A Song to Remember

Every generation has gotten their “growing up, moving on” songs. I’ll call them “milestone moment” songs for the purpose of this rant.

Saying every generation might be an exaggeration — but the 1990’s were full of them, and that’s the decade this whole argument stems from.

Teenagers in the ’90s had their pick of songs for senior proms, high school graduations, and the final days before college. Green Day (“Good Riddance”) and Semisonic (“Closing Time”) have two of the most famous of these songs, and what’s ironic is they weren’t even meant to be about those life-chapter-ending times. One was about a breakup and is written totally sarcastically, one is, strangely enough, about birth, not about the closing of a bar. Hey, if the song fits, I suppose.

Then, of course, you have the songs that are supposed to be about growing up and moving on — Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You,” Eve 6’s “Here’s to the Night,” and, most appropriately, Vitamic C’s oh-so-cryptically-titled-and-written “Graduation Song” — which also hold their place in that “last dance at prom” or “the song I listened to with all my friends the night before we graduated” hall of fame. I could expand the list to tracks by LeAnn Rimes and Michelle Branch, if I really think about it.

It’s not that I don’t like these songs. In fact, with probably the exception of Vitamin C (just because, really, it’s a song with such a narrow usefulness), they all hold a spot on my iPod and, to be cliche, a special place in my heart. I used all of these songs in an eighth grade class video and listened to at least one of them in the days before I graduated high school and college and the night before I first went to BU. They tug at my heart strings and take me back to those milestone moments and, sometimes, make me cry (Wow, I really am a dweeb).

But these songs are old hat (and so is that saying). Basically all of them, with perhaps the exception of “Closing Time,” “Good Riddance” and “I Will Remember You” because they were from the early-mid ’90s, were recent enough to qualify as those “milestone moment” songs for my generation (and even those three we used and made ours anyways).

But I’m not sure how much longer teenagers can get away with using them.

True, they still fit for graduations and proms today (As it should be with any good song, their message doesn’t wear out through the years), so I suppose I would call them (or at least the three oldest) “classics” in the broadest sense of the term, meaning that they are still relevant and popular. However, that sentiment of, “I’m growing up and moving on to bigger things, but I want you to know this time/your friendship/whatever has been special to me, and I hope we remain in touch” certainly isn’t something no one experiences today (I’m pretty sure we all experience it at one point or another), so why haven’t the artists of the 2000’s come up with any brilliant “milestone moment” songs?

I feel like they’re making this generation miss out on something. I want the teenagers of today (and future teenagers, I guess, if we feel like getting really old-woman-y here) to have their own special songs for proms and graduations. Partly, it’s because I’m getting tired of hearing the same songs used at proms and graudations. And, strangely enough, I think it’s also partly because I want those songs that were special to me to be special to only me and those that shared those moments with me. I know the point of a good song, a classic song (emphasis on “good” and “classic”) is (we just went through this, but in case I have to refresh your memory) to mean something to a lot of people and cross generational, racial, culture, etc. gaps, while still being special somehow to each individual person.

I think I’m getting too deep here and should save this for another post — but either way, I think it’s time these songs ended their run. Give some other songs a chance.

So this is a call to all the artists out there who will probably never read this blog — write a song to fill that gap. Be this generation’s Green Day or Semisonic (perferably for you, Green Day, because that would mean you’ve been highly successful and, hell, are having a musical created out of a wonderful, wonderful album). Find a way to write a song that will mean to the teenagers of 2009 what those songs meant to the teenagers of 1999. Give me another song to add to this list.

I don’t know if they can do it. I honestly don’t think I have faith in most of the popular bands out there to create one of these songs. I certainly can’t see Lil’ Wayne writing one. Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers, maybe — but if it has staying power, I lose all faith in the music business.

Or do you think I’ve totally missed the mark — Is there a “milestone moment” song out there for the class of 2009 and beyond, and I’ve just failed to see it for one?

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