Jason Mraz’s breakout hit “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” drew inspiration from a heartbreaking event. Masked by its upbeat tempo is a song of reassurance aimed at Jason’s buddy who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Not every song written about someone’s friend is based on a scenario as dismal as that, though. Sara Bareilles wrote “Brave” about a pal who was struggling with coming out. Adele wrote a song for a girlfriend she’s known since she was 14 years old just to let her know that she loves her.
From Red Hot Chili Peppers’ tribute to Kurt Cobain to Kanye, Big Sean, and Jay Z’s “Clique,” here are songs that were written in honor of friends.
“The Remedy (I Won’t Worry)” by Jason Mraz
The inspiration for “The Remedy” came from Jason’s best friend, Charlie, who was diagnosed with cancer two years before the song came out. Jason and Charlie, who has since beat cancer, met in the 9th grade, according to an interview they did with Diane Sawyer. The words to the song, specifically “I won’t worry my life away,” became highly inspirational to Charlie during his cancer treatments.
“Tearjerker” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anthony Kiedis and Kurt Cobain were great friends. “Tearjerker” was written as a tribute to Kurt when he died. Anthony wrote the following of Kurt’s passing in his autobiography, Scar Tissue, in 2004: “It was an emotional blow, and we all felt it. I don’t know why everyone on earth felt so close to that guy; he was beloved and endearing and inoffensive in some weird way. For all of his screaming and all of his darkness, he was just lovable.”
“In My Life” by The Beatles
“In My Life” is a reflection on friends and lovers — old and new, but a couple of the lines are thought to refer specifically to former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon’s friend, Peter Shotton: “Some are dead and some are living / In my life I’ve loved them all.”
“Fire And Rain” by James Taylor
James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain” references Suzanne Schnerr, a friend of James’ from his childhood who committed suicide while James was recording his first album. (“Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you.”) James performed the song at VH1 Storytellers in 1997, singing towards the end of the song, “Thought I’d see you one more time, Suzanne.”
“Girl” by Destiny’s Child
Kelly Rowland told Hot 107.9 in 2013 that “Girl” was written for her by Beyonce and Michelle Williams. Kelly was emotional the first time she heard the song because it was ultimately a plea on the part of her bandmates for her to get out of the tumultuous relationship she was in at the time. “[Bey and Michelle] are my homies for life. For life!” Kelly told 107.9.
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles
Sara Bareilles and Jack Antonoff’s first meeting was over the making of “Brave.” Jack had been working on the track and played it for Sara, who quickly found the words to pair it with. The lyrics to “Brave” were inspired in part by a close friend of Sara’s who had been “struggling with coming out,” she said in a webisode on her Vevo page.
“My Same” by Adele
“My Same” was written by Adele for her best friend Laura, according to People. The two have been friends since Adele was 14, but got into an argument before Adele’s 19 tour in 2008. Adele told the song’s backstory during a concert, saying that she and Laura eventually patched things up: “I called Laura pretty much almost in tears, telling her that I wanted her to be back in my life and that I needed her and that she was the love of my life.”
“Hold You Down” featuring Fat Joe by Jennifer Lopez
“Hold You Down” is about the Bronx as much as it is about Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe’s friends from there. The song is a tribute to those who have been there for both artists since the beginning, no matter what. (“Even though we haven’t spoke in so long / Nothing has changed, not a damn thing, baby.”)
“Clique” feat. Big Sean & Jay Z by Kanye
The name alone gives away the theme of this explosive song. “Clique” is specifically about Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music crew, which includes Big Sean, John Legend, and Travi$ Scott. But “Clique” is about Jay’s own clique, too — Ye, Rih, and B.