Music Monday · Nostalgia

11 Nostalgia-Driven Songs | Pop and Rock

11 Nostalgia-Driven Songs | Pop and Rock | The Nostalgia Diaries Blog

Last week we featured 11 country songs that were written specifically with nostalgia in mind. Songs about nostalgia—about reminiscing and memories and the past. But did you spot the one song that did not quite belong with the others? If you picked American Country Love Song by Jake Owen, you’re right. To be sure, a song like that can spark up nostalgic feelings:

In every town and every place
There’s a boy who’s tryin’ to take a chance and dance
And find a way to run away with her heart

But it’s not the same as say, I Go Back by Kenny Chesney:

I go back to a two-toned short bed Chevy
Drivin’ my first love out to the levy
Livin’ life with no sense of time

This week’s Music Monday features 11 pop and rock songs that are sure to get you in a nostalgic frame of mind. Some were big hits, some you may never heard of. But all are nostalgia-driven tunes about the past, about memories, about growing up, about childhood.

Interestingly, finding pop and rock nostalgia-driven songs proved to be more of a challenge than finding nostalgia-driven country songs. Seems like every other country song these days is explicitly about the past and being young and growing up. Rock and pop songs tend to be more subtle in discussing the past, but not all of course. Some are in-your-face nostalgia songs like this first one:

1.  Owl City – Unbelievable ft. Hansen

Key Lyrics: Grape Juicy Juice and Dr. Seuss, piggy-back rides and Slip-n-Slides

We would compare the theme/structure of this song to something like 19 Somethin’ by Mark Wills. But similar as they are, they are indeed different. As you listen to all of these pop and rock songs, compare them to their county music counterparts. Are they lyrically similar?  Thematically similar? Structurally similar?

Of course, if you don’t want to analyze these songs or think about these questions, that’s cool too. Just turn up the volume, sit back, and enjoy!

2. Bob Seger – Like a Rock

Key Lyrics: I was eighteen / Didn’t have a care

3. Nickelback – Photograph

Key Lyrics: We used to listen to the radio / And sing along with every song we know

4. Sugar Ray – Under the Sun

Key Lyrics: Do you remember / The summers that lasted so long

5. Train – Bruises ft. Ashley Monroe

Key Lyrics: These bruises make for better conversation

When pop and country collide – similar to Who Says You Can’t Go Home. Oh, and hey, the video features Colorado’s most awesome music venue, Red Rocks Amphitheater.  Remember that other video from long ago that featured Red Rocks?

6. Sovereign Light Café – Keane

Key Lyrics: I’m going back to a time when we owned this town

7. Five for Fighting – 100 Years

Key Lyrics: 15 there’s still time for you / Time to buy and time to lose

8. Ben Rector – Beautiful

Key Lyrics: I was 16 with an open heart / Windows down in a beat up car

9. Paul Davis – ‘65 Love Affair

Key Lyrics: If I could go back again / Well I know I’d never let you go

10. OneRepublic – Kids

Key Lyrics: I refuse to look back thinking days were better / Just because they were younger days

(Another awesome Colorado connection… just sayin’…)

11. Summer of ‘69 – Bryan Adams

Key Lyrics: Oh, when I look back now / That summer seemed to last forever

(Because how could a list of nostalgia songs not include Summer of ’69?)

Talk to us:  Did we miss any of your favorite nostalgia-driven songs?
Let us know in the comments!


At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming.

It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.



P.S. Don’t forget to follow our colorful, creative spaces on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. We’re fun and happy and whimsical and nostalgic over there, too. Pinky swear.




19 thoughts on “11 Nostalgia-Driven Songs | Pop and Rock

  1. Good choices. Nostalgic music is transporting. I believe it’s why “Guardians of the Galaxy” (I & II) are such big successes.

  2. Great list! I saw some of my favorites! I would add Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill. I think it envokes some similar emotions.

  3. Just found your site and love this list! Even though I wasn’t born, Summer of 69 has always been incredible. I also love 100 years and Kids.

  4. I have a whole playlist called “Nostalgia” – songs with lyrics about looking back on bittersweet memories, but also songs that just have that wistful sound to them. Sometimes you just get in that mood!

    1. Awesome! Let me know if you’d ever be interested in guest posting on one of our Music Mondays – I love your playlists! ❤️

  5. I saw your blog listed on Eli’s 6-words post. Great choices here, I just checked your list from last week and I would have added Strawberry Wine 🙂

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