Your favorite songs about growing up

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By: Tyler Phillips

Music is a great way to escape from reality for some time.  It serves as workout motivation, a way to cope with stress or a way to relate to things in life that everyone goes through at one point or another.  This is a list of songs that all share themes of growing up and that anyone can find relatable to situations they have faced in life.

Blink-182 – “Dammit”

The classic Blink single is about moving on after a breakup and realizing what is next for ex-lovers.  The narrator knows that his ex is the one who has really lost here, because her new lover won’t be around long, and he will not be there for her when it’s over.  The chorus lyric, “I guess this is growing up” was actually the result of singers Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge realizing that their co-songwriting abilities would serve the band for years to come.

Smashing Pumpkins – “Mayonaise”

Smashing Pumpkins’ music screamed “coming-of-age” in the ‘90s.  Singer Billy Corgan didn’t have an exact meaning to the lyrics when he penned them, but the vague lyrics serve as a cry of adolescence and wanting to break free from where one is in life.  There may be no clear direction stated with the closing lyrics, “I just want to be me / When I can / I will,” but Corgan is prepared for whatever it is, whenever it comes.

Green Day – “Waiting”

No, the Green Day song that makes this list isn’t “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”  “It’s about putting your best foot forward, even if you don’t have any idea what’s in store for the future, about trying to make a difference in your own life,” according to an interview with lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong on a fansite.  After establishing themselves as the punk rock revivalists of the ‘90s, Green Day experimented with other genres to grow as musicians.  “Waiting” retains the punk rock instrumentation with new influences, showing growth in songwriting.

Filter – “Where Do We Go From Here”

Rock act Filter’s single, “Where Do We Go From Here” reflects how media in the 21st century is to blame for much of the confusion that young people have about what to do with their lives.  “These half-truths you’re telling me / Won’t bring me to my knees” is singer Richard Patrick’s way of calling out modern society for making people as shallow as they are today.  Still, he offers a chance at saving the future with “You know I’m not your only son.”

Kenny Chesney – “Don’t Blink”

Many country hits are about looking back at certain points in the life of the artist singing them, reminiscing on glory days.  Some think in the moment, perhaps about enjoying a beer on the beach; others look toward the future.  “Don’t Blink” covers all points in life—from childhood to marriage to death.  Chesney thinks of how so much can happen in a lifetime, telling a life story in just one chorus.

Garbage – “When I Grow Up”

With a title like this, this Garbage hit is fairly straightforward in nature.  What makes it a bit different from most entries on this list, however, is the confidence in the chorus lyrics about becoming stable and content with oneself.  Famously used in the Adam Sandler comedy “Big Daddy,” the song appropriately plays in a montage as Sandler’s character has to learn how to raise his foster child.

Jimmy Eat World – “23”

While Jimmy Eat World’s more popular single “The Middle” is also about adolescence, it is more in-the-moment; “23” looks toward a questionable future.  Clocking in at over seven minutes, “23” deals with issues of commitment.  The song’s narrator sings about the end of a relationship and turning away from someone he still loves.  He also notes that he is 23 years old and already this deeply in love with someone.  The first verse lyrics, “No one else will have me like you do / No one else will have me, only you” reinforce the idea that this is the only person the narrator wants to be with for the rest of his life, but now just isn’t the time for her.

Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”

Stevie Nicks’ first song that she wrote upon joining Fleetwood Mac also deals with commitment, but this song is about committing to different paths of life.  Nicks was at a crossroads in her life, questioning whether she should continue with the band or pursue education.  The chorus is her realization that she has time to do only so much in life:  “But time made you bolder / Even children get older / And I’m getting older too.”  Nicks recently performed a slightly different rendition of the song in Pittsburgh, but the song’s meaning stays the same even 40 years later.


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