Country artists and songwriters have a way of touching fans' hearts through relatable lyrics. Whether it's a song about heartbreak or the passing of a loved one, country music has the ability to encompass human experiences and emotions in song.
One country song topic that often brings tears to eyes is the realities of aging. Growing up beyond your teenage years or young adulthood can be a bittersweet concept, and whether artists are singing about their children or simply coming to grips with their own mortality, the resulting recording tends to have a universal appeal.
Here's a 10-song playlist of contemporary country tunes about one of life's inevitabilities.
1. "There Goes My Life," Kenny Chesney
In his 2003 single, Kenny Chesney sings from the perspective of a father watching his daughter grow from a baby to a grown woman going off to college.
Each verse describes a different life stage and the title, "There Goes My Life," applies to each stage. In the first verse, the soon-to-be father is a teenager who thinks his life is over when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. At the end of the song, the daughter drives off to college and "There Goes My Life" means something completely different. Like many songs in country music, it addresses the "growing up" topic through the eyes of a parent.
2. "Landslide," The Chicks
"Landslide," which was originally written by Stevie Nicks and released by Fleetwood Mac, examines the changing circumstances and growing pains of life. In the coming-of-age song, Nicks asks such candid questions as "Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?" She also confronts the constant change of life and the effects of time. "Well, I've been afraid of changin' / 'Cause I've built my life around you / But time makes you bolder / Even children get older / And I'm getting older too," she sings.
While Fleetwood Mac's version of this introspective song will perhaps live forever on classic rock radio, The Chicks made it famous once again with their 2002 countrified version.
3. "Remember You Young," Thomas Rhett
One of the more recent "growing up" songs on this list comes in the form of Thomas Rhett's 2019 single "Remember You Young," from his Center Point Road album.
This deeply-personal song finds Rhett sharing special moments from his life that will live forever in his memory. In the first verse, Rhett sings about how he'll always remember his high school friends and his wife in their younger, rowdy days. In the second verse, he sings about his daughters as babies and how he'll always remember them young. Then, in the final verse, he shifts the perspective to how God will see him when he gets to Heaven, as "shameless and painless and perfect and ageless."
4. "Letter To Me," Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley addresses growing up in a unique way in his 2007 single, "Letter To Me."
In this emotional tune, Paisley sings of all the things he would tell his high school self if he could. Some of the advice he gives "17-year-old me" are simple things, like studying algebra and Spanish, but he also walks his younger self through deeper issues like how to handle heartbreak. Overall, the grown up version of Paisley champions having faith that everything will work out as needed.
5. "Boy," Lee Brice
Even the most stoic country listener might shed a tear listening to Lee Brice's 2017 single, "Boy."
Similar to how Brad Paisley sang to his younger self in "Letter To Me," in "Boy," Brice sings to his little boy, making predictions about what he might encounter in life and giving him advice. While Brice sings from the perspective of a father whose son is still a baby, the song finds him looking to the future, imagining when his son falls in love for the first time and when he leaves home. In an especially emotional lyric in the bridge, Brice sings, "It's 3 a.m. and I'd do anything to get you back to sleep / And that face will be the same one in the rearview the day I watch you leave."
6. "Ready, Set, Don't Go," Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus
There's clearly a pattern here of artists singing about how their children didn't or won't stay young for long. Billy Ray Cyrus adds an extra punch to this trope by singing this duet with famous daughter Miley Cyrus. The Billy Ray co-write tells the father-daughter duo's story, as it's about a talented youngster on the verge of spreading their wings and realizing their creative potential.
7. "The Best Day," George Strait
Similar to other songs on this list, George Strait chronicles the experience of watching one's child grow up in his 2000 single "The Best Day."
The song begins with Strait singing about going fishing with his young son, which the youngster declares "the best day" of his life. Then, his son becomes a teenager and gets a car for his birthday -- which becomes his new "best day." At the end of the song, Strait watches his son get married -- the ultimate "best day." The tune, like others on the list, stresses the temporary state of life and the need to enjoy every moment.
8. "You're Gonna Miss This," Trace Adkins
Trace Adkins encourages listeners to soak up every moment life has to offer in his 2008 single.
In this song, Adkins sings about a girl who dreams about her next stage in life without enjoying the current stage she's in. In the first verse, the high school-aged girl can't wait to turn 18, but her mother encourages her to enjoy her younger years. Then she's a newlywed who can't wait to have children, and her father tells her "you're gonna miss this," referring to being a newly-married woman. And in the last verse, she apologizes to the plumber for her crying children, and he again reminds her that she's going to miss this stage of her life. The song as a whole implores listeners to revel in every moment of one's life.
9. "The House That Built Me," Miranda Lambert
"The House That Built Me" finds Miranda Lambert confronting the subject of growing older and the sadness that goes with it by remembering her childhood home.
In the song, Lambert visits the house she grew up in, which now belongs to someone else, so that she can remember who she was when she was young. Its lyrics touch on how people can become disillusioned with life when they go out into the world as an adult, and visiting one's childhood home almost acts as a time capsule to simpler days.
10."My Little Girl," Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl" is another example of a song featuring a parent watching their child grow up. In this emotional tune which was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Flicka, McGraw reflects on when one of his daughters was born and imagines what it will be like when she gets married someday. No matter where his daughter goes, however, she'll always be his "little girl."
READ MORE: 12 Great Songs From Tanya Tucker's 50-Plus Years of Hits
Noteworthy anthems about growing up that aren't country songs: "When You Were Young," The Killers; "1979," Smashing Pumpkins; "What's My Age Again?," Blink-182; "In My Life," The Beatles; "Jack and Diane," John Mellencamp; "The Circle Game," Joni Mitchell; "I Don't Want to Grow Up," the Ramones; "Forever Young," Bob Dylan (or Rod Stewart); "Boys Will Be Boys," Dua Lipa; "Bros," Wolf Alice; "Hold You Down," Childish Gambino; "Same Drugs," Chance the Rapper; "Tennis Court," Lorde; "Time," Pink Floyd; "Growin' Up," Bruce Springsteen; "Changes," David Bowie; "Wake Up," Arcade Fire; "Patience," Tame Impala; "Growing Pains," Ludacris
This story was previously published on Nov 24, 2021.
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.