Growing up is not easy. All of us walk our paths, and outcomes are always unique. This is valid for each artist and their stories too. All these songs reflect a message inside, and that’s what made us love them for years. From some, we get life lessons, and for others, we just witness a great story.
Private stories about growing up told in songs reflect our reality and an invisible bond appears. These songs mean a lot as they touch such an important part of life.
Let’s take a look at some of the greatest songs about growing up!
- 1. Because You’re Young – David Bowie (1980)
- 2. Jack and Diane – John Mellencamp (1982)
- 3. Montezuma – Fleet Foxes (2011)
- 4. Grown Up – Danny Brown (2019)
- 5. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus (2000)
- 6. Failure – Laura Marling (2008)
- 7. Forever Young – Alphaville (1984)
- 8. What’s My Age Again? – Blink 182 (1999)
- 9. Proud of Me – Mahalia feat. Little Simz (2018)
- 10. In Between Days – The Cure (1985)
- 11. Teenagers – My Chemical Romance (2006)
- 12. Boys Will be Boys – Dua Lipa (2021)
- 13. Headmaster Ritual – The Smiths (1984)
- 14. 1979” By Smashing Pumpkins (1995)
- 15. Hold You Down – Childish Gambino (2011)
- 16. Alright – Supergrass (1995)
- 17. Circle Game – Joni Mitchell (1966)
- 18. Patience – Tame Impala (2020)
- 19. Growin’ Up – Bruce Springsteen (1973)
- 20. Nostalgia – Chance the Rapper (2012)
- 21. Coming of Age – Julia Jacklin (2016)
- 22. Youth Culture Killed My Dog – They Might Be Giants (1985)
- 23. In My Life – The Beatles (1965)
- 24. Growing Pains – Ludacris (2001)
- 25. There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney (2004)
- 16. So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain – Father John Misty (2017)
- 17. Breed – Nirvana (1991)
- 28. Young At Heart – Bluebells (1984)
- 29. Forever Young – Bob Dylan (1974)
- 30. I Don’t Want to Grow Up – Ramones (1995)
1. Because You’re Young – David Bowie (1980)
We begin with the amazing D.Bowie. The song is like a 101 course in 80s music. As it starts you feel in the total mood of the time. Bowie depicts a dystopian tale here, where he is an old android, telling war-torn youth that they are still young and they will meet with someone.
Filled with melancholy, he is regretful and tells the young ones that they will meet with some stranger one night.
2. Jack and Diane – John Mellencamp (1982)
Another unforgettable 80s tune, and probably one of the greatest songs of all time on growing up. Jack and Diane are two American kids ‘’doing their best’’ to stay intact, discovering themselves and things around them.
Mellencamp advises that the thrill is gone after a while, so they gotta enjoy life as much as they can. Musically, the song has both qualities of a child’s song in a punk manner.
3. Montezuma – Fleet Foxes (2011)
One of the greatest indie-folk bands from our times, Fleet Foxes also touched on the issue in their own unique way with an anthemic song.
Lyrics are in a mood of surprise, it is like he just realizes that he is getting older now, and shares what he thinks with us.‘’Oh man, what I used to be’’ symbolizes a melancholy in a musical zone resembling a faraway dreamy land.
4. Grown Up – Danny Brown (2019)
Rapped on a smooth short motive in the loop, Grown Up, gives a taste of nostalgia both musically and lyrically. It starts from times when Brown was 16 in high school and tells many stories from those times.
The song is more like an autobiographical one. In verses he mentions that it was all a rush to grow up faster, but is it a bad or good thing, we surely don’t know.
5. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus (2000)
A loved alternative rock hit from the early 2000s, Wheatus put the age of youth in the center with humor. A semi-love story in a nutshell, Teenage Dirtbag is about a boy’s platonic love for a girl at school.
He talks about his dreams, her boyfriend, and all those sweet troubles of youth faced. Great guitar riffs and melody adds up a 90s taste, combined with a video that refers to the same period.
6. Failure – Laura Marling (2008)
Failure is Marling’s yet another masterpiece where she combined her velvet voice with guitar and ensemble. The story is extremely real and sincere, telling about a guy who rose up and fell back.
