While many reggae songs are fun, upbeat, and danceable, some reggae artists explore the darker side of emotions as well. From heartbreak to hard times, here are some sad reggae songs that deliver deep and raw emotions.
1. The Good Lord by Abyssinians
Song Year: 1976
Right from the first drum roll, you know you’re in for a rollercoaster of emotions while listening to The Good Lord by Abyssinians.
Abyssinians give us a smooth instrumental under a melancholic vocal track. Bernard Collins offers his hypnotizing voice to the main vocal and delivers a message of struggle, faith, and the search for peace in a violent world.
2. There For You by Damian Marley
Song Year: 2005
Equally as talented as his father, Damian Marley has a way of expressing emotion on his tracks. There For You is a deep and romantic reggae ballad that focuses on the struggles couples endure during their relationships.
Marley’s vocal talents are on display during the song, and he proves his voice is just as iconic as Bob Marley’s.
3. Never Be Ungrateful by Gregory Isaacs
Song Year: 1978
Gregory Isaacs sings a heartfelt lullaby to his fans in this track. “Never Be Ungrateful” is a plea from Isaacs to his girl. He begs her to love him and never be ungrateful for the love they have together.
While the instruments evoke sadness, Isaacs’s lyrics can make you weep. He captures the feeling of regret and anger throughout the track, and you’ll experience a deep reflection once the song concludes.
4. Time Tough by Toots & The Maytals
Song Year: 1973
“Time Tough” has a fun and upbeat sound, but don’t let the funky instruments fool you. Toots & The Maytals have a sad story to tell during Time Tough.
From unemployment to unfulfilled relationships, Time Tough tells the story of hardship and the struggles of everyday life. Toots encourages you to be strong and endure the tough challenges you face every day. Even if today was hard, there’s always tomorrow and you can make the changes in your life to prove your resilience.
5. It Bad Fe True by Wailing Souls
Song Year: 1991
It Bad Fe True has a dark and haunting vibe. From the opening backing vocal to the dub bass and drums, Wailing Souls give us a song that exemplifies sadness and reggae music. While you’ll find yourself grooving along to the beat, the undertone of sadness and betrayal is present throughout the track.
Vocally, Wailing Souls explore themes of heartbreak and betrayal in It Bad Fe True. Through an emotionally charged story, you’ll feel the betrayal the singer feels with every word he sings.
6. Why Must I Cry by Peter Tosh
Song Year: 1976
Why Must I Cry is a tearjerker from acclaimed reggae artist Peter Tosh. Right from the opening lyrics, Tosh is an emotional wreck as he is upset at his love. He initially proclaims he’ll never fall in love due to the regret and sorrow he’s currently feeling.
As a listener, the combination of instrumental and Tosh’s signature sound lets you experience and empathize with his experience.
7. There She Goes by Bob Marley
Song Year: 1978
While Bob Marley is normally inspirational on his track, he can also show us his emotional side. The iconic reggae singer gives us a lesson in sadness on this track.
The song starts like any other reggae song from Marley but quickly turns into an enchanting ballad about the sadness he feels after his lover left him. He longs for his lost love and wishes to capture the experiences he enjoyed during their relationship.
8. Life Goes On by Deep Jahi
Song Year: 2012
A modern take on the sad reggae song, Deep Jahi gives us a tragic and uplifting message on Life Goes On. Jahi uses the song to reflect on his past and the challenges he endured living in a harsh world.
Life Goes On is an anthem for anyone who’s experienced the hardest moments in life and came out a better person. You’ll feel there is always hope if you listen to “Life Goes On” and the song can give you the drive to move forward with your life.
9. Girl I Love You by Barrington Levy
Song Year: 1984
With its classic reggae vibe, you’ll feel transported to a dark and romantic club in Jamaica while listening to Girl I Love You. Barrington Levy is a reggae icon, and he shows he’s mastered sad reggae songs on this track.
Sharp and distorted instruments give the backing track a subdued sound that fills your brain with nostalgia. Lyrically, Levy delivers a heartfelt and soulful vocal performance. He’s at a loss as he loves a woman who does not share the same feelings. Girl I Love You is a slow descent into the mind of a man lost in complex emotions, and he uses the song to express them to the world.
10. I’ll Be Lonely by John Holt
Song Year: 1973
I’m sure most who listen to sad reggae songs have felt lonely once in their life. John Holt sings about his quest to find true love but failing. He admits, I’ll Be Lonely and would rather stay lonely than experience an untrue love.
Don’t be fooled by the fun and upbeat music and vocal style, I’ll Be Lonely is a sad tale with relatable lyrics for anyone missing someone special.
11. Move On by Black Roots
Song Year: 1983
Sometimes, It’s best to know when a relationship is over, and it’s time to “Move On.” Black Roots want you to understand that some relationships need to end. The group feel the pain of broken promises and are moving on with their life.
While Black Roots wants everyone to know they are still in love, the pain is too much to bear to stay in a broken relationship.
Sad Reggae Songs, Final Thoughts
Every one of these songs features raw and powerful emotion. If you’ve ever been sad, these songs will let you know that you’re not alone. Everyone gets sad and hopefully, these sad reggae songs can help you find solace in your hard times. Some are among the best in the industry.