The Top 10 Friendship Songs

The Best Music To Honor Your Friends

Friendship
Photo by Caiaimage / Sam Edwards

Songs about friendship are more than traditional love songs. However, there are great ones in pop music history. These are the 10 best songs celebrating friendship.

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"With a Little Help From My Friends" - Beatles (1967)

Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Courtesy Capitol

Yes, indeed, friends can help get you through times of romantic trouble. Just ask Ringo. The Beatles recorded "With a Little Help from My Friends" as a song for the character Billy Shears on their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Drummer Ringo Starr sang it. The Beatles never released their version as a single. However, blues-rock singer Joe Cocker recorded it and climbed to #1 on the U.K. pop singles chart with his version.

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Carole King wrote the song "You've Got a Friend" and included it on her landmark album "Tapestry" released in 1971. Her friend James Taylor recorded the definitive version at the same time using the same musicians. His recording hit #1 in 1971. It is James Taylor's only #1 pop single. "You've Got a Friend" has been recorded many times since by artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Yemeni singer Ofra Haza. Few other songs come close to this song's simple poignancy of friends helping and supporting each other. James Taylor won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, and Carole King won for Song of the Year, the songwriter's award.

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An entire generation knows this song as the theme song to the TV show "Golden Girls" from a version recorded by Cindy Fee. However, the song first became a pop hit in a 1978 version by the song's writer, pop musician Andrew Gold. "Thank You For Being a Friend" is a perfect expression of gratitude to those treasured people we call friends.

Andrew Gold was born into a musical family. His mother was Marni Nixon who provided the dubbed singing voice for Natalie Wood in "West Side Story" and Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady." HIs father was Ernest Gold, a composer who won an Academy Award for his score for the film "Exodus." "Thank You for Being a Friend" is the second of Andrew Gold's two top 40 pop hits. His first "Lonely Boy" hit the top 10 in 1977.

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R&B legend Bill Withers introduced this song in the early 1970s. The song references the singer-songwriter's childhood in Slab Fork, West Virginia, a coal mining town. He missed the community there when he moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue his music career. "Lean on Me" went straight to #1 on the pop chart and became a contemporary pop standard. It is his only song to reach the top of both the pop and soul singles charts. Club Nouveau took "Lean On Me" back to #1 in 1987 with a more uptempo version.

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Best known as the theme song for the TV series Friends, "I'll Be There for You" was written specifically for the show by Michael Skloff and Allee Willis. There were no plans initially to release the song as a single, but demand from fans eventually forced the Rembrandts to record a full-length version and the song, in a commercial mix, reached the pop top 20. It went to the top of the mainstream pop and adult contemporary radio charts. In a similar vein to the show, "I'll Be There for You" celebrates the humor in friendship. The song is the second of two top 20 pop hits by the Rembrandts. The other was their first hit "Just the Way It Is, Baby," released in 1990.

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Queen's classic is a perfect song for those who see their romantic partner as a best friend. The song is a heartfelt tribute to that special person in your life. The group's bass player John Deacon wrote the song "You're My Best Friend" for his wife, Veronica Tetzlaff. An electric Wurlitzer piano creates a distinctive sound for the recording, but in concert, the group used a grand piano played by lead singer Freddie Mercury. Queen took the song to the top 20 on the US pop chart and the top 10 at home in the UK. It has since become one of the group's most beloved classics. It was first released on the album "A Night at the Opera."

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This song had a rather humble beginning. Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar wrote it, and the first recordings appeared in 1982. Lou Rawls brought it into the pop singles chart at #65 in 1983. Country singer Gary Morris took it into the country top 10 the same year. However, it was Bette Midler's performance of the song as a eulogy for a friend in the movie "Beaches" in 1989 that made the song an unforgettable classic. Bette Midler's recording of "Wind Beneath My Wings" won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It went to #1 on the U.S. pop singles chart. A 2002 poll in the U.K. found "Wind Beneath My Wings" was the most-played song at British funerals.

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Indie group Grouplove blasted into our consciousness via the joyful use of this song as part of an Apple iPod Touch commercial in 2011. The ad helped propel the song to #1 on the alternative songs and rock songs charts as well as sending it climbing into the top 40 at mainstream pop radio. It is a perfect song for celebrating with friends. The hit TV show "Glee" included a notable cover of "Tongue Tied." Grouplove followed their hit with three more top 10 hit singles on the alternative songs chart.

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There is a bittersweet tone to Rihanna's megahit "Umbrella," but at the core of the song is a salute to the enduring power of friendship. The words of support struck a chord with pop music audiences resulting in the song's seven-week reign at #1 in the US. It also received Grammy Award nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

"Umbrella" was originally written with Britney Spears in mind as the singer. However, her management rejected the song. At one point, it nearly ended up in the hands of Mary J. Blige as a song for her next album. Reportedly, Rihanna's recording of the "'ella, 'ella" section of the song sealed the deal with producers, and "Umbrella" appeared on her third studio album "Good Girl Gone Bad."

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This classic affirmation of the support provided by friendship was first recorded by Rod Stewart for the soundtrack to the movie Night Shift in 1982. Songwriting legends Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager wrote the song "That's What Friends Are For." Dionne Warwick was eager to help combat the AIDS epidemic after seeing friends die from the disease. She entered the recording studio with Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder to record "That's What Friends Are For" as a benefit for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and the quartet made pop music history. The single spent 4 weeks at #1 and earned 2 Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The recording raised over $3 million for AIDS research. "That's What Friends Are For" was the last #1 pop hit single in the U.S. for all of the performers except Elton John.

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