Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 15, 2024


DeLeon reflects on a number of songs from her nostalgic playlist.

Music is powerful. It is the language of the soul, a collection of stories — stories of love, joy, heartbreak, failure, success — that anyone can tap into and relate to. Sometimes, if we let it, music has the greater ability of allowing us to feel things we never imagined, to feel emotions beyond our own scope of understanding. Through music we are able to time travel and transcend the borders of reality.

Sometimes a song will come up that you haven’t heard in years. For just a few moments, you are sent back into the past, remembering a time that no longer feels that long ago. Let me take you through some songs that can definitely leave you feeling nostalgic or at least make me feel that way.

“7 Years” by Lukas Graham

Beautiful lyrics with a powerful piano melody, this song can definitely fill you with a sense of hope and wonder. We are taken through the course of Graham’s life while he sings about remembering what really matters most to him: his family and friends.

He begins by reminiscing about a time when life was simple. As he grows older, he realizes that not everyone he was once close with will always stay. Everyone gets pushed in different directions to pursue their dreams, but there will always be those that stay. And there is a sense of hope that radiates from the protagonist, who sings about glory and succeeding in pursuing his dreams, which he ends up achieving at the young age of 20.

But then he begins to think about the future with a series of unanswered questions. Will he have a wife and children that love him? Will he be able to share all of his experiences? Who will still be in his life? These questions are left unanswered, but the protagonist paints a picture of what he hopes for the future. He hopes all the glory that he sought out won’t be short-lived and that he will have what’s most important in life: love and a family to share it with. 

When this song first came out, I was probably only in my freshman year of high school, and the words didn’t resonate with me as much as they do today. People grow as years pass, and listening to this song where I am now really changed my perspective on what he was saying. As a sophomore in college, I still feel like the future is filled with endless possibilities. It takes only one decision for your life to change forever. I am excited to see what the next few years will bring me. This song gives me the peace of mind to dream about endless possibilities and fills me with anticipation about what’s to come.

“Good Old Days” by Macklemore ft. Kesha

In this song the protagonist reminisces about how his life has changed, talking to his past self. This song seems almost like an ode to living in the present, about the opportunities you might miss and the regrets you may have if you stay too caught up in your plans for the future. You should take every day and live it to the fullest, knowing life will never be the same as it is right now because it is always changing. Spending countless nights and days wishing to be older can result in losing out on the precious moments of our youth, which is something we can never get back.

The protagonist thinks back to a time he thought he had everything figured out in life. He regrets the insecurities he felt and how he let others’ opinions affect his actions. He wishes that he was purely himself, although he admits he was — and still is — trying to find himself. At the end of the song he comes to the realization that there is nothing he can do to change this. He acknowledges that we get older, and life changes, so we must remember to treasure the present moment while we’re still living in it.

This song has always filled me with a sense of nostalgia. When I was in high school, I would film everything my friends and I did and then at the end cut the clips together over songs. This song was one of the songs I chose for July 2018. At the time I was still thinking about college, but also I was so excited for senior year. I reminisced about the past and thought about the way life had been before. At the time I wasn’t thinking about what it meant for the life I was living in the present.

Listening to the song now, high school is my past, and all those cherished moments have become memories. So many people that I’ve spoken to, myself included, often find themselves thinking about a time in the past and wondering why we were so excited for the future, how we didn’t realize how great life was in the present moment. Since then I’ve been trying to live more in the moment and cherish whatever life brings as it comes. Life goes by quickly, and all it takes is one blink to realize you’ve missed an entire part of your life worth remembering. 

“Fifteen” by Taylor Swift

This song is a letter to a younger version of the protagonist. She wishes that she could tell her younger self what she has learned since she was 15 years old. At the same time, she wishes she could go back to those simpler times when her only worry was how she was going to impress a senior football player. She thinks back to how she saw everything in the best light, automatically believing everything everyone told her. She also thinks about when she was still unsure of what she wanted and who she wanted to be. She ends the song by telling her younger self to “take a deep breath as [she] walks through the doors” on her first day of high school and that everything is going to be okay.

As I’ve said a few times now, what’s next in life is always unknown. I remember the summer before transferring to a new high school. I was worried about making friends, considering I had spent the last eight years of my life with the same people. I think back to those times and understand what the narrator is trying to tell her past self in Swift’s song. 

Freshman year stands out to me as the last solid year of childhood. From then you begin to learn new things, and the world begins to open up more. It’s funny to look back on those moments and see the things that might have given you anxiety, things that felt like the end of the world — a boy smiling at you from across the room or getting one bad grade on a test. But eventually you realize everything is going to work out and be okay.

Who knows, you could be the same as you were when you were first beginning high school, anxious and wondering. But I find peace in knowing that in a few years I will look back on what’s happening now and smile.

Music is community. This is just a small collection of stories that have been told that we can listen to over and over again to relive certain moments of our lives. Right now, music is our only form of time travel, and it’s one that we are able to take countless other people on with us. 

Click here to take a trip back to your youth!

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