For many students, college is the bridge between childhood and adulthood, a transition period during which young adults learn how to be independent and take care of themselves. This is often an exciting time as they find themselves and prepare to navigate the world on their own.
Here are some of the best songs about growing up and coming-of-age to add to your playlist as you embark on the journey that is adulthood.
"Ribs" by Lorde
To this day, “Ribs" on the 2013 album "Pure Heroine," remains the perfect depiction of the bittersweet feeling of growing up. Lorde was 16 years old when she wrote "Ribs," masterfully intertwining the fear of the future with a longing for the past.
With lyrics like, "My mom and dad let me stay home / It drives you crazy getting old / This dream isn't feeling sweet / We're reeling through the midnight streets / And I've never felt so alone / It feels so scary getting old," Lorde perfectly captures the teenage experience and fear of growing up.
"Where'd All the Time Go?" by Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog's classic "Where'd All the Time Go?" is a go-to song at graduation parties for a reason. With fitting lyrics like, "Where'd all the time go? / It's starting to fly / See how the hands go / Waving goodbye," Dr. Dog captures the nostalgic and reminiscent feeling that time is moving too fast, wishing it could be turned back. This song is about the fleeting nature of time and morality. Time is always on the move until death, then it stops "in the blink of an eye."
"Kids" by Current Joys
Lyrically, "Kids" by Current Joys is a masterpiece. Nick Rattigan, who releases music under the stage name Current Joys, embodies teenage angst in this song. "Kids" begins in childhood with lyrics like, "Oh, I am just a kid / I never use my brain / I only use my heart / And my imagination."
As the song progresses, Rattigan shows what happens as we grow up, with the lyrics changing to "Oh, I'm no longer a kid / And everything has changed / There's nothing in my heart / And lightning in my brain." This song encapsulates the growing pains of getting older and leaving your childhood behind. It especially contrasts the notion of youthful innocence with adult practicality.
“Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Lead vocalists of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos, who were dating at the time, wrote "Home" together, a love song about each other. In this song, home isn't a place, but a person: "Oh, home, let me come home / Home is wherever I'm with you / La, la, la, la, take me home / (Daddy) Mother, I'm coming home."
The song incorporates guitar and tambourines, reminiscent of midwestern summers, creating a nostalgic yet euphoric feeling of growing up, falling in love and capturing the feelings of connecting to another person rather than a place.
"Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)" by Taylor Swift
The singer's first album, "Taylor Swift," was released in 2006, when Swift was just 16 years old. Most of us have grown up with Swift, making her songs about aging even more impactful. From "A Place in this World," "Fifteen," "Never Grow Up" to "You're On Your Own Kid," Swift has several songs in her discography about finding yourself as you mature.
However, "Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)" might just be her best one. A vault track off of "Red (Taylor's Version)," Swift's lyrics are masterful: "I've had too much to drink tonight / And I know it's sad, but this is what I think about / And I wake up in the middle of the night / It's like I can feel time moving / How can a person know everything at 18 / But nothing at 22 / Will you still want me / When I'm nothing new."
These lyrics depict the angst and insecurity that come with getting older, particularly emphasizing the anxiety around where we fit in the world and how we will be remembered. The song also touches on the music industry's treatment of female musicians and how they are often discarded as they get older. "Nothing New" embodies the fear of aging, losing relevance and being cast aside by society.
"Cigarette Daydreams" by Cage The Elephant
The meaning of Cage The Elephant's "Cigarette Daydreams'' is murky compared to the other songs on this list. It can be interpreted several different ways, from teenage angst to dealing with mental health to not knowing what the future holds: "You can drive all night / Lookin' for the answers in the pourin' rain / You wanna find peace of mind / Lookin' for the answer."
Although the meaning of this song is subjective, that is the beauty of it. No matter what you are going through, there is always hidden meaning in the lyrics, such as, "Cigarette daydream / You were only seventeen / Soft speak with a mean streak / Nearly brought me to my knees." This song aptly describes the trouble and torment of the purgatory between childhood and adulthood.