Songs for the Graduates In the Audience

The season of graduation is upon us, a time when those moving on to the next stage in their lives are deluged with cliche wisdom and even worse pop music. So to countervail all of that, here’s a reminder that growing up is awesome, you will stay in touch with all the right people (who mostly won’t be who you expect), and if all else fails, Beth Ditto will be there to bail you out.

First, a reminder: graduation is overhyped. People have been worrying about keeping friends and staying with their school significant others since the Paleolithic age, or at least since the Beach Boys were covering the Four Freshman a capella and having it count as pop music. You will survive, and the ties that endure will not be the ones you fret about the most:

Second piece of caution: fetishizing your youth is silly. Growing up is fantastic. You have more responsibilities, but also infinitely more freedom, and infinitely more sense of what you can do with it. Oh, who am I kidding. I just wanted to post this version of “Forever Young” that’s been turned into a Ron Paul-influenced screed about individual liberty:


But if you are worried, after hanging out with my best friend form high school in San Francisco, I can attest that Vitamin C was totally right that it is possible to stay in touch with folks, though good luck on the finding a job that won’t interfere with your tan thing. That may not be a reasonable thing to expect in your benefits package in this economy:

Blink-182 is criminally underrated. I sort of feel like “Going Away to College,” which acknowledges that you can both love someone and inevitably end up growing apart from them, should be mandatory listening for every high school senior in the country:

I would probably do almost anything that Baz Luhrmann told me to do, but Mary Schmich’s advice (often attributed to Kurt Vonnegut) is honestly dead-on, even if I recognized its value better in hindsight than I did when I heard it in middle school:

And for anyone for whom school wasn’t even close to the best year of their lives, Green Day has the perfect kiss-off:

Do people remember Semisonic? Does liking them make me an Old? Either way, as a follow-up to the whole life gets better when you grow up and go out into the world thing, “Closing Time” is a good reminder that sometimes a definitive, dignified exit is better than hanging around wishing that things wouldn’t have to change:

And Beth Ditto has just the anthem you need to move on to the next one: