28 Great Songs to Reflect on Childhood & Youth

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What smells and sounds remind you of your childhood? Your dad’s musky aftershave? The sound of bacon frying in the morning? 

Musicians have tried to describe the magic of childhood by writing songs about it. Some songs are about friends, mischief, and happy times, and some even include songs about missing someone who died. Here’s a list of songs that reflect childhood and youth. 

You can even consider putting together a playlist and sharing it along with a Spotify gift card for a unique, personalized gift.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Songs About Fun Childhood Memories

Childhood memories seem to be one of the favorite topics for lyricists. Here are some of the more popular songs about fun childhood (or teenage) memories that made our list. 

1. “What Makes You Country” by Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan sings about his childhood in “What Makes You Country” — “I got my dirt road cred when I was twelve, on a no-cab tractor hauling them bales. Backing in boats, fishing limb lines, running bird dogs through the Georgia pines.”

It’s a great song for reliving youthful days in the country. 

2.  “Days of Wine and Roses” by Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb sings, “Through the rivers of my childhood, they come swimming into view. And all the moments that I treasured still lie buried in my youth.” Many of us have moments of our youth that we treasured.

3. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams

This iconic song about growing up by Bryan Adams reflects upon a time when he bought his first guitar back in the “Summer of ’69.” What was the most treasured possession of your childhood?

4. “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen

In this classic song about youth that passes by too fast, Bruce Springsteen reflects upon his high school “glory days.” He sings, “Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by. Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye.”

5. “Good Riddance” by Green Day

We’ve all faced those forks stuck in the road. This song about the unpredictability of life is a great one for a graduation party. 

6. “Young” by Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney sings about growing hair and cutting class, listening to loud music, and (of course) drinking beer. 

ยป MORE: How do you host a virtual or hybrid funeral? Start here

 

Songs About Childhood Mischief or Trauma

Not everyone has fond memories of childhood. Here are some songs about childhood trauma or mischief.

7. “Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park

The chorus of this song begins, “I want to heal, I want to feel” and is all about wanting to find a place to belong.

8. “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin

“Cat’s in the Cradle” is about a dad who doesn’t have time for his son. In later years, that son doesn’t have time for his aging father. Its sad, haunting melody adds to the feeling behind this song. 

9. “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by The Temptations

“Papa Was a Rolling Stone” starts with the death of a father. We later learn that the father was a difficult man who never held on to a job and was not faithful to his wife. 

10. “Father of Mine” by Everclear

In the theme of fathers who disappear, we get “Father of Mine.” The person writing the song has only this to say, “Father of mine, tell me what do you see when you look back at your wasted life and you don’t see me.”

11. “Enough’s Enough” by Alice Cooper

Looking for a song about childhood trauma? Look no farther than Alice Cooper’s song, “Enough’s Enough.”

12. “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith

In this song about child abuse, “Janie’s Got a Gun” is about a young woman who has had enough. The lyrics say: “What did her daddy do? What did he put you through?”

13. “Universal Child” by Annie Lennox

This little-known song by a member of the Eurythmics is about children who didn’t have great childhoods. In it, she says, “I see the hurt. I see the pain... I wish to God that kids like you could be like everyone.”

14. “No Son of Mine” by Genesis

This song, released by Genesis in 1991, is about having a difficult father and the trauma that causes.

Songs About Childhood Friends and Family

Do you yearn to go back to your childhood so you can spend time with your old friends and your family members who have passed? Here are songs about reflecting on the old times. 

15. “Early Days” by Paul McCartney

Former Beatle Paul McCartney released “Early Days” in 2013. In it, he sings, “Hair slicked back with Vaseline, like the pictures on the wall of the local record shop.” Isn’t it fun to hear McCartney sing about his own early days?

16. “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John

This song begins, “I remember when rock was young. Me and Susie had so much fun. Holding hands and skimming stones.” This song, with its fun lyrics and upbeat tempo, may remind you of your own wonder years.

17. “I Lived It” by Blake Shelton

It seems as if many country singers find it necessary to prove they’re all country. Blake Shelton sings, “Mama poured grease in a Crisco can, put a hundred thousand miles on a Sears box fan” to describe his childhood.

18. “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” by Jake Owen

Jake Owen’s song is an homage to John Mellencamp’s song. Jake Owen reflects on what seems like yesterday, which was actually years ago.

19. “I’m Sixteen” by Dolly Parton

In many songs about childhood, the lyricist reflects upon the beverages important to them. In “I’m Sixteen,” Dolly Parton sings about drinking Cherry Coke. What beverage reminds you of your childhood?

20. “We Go Together” from “Grease”

Who doesn’t remember this song from the last moments of “Grease”? “We Go Together” is about those special relationships we develop in childhood. 

21. “We are Young” by Fun

This song by the group Fun reflects on carefree youth and the importance of sharing that time with other young people.

22. “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen

“You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had.” This song’s simplicity is poignant. Even though this song by Queen isn’t about childhood, it’s only during that time that friendships seem to run that deep.

Songs About Childhood Innocence

You don’t have to watch many rockumentaries to learn that the life of a touring musician can be a little wild. That’s why there are plenty of songs that reflect on childhood innocence with nostalgia. Here are a few of those songs.

23. “Back When” by Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw reflects on fried bologna sandwiches and Dr. Pepper in his song, “Back When.” He also thinks back on a time “When you said, ‘I’m down with that,’ well, it meant you had the flu.” 

24. “In My Life” by The Beatles

“You know I will never lose affection for the people and things that went before.” The Beatles sang this song in 1965, right in the midst of Beatlemania.

25. “Fifteen” by Taylor Swift

Swift sings about what life was like in high school. “But in your life, you’ll do things. Greater than dating the boy on the football team, but I didn’t know it at fifteen.”

26. “Wake Up, Little Susie” by Everly Brothers

Susie and her boyfriend fell asleep at a movie, but no one will believe it. This song, which is about an innocent mistake, was banned by a radio station in Boston for the suggestive lyrics. 

27. “The End of Innocence” by Don Henley

Before innocence ended, Don Henley describes, “Didn’t have a care in the world with mommy and daddy standing by.” Henley reflects about his time in a small town in this song.

28. “Happy Day” by Talking Heads

Would you describe your childhood as a “happy day?” This song, by the Talking Heads, came out in 1977.

29. “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart

In this optimistic song, Rod Stewart gives the listener advice on how to maintain the innocence and hopefulness of youth.

Forever Young

This list can be used for another purpose besides giving you a chance to walk down memory lane. Maybe you’re starting your end-of-life planning and you’re thinking of music that can be played at your visitation or funeral.

This list, as well as the list of poems about aging, may be helpful as you prepare.

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