Graduation is one of the happiest moments in our lives, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tears. With a diploma in one hand, and tissues in the other, we can’t help but get emotional when we hear these twenty songs college graduation songs!
If there’s any song that epitomizes the feelings we have as we near graduation, it’s “Rivers and Roads” by the Seattle folk band, The Head and the Heart. It isn’t long into listening that we’re reminded of our friends and family, and how different everything may be in just a year. Through the song’s buildup, and vulnerable outro, we’re forced to think about the new distances between us, both physical and emotional.
Sure, this song might conjure up images of 80’s movie prom nights, but it’s far more than glitter and hairspray. Long after its 1984 conception by the German rock group, Alphavilles, “Forever Young” is still a graduation anthem. It’s hard not to reflect on your own days and nights with friends as you listen to the lines “So many adventures given up today / So many songs we forgot to play.” Is there any way to stay “Forever Young” once we graduate?
Listening to this timeless Beatles’ track almost feels like looking through a photo album, or a yearbook. As we make our way towards graduation, there are many “places [we] remember” and “lovers and friends” that made the journey worthwhile. This is definitely one of the best college graduation songs!
The Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala has consistently proven themselves in the field of emotion (which is why they have one of the best college graduation songs). Off their 2015 album Currents, “Yes I’m Changing” is a perfect soundtrack to the days surrounding graduation. We’re reminded that people do change. With a diploma in hand, we can almost hear that world “calling out for [us].”
If there’s any song that is definitively a “tearjerker,” it’s Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in The Cradle.” Through a story of a son and his father (our narrator), we are reminded of the fragility of time. We listen as the son ages, going off to college, getting a job, and moving away. Time takes its all too familiar hold, and the son soon becomes just like his father, with not even a minute of his hectic life to spare. The song ends with the haunting lines, “When you coming home, son? / I don’t know when / But we’ll get together then / You know we’ll have a good time then,” and we’re forced to think of our own lives, before and after graduation, and the daunting grip of time.
The journey to graduation is perhaps like climbing a mountain. When we finally make it to the top, we find ourselves turning around to look back. Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” is a metaphor-filled classic that never fails to bring tears to our eyes. As we face all of the changes that we’re so often afraid of, Stevie Nicks’ voice carries us through.
Although drive-in movies and comic books may seem antiquated now, there is a timelessness to the words of Chicago’s “Old Days.” Looking out into the audience at graduation, we see the “funny faces full of love and laughter” and remember our own “good days” and the “world gone away.”
OK, so maybe we’re seeing those 80’s prom scenes again, but this one is hard to resist as one of the best college graduation songs. Between Cyndi Lauper’s vulnerable vocals, to lyrics like “If you’re lost you can look–and you will find me / Time after time” pull at our heartstrings as we picture our future after graduation, and the friends we might be leaving.
Whichever version of the song you choose to listen to, from Nico to Gregg Allman, Jackson Browne’s lyrics are the perfect soundtrack for graduation. Reminding us of what we have and haven’t yet done, each unique version of “These Days” has the ability to move us to tears.
Though graduation is a time when we are heading in far more than one direction, the British boyband’s “Story of My Life” is surprisingly fitting. As we turn the pages, graduation closes just one great chapter in the story of our lives.
In another 80’s classic, Crowded House reminds us not to wish for an ending, but rather to push past life’s adversities. It’s hard not to feel a bit walled in and surrounded by pressures during this time in our lives.
OK, so country music isn’t for everyone, but this Rascal Flatts song is definitely for the graduate. Maybe we all hope there is someone out there who has this wish for us, that after graduation our lives “become all that [we] want [them] to.” It’s hard not to feel even a little emotional when we hear the words “I hope you never look back, but you never forget.”
Graduation is one of the biggest “turning points” in our lives and Green Day makes us feel its weight in this track. We can’t help but grab for the tissues when we hear the words, “I hope you had the time of your life.”
The title of this 2006 classic by the Killers alone sets an emotional scene. Like in Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” we are again climbing that mountain towards graduation, to the rest of our lives, but here we’re unsure if we can even make it to the top.
“Starting from zero got nothing to lose / Maybe we’ll make something.” Maybe we don’t all feel like we’re starting from “zero,” but it’s hard not to tearfully relate to Chapman’s feelings of old memories and hopeful beginnings.
Pinegrove’s “Old Friends” is today’s anthem for graduating, growing up, and revisiting our past. We can only hope we’ll know happiness when we see it too.
Graduation is a farewell to people and places that were once home. In “To Build A Home,” the Cinematic Orchestra reminds us that “it’s time to leave.” Though we aren’t literally turning to dust, we can relate to these tear-worthy feelings of conclusion.
We’re back to folk with this Colorado band and we can’t contain our emotion. Lyrics like “When we were young / Oh oh, we did enough,” pull at our heartstrings as we remember our busy days long before graduation.
With the majority of this track’s lyrics a repetition of the title, we’re bombarded with thoughts of our own memories. Maybe we wish we could go back and relive our best times at school, “But sometimes life has other ideas.”
This emotional track by the New Jersey band Yo La Tengo makes us feel like we’re missing someone too. Maybe we wonder how many people will still be around to pick up the phone after graduation. This is definitely one of the best college graduation songs.