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5 Songs for Sentimental Seniors to Listen to Before Graduation

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

With April rapidly coming to an end and May just around the corner, for those graduating high school, college or any other major milestones in life, the season for being sentimental is here. There’s often no better way to mark a moment than with a song that perfectly encapsulates how you may be feeling. 

As a graduating senior myself, here are 5 songs I will be listening to in order to mark this transitory moment in my life.

  1. “Heroes” by David Bowie

Can you really mark a bittersweet ending and new beginning in your life without a tunnel song? For lovers of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” you know that a tunnel song is the quintessential track that makes you feel like the main character in your own life. It is a song that makes you feel immensely powerful, as if the entire world is at your beck and call. Since the ripe age of 14-years-old, that film and this song have held an immense place in my heart, so you can guarantee I will be finding a car to speed to in the coming weeks while Bowie screams, “I, I will be king / And you, you will be queen / For nothing will drive them away / We can beat them, just for one day / We can be heroes, just for one day.” If this isn’t your tunnel song, make sure you go on a late-night drive listening to whatever song makes you feel alive, forever young and absolutely in love with your life. 

  1. “Ribs” by Lorde

This one is for your college roommates and friends. “Ribs” perfectly captures the elation of enduring friendship, but also the dread that comes with aging. At the beginning of the song, Lorde recalls good times: “The drink you spilt all over me / ‘Lover’s Spit’ left on repeat / My mom and dad let me stay home / It drives you crazy getting old.” But by the second verse, anxiety about growing up kicks in: “This dream isn’t feeling sweet / We’re reeling through the midnight streets / And I’ve never felt more alone / It feels so scary getting old.” To combat the permanent scaries you may be experiencing as a senior about to say goodbye to the life that has held you like a sweet, safe hug for the last four years, take the time to remember the school nights spent laughing hysterically over something you can’t even remember now, the late nights that left you wishing you were dead in the morning and every little adventure made in between. Before you step into “true adulthood,” take a moment to laugh about every silly memory you’ve made and remember the people you did it all with.

  1. “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart

This one is for the night before graduation, when the liquor is hitting your bloodstream with just the right amount to make you weep at everything and anything. For the full experience, I recommend grasping your best friends’ hands and singing the words to each other: “A year from now, we’ll all be gone / All our friends will move away.” Then, get ready for the big screaming line, which you should shout with all of your heart and soul: “Been talkin’ ‘bout the way things change / And my family lives in a different state.” This is a song that almost certainly will make you cry, but it will be a cathartic experience you need to remember that good times can come and go, but memories linger forever. Change is a part of life, and although it is one of the more bittersweet realities of life, listening to “Rivers and Roads” allows you to mentally take a picture of the present moment and tuck it away in your back pocket. Remember that change can be sad, but change can also be the most liberating and best thing to happen, too.

  1. “Scott Street” by Phoebe Bridgers

While “Rivers and Roads” is an anthem of change that is best experienced hand in hand with the people in college who shaped your last four years, “Scott Street” is for when you stumble home, feel emotionally drained and ready for just one more cry before you go to sleep for one of the last times in your college bedroom. Bridgers sings about a relationship that has faded away, but one can easily listen to this song as a reflection of growing up and leaving the places that molded you behind. She sings, “Walking Scott Street, feeling like a stranger,” a sentiment that can be applied to your college hometown, which you may revisit one day, but it will never be the same as it was. The real kicker of the song comes during the bridge, when faintly, one can hear the sound of ringing bells, like those you used to ring on your bicycle as a kid. It is a sound that can take you back to your childhood and reminds you to take a look around at all of the magic you have made, because your life will never look the exact same ever again. 

  1. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” by Taylor Swift

After you have successfully defeated your own spirit through crying and reminiscing, you need a song to remind you that it will all be okay. In this song, Swift takes listeners from childhood to adulthood, reminding them, “You’re on your own, kid / You always have been.” However, this isn’t a terrifying sentiment—it is a liberating one. You made it through middle school, high school and now college, and at the end of the day, you did it on your own. Yes, you likely had a support group, and yes, there were good times and bad, but at the end of the day, it was you pulling yourself through. While adulthood may seem like a nerve-wracking prospect, Swift reminds listeners that they have no reason to fear; instead, the only thing people can do is be open-minded, take risks and embrace everything life throws at you: “Everything you lose is a step you take / So, make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it / You’ve got no reason to be afraid.”

I current serve as the Co Editor-in-Chief for the Her Campus SLU chapter! I love Nora Ephron movies, cups of tea, and trips to the library! When I'm not writing, you can find me playing the New York Times mini games or listening to my favorite podcasts.