Songs from our Past: Music for Then and Now

by Jourden V. Sander

Want to listen along as you read this article? Our Managing Editor, Cole Bubenik compiled a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs mentioned in this article. Scroll to the bottom to give it a listen, and feel free to add some of your own songs to it!

When I listen to my music on shuffle, occasionally a song will play that I haven’t heard in some time, and the music will rush over me with a wave of nostalgia and bittersweet memories that make me feel beats of heartbreak, nausea, sadness, and elation. As a senior in college about to graduate, I am mentally stunted by the idea that I am being kicked out of academia and into a new kind of world with jobs, taxes, repetition, and monotony. I am stunted by this thought because the vivid sensations and recollections from high school are lingering in my mind, still feeling fresh despite being years past, now.

High school moved quickly, but then college rolled at a dangerous speed, picking up pace each semester until it reached its finish with a less-than-grand finale; a crescendo of luke-warm attempts at graduate school applications, mediocre cover letters, push-it-off-jobs, and how did we get heres? I don’t feel ready to move on from this stage in my life that I’ve come to love, but I’m becoming more and more prepared with each closing day.

Since this big change in my life has been on my mind lately, as I move from days of college to days of adulthood, I thought it’d be fun to go way back and think about songs from high school that healed us in our teen angst, sympathized with our soul-wrenching heartbreak, and helped us celebrate our happiest moments. I have brought in some people in my own life to contribute, as well as some other Feminine Inquiry members to add to a medley of high school nostalgia, but first, I’m going to discuss my own high school song and what it means to me.

“Beautiful Day”  -U2

I don’t remember the first time I heard this song in high school, but after I did, it became my personal anthem. And current U2 controversy aside (I mean, who just uploads their album to your phone without consent?), I still love this song. But I don’t listen to it often in attempts to keep the soul of the song intact—to not tarnish the feelings that erupt while listening to this song. I recall a very distinct memory that haunts me (in a good way) when I hear “Beautiful Day.” It was sophomore year in high school, during the summer. I was with two of my best friends in Round Rock, and we pledged ourselves to staying up all night—and we did. I can’t remember if I saw the sunrise, but I remember trying. And I remember thinking what a great night, what a great day it had been with them. I remain even more wistful listening to this song because I am not friends with these two girls (now women) anymore, but when I hear this song, it feels like an old connection to that day, that memory, and to them.

Other songs from high school on my medley:

“Loveology” -Regina Spektor
“Lollipop” -Lil Wayne & Static Major
“Snow” -Red Hot Chili Peppers
“I Kissed a Girl and I Liked it” -Katy Perry
“Mr. Brightside” -the Killers (A tribute to my first dance in 8th grade)
“Cry for You” -September


Lovin’ the throw-backs? Here are some more responses from some friends of my own as well as Feminine Inquiry staff members.

Jonathan Burklund (my fiancé): “Isolation” -Alter Bridge

This song reminds me of my high school days because I would listen to it all the time in my car driving around Georgetown to and from school, work, and friend’s houses. Sometimes I’d just go for a drive down back roads to clear my head and this song would always be on the playlist. It just has great energy. When I hear the song now, I just get this care-free sensation that takes me back to those days when my biggest worry was what I was going to do on Friday night.

Other Songs:

“Fake It” -Seether
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” Covered by Guns N’ Roses
“Reality” -Staind

Lauren Threadgill (my best friend): “Stars” -Hum

When I think of songs that take me back to high school days, quite a few come to mind, such as “Your Life and Mine” by Just Surrender, “Pretty Little Rave Girl” by BassHunter, “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional, and “Stars” by Hum. I remember when my friends and I first heard “Your Life and Mine;” it was a song on someone’s Myspace page and instantly we loved it, and it found a permanent home on many playlists. “Pretty Little Rave Girl” was an ultimate party starter and the perfect song to play to get pumped up for the night. Whenever I hear those songs, I am reminded of the easy and fun times of high school and how quickly it all went by. “Hands Down” will always remind me of the hope and willingness to experience intimacy with someone for the first time, and the heartbreak that promptly followed. “Stars” is a personal favorite of mine that I discovered and identified with towards the end of high school. It became an all time favorite that reminds me of how I felt towards the inevitable change that was coming with graduation.

Here are some responses from our very own Feminine Inquiry staff:

Annyston Pennington, Feature Writer, Art Editor:

“Military Fashion Show” – And One
“Lolita” – Lana Del Rey
“Teen Idle” – Marina and the Diamonds
“Monster” – BIGBANG
“Lullaby” – The Cure
“Promise” – CocoRosie

Frances Molina Feature Writer, Lifestyle Editor:

“Marry the Night” – Lady Gaga
“Strawberries” – Why?
“Snow” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The entirety of Lana del Rey’s Born to Die album
“Oblivion” – Grimes
“Year of the Tiger” – St. Vincent
“Us” – Azealia Banks

Sunny Leal, Journal Editor:

“Clair de lune” – Debussy
“Speechless” – Lady Gaga

“I Know” – Fiona Apple
“Party in the USA” – Miley Cyrus
“Shake It Out” – Florence + the Machine
“Pussy Control” – Prince
“U Smile” – Justin Bieber

Lauren Ferguson, Feature Writer, Art Editor:

“Be Calm”- fun.
“Welcome to the Black Parade” – My Chemical Romance (no apologies)

“Fifteen” – Taylor Swift
“Wouldn’t it Be Nice” – Beach Boys
“Geek in the Pink” – Jason Mraz
The entirety of Lana del Rey’s Born to Die album

Amaya Alejandra, Art Director:

“Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard
“Shimmer
” – Fuel
“Everlong” (Acoustic) – Foo Fighters
“Where Is My Mind” – Pixies
“What You Waiting For?” – Gwen Stefani
“Chop Suey!” – System Of A Down

“In the Middle” – Jimmy Eat World
“Clint Eastwood” – Gorillaz

Sarah Neal, Assistant Editor, Blog Editor: Interviews:

All of Weezer’s Pinkerton album
“The Ghost of Corporate Future” – Regina Spektor
“We are Young” – Fun.

“The Suburbs” – Arcade Fire
“Liberal arts” – Hospitality

Elizabeth Williams, Co-Managing Editor:

“Taper Jean girl” – Kings of Leon
“Better Off as Two” – Frankmusik
“Tonight I Have to Leave It” – Shout out Louds


Did any of our songs show up on your high school playlist? Check out the complete playlist below and let us know what songs remind you of your teen days!

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The author

Jourden Sander is the EIC of Feminine Inquiry. She is a writer, editor, tennis player, cosplayer, and anime geek who walks her stubborn corgi. She is a feminist and a fan of hot tea. She vaguely dislikes people who won't use the Oxford comma and finds it difficult to not repetitively use pronouns in a bio. She challenges you to a street race in her Mazda 3. She says hello.

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