Strangers – they’re the mysterious, the long-lost, the just-met. Kick back and tune in to these 20 tracks, turning the enigma of strangers into your next favorite playlist.
Whether it’s someone you knew intimately or just a random passerby from the bar; many artists have chosen to write songs about strangers. This article will explore twenty different songs of this variety, and take a closer look at what inspired the various artists to write their lyrics.
- 1. “The Kindness Of Strangers” by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
- 2. “Hello Stranger” by Yvonne Elliman
- 3. “The Stranger Song” by Leonard Cohen
- 4. “Less Than Strangers” by Tracy Chapman
- 5. “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra
- 6. “Wayfaring Stranger” by Emmylou Harris
- 7. “People Are Strange” by The Doors
- 8. “Stranger In The House” by Elvis Costello
- 9. “Looking for a Stranger” by Pat Benatar
- 10. “Love Song To A Stranger” by Joan Baez
- 11. “Stranger In a Strange Land (Somewhere In Time)” by Iron Maiden
- 12. “Stranger In My House” by Ronnie Milsap
- 13. “Perfect Strangers” by INXS
- 14. “Stranger” by Fastway
- 15. “Strangers In Space” by Procol Harum
- 16. “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis
- 17. “Strangers” by The Kinks
- 18. “Feel Like A Stranger” by Bob Weir / Grateful Dead
- 19. “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp
- 20. “Perfect Strangers” by Deep Purple
- Final Thoughts
1. “The Kindness Of Strangers” by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Grab a blanket for this chilling story-song by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. “The Kindness of Strangers” warns us about the unexpected perils of the unknown, spun around Mary, a small-town Arkansas girl with big dreams. An encounter with a stranger at the beach spirals into a dark tale, leaving a haunting reminder of the price of trust.
2. “Hello Stranger” by Yvonne Elliman
Elliman’s version of “Hello Stranger” is a mesmerizing dive into the murky waters of rekindling with an old flame. This 1976 rendition of the original by Barabara Lewis encapsulates the strange nostalgia of seeing a former lover as a stranger – a poignant testament to time and lost connections.
3. “The Stranger Song” by Leonard Cohen
“The Stranger Song” is a raw exploration of commitment struggles, wrapped in Cohen’s timeless lyricism. Inspired by the 1955 film, ‘The Man with the Golden Arm,’ the song uses automobiles and trains as metaphors, etching a melancholic image of love’s complexities.
4. “Less Than Strangers” by Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman’s “Less Than Strangers” tunes into the awkward tension of running into an ex-lover. The song serves as an emotional mirror reflecting the discomfort of seeing a person you once intimately knew but now, you can’t even say hello to. Chapman’s voice carries the confusion, making this a track you’ll vibe with, especially on those introspective nights.
5. “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra
Step into the world of classic romance with Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”. This 1966 hit croons the tale of two strangers meeting and instantly clicking – a quintessential ode to love at first sight. It’s such a timeless tune that it even graced the 1967 movie scene as a theme, ensuring it’ll hit the right nostalgic note for any listener.
6. “Wayfaring Stranger” by Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris takes us on a journey through life’s poignant realities with her cover of “Wayfaring Stranger”, a folk classic from the early 19th century. This soul-stirring song has been reimagined by many artists including Johnny Cash, Craig Leon & Jos Slovick, but Harris adds her unique flavor, painting a picture of a mournful traveler navigating life’s ups and downs.
7. “People Are Strange” by The Doors
Ever felt like an alien in your own skin? The Doors’ iconic “People Are Strange” speaks to that very sentiment. Inspired by Jim Morrison’s personal struggle with alienation and depression, this song takes shape from a revelation during a sunset canyon visit with guitarist, Robby Krieger. Morrison’s introspection gifted us this timeless anthem for the oddballs and outsiders.
8. “Stranger In The House” by Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello hits a raw nerve with “Stranger In The House,” a heartbreaking ballad about a man who feels out of place in his own home due to a strained relationship with his wife. With lyrics steeped in melancholy, this song beautifully articulates the bitter feeling of estrangement that sometimes creeps into long-term relationships.
