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Age-Progression Song

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A Music Trope. This is essentially the musical equivalent of a Time-Compression Montage: a song that describes a long span of time by highlighting a few key related moments. For example, it may be a song about John the lumberjack, first talking about how as a boy he wanted to be a lumberjack, then as an adult what a fine lumberjack he was, then as an old man thinking back to his times of lumberjacking.

As in this example, an Age Progression Song is often a ballad about the story of a person's life. Typically, each verse is assigned to a different point their life in order from youngest to oldest, and the chorus points out the commonalities between them. Sometimes though, they describe changes in the world at large.

Often coincides with Dual-Meaning Chorus. Can be an effective way of allowing a broad demographic range to relate to a work. If in a stage musical, expect a duet with two age-shifted versions of the same character at some point.

See also Rock Opera and Coming of Age Story.

To eliminate too many spurious examples, we're keeping this to cases with at least three different times. It also helps if there are explicit mention of ages.


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  • A TV commercial for McDonald's had a song with a "Little Sister" theme (toddler, child, "homecoming queen").

     Film — Animation  
  • Frozen:
    • "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" has Anna at 5 & Elsa at 8 -> Anna at age 9 & Elsa at age 12-> Anna at age 15 & Elsa at age 18. It starts when Elsa is forced to shut herself from her sister, passes through the years with Anna continuously asking Elsa if she wants to play only to be refused or ignored, and ends with their parents' death.
    • The very early Cut Song "We Know Better" was an age progression song starting with a 3 year old Elsa after Anna's birth. It continues until Anna is 19 and Elsa is 22. The song starts off about how Anna and Elsa are best friends who defy what a princess is "supposed" to be like. The dark reprise has the local villagers start to become wary of their future queen and her ice powers. At the same time 12-year old Anna's parents tell her to act more princess-like and lead by example. This is the beginning of the rift in their relationship and the rest of the song has them drifting apart.
  • "Where You Are" from Moana starts with Moana as a toddler then segues into her as child before cutting to her at her present age of 16.
  • "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King involves Simba aging from a cub to an adult. His time as a teenager was expanded upon in the third film.
  • "Son of Man" from Tarzan shows the titular character growing up, transitioning to being a teen halfway though and then becoming an adult near the end.
  • "I Can Take Good Care of Me" from Babar: King of the Elephants shows Babar's life in the city as he grows from child to adult.
  • "Growing Up" from Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation involves the titular bears and their cousins transitioning from cub to adult rather fast.
  • "I Will Show the World" from The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue shows Timmy transitioning from age 10 to 13, and finally to 17.
  • "This Is My Idea" from The Swan Princess encapsulates Derek and Odette's childhoods, from their first meeting as young children through their shared summers as adolescents and teens, ending with them finally falling in love as young adults.
  • The Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! theme song serves as this in SCOOB!, where the child versions of Mystery Inc. transition to their teenage versions during a montage of mystery solving, one that directly recreates Where Are You's intro.
  • "One Last Hope" from Hercules has the titular demigod, being trained by Phil the satyr, growing from a skinny teenager to a muscular adult.
  • "Through Heaven's Eyes" from The Prince of Egypt shows Moses, after his exile from Egypt and staying in Midian, growing from a teenager/young adult to an adult. As the song progresses, his hair grows longer and his beard too. Not only physically he grows, but his love for Tzipporah has too, as in the end of the song, he and Tzipporah get married.
  • "Miracle Child" from Joseph: King of Dreams shows Joseph from a baby to a teenager/young adult. In that song, his brothers grow too, physically and emotionally, due to Jacob and Rachel paying more attention to Joseph instead of them.

     Film — Live Action  
  • Curly Top: Elizabeth has "When I Grow Up" as she sings about what she wants to do when she's older and demonstrates what will happen with each new activity.
  • Help!: "Help" has John Lennon sing that when he was younger than today he never needed any help, but nowadays when he's older he's more insecure.
  • The "Brian Song" from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
    "Brian ... the babe they called Brian/ Well he greeeeew ... grew, grew and greeeeeew/ Grew up to beeeeee ... grew up to beeeeee.../ A boy called Brian..."

  • "100Y" by 32Crash lists all the ways the singer could/should have died or almost did during his life (starting at 3, then 5, then 10, then moving in increments of 10 until it hits 100, when the robot protagonist's assembler declines to fix him, saying it would be cheaper to replace him.).
  • Charles-Valentin Alkan's sonata "Les Quatre Âges" does this. The first movement depicts a young man, aged 20. The second movement, "Quasi-Faust", is at 30. Then comes the third movement, "Un Hereaux Menage" (a happy family), 10 years older than the previous movement. Finally, there is "50 ans: Prométhée enchaîné" (Prometheus bound), depicting the aging man looking toward death.
  • "It'll Come Back," a top 20 country hit for sentimental artist Red Sovine (ages 3, 10 and 17; in the final verse, she has left home). Sovine — far better known for his recitations about truck drivers — did sing on some songs, as he did with this one. This hit, from 1974, was his biggest solo singing hit.
  • "Do You Wanna Go To Heaven" by T.G. Sheppard, a No. 1 country smash from 1980, where a broken man, in his later years, recalls his progression from living a Christ-centered life as a young boy to his broken-down life years later. Over the song's course, the song tells of the man's baptism (as a young boy), where he is asked the titular question (to mean, "Do you promise to live according to Christian values?), to his first sexual experience at his senior prom (his girl, a highly desirable girl named Bonnie Lou asking him if they can enjoy a highly satisfying and incredible sexual experience) ... to the present, where he is now a broken man, sitting in a tavern and indiscriminately asks a woman, possibly a prostitute, if they can have sex, to which she consents. The song grows darker in tone as the man's age progresses from young man to the present.
  • The Hold Steady b-side Teenage Liberation (ages 17, 19, 23, 29)
  • Tim McGraw's "Don't Take the Girl" (ages 8, 18, 23)
  • Tracy Lawrence's "Time Marches On" is an interesting variant that follows the whole family. In the first verse, the children are young and playing around; in the second, the children are in their teens and their parents are concerned; in the third, the children are old enough to be grandparents, the mother is senile and the father is dead.
  • Bryan White's "Rebecca Lynn" (second grade, high school, young adult)
  • Leroy Van Dyke's classic "Auctioneer." Originally a hit in 1957 note , the song is about a man's progression from school-aged boy to master auctioneer. It begins with him as that young boy, spending his school days traveling to farm auctions and the local sale barn; he is mesmerized by the auctioneer's prattle, engagement of the audience, quickness in raising bids and other skills. Resolved to be just like the auctioneers he's heard, he spends his days and nights practicing the auction chant and calling skills, continuing as he grows into his teen-aged years and near adulthood. Not wanting him to be mediocre, but sensing tremendous potential in the lad, his father agrees to send him to auctioneering school ... where the boy eventually becomes the best in all the land and becomes wealthy from his engagements; in fact, he has to buy a private plane to get around because he is in such high demand.
  • George Strait: "Check Yes Or No," his 1995 No. 1 hit that begins with an elementary school classroom crush on a girl named Emmylou, his resolving to marry her one day, and their marriage and 20 years of being together.
  • "100 Years" by Five For Fighting. It starts with the protagonist being a confused 15 year old boy, then a 22 year old in love, then a 33 year old man with a kid on the way, then a 45 year old having his mid-life crisis, then a 67 year old wondering where the time's gone by, and then finally as a dying 99 year old.
  • Taylor Swift:
    • "Mary's Song (Oh My My My)", a woman looking back at ages 7, 16, her marriage and children, and finally revealing she and her sweetheart will soon be 87 and 89.
    • Also "The Best Day", speaking of the present at 5 years, 13, and looking back at 3; and "Never Grow Up", looking back on young childhood all the way to moving out.
  • Frank Sinatra, "It was a Very Good Year": 17, 21, 35, autumn years.
  • Nancy Sinatra's, "Bang Bang": "I was five and he was six"; "When I grew up I called him mine"; "Just for me the church bells rang"; "Now he's gone".
  • Pulp's "Disco 2000" (birth, puberty, and adulthood)
  • Billy Joel:
    • "We Didn't Start The Fire" compacts decades of current events into one fast-moving List Song.
    • The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie from "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" sounds like one, but it actually takes place over just the "summer of '75".
  • Harry Chapin:
    • "Cat's in the Cradle". The narrator's son goes from young childhood, through college years, then to his own adulthood, over the various verses. An alternative interpretation of the song uses The Troubles as a backdrop. Hard-hitting, but it makes its point.
    • "Dreams Go By". A happy little tune about the narrator and his SO always putting off their dreams until they feel they're too old to dream anymore.
    • "She's Always Seventeen". The story of a woman who lives through 1961-1975, but retains the spirit of a 17 year old.
    • "The Rock". The story of a man who spends his whole life trying to avert a disaster.
    • "Basic Protest Song" (13, 20, 30).
    • "I Don't Want To Be President" (baby, child, college grad, congressman, president).
  • Kathy Mattea - "Where've You Been" (when they first fall in love, later during their marriage, and 60 years later in the hospital)
  • Clay Walker - "One, Two, I Love You" (ages 5, college age, and family age with children)
  • Tanya Tucker - "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane" (ages 15, family age with children, and 83)
  • Collin Raye - "One Boy, One Girl" (the day they meet, the day they get married, the day their twins are born)
  • Zager & Evans' "In the Year 2525" has the narrator theorizing on what advances in technology will do by 2525, 3535, 4545, 5555, 6565, 7510, 8510, and 9595. The narrative is rather apocalyptic in its premonitions, ending with the Biblical final judgment of God, and the descriptions of human life can be examples of Body Horror.
  • "Turn Around" by Malvina Reynolds is an extremely compressed version (2, 4, "a young girl", grown up "with babes of your own" all in two verses). A version of this song was used in a commercial for Kodak.
  • Kenny Chesney - "Don't Blink" (ages 6, 25, their children becoming parents, 50 years of marriage, 102)
  • Trace Adkins - "You're Gonna Miss This" (teenager, newlywed, mother of young children)
    • Similarly, Darius Rucker- "It Won't Be Like This For Long" (by the protagonists's daughter's age: newborn, preschooler, thinking ahead to when she's a teenager and when she gets married)
    • Hilariously, both songs not only came out in the same year, but were performed within about 13 minutes of each other in the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (but only their first verses, given that the parade is so jam-packed that they need time to segue into a marching band or balloon or whatever).
  • Joni Mitchell - "The Circle Game" (young child, 10, 16, 20)
  • "The Saga of Jenny" from the musical Lady in the Dark. Jenny makes her mind up at 3, 12, 22, 39, 51 & 75, never learning the song's moral.
  • Crystal Shawanda - "You Can Let Go" chronicles three major events in the singers relationship with her dad: Learning to ride a bike, him walking her down the aisle at her wedding, and his death from cancer. A very sad song.
  • Relient K's "Deathbed" opens with the narrator as a dying old man (this section is the chorus, making it a non-linear age-progression song), then jumps back to 1941 with him at age 8, then 14, 21, and finally some unspecified point in his old age, noting such events as his father's abandonment, his Shotgun Wedding, and eventual divorce. The album this song is from was released in 2007, so assuming the character's death took place in that year, he would be around 74 at the end.
  • Patty Loveless - "How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye" (first as a child, then her divorce from her husband, then the death of her mother)
  • Queen:
    • "We Will Rock You" by Queen, from News of the World (Queen). Boy, young man, old man. It's easy to overlook if you treat it as a Chorus-Only Song.
    • Queen's "Good Company" (ages infant, young man, old man).
    • And Queen's The Days of Our Lives goes from childhood to parenthood to old age... they evidently liked this trope.
  • Dolly Parton - "Sugar Hill" (goes through child, teenager and married with children, all centered around the same place; Sugar Hill).
  • Dire Straits does that with a city in "Telegraph Road", describing it from its foundation to its decay. In theory, it could be any city. In reality, the city is Detroit.
  • Jacques Brel:
    • A famous French example: "Les Bourgeois". The first part of the song is about a young student making fun of stuffy old adults, and by the end of the song you realize the narrator has become a stuffy old adult himself.
    • Another one is "Les Flamandes", about Flemish country girls dancing (at age 20, 30, 70 and finally 100).
    • A less famous song by Jacques Brel is "Zangra", about a young officer who arrives in a frontier outpost dreaming of glory. With every verse he ages a little more, and by the end of the song he's an old general who realizes he's wasted his life.
    • Not about anyone specifically, but "Marathon" from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris goes from the 1920s to the end of the century (with slight Zeerust).
  • Martina McBride, "This One's For The Girls" (13, 25, 42)
  • Aesop Rock has "No Regrets" (7, 37, 87). Pay attention to the lyrics for the most inspiring lyrics you've heard in a long time. At 7, she drew on the sidewalk in yellow chalk. at 37, she used charcoal sticks. at 87 "she traded in the charcoal sticks for Arthritis; it had to happen"
  • Skillz does somthing similar but different. Its for the anniversary of the pop culture world, but its a new song recapping the just finished year (usually released in late December). called the "XX Rap-up"' (such as the '08 Rap-up')
  • "Good To Be Alive" by Geoff Moore and the Distance (8, 15, adult)
  • "Que Sera Sera" (The singer receives the titular wisdom from her parents as a child, then from her sweetheart as a young woman, and then passes it on to her children.)
  • Brooks & Dunn's "Cowgirls Don't Cry". Three scenes in a female's life, where each time she is told not to cry by her father. (As a girl falling off a horse, as a wife whose husband is cheating on her, and finally at her father's death.)
  • German singer/songwriter Reinhard Mey has several songs of this type. One example is "Das Foto vor mir auf dem Tisch" ("the photo on the table in front of me"), which is a six-minute rendition of his mother's life from childhood (the "photo" in the song's title shows her as a young girl) to old age, touching not only the turning points of her life, but also showing (in passing) the more historic events occurring at the time.
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter's "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" (ages 21, 29, 36).
  • Metallica's 'The Unforgiven'. It's an entire lifespan, none of it spent happily.
  • "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle (also recorded by the Raybon Brothers and Jeff Carson), about his daughter (childhood, age 16, marriage).
    • Likewise, Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella", the difference being that the daughter in question never did grow up in Real Life, having been hit by a car about a year after the song was released.
  • Mary Hopkins' "Those Were The Days" - young woman, growing older, then old and lonely.
  • Showbread's The Death (Anorexia) consists of alternating between "When I was a... (a baby, small, a child, of age)" showing the optimism of the Anorexia's youth, contrasted with the gloomy, horrible "now I am..."
  • The Beatles, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" (from The White Album), where the singer Desmond meets a girl named Molly, marries her in the second verse and they raise a family afterwards.
    • "I'm The Greatest" (written by John Lennon) follows Ringo Starr from childhood through adolescence to age 32.
  • "Sugar Mountain" by Neil Young
  • "My Grandfather's Clock"; the later verses aren't too well-known, but they do trace the grandfather's progression through life.
  • "American Pie" by Don McLean starts "a long long time ago" with the singer as a young boy with a paper route, continues on to the "teenage bronkin' buck" phase, and looks back on the past in the final verse.
  • Deryl Dodd's "One Ride in Vegas" traces the career of a rodeo rider from a teenager looking to break into the sport to getting ready for his first ride at the championships to a retired champion.
  • Megadeth's "Of Mice And Men" (Age 17, 21 and 25)
  • A reviewer made a case for They Might Be Giants' "Fingertips" singing a progression from birth to death and the afterlife, which is as likely as anything.
  • Peggy Lee had a hit in the '70s with "Is That All There Is?" - she regards several key moments in her life with the same jaded world-weariness - even as a little kid. Kind of creepy.
  • In Plastic Bertrand's song "Stop ou Encore", he ponders whether life is worth continuing, at ages 15, 20, 30 and 150.
  • K. T. Oslin's "80s Ladies" covers life from girlhood in the 1950s to 1980s mature years.
  • Bob Seger:
    • "Like A Rock" starts out "I was 18, didn't have a care" and ends twenty years later, "Twenty years, where'd they go?"
    • Other Bob Seger songs on this theme could include "Night Moves"("started humming a song from 1962") and "Against The Wind" ("wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then").
  • "Three Bells" by The Browns (a man's baptism, wedding and funeral in the same church).
  • Pet Shop Boys' "Being Boring" starts with a flashback to the 1920s (first verse) and continues with the narrator's life in the 1970s (second verse) and 1990s (third verse).
  • Andrew Gold's "Lonely Boy" narrates from the titular boy's birth (1951) as firstborn child through his sister's birth (1953) to his leaving home (1969), his sister's marriage, and the birth of her son (dates not specified for the latter two).
  • The Mudblood's "A Pensieve full of unrequited love", telling three moments from Harry Potter in Snape's story: his first meeting with Lily, him learning the Prophecy and begging for her life, and his death.
    • As does "The Prince's Tale", from The Final Battle, this time including both Snape and Lily.
  • "Love Like This" by Natasha Bedingfield shows young children growing up to high-school age and then to the present (assuming mid-20s).
  • Janis Ian's "Hair of Spun Gold" - each verse begins "When I was...", going up by five each time.
  • Amanda Palmer:
    • "Do You Swear To Tell The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass" (6, 9, 17, 25, 33).
    • Also, "The Bed Song" uses living conditions to show the progression and decline of a couple's relationship.
  • Victoria Banks: "The Wheel"
  • "Old" by Assemblage 23. The first few verses are about the fear of losing his memory and mind with age. The last two verses have him reminiscing about his younger years and wondering whether his lover still loves him.
  • "You Never Can Tell" by Chuck Berry (covered by several artists as "C'est La Vie"). It starts off with "a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well ... C'est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell." By the end of the song, they drive down to New Orleans to celebrate their anniversary; they are now the "old folks" that wish others well.
  • Christopher Tin's Mado Kara Mieru (Through the Window I See) uses haikus about changing seasons as a metaphor for the progression of age; a child sings the first verse (about spring), a young woman sings the second (about summer), a middle-aged woman sings the third (about autumn), and a chorus of older men sing the fourth (about winter). The song ends with the child singing a verse about the return of spring.
  • Arguably Dream Theater's best song, and their first 20 minute plus epic, 'A Change of Seasons'. Tells the narrator's attitude towards life and others throughout their life, bookended by 'The Crimson Sunrise' and 'The Crimson Sunset', two movements and lines within those movements.
  • Sawyer Brown's "The Walk", which starts with the singer's first day of school, goes through his last day before moving out on his own, and ends with the last days of his father.
  • Creature Feature's "Such Horrible Things" tells the story of an Enfant Terrible, from birth to age eighteen.
  • Nichole Nordeman's "I Am" (childhood, age 16, marriage, parenthood, hints at death and the afterlife)
  • Hello, Country Bumpkin by Cal Smith (A woman meets a "country bumpkin", then gives birth to his son a year later, then says goodbye to them on her deathbed 40 years after that).
  • Jackson Browne's "Runnin' on Empty" has the singer noting in the first verse that "in '65 I was seventeen and runnin' up (highway) 101", and in the second verse that "in '69 I was twenty-one and called the road my own".
  • Old 97's "You Were Born to Be in Battle", with a father providing advice for his son in the metaphorical spring, summer, fall, and winter of his life.
  • Bruce Springsteen's "My Hometown" (age 8 with his father, high school age, 35 with a son of his own).
  • Rolf Harris' "Two Little Boys": boys playing soldiers grow up to be men being soldiers.
  • "As the Years Go By" by Canadian rock band Mashmakan (1970) asks the question "Do you love me?" the years go by.
  • "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" by the Weavers follows a farming couple from falling in love to old age.
  • Pat Green's "Dixie Lullaby" with his parents dancing to, him singing to his kids, and the singing to his dead father the titular lullaby.
  • "Subterranean Homesick Blues" from Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home has Dylan singing "Get born, keep on, short pants, romance, get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success, please her, please him, buy gifts, don't steal, don't lift, twenty years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift."
  • "This Train" by Bunny Wailer. "When I was just a kid, my mama used to sing this song. Now I've grown to be a man, it still lingers deep within my soul".
  • Ricardo Arjona's accurately titled "Vida", which narrates the highlights of his life, including his birth, the first soccer world cup he watched on TV, when he started smoking, when he lost his virginity and gained an STD (and with whom), among other things.
  • Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car": Starts with the singer as a teenager, planning to leave her hometown with her boyfriend. Then she's a young adult, still with plans to move to the city when things improve. Then they're married with kids, and she knows she's never going to the city after all.
  • "Wasted" by Cartel has three verses going through random people's deaths in order of age (few minutes old, 16, 32). Then it goes through the more typical pattern of someone's life in three verses (7, 18, 32). The final trio goes from present to past to future (23, 18, 32).
  • "The War Was in Color" by Carbon Leaf is a gut-wrenching example/possible subversion. The song covers the narrator from his time in the war as a teenager, to adulthood then old age, as told to his grandson (who found an old photo, hence the reason for the telling of the story). Turns out it's all a hallucination, as the narrator is dying on the battlefield, which means neither he, the photo, nor the grandson actually exist at the time the story would be getting told.
  • Delta Goodrem: In This Life (15, 22, 25) Innocent Eyes (7, 15, 17), Touch (Loads of moments) and others.
  • Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick follows a boy raised by authoritative parents, having the child taken from him, taught "to play Monopoly and sing in the rain", going through puberty and disillusion for his parents, deciding to abandon his art and curiosity to be a respectable authority figure himself, being sent to join the military to fight die for his country, and being forced to contemplate whether to die for his country, or take a loving, free, pacifistic life