21 Best Songs About Romeo And Juliet

You read it in high school (or at least you sat in class while your English teacher talked about it), and unless you completely missed the boat, you know the story— two young lovers from rival families fall for each other despite the overwhelming objections of everyone on both sides of the feud.

They die in the end, but we as a society have decided that these two teenagers (Juliet celebrates her 14th birthday in the course of the play) are the pinnacle example of true love. Add to that songwriters love writing about love, and you have these top songs about Romeo and Juliet.

1. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift

Song Year: 2008

While “Love Story” doesn’t directly tell the tragic story of our star-crossed lovers, Taylor Swift mentions the pair in her song about a boy she loves but of whom her family and friends disapprove.

It came from Swift’s second album and landed at the number-one spot on several charts around the world. It also shines a light on young love and what it overlooks.

While we all know that things went very south very quickly for Romeo and Juliet, we still hold the pair up as an exemplar of true love. When you’re young and in love, you overlook details sometimes, like that niggling one about Juliet stabbing herself to death in grief.

2. “Romeo” by Dolly Parton

Song Year: 1993

While credited to Dolly Parton, more artists sing on “Romeo” than just our beloved blond national treasure. Billy Ray Cyrus appearances, as do Tanya Tucker, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea, and Pam Tillis.

Singing about a handsome guy who enters the bar, the women croon about how good he looks and how much they just want to be his Juliet. For Cyrus’ part, in the video, he plays the titular character (with a mullet Shakespeare never dreamed of) and sings what are instructions for doing a dance Dolly christened The Romeo.

Seems like a mess, but it’s a fun song.

3. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult

Song Year: 1976

Before getting immortalized in the Saturday Night Live “More Cowbell” sketch, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” was a pretty big hit for Blue Öyster Cult. But despite that comedy gold, it was a morose song about the inevitability of death.

The connection to Romeo and Juliet is a passing one, as the pair only get briefly mentioned in the lyrics, but invoking their doomed love and the fact that they’re together forever makes the song lean toward not dreading death, as the title says.

After all, even though they died, Romeo and Juliet ended up together. Maybe not how they hoped they would, but we take what we can get.

4. “Romeo Had Juliette” by Lou Reed

Song Year: 1989

Lou Reed’s story of Romeo Rodriguez and Juliette Bell sets Shakespeare’s tale in New York and has overtones of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Like their namesakes, this pair of doomed lovers find each other against the odds.

They live difficult lives in a hard city, but the chaos around them seems more manageable when they’re together. And then it’s over without explanation. Reed obliquely refers to violent death in the song, but it befell someone else in the story. Still, the image is there, and we know what happened to the previous pair.

5. “Romeo” by Wipers

Song Year: 1982

Punk rock’s take on Romeo and Juliet has Romeo, roaming through the city, alone, lonely, and looking for love. Juliet’s out there and may even be hoping for someone like him to come around, but in the Wipers version of the story, they never meet.

While that may seem sad, at least they don’t kill themselves in the end. Well, they might, but it’s not over each other.

The song has a driving darkness and desperation that echoes what the lovers must have felt once the play reaches Act V, but since the Wipers have them never meeting, things work out differently.

6. “Desolation Row” by Bob Dylan

Song Year: 1965

Upon its release as part of Highway 61 Revisited, “Desolation Row” was Bob Dylan’s longest song to date. While Juliet doesn’t make an appearance, Romeo does, along with T.S. Eliot, Ophelia, Albert Einstein, and Noah of Ark fame.

This varied cast of characters parades through the song, all serving as examples of desolation, sorrow, and loneliness. The lyrics may be hard to follow due to Dylan’s experimentation with LSD when writing “Desolation Row,” but even the oddest Dylan stuff is still pretty darn poetic.

7. “Romeo And Juliet” by Dire Straits

Song Year: 1980

When you’re young, a breakup can feel worse than death. That’s the idea behind “Romeo and Juliet,” a song about a modern couple just as doomed as the literary pair, though death isn’t part of this equation.

Still, the narrator has lost his love, either because the time wasn’t right, or she was too particular about what she wanted, or for any number of reasons. He spends much of the song trying to convince her that they should be together and that their love is fit for the ages.

8. “Juliet” by Robin Gibb

Song Year: 1983

Robin Gibb had a worldwide number-one hit with “Juliet,” from an otherwise forgettable album, How Old Are You? It was Gibb’s second solo effort.

It’s unclear whether the pair in the song are the same kids from the story, but they sure could be. There are references to the way the whole world falls away when you meet that one special person and Gibb mentions destiny and how we may try to fight against it but nearly always lose that battle.

A later mention of eternity alludes to the fact that the song’s lovers may have died, but even if it’s about a pair that isn’t THE Romeo and Juliet, it’s still a sad song about how things don’t always work out.

9. “Mystery Dance” by Elvis Costello

Song Year: 1977

Elvis Costello wrote “Mystery Dance” almost on a whim and thought little of it when he was done. It was, to him, a piece of pop confectionery. But audiences loved it. It appeared on his first album, but he ended up playing it for many years after that.

It’s a straightforward song, and while it mentions R & J, it could be about any young couple, as it’s about a first sexual encounter. Costello refers to both parties pretending they know what they’re doing, even though they’re both clueless. It’s kind of charming.

10. “Not Romeo Not Juliet” by Bryan Adams

“Not Romeo Not Juliet” by Bryan Adams

Song Year: 2004

Bryan Adams has never been accused of subtlety in his music. This is, after all, the guy that gave the world “Summer of ‘69.” “Not Romeo Not Juliet” holds Shakespeare’s lovestruck kids up as an ideal that the pair in the song can never equal.

The characters in the song seem weary of each other, and there are spots in the lyrics where it seems they may not even really like each other. Why do they stay together? If you’ve been in a relationship like that, you understand. If you haven’t, you don’t. And you should count yourself lucky.

11. “Romeo and the Lonely Girl” by Thin Lizzy

Song Year: 1976

While Jailbreak was Thin Lizzy’s sixth album, it was the first that got them some major airplay, specifically with the hit “The Boys Are Back in Town.” Also included on that album was “Romeo and the Lonely Girl.”

So there’s a train in the song’s lyrics, and trains weren’t a thing when Shakespeare wrote his famous play. However, Romeo, in the beginning, is suffering from an unrequited love for Rosaline.

The story the song weaves talks about the lonely girl who doesn’t have Romeo, and for all we know, Rosaline changed her mind about Romeo once he set his sights on his beloved Juliet. That would leave her a lonely girl, indeed.

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