9. “Looking for a Stranger” by Pat Benatar
“Looking for a Stranger” was a hit single on Pat Benatar’s 1982 album, ‘Get Nervous’. This song was very popular and quickly climbed the US Billboard Top 40 in 1983! Benatar sings about a woman who’s tired of the same old boring partners and is on the lookout for a night of excitement and fun.
10. “Love Song To A Stranger” by Joan Baez
Joan Baez weaves a deeply personal narrative into “Love Song To A Stranger,” inspired by a brief romantic encounter with her then-manager. This tender 1972 ballad, from the album ‘Come from the Shadows’, resonates with fans around the globe and remains a fan favorite during her live performances, proving that sometimes, love found in stranger places can leave the deepest impressions.
11. “Stranger In a Strange Land (Somewhere In Time)” by Iron Maiden
While sharing a title with a popular Robert Heinlein novel, Iron Maiden’s “Stranger In a Strange Land” has a different origin story, with roots in a real-life Arctic expedition. This fact adds an intriguing layer to the song, which was penned by Adrian Smith, the band’s guitarist, after he got in touch with one of the survivors—who later became an ardent Iron Maiden fan.
12. “Stranger In My House” by Ronnie Milsap
Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger In My House” gives voice to the suspicions of a man convinced there’s an invisible third party in his relationship. Noting his wife’s growing distance and disinterest, he concludes that another man has wedged himself between them, echoing his fears in the lyrics, “When I’m holding her, I swear I feel the presence of another man…”
13. “Perfect Strangers” by INXS
“Perfect Strangers” by INXS is all about the one-night stand. It’s about quick flings and even quicker goodbyes, with no need for names or details. Basically, it’s the soundtrack to “no strings attached.”
14. “Stranger” by Fastway
Fastway’s “Stranger” gives us a darker vibe. Created by two rock ‘n’ roll veterans, the song might be about one-night stands or maybe even prostitution. The key takeaway is a sense of sadness and longing for a better life.
15. “Strangers In Space” by Procol Harum
“Strangers in Space” by Procol Harum is a trip. Released in 1977, the lead singer, Gary Brooker, explained that it’s all about exploring space, making us the “strangers” in the endless universe. So, strap in and prepare for lift-off.
16. “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis
“Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis is that classic hit that got covered by so many artists down the line. Back in ’63, it made waves on the Billboard R&B charts for two weeks straight. The song is all about the bittersweet moment when you cross paths with an old flame, and you’re nothing but strangers now.
17. “Strangers” by The Kinks
“Strangers” by The Kinks redefines what it means to be strangers. Back in a 1990 interview, Dave Davies shared the real inspiration behind the song – a heartbreaking story about his friend George Harris. They were planning on starting a band, but George got heavily into drugs, which ultimately led to his early death. In a way, “Strangers” is a tribute to him.
18. “Feel Like A Stranger” by Bob Weir / Grateful Dead
Bob Weir/Grateful Dead’s “Feel Like a Stranger” is a tune with a lot of spice. It’s about the intoxicating rush of a one-night stand with someone you’ve just met. It captures the thrill and the mystery of not knowing who the other person really is.
19. “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp
Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” is another tune that celebrates the liberty that comes with a no-strings-attached fling. Released in ’79, this catchy number was a bit of a shocker for fans, considering it strayed from Supertramp’s typical style.
20. “Perfect Strangers” by Deep Purple
Deep Purple’s “Perfect Strangers” is all about reuniting and facing the uncertainty it brings. Written after the band regrouped from a break-up, lead singer Ian Gillan explained that the song was inspired by their reunion session in an old house in Vermont.
And that wraps up our journey through some of the most intriguing songs about strangers. These tunes take us from fleeting encounters to tragic friendships, from awkward run-ins with ex-lovers to surprising reunions. No doubt, there’s something mysteriously appealing about the unknown, and these songs capture just that. So next time you meet a stranger, who knows? It might just inspire the next big hit.