He was loved by everyone, but now he’s alone and he feels like a failure. Facing adult reality is the core idea here, and the lyrics try to comfort him by telling him there is still a long way to go.
7. Forever Young – Alphaville (1984)
A prolific song when we think of 80s music, Forever Young is still an anthem for the age of youth and freedom comes from it. The synth-pop character of the song creates a magical space making each verse prophetic, while drums give the moving beat.
All idea here is the aging-decaying world that surrounds us and how important is to cherish the youth.
Another souvenir from the 90s rock scene, this sweet alternative rock song is putting adult reality as the core idea. A guy acting like a freshman at school although he is 23 years old tries to fit into that new reality.
Feeling old when 23 is also possible when you’re outed. Again the fun atmosphere of the song is mixed somewhat with the bitter reality of becoming an adult.
9. Proud of Me – Mahalia feat. Little Simz (2018)
In this autobiographical R&B tune, Mahalia depicts all stages of her life. From her experiences nothing was easy, all is earned and she learned a lot on the way.
She feels proud yet she still promises her parents to make them proud. A highly reflective song, Mahalia’s take is probably one of the most realistic ones out here about growing up.
10. In Between Days – The Cure (1985)
Gods of early indie-rock punk had a word on growing up also. The Cure’s In Between Days starts with the line ‘’Yesterday I got so old’’, to describe the depressive mood in the carousel of time.
Despite that, synths and moving bass guitar texture give a great dance tune taste to the song. The song connects the change of times theme to love and declares that time without ‘’her’’ is wasted.
11. Teenagers – My Chemical Romance (2006)
A total political take on the idea of youth, My Chemical Romance tells one by one how the system drove young people crazy.
The expectations, society, work-life, and love affairs are defined, stigmatized, and all others.
They are mentioned one by one while amazing guitar solos cut the lyrics, and the musical texture grows bolder and bolder as the song gets more anthemic.
12. Boys Will be Boys – Dua Lipa (2021)
A political twist also exists in that fresh pop tune by Dua Lipa. It highlights the difference between a girl and a boy. The question is why do boys stay as boys but girls don’t?
They were girls and now they are women, so the boys ought to grow up as well. The cliché slogans of ‘’Kids are alright’’ and ‘’Boys will be Boys’’ are challenged here, while the main theme is growing up again.
13. Headmaster Ritual – The Smiths (1984)
Just another critic of society from a highly political second album ‘’Meat is Murder – the legendary British band. Headmaster Ritual is telling the story of Morrisey’s years of boarding school.
Sorrows of youth, bullying, and misunderstood feelings are expressed as we read an Oscar Wilde book.
Combined with J.Marr’s incredible guitar riffs, we got a complete masterpiece telling us the hardship of growing older.
14. 1979” By Smashing Pumpkins (1995)
A rock hit from the 90s, 1979 is a kaleidoscope put in youth years. Amazing guitar riffs and soft vocals surrounded by synths help us to get into the mood immediately.
The song is telling about a day of youth, each simple activity to feeling is counted. Age lyrics act so sincerely and pure here, probably that’s also a reason making this song still so popular.
15. Hold You Down – Childish Gambino (2011)
Adult reality can be explained with more than one concept. Here we see an autobiographical take on a black man’s life and everything he endured until this day.
Claps and keyboard chords create a chant-like atmosphere, while Childish Gambino highlights the effect of racism during the stage of growing up.
16. Alright – Supergrass (1995)
Seems like the case of growing up has been an interest for rock musicians since old times. Another 90s tune on youth, which could be composed in the 70s and nobody would realize.
Music is so nostalgic, even the harmonies refer to ‘’good old times’’. Joys, arrogance, and happy sides of youth are mentioned here.
Nothing that can stop you when you’re young is the main motivation.
17. Circle Game – Joni Mitchell (1966)
If I tell you ‘’We’re captives in a carousel of time’’, you’d understand how great the poetry of that song is. Mitchell tells the story from beginning to end in an extremely poetic way.
Surrounded by her velvet voice and guitar, she tells the story of a kid while investigating the concepts of youth and getting older. A story of life is told here in five minutes’ time.
