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37 Songs About the Desert

FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Celebrate the vast no-man's-land of the desert where the cactus and sagebrush grow, and the land is unforgiving, stark, and simple in its beauty.

Celebrate the vast no-man's-land of the desert where the cactus and sagebrush grow, and the land is unforgiving, stark, and simple in its beauty.

Adventure in the Desert

My family just about roasted while vacationing in the desert in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado during July and August, but like they say, it really was a dry heat. With desert canyons, valleys, and mesas, as well as cacti and sagebrush, those scenic vistas were postcard spectacular. (I'll admit, however, that it was difficult to get used to not seeing an abundance of trees. I missed them.)

The highlight of our trip was a two-and-a-half-hour scenic tour of the Hell's Revenge Trail in Arches National Park while we were in Moab, Utah. Led by a tour guide, we drove 4x4 utility vehicles up steep slickrock inclines that overlooked narrow ledges. We also crossed bumpy rocks and boulders that seemed utterly impassable by vehicle and negotiated steep descents. Rollercoasters have nothing on this all-terrain adventure, especially given the desert scenery along the way

If the desert is a place you want to be, then make a playlist of songs about the dry, tranquil, open land. We have a long list of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs about the subject.

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1. "Desert Moon" by Dennis DeYoung

There's nothing like first love, and whether it occured at the beach or in a small dusty, desert town, its memory endures for years. This 1984 rock ballad features two middle-agers who reconnect and reminisce about their long-ago first romance in a place called Desert Moon. These two dreamers left their innocence in the hot desert summer nights with words unspoken. Time moves on and one can never truly go back.

2. "Desert" by Jameson Rodgers

The narrator in this 2021 country tune uses a desert metaphor to provide important life advice. His experience is that life involves both difficulties and triumphs, pain and joy, and as a result, just like the weather, one cannot always predict what the future holds. Challenges along the way encourage one to cherish life's successes so much more: "Sunshine all the time just makes a desert."

3. "Desert" by Hillsong Worship

This 2012 Contemporary Christian praise song by Hillsong Worship uses the dry, barren desert to demonstrate that one needs to rejoice in the glory of God during times of great challenges as well as abundance. When one feels hugry, in need, "in weakness or trial or pain," it is important to continue to give thanks and trust that God will provide.

4. "Red Desert" by 5 Seconds of Summer

In this 2020 pop number, a shout out goes to Australia's Simpson Desert, red because of its iron oxide deposits from weathered sediment. All four members of 5 Seconds of Summer originate from Australia, and this pop song is a tribute to their home where they find time spent in the desert healing and rejuvenating. The song describes how inspired they are by the beauty of the desert, particularly moments spent there during twilight hours.

5. "Desert Child" by Austin Burke

The young woman at the center of this 2020 country track is a free spirit from the Arizona desert who has left an indelible impression on the heart of the narrator. An untamable wandering soul, the southwestern gal hitches rides from western town to town.

The two lovers shared a hot summer night together, and after promising that she'd always be his desert child, the beauty left her necklace but no contact information before skipping town. Now he's thinking that this one-night stand may have been the one that got away.

6. "Missing" by Everything but the Girl

The woman in this song is trying to recapture the memory of a love affair that has ended by revisiting where her lover once lived. Hanging around his old address, she can almost imagine him still there, although he has long since moved on. She doesn't even know whether he is still alive. Stuck in the past, the narrator uses the desert to convey the extent of her desperate yearning to reconnect with him: "And I miss you like the deserts miss the rain." The duo Everything but the Girl became a one-hit wonder in the US with this 1994 pop tune with a strong EDM groove.

7. "Desert Rose" by Sting (Featuring Cheb Mami)

Although unusual, this song was a hit throughout the world. Sting describes a love interest as a desert rose in this 2000 pop song with an international flair. Coveting a beautiful woman, he dreams of "lost love and longing" as Algerian musician Cheb Mami sings his declarations of love in Arabic and describes looking for the love of his life.

