Getting older is natural and unavoidable, but it can still be scary! (Are my knees supposed to sound like that!?)
With the passage of time and the changing of lives comes the unknown, which is not something most people can easily accept. All the fears and resistance that come with aging are beautifully covered in these songs about getting older.
There are also a few that remind you that getting old is not always something to fear- it can be lovely as long as we remember to appreciate the moments that take us there.
- Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
- Touch of Grey – The Grateful Dead
- Rockin’ Chair – Hoagy Carmichael & Bix Beiderbecke
- When I’m Sixty-Four – The Beatles
- I Don’t Want to Grow Up – The Ramones
- 100 Years – Five for Fighting
- Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
- Stop This Train – John Mayer
- In the Backseat – Arcade Fire
- Grow Old With Me – Tom Odell
- Grandma’s Hands – Bill Withers
- Forever Young – Rod Stewart
- I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair – George Jones
- 7 Years – Lukas Graham
- Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) – The Byrds
- Borrowed Time – John Lennon
Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
The memorable line “I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills” is not just a metaphor in ‘Landslide.’ Stevie Nicks wrote this song in Aspen, Colorado, surrounded by snow-covered hills. A song built around reflections on change, the soothing vocals and lightly picked guitar give you space to reflect on your own past and how it has changed.
Related: Hear this classic song on our playlist of growing up songs.
Touch of Grey – The Grateful Dead
Though many people have an apprehensive attitude toward aging, ‘Touch of Grey’ has a different perspective. With lines like “every silver lining’s got a touch of grey” and “light a candle, curse the glare,” aging is seen as a natural progression in life, not something to fear. You can move through life with grace, no matter the grey hairs it may bring.
Related: This song features on our list of the best songs with colors.
Rockin’ Chair – Hoagy Carmichael & Bix Beiderbecke
‘Rockin’ Chair’ is an old-timey piano ballad hovering between smooth jazz and the blues. Hoagy Carmichael’s sweet, throaty vocals lament over his old age. “Old rockin’ chair’s got me, cane by my side.” It’s not exactly a negative song, though, with a feeling of resigned acceptance over time coming for us all.
Related: Spend some time listening to our time songs playlist.
When I’m Sixty-Four – The Beatles
This song looks upon love through the lens of aging. “When I get older, losing my hair…will you still be sending me a valentine?” Unfortunately, common views in society are that people (especially women) lose their desirability as they age. ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ asks if this person will continue to love them through any age.
Related: Count how many songs you know on our songs about numbers playlist.
I Don’t Want to Grow Up – The Ramones
A rock song with heavy drums, this track takes on an almost childish feel with the constant repetition of “I don’t want to grow up.” No matter the time of day, the narrator worries about getting older and refuses to accept that he will. He wants to keep his innocence, his lack of responsibilities, and his wide-open future.
100 Years – Five for Fighting
Five for Fighting has a more positive outlook on getting older than most songs, as seen with their beautiful tune ‘100 Years.’ This song follows the narrator through different ages of his life. From youth to marriage, to kids, to a midlife crisis, the narrator never forgets to let all the details of life sink in. It’s a lovely reminder of how fast the years can go and how we shouldn’t wish for them to go any faster than they have to.
Related: If you clocked out for the last time, check out these retirement songs.
Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
‘Glory Days’ is a true story, albeit with a little embellishment. Bruce Springsteen really did have a baseball player for a friend, running into him years later at a bar. They reminisced on the good old days of their prime, reflecting on the inevitability of time passing and the changes it is sure to bring. “Glory days, yeah, they’ll pass you by,” but at least you’ll always be able to revisit them.
Related: Listen to more of the best baseball songs.
Stop This Train – John Mayer
John Mayer reflects on his quarter-life crises over the beautiful sounds of fingerpicked guitar. Comparing life to a moving train, he asks someone to “stop this train. I want to get off and go home again.” He wants life to pause so he can revisit a better time. Though we all have moments like this, the train will always keep moving forward.
Related: Our next stop is the best train songs.
In the Backseat – Arcade Fire
An emotional song about the death of a family member, ‘In the Backseat’ captures that awful feeling of when you lose control of your life and your emotions. “I like the peace in the backseat; I don’t have to drive, I don’t have to speak.” It’s much easier to be pulled through life rather than make your own decisions. But when “Alice died,” the speaker was forced to learn to drive.
Related: If you’re grieving, listen to this playlist of songs about death.
Grow Old With Me – Tom Odell
Getting older can be daunting, but doing it with someone you love makes it more manageable. In ‘Grow Old With Me,’ we see how it can even be exciting to know that you’re going to get old with someone you love. “And our hands they might age, and our bodies will change, but we’ll still be the same.” This love will be the steady anchor as everything around them changes.
Related: Celebrate forever with this soulmate songs playlist.
Grandma’s Hands – Bill Withers
The impact Bill Withers’ grandma had on him was immeasurable, but his love and gratitude for her are clear in ‘Grandma’s Hands.’ These hands picked him up when he fell, soothed him and other wayward souls, and taught him kindness above all else. The steady love of a strong person can be so formative, and this love certainly shaped Withers as he grew up.
Forever Young – Rod Stewart
An anthem about aging with strength, grace, and kindness, ‘Forever Young’ champions the idea that your spirit keeps you young when time can no longer do it for you. “Be courageous and be brave, and in my heart, you’ll always stay forever young.” The ambient synths and cinematic guitar give this song inspirational overtones that encourage a positive outlook on getting older.
I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair – George Jones
Aging is an interesting phenomenon in the music industry, prioritizing young and shiny artists. This song is George Jones’ response to the idea that old musicians are any less valuable than fresh ones. He says, “well, I still got neon in my veins. This grey hair don’t mean a thing.” He doesn’t need a rocking chair because he can still do his rocking on the stage.
7 Years – Lukas Graham
A nostalgic chart-topper, ‘7 Years’ follows Lukas Graham through the stages of his life. He looks back on the ages seven to eleven to twenty and looks ahead towards thirty and sixty. It’s a bittersweet song. The innocence and determination of youth are addictive, and it’s hard to leave them behind. But Graham still sees the future with wonder, hoping he will have “a lot of children who can warm [him]” from the dangers of a cold heart.
Related: Check out this family songs list.
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) – The Byrds
This song has a very matter-of-fact outlook on the passing of time. Everything has a season- “a time to be born, a time to die.” You can’t change it. You can’t stop it. All there is to do is wait your turn, finding beauty in the moments that lead up to it.
Related: You can hear this song on the Forrest Gump playlist.
Borrowed Time – John Lennon
‘Borrowed Time’ has all the signs of an existential crisis with hints of acceptance. It’s that idea that we never really know what we’re doing. Youth has its innocence but also “confusion and deep despair.” With age comes knowledge, until you realize “the more that [you] see, the less that [you] know.” We’re all living on borrowed time, trying to be present “without a thought for tomorrow.”