18. Patience – Tame Impala (2020)
Australian indie rock bands take on the idea of growing up starting with retro tunes and rhythms. From the first moment, you’re into a shining world, as the lyrics take you on a tour.
Growing up here is signified with the passing of time. Although we grow older, things are still shapeless. We learn and learn, and adapt to different outcomes.
19. Growin’ Up – Bruce Springsteen (1973)
Well I was thinking almost all songs here will use a piano to express ‘’passing time’’ as an easy choice, but I was wrong.
Only here do we hear a sweet piano intro that stays with us in the background until the end. Growing up here is associated with the first sexual experience with a story from a day of a boy.
20. Nostalgia – Chance the Rapper (2012)
Starts directly with nostalgic musical motives and voice recordings, Nostalgia is an inviting rap tune.
Sometimes we resist change, we’d like to recall everything that reminds us of our childhood. This can be an object or a feeling, and that song reminds us of such emotions.
21. Coming of Age – Julia Jacklin (2016)
Another alternative rock tune resisting the idea of growing up. Coming of age is the center as the title suggests, and here the twist is a girl resisting the concept.
She seems to suffer that her coming of age is not arriving. She doesn’t seem like she wants it to reach before she solves her issues and gets rid of the rage.
22. Youth Culture Killed My Dog – They Might Be Giants (1985)
This great tune stands in a different place among age songs. Not only its musical creativity with syncopated beats and great bass line but also lyrics brings the song to a special place.
The critic here is to a baseless resistance to new music styles, a new lifestyle offered. A great dance tune also, the song guarantees that nothing ever will happen to youth culture.
23. In My Life – The Beatles (1965)
One of the sweetest of Beatles’ hits, In My Life, takes a tour in the past. Places, people, feelings, and everything are told in a nutshell. The core here is ourselves, as long as we remember all the memories and keep them inside, nothing will be lost.
A great simple melodic line is cut by a baroque keyboard solo that almost feels like the life of someone time-lapsed.
24. Growing Pains – Ludacris (2001)
A moving rap hit from the early 2000s starting with child voices, so you know what it is about already. Just like the other rap tunes on the list, the harsher side of life is the central topic of the song. Growing pains is another word for growing up in an atmosphere surrounded by racism, financial issues, family matters, and all.
Adult reality is sometimes all about recalling those, and not each nostalgia is sweet.
25. There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney (2004)
There Goes My Life is a slow country classic that combines growing up with the changes in our life. Each change, leaving someone, moving out from the town we were born adds up to this story.
Musically lyrics stand upon a touching harmonic atmosphere as Chesney repeats after each change the title of the song.
16. So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain – Father John Misty (2017)
This beautiful tune on passing time is rather a magical take on growing up. Here we see a depiction of a man already further away from each memory and each soul he met with.
The melancholy is highlighted by the never mentioned hidden theme of loneliness. When we are lonely, we tend to think more about passing time and realize how fast we grew older.
17. Breed – Nirvana (1991)
An early Nirvana hit, Breed is also putting the theme into a rather unique corner. The memories here are unwanted, we need to get away from them, get free, and start new.
The ghosts here mentioned are the haunting memories of the past. In one of the loudest grunge songs by the band, Breed tells us sometimes it is good to go as fast as possible.
28. Young At Heart – Bluebells (1984)
In this heartwarming fun 80s dance tune, we see the story of a couple who married young and stayed as such whatever shape they were given by society.
Although the lyrics are shaped by regretful lines, music filled with harmonica and violin solos gives an upright character all in all.
29. Forever Young – Bob Dylan (1974)
A beautiful tune from Bob Dylan rather feels like a soft prayer to our ears. Forever Young is a series of wishes, a wish for staying young forever is the most important one.
We can feel the fear of losing sincerity and innocence when Dylan sings it. We need to stay forever young to never forget the pure feelings that shaped our characters.
30. I Don’t Want to Grow Up – Ramones (1995)
Hits from the 90s have dominated the list and let’s finish with another great one. A pure resistance to adult reality and celebration of the joys of youth is manifested in that tune.
The whole idea is empowered with great guitar riffs and powerful drums. What are we ever gonna earn by growing older while we still have the chance to enjoy youth? Well, nobody knows the answer.