Solar eclipses don't happen often, and it seems that it's even rarer that there are songs written about them. So our list of Eclipse Songs largely takes into into account tunes that use the absence of sunlight as a metaphor. And while that means this isn't the happiest list you'll ever read, there are nonetheless a few moments of lightness, much like the sun's corona during an eclipse. But at least you won't go blind reading it.
"Staring at the Sun" (1997)U2
One of the highlights of U2's Pop, "Staring at the Sun" finds Bono combining personal and political turmoil and wanting to shut it all out. "I'm staring at the sun / Not the only one / Who's happy to go blind," he sings in the chorus.
"Black Hole Sun" (1994)Soundgarden
Arguably Soundgarden's most famous song, "Black Hole Sun" was written by Chris Cornell and its title came about by accident. "I had misheard a news anchor, and I thought he said 'black hole sun,'" Cornell said. "But he said something else. ... [A]fter that I thought, 'Well, he didn't say it, but I heard it,' and it created this image in my brain and I thought it would be an amazing song title. It was a thought-provoking phrase, and it became that song."
"How to Disappear Completely" (2000)Radiohead
Thom Yorke wrote the lyrics to "How to Disappear Completely," one of the standout tracks on Radiohead's Kid A, after a conversation with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe about the demands of touring. Stipe told him to keep saying to himself, "I'm not here, this isn't happening." Yorke took the advice and used it in the chorus, whose title was inspired by Doug Richmond’s book about faking your own death, How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found.
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" (1983)Bonnie Tyler
The idea of blocking out the sun as a symbol for an ended relationship has rarely been as fully realized as on Bonnie Tyler's career-defining hit. "Total Eclipse" was written by Jim Steinman, who composed similar epics like the entirety of Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album and Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing at All."
"You Left Me in the Dark" (2003)Elvis Costello
North was a lush, ballad-filled song cycle about the ending of one relationship and the beginning of another. "You Left Me in the Dark" begins the record on a note of despair, with Elvis Costello waking up to a rainy day and no one next to him. "You left me standing alone although / I thought that we could not be parted / But if I'd only known / That this would be the last loving remark / You left me in the dark."
"No Sunlight" (2008)Death Cab for Cutie
On "No Sunlight," the third single from their 2008 album Narrow Stairs, Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard uses the sun as a metaphor for his idealism. As a youngster, he "felt so safe in a warming bath / Of sunlight." But as he got older, it waned, and "The optimist died inside of me / No sunlight."
"Steal My Sunshine" (1999)Len
Toronto's Len scored a Top 10 hit with the bounciest track on our list of Eclipse Songs. Built off a sample from the Andrea True Connection's disco classic "More, More, More," the brother-and-sister duo of vocalists Marc and Sharon Costanzo trade off on lines that were written while Marc was at a rave. "I just got caught up in the night," he told Stereogum. "The song is about how I felt, and then it was exaggerated by the fact that I’m sitting in the middle of a field looking at the stars, about 1,000 feet away from the stage, watching everybody dancing at 3AM."
"Why Does the Sun Really Shine" (1993)They Might Be Giants
In 1993, They Might Be Giants covered "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)," a ditty from 1959 that first appeared on Tom Glazer's Space Songs, a collection of tunes about science that were written for children. However, they eventually realized that there were a handful of mistakes in the lyrics, and wrote a new tune with the same name in which they poke fun at their earlier error. "The sun is a miasma / Of incandescent plasma / The sun's not simply made out of gas," they sing, concluding with "Forget that song / They got it wrong / That thesis has been rendered invalid."
"Stumbling Through the Dark" (2003)The Jayhawks
On "Stumbling Through the Dark," the jangly opening track from the Jayhawks' Rainy Day Music, Gary Louris comforts a woman saddened by the events in the world. "The men who proceeded us here / Left only questions and fears / The vanity formed by beauty lies / You know it's a crime," he sings, in a song co-written with Matthew Sweet.
"Staring at the Sun" (2004)TV on the Radio
Looking directly at the sun during a solar eclipse without the appropriate protection can seriously damage your eyes. However, the world's eyes were opened to TV on the Radio via their 2004 debut single, "Staring at the Sun." Its cryptic lyrics hint at danger, as Babatunde Adebimpe sings, "You're staring at the sun / You're standing in the sea / Your mouth is open wide / You're trying hard to breathe."
"Black Sun" (2015)Death Cab for Cutie
The lead single from Death Cab's Kintsugi, "Black Sun" rides a hypnotic guitar-riff-and-groove instrumental track for a little more than three minutes before giving way to an angular, distorted guitar solo. The tension is amplified by the confusion in Ben Gibbard's chorus: "How could something so fair / Be so cruel / When this black sun revolved / Around you."
"Dark Night" (2012)Green River Ordinance
A driving track that opens up 2012's Under Fire, "Dark Night" features singer Josh Jenkins looking for light in the world in the form of a loved one. "Even in the dark night, I can feel it come over me / No way we're going to part this sea if I can't find you," he sings.