Seven Classic Rock Songs with Moral or Religious Themes

By Dan Stout

Mormon classic-rockers: Here’s our list of notable rock classics with religious and or spiritual themes. Whether you agree with our selections, one cannot deny the power of these songs to evoke deep feelings; their inspirational power compliments LDS teachings from love to overcoming adversity to dealing with the passing of loved ones. Recognizing they are numerous, let us know about favorites we overlooked.

51iUJ2aSDTL1 “Never Die Young” by James Taylor.

At the top is J.T.’s tender and inspiring admonishment to “hold up” the courageous “golden ones” whose legacies endure beyond the grave. Exquisite melody and soft lead guitar elegantly speak of people of purpose; we must “never let them fall.” Eventually, they “sail on to another land beneath another sky.” It’s music of hope for eternal life.

 2 “The Weight” by The Band

When I asked a devout fan of The Band, what this song meant, he replied simply, “Helping someone.” Aided by one of rock’s most soulful voices Levon Helm, “The Weight” is #41 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Went down to Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead…” Fulfilling a promise to check on several people, the weary traveler presses on in the name of compassion. The narrative’s characters reflect several Biblical themes.

 3 “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton

A victim of a tragic accident, Clapton’s four-year-old son Conor is the subject of this moving elegy. Co-written with Will Jennings, it asks, “Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?” Clapton plays acoustic guitar on this song which “is what kept me alive through the darkest period of my life.”  

hqdefault4 “Hotel California” by the Eagles

According to Eagles drummer Don Henley, the song has taken on a life of its own spawning wide-ranging interpretations. The line, “You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave” is part of our vernacular. It is a warning against materialism, excess, and the recognition that art and commerce have blended to our detriment.

5 “American Pie” by Don McLean.

Perhaps the poem of America’s soul, it’s a Whitmanesque piece about “the day the music died,” a reference not only to Buddy Holly’s premature death in a plane crash, but the end of the American dream. McLean calls it “a morality song” chronicling a shift in the wrong direction toward a less idyllic period.

 I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

 The chorus, “Bye, bye miss American pie remains a ubiquitous call to gird up our loins to face a new and more challenging world.

6 “Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel

Written by Mike Batt and performed by Art Garfunkel for the film version of the book, “Watership Down” it deals with both the sting and natural phase of death. Garfunkel’s thin tender voice is so soothing that the song is commonly sung at funerals.

henry-diltzcrosby-stills-nash-csn-couch7 “Find the Cost of Freedom” by Crosby Stills and Nash

Commitment to a cause is the simple message. Stephen Stills uses Civil War imagery as he challenges us to: “Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground. Mother Earth will swallow you. Lay your body down.” How ready are we to make the ultimate sacrifice for what we believe in?

What pop or rock songs have touched you deeply?

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