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Top 21 Songs About Nostalgia

on November 21, 2013, 12:00pm
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nostalgiabannerfinal Top 21 Songs About Nostalgia

nos·tal·gia noun [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] : pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.

Rob Sheffield once compared music to a time machine. Songs remind us of times in our lives, and familiar sounds trigger familiar images in our heads. Subconsciously, the music attaches itself to the context in which it was experienced most intensely, and by listening to it, we are taken back to that moment. Music and nostalgia are intertwined in this way.

But nostalgia is a universal human emotion, so we decided to flip the scenario. Instead of listing the songs we found nostalgic, what about compiling a list of songs that are nostalgic? Many songwriters have made a career off tales of troubled pasts and old girlfriends, but then there are those certain songs that epitomize the idea of nostalgia. Most of them are frankly very sad, as the past is always dotted with could’ves, should’ves, and would’ves, which are easy to dwell upon.

But some, however, reflect with resignation, accepting that one can’t change the things that’ve already happened. The 21 songs here depict 21 distinct ways of coping with, embracing, and analyzing the past. View this list less as a “best of” and more as a psychological breakdown of nostalgia in pop music.

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carolina beckers
July 15, 2014 at 5:52 pm

ik zou graag muziek luistereb

Jeff Bergsma
July 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm

R.E.M. – Nightswimming

July 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

They’re Cazal shades, not Gazelle.

David Zientak
July 10, 2014 at 6:42 am

How about Mike Watt and “the kids of today should defend themselves against the seventies”

July 10, 2014 at 1:18 am

Good list, but missing two of my favorites: LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” and Bob Dylan’s “Bob Dylan’s Dream”

March 27, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Lots of good picks here. Also I’d give an honourable mention to just about any Death Cab song off of Transatlanticism. Title & Registration and We Looked Like Giants are both pretty nostalgia-heavy, and I guess Tiny Vessels and Passenger Seat would work too. Damn, was that their only ‘thing’?


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