to someone else. They do things in hopes of the slightest bit of another person’s attention, without success. It also paints a potent lyrical picture of feeling like an outcast.
Song Year: 1994
Hurt is a massively famous song by Nine Inch Nails and is often mistaken to be a Johnny Cash song due to the potent cover the artist released towards the end of his career. Nevertheless, it goes to show how excellent this song is when a very established country star covers a song by an industrial metal artist. Its message truly transcends predefined genres.
This is a song about somebody who is numb and questioning the outcome of their life. The song really does portray somebody in a deep depression and, if listened to in that state, can be very relatable.
Song Year: 1991
Black is a song from Pearl Jam’s massive hit album Ten, which the band originally had reservations about releasing due to being such a personal song. Fortunately, the band did release the song, because the song has a powerful message.
The lyrics of Black paint a picture of how everybody starts out life in the same way, much akin to a blank canvas before a painter touches their brush to its surface. It tells of the beauty of love and the despair of love gone wrong, and the wishing that the love the narrator has for somebody would be returned.
Song Year: 2011
Work In Progress, from The Dangerous Summer’s album War Paint, is very much about somebody who feels that they are a work in progress. This is a song that really tells it how it is from the point of view of somebody that has lost their hope in life.
The potent lyrics are very matter-of-fact about somebody who loses their faith and trust in themselves, and the music accompanies the lyrics with a sense of pensive hopelessness. When you lose the vital necessities needed to build a proper foundation in life, it can be very hard to see the good in anything.
Song Year: 2003
Brand New is a band that is known for creating songs that are packed with emotion combined with highly effective musical accompaniment and delivery. Guernica, from the band’s album Deja Entendu, is a great example of this.
The lyrics immediately tell a tale of somebody who always felt forgotten and left out, even as a child. Admittedly, the song was written after the singer, Jesse Lacey, lost his grandfather while the band was on tour.
Song Year: 1991
I Can’t Make You Love Me is a ballad by Bonnie Raitt that tells of the woes of unrequited love. Anyone who has ever been in those shoes can likely relate to the words of this song. The track has gone on to be covered by the likes of Bon Iver, Prince, Adele, and more.
I Can’t Make You Love Me perfectly portrays how a person cannot make another person feel something for them. If the love is not there, it’s just not there, plain and simple. Allegedly, the song was inspired by a newspaper headline featuring a man who went to court for shooting at a woman’s car out of feelings of unrequited love. It just goes to show how powerful the feeling of love can be, even if it isn’t returned equally.
Song Year: 2014
If I’m Unworthy is a powerful song by Blake Mills that holds a very deep meaning. If you want to experience the full power of the song, it is worth taking a moment to watch Blake Mills perform this song live, as his delivery and guitar performance are quite compelling.
If I’m Unworthy is a song that begs to ask the question of whether or not the narrator is worthy of the feelings that someone else has for them. It also goes on to ask whether or not the person in question is deserving of the feelings that the narrator has for them. Relationships are indeed a two-way street, but we may not always be deserving of another’s attention and feelings.
Song Year: 2008
The Modern Leper, from Frightened Rabbit’s highly-acclaimed album Midnight Organ Fight, has a somewhat uplifting message, despite the lyrics being written from the point of view of someone that doesn’t feel as if they are good enough. The song portrays a couple that is in love, despite the faults one feels they have with themselves.
This song is a great reminder that love, in its truest form, is complementary. One doesn’t need to be a perfect human being to be loved by someone else. It may be a bit dumbfounding when somebody returns love despite the faults, but this type of love is what will ultimately help another to grow.
Song Year: 1964
Loser, from the early hit album With The Beatles, is another John Lennon song about somebody who feels as if they are not good enough. The lyrics portray a person who has lost out on love, and despite the happy appearance they wear on their face, are actually quite sad inside.
This song is a highly relatable song for anyone who has ever experienced depression but has been unable to express their true feelings. All too often, feelings become compressed and hidden under a mask in order to appear happier. This way, people do not become burdened with another’s emotions. However, this is one of the major fallacies of depression, but the cloud of emotions often makes it impossible not to perceive it as a fallacy.
Song Year: 2007
Please Be Patient With Me, from Wilco’s highly acclaimed album Sky Blue Sky, is a wonderful song about somebody who is very aware of the moments that they slip into a depression.
The lyrics seem to portray those moments of meeting a new person and warning them of potential personal pitfalls that the other person may encounter by being associated with them. Please Be Patient With Me is a song that wonderfully expresses the phrase: it’s not you, it’s me.
Song Year: 1996
Another Wilco song that perfectly emotes the feeling of not being good enough is the song Misunderstood, from the album Being There. Songwriter Jeff Tweedy often has a tinge of depressive feelings in his lyrics, and Misunderstood is a classic example of this. The song has a melodramatic musicality that erupts into an abrasive ending.
Misunderstood has lyrics about somebody that hasn’t ever made it out of their hometown and is bound to the lifestyle of partying and regret while consistently longing for a different life. Anyone who has ever been in those shoes will know exactly what Jeff Tweedy is talking about.
Song Year: 1955
As is often the case with songs from the 1950s, the music of The Great Pretender would make one initially think that the song is about something happy. Of course, closer inspection would show quite the opposite, which goes hand-in-hand with the message of the song.
Sometimes people often feel they have to wear a mask and pretend to be someone they are not, just to appease others and not be such a social burden. It is important to reach out and express yourself because every human experiences this feeling in one way or another.
Song Year: 2005
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing was a massive hit for singer-songwriter Jack Johnson. The song earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and has been certified as a Gold Record by the RIAA.
The song tells a tale of someone who, regardless of their advances, cannot seem to get another person to love them. Allegedly, Jack Johnson wrote the song for one of his friends who spent their time in an endless pursuit of a woman, hoping that the song would give his friend a sense of perspective on the situation.
Song Year: 1995
Perfect is a track from Alanis Morissette’s 1995 hit album Jagged Little Pill. The song is about somebody who will only receive love by being perfect. The song seems to be written from the perspective of a relationship between a parent and a child.
Quite often, childhood experiences (both good and bad) play a large part in the problems adults face later in life. One of the biggest challenges as an adult is doing the necessary shadow work to unpack these experiences and learn to live a life unchained by these experiences.
Whether it’s just a small bout of a lack of confidence or full-blown depression that is hidden behind a smile, the feeling of not being good enough is an emotion that binds humans together. If you feel like you’re not good enough, these songs can certainly help. However, always keep in mind that there is usually always somebody with an open ear that will listen and be a friend. You don’t have to struggle alone.