It's June, when I start seeing the graduation signs and notices everywhere (and some parents really go out of their way when it comes to embarrassing their children with graduation announcements), and my thoughts inevitably turn to graduation songs.

By "graduation song" I don't mean the songs that are actually played during graduation, which are always some combination of "Pomp and Circumstance" and the school alma mater, which none of the students would have ever heard until the day of graduation rehearsal and have to fake singing during the ceremony.

No, a graduation song is the song that will come to symbolize the moment of gradation for the student for the rest of her (or his) life, the song that, every time it comes on the radio (or the ipod, or what have you) will take the graduate back to that moment when she left one moment and moved on to the next one. It's different for everyone, of course, but there are some songs that seem to capture that moment for many people. The list below has some of those, and also has some of the songs that might be graduation songs, just for me.

1. "Forever Young" by Alphaville (

This one was recently bastardized by JayZ,* but the original is an epic graduation song, full of nostalgia for what has just passed and hope for the future. This song will always be the epitome of graduation songs for me.

Can you imagine when this race is won
Turn our golden faces to the sun
Praising our leaders, getting in tune
the music's played by the mad man.

2. "Friends Forever" by Vitamin C

This is one of those songs that was obviously written with the intent of becoming a graduation song and, for that reason, it's just not as good as most of the others. It seems too...obvious. Graduation songs are supposed to just happen, not be forced. Still, the list wouldn't feel right without it, so here you go. It's also a little sad, because it's so untrue.

As we go on
we remember
all the times we
had together
and as our lives changes
come whatever
we will still be
friends forever.

3. "End of the Road" by Boys II Men (

This is what I mean by a graduation song just happening. This song is actually a love song, but the year it came out, practically every high school in the country picked it as a graduation song.

Although we've come
to the end of the road
still I can't let go
It's unnatural
you belong to me
I belong to you.

4. "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day

This one is also epic. Green Day allegedly wrote it as sort of a "screw you" to the music industry, which was demanding another punk song from them (which in a way is the most punk thing they could do), but it's also just a really beautiful song, that perfectly captures that blend of sadness and inevitably that the really good graduation songs have.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
so make the best of this test and don't ask why
it's not a question but a lesson learned in time
it's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life.

What am I missing?

* Normally, I'm in favor of remixes, but this one is just...bad. I'm sorry, Jay Z, but no. Just no.

** Bonus Song! Which is a bonus because it's not really a graduation song, but a prom night song, which is close, but is not quite the same thing.

"Existentialism on Prom Night" by Straylight Run

We're glad for what we've go
done with what we've lost
our whole lives laid out
right in front of us.


Newer Post Older Post Home