The Beatles – In My Life
This one is cheating a little bit because it’s what my parents used in the video they made me when I graduated high school (along with Blackbird). In hindsight it was stupid because the song’s about looking back on your long life and I was an 18-year-old (AKA a dickhead), but damn it, I teared up a bunch.
Patrick Park – Life is a Song
They used this song in the final sad end-of-episode montage in the series The O.C., a show that specialized in sad, end-of-episode montages. On the day I moved from my college town to Chicago I went on a jog and ran past all the places I used to live while I listening to this song because evidently I hate myself.
Beck – Sing it Again
You guys, I like Beck. I really really like Beck. A lot of my friends and acquaintances know this about me and for good reason: I don’t shut up about Beck. So there’s going to be a Beck song on this list and you’ll just have to deal with it. When most people think of party songs like “Loser” and “Where it’s At” but the man’s spent half of his career on crooning sad sack material. For Christ’s sake, he made an entire album about how sad you feel during a breakup, and then a follow up album solely dedicated to once you get over that feeling. The song I picked you most likely haven’t heard. It’s crunched at the end of his Mutations album. Warning: do NOT listen to it when you’re in the shower already thinking about all the better things you could have done with your life. You’ve been warned.
Conor Oberst – You are Your Mother’s
I know the more obvious choice for this guy would be “First Day of My Life”, but according to Spotify, that song was in the top ten most used songs for newly married couple’s first dances in the last year. So it’s doing fine. It doesn’t need the marketing. So I’d like to direct your attention to his newest solo album where this gem is hidden. For Christ’s sake the song is about a father telling his son how proud his mother is of him on his graduation day. Is the mother dead? Is she just gone? Is life that fragile?! It is, and you should be sad. Go hug your mother right now if she’s still with us.
John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over
Listen you guys, I understand we’re all upset with Yoko Ono. She’s become our golden standard for every friend’s girlfriend that we don’t like from now until the end of time. Near the end of his life John Lennon’s final solo album was billed under John Lennon AND Yoko Ono. They would alternate each track. The Yoko tracks mostly sound like garbage (except for a few that I secretly like), but this opening Lennon track, while clearly written about Yoko, is just so damn touching.
Elliott Smith – Memory Lane
To be fair, any Elliott Smith song would work here. The guy made a career out of making recordings that sounded like he was snuck up on by someone with a microphone while he read his diary with his guitar in his hand. This one’s called Memory Lane and we’re talking about videos that center around revisiting old memories. That’s really it. I wanted to be cleverer but I can’t.
Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright
I should probably have a better/ more personal reason for why this song is on my radar for a list like this, but nope. I heard it in the final montage of a Mad Man season finale. If it’s good enough for the characters on that show to sit around and contemplate their lives to, then it’s good enough for you.
Dr. Dog – The Breeze
A wonderful song about how nothing is permanent and you should try to enjoy things in the moment. Pretty much the thesis of all these songs. I’d recommend listening to it while you peer over the edge of the Grand Canyon. You’ll remember a bunch of stuff you forgot and feel really sad for a few days.
Wilco – Hummingbird
Ten songs might have been a bit much to write about. To be perfectly honest, I just thought I knew a few nostalgic songs I liked and I could possibly write an article about them. The problem is that the subject matter is roughly the same in each of these. Take this entry for example. I love the song Hummingbird, but I have no idea what to write about it that’s different about the others. It’s good. Listen to Hummingbird and look at your old baby photos.
Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
Nope nope NOOOOOOOPE. No one should be allowed to use this song for anything anymore. This song needs to have a restraining order that won’t let it within 500 feet of any graduation or wedding anniversary. The only appropriate time to play this song is if you’re meeting your soon to be ex-spouse to sign divorce papers and you want to be hilarious.