8. "Burning Man" by Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osbourne

The guy in this contagious 2018 country song celebrates the contradictions inside all of us as he notes that he is as lost as he is found and as crazy as he is stable. We're all a little of this, a little of that. This ditty is a musical shout out to mixed identities and the annual Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert. The yearly festival draws 75,000 people to the desert in the 10 days leading up to and including Labor Day. The Burning Man Festival is focused on tenets that include self-expression, self-reliance, and inclusion.

9. "Cold Desert" by Kings of Leon

The heartbroken man in this 2008 rock tune is an interloper who finds himself in an emotional desert wasteland as he waits in vain for the one he loves. His sweetheart made promises to him, promises she will never keep. As he waits for her to honor them, he feels depressed, unvalidated. and lonesome. He knows he is ultimately alone in this journey.

10. "I've Been Everywhere" by Johnny Cash

Country music legend Johnny Cash wasn't the first to record this memorable traveling song, but he was perhaps the most renowned. In this 1996 release, the narrator tells his tale of hitching a ride with a trucker and traversing the country. When the truck driver asks him about the extent of his previous travel experience, his passenger proudly rattles off how he's certainly no newbie. He's been everywhere, including a list of 91 cities, states, countries, points of interest, and unincorporated communities throughout North America, Central America, and South America.

As the man made his way across the country, the narrator experienced a variety of landscapes, including the desert:

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere.

This song was originally written to reflect Australian locales. Alternate versions have since included locations for Great Britain and Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany.

11. "Desert Moon" (from Aladdin) by Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott

Although this love ballad was cut from the 2019 Disney live action remake adaptation of Aladdin, the company released the song later that year. The wistful tune features both Aladdin and Jasmine peering up at the same desert moon, asking that it burn bright like a lamp in the dark night and shine down so that they may find one another and reunite.

12. "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by Eagles

And I want to sleep with you in the desert night
With a billion stars all around ...

Enamored with his attractive gal pal, the man in this 1972 soft rock has been hurt by a past romance and is therefore reluctant to become too invested in love again. He figures that if he doesn't allow his expectations to soar, he won't become too disappointed when the relationship doesn't work out.

Thus, the narrator is relaxed as he opts for a "no strings attached" type of relationship. Although he claims that he is filled with a peaceful, easy feeling, the desert in this classic tune symbolizes bleak isolation from true romantic fulfillment. His actions represent the opposite of standing up and declaring one's love. Instead, the narrator settles in and just vibes while his inner voice surmises that he'll probably never see this lover and friend again.

13. "The Painted Desert" by 10,000 Maniacs

As people grow and change, friendships can fade like the brilliant colors of the Painted Desert landscape that blend into one another—various shades of red earth as well as lavender. In this poignant rock ballad from 1987, the narrator feels forgotten by a friend. The narrator has been out wandering Arizona for months but has been summoned home to Flagstaff by her mother over a family matter. Having not heard anything from her friend for an extended period of time and knowing that her friend has met a new friend, she is concerned that she has been replaced as a BFF. Sounds like a legit concern, true?

14. "Desert Raven" by Jonathan Wilson

This lengthy indie rock release has a smooth groove and calls tribute to the desert raven that soars in the sky above the arid landscape. Like poetry, the bird rises and dips and exerts wisdom larger than us.

15. "A Horse with No Name" by America

After all these years, everyone still wants to know: Why doesn't this horse have a name? The guy in this 1971 pop chart-topper is riding an unspecified, John Doe horse on a mysterious journey through the unforgiving Arizona and New Mexico desert. Perhaps his voyage is more symbolic in nature rather than literal in that the narrator references a spiritual trek. His travels entail a process of leaving stressful circumstances and searching for a more tranquil existence.

The rider is initially happy to escape the rain of his point of origin. However, as he travels through the desert heat, he becomes badly sunburned. When the desert landscape transitions to sea after nine days, the man sets the nameless horse free but doesn't tell us why. Perhaps in his desert quest for peace, he has quietly come to understand that his own contentment does require reigning over other creatures like that anonymous horse.

At the time of the song's release, some American radio stations refused to play this internationally popular tune because they mistakenly alleged that the horse in the song was a drug reference. While it's true that "horse" is a common reference to heroin, in this song "horse" is the four-legged kind.

This cowboy was our tourguide in Moab, Utah as we drove 4x4 utility vehicles over the Hell's Revenge Trail for two and a half hours. He was full of useful information about the local area and desert ecosystem.

This cowboy was our tourguide in Moab, Utah as we drove 4x4 utility vehicles over the Hell's Revenge Trail for two and a half hours. He was full of useful information about the local area and desert ecosystem.

16. "Desert Moon" by Great White

This is the 1991 glam metal song that Great White was singing in 2003 when a Rhode Island nightclub they were performing in tragically caught fire. Pyrotechnics used by the band's crew ignited the nightclub's non-regulation soundproofing material, resulting in the deaths of 100 people, including the band's guitarist.

The song is about a man who is trying to persuade his love interest to accompany him all night to the desert, where they can dance in the light of the desert moon and get romantic under a large cactus (sounds awful uncomfortable). After the nightclub fire, the band did not perform the song publicly for several years.

17. "Desert Plains" by Judas Preist

A weary motorcyclist speeds through the Arizona desert plains, navigating the desolation and loneliness of the night. He rushes back to be with his lover in this metal track from 1981. As he races on, the motorcyclist's body aches and he describes what he sees—black sky, full moon, and a straight road stretching out before him through the desert. There is thunder in the background, a roaring engine that powers him on, and his partner waiting just as the sun rises.

18. "Desert Road" by Casting Crowns

This uplifting 2022 tune by Grammy Award-winning Christian rock group is a heartfelt expression of faith and a commitment to follow God no matter where that path may lead. The song makes reference to Philip's trek through the desert, as noted in the Bible. Philip obeyed God's commandment to walk an untrodden road, journeying through the desert for an indeterminate period of time. He thus was able to spread God's good news along the way.

19. "Joshua Tree" by Ruthie Collins

In the midst of the baked, barren land of the Mojave Desert, the Joshua Tree rises up as a symbol of faith, hope, and perseverance. This 2020 country love ballad features an anguished woman who mourns the memory of her lost lover and seeks to reconnect with his spirit at the sanctuary of the Joshua Tree.

20. "Water Runs Dry" by Boyz II Men

Oh, the misery! The couple in this 1995 R&B single hang onto a relationship that is an emotional desert, a dryland of passion and comfort. They no longer exchange "I love you"s or engage in simple conversation, except for arguments.

Whereas other couples find a way to work things out, these two partners continue to hurt one another. They push each other away with continued conflict. Having cried so many tears, the suffering fellow in this song feels increasingly desperate, and he implores his partner not to wait until the water runs dry to make a necessary change, if that's what is eventually coming.

On a 2021 trip to Moab, Utah, my family and I took an unforgettable scenic tour driving 4x4 vehicles in the desert at Hell's Revenge. We traversed several miles of difficult trails with steep ascents, sharp inclines, and narrow ledges. What a thrill!

On a 2021 trip to Moab, Utah, my family and I took an unforgettable scenic tour driving 4x4 vehicles in the desert at Hell's Revenge. We traversed several miles of difficult trails with steep ascents, sharp inclines, and narrow ledges. What a thrill!

Even More Songs About the Desert

Know a song that should be on this list? Make a suggestion in the Comments Section below.

SongArtist(s)Year Released

21. Desert Rose

Sarah Brightman

1998

22. Desert Wind

Cody Jinks

2018

23. My Desert Serenade

Elvis Presley

1965

24. Painted Desert

Pat Benatar

1984

25. Desert Song

Def Leppard

1993

26. Hotel California

Eagles

1976

27. Low Desert

R.E.M.

1996

28. Desert Pete

The Kingston Trio

1962

29. Desert Flower

Joshua Kadison

2001

30. Lost on the Desert

Johnny Cash

1962

31. Desert Skies

The Marshall Tucker Band

1977

32. Big Iron

Marty Robbins

1959

33. Kashmir

Led Zeppelin

1975

34. Desert Drive

Brian Wilson

2004

35. Band on the Run

Paul McCartney & Wings

1973

36. Cactus

David Bowie

2002

37. Walkin' On The Sun

Smash Mouth

1992

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