Everybody has to grow up. Eventually, we all must leave behind the carefree life of a youngster. And as it turns out, a lot of music over the years has been inspired by the unique feelings and experiences of growing up and realising how hard — and even scary — it seems. Here are 18 songs about growing up that both you and your 18-year-old self might find surprisingly relatable.
1. "Just Getting Older" by Oasis
Lyrics: Am I cracking up / Or just getting older?
Most of us have those moments with that bittersweet feeling, when we realise that everything’s starting to feel different. You might wonder if it’s disillusionment, or you’re just getting older. That’s the underlying message of this song.
2. “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell
Lyrics: We’re captive on the carousel of time / We can’t return we can only look behind
Yes, experiencing more and more new things as you grow up can be quite exciting, but at times it can also seem like you’re trapped on a boat that’s constantly sailing north, without any way to reverse or change direction.
3. “Winter” by Tori Amos
Lyrics: Mirror mirror, where’s the crystal palace? / But I only can see myself / Skating around the truth who I am / But I know that the ice is getting thin
It’s one of the most poetic songs about growing up, describing the end of one’s phase filled with childish imagination, and the beginning of the confusion-filled phase of adolescence. Wasn’t it hard for all of us to become teenagers in some sense?
4. “Teenage Talk” by St Vincent
Lyrics: How do you see me now / Now that I’m a little bit older, older? / Never mind the albatross smouldering on my shoulder
Memories of one’s teenage years are the subject of this song, which does seem somewhat overlaid with a tone of guilt. And as the song conveys, teenage problems end up being pretty insignificant when compared with adult problems.
5. “Never Get Old” by Sinead O’Connor
Lyrics: She moves with the music / ‘Cause it never gets old / It’s the only thing that never gets old
Growing old can be a drag, according to this song. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the music playing. Good music is ageless and ever-powerful, which is why you shouldn’t neglect listening to it.
6. “Give Yourself A Try” by 1975
Lyrics: And what would you say to your younger self? / Growing a beard’s quite hard / And whiskey never starts to taste nice
This song contains a message to oneself, which is about owning up to the challenges you’ll face and mistakes you’ll make as an adult. It might be difficult to accept yourself at times, but it’s always worth giving yourself a try.
7. “Station Approach” by Elbow
Lyrics: Coming home I feel like / I designed these buildings I walk by
Songs about growing up can make homecoming trips even more emotional. Have you ever been struck pretty hard by nostalgia during a visit home? That’s the experience that this song vividly describes through its lyrics.
8. “Grew Up At Midnight” by The Maccabees
Lyrics: We grew up at midnight / We were only kids then / But that night we knew
There are times when you look at someone — someone you’ve known for a while and spent countless days with — and only in that very moment do you realise they’re the one for you. And that moment signals an act of "growing up" between the two of you.
9. “Don't Forget To Remember Me” by Carrie Underwood
Lyrics: This downtown apartment / Sure makes me miss home / And those bills there on the counter / Keep telling me I'm on my own
Don’t we all experience the downsides of independence once we turn 18? This song perfectly details many examples of when you first move into a new place outside of home, and it’s immediately overwhelming.
10. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
Lyrics: Time makes you bolder / Even children get older / I’m getting older too
What this song encapsulates is change, and constantly getting older as you watch time pass by. But there is real wisdom to be gained from going through it all.
11. “Forever Young” Bob Dylan
Lyrics: Stand upright and be strong / May you stay forever young
There’s true importance, according to Bob Dylan, in being able to hold onto the bits of your youth that matter. Age and adulthood don’t have to completely dictate what you can or cannot do in life. This is one of those songs about growing up that has a timeless quality to it.
12. “Coming Of Age” by Julia Jacklin
Lyrics: I had a life in my head / I’d be pushing up that hill until those toes bled / Now I gotta learn this new stage / Didn’t see it coming / My coming of age
As daunting as the idea of growing up can feel, it’s also very likely that the fear ends up being worse than the actual experience. The message of this song is wondering why things aren’t quite so hard as you’ve now “come of age”.
13. “Good Riddance” by Green Day
Lyrics: Time grabs you by the wrist / Directs you where to go / So make the best of this test / And don’t ask why
Green Day sings about the experience of going through a break-up, but the message is also about realising that as we grow up, life really is quite unpredictable.
14. “Class Of 2013” by Mitski
Lyrics: Mom, am I still young? / Can I dream for a few months more?
Do you ever wish, for just even a day, that you could go back to your parent’s house and pretend that you’ve got zero responsibilities? Or hit "freeze" on your adult life momentarily? That’s what makes this one of the more sentimental songs about growing up.
15. “Growin’ Up” by Bruce Springsteen
Lyrics: I strolled all alone through a fallout zone / And came out with my soul untouched / I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd / But when they said, ‘Sit down’ I stood up / Ooh growin' up
Bruce Springsteen poetically describes what it’s like to grow up, stand up and stick out. Because in life, as we all eventually find out, blending in and staying hidden doesn't cut it as you get older.
16. “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell
Lyrics: I’ve looked at life from both sides now / From win and lose and still somehow it’s life’s illusions I recall / I really don’t know life at all
This song conveys the presence of wisdom, epiphanies and realisations of truths that you’re likely to undergo as you grow up. As an adult, there are many things you already know — but there’s always that feeling you really don’t know much.
17. “Time” by Pink Floyd
Lyrics: One day you find ten years have got behind you / No one told you when to run / You missed the starting gun
Getting older, you’re likely to encounter moments in life where everything seems to be moving at a rapid pace — and you’re struggling to keep up. If only we all had some sort of head start before growing up to the point where back-to-back changes happen far too quickly.
18. “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” by Kate Bush
Lyrics: He’s here again / The man with the child in his eyes
It may not always be blatant or immediately obvious, but what this song says is that one’s youthful spirit never goes away as he or she grows up. We all have a little kid’s soul that remains within us, and we just need to learn how to unlock it.
Now that you’ve seen our list of amazing songs about growing up, ask yourself: where am I keeping all my memories from childhood? As we get older and time continues passing quickly, we all deserve a chance to preserve different memories of our childhood. Thankfully, you’ll be able to do this easily with Memories.
Memories serves as the perfect online platform for safely storing digital pictures, as well as digitising copies of photos from your physical albums kept at home. Memories can be conveniently accessed either on your desktop or via the mobile app (available on Android and iOS devices). Click here to set up an account on Memories and start truly preserving the memories of all your cherished life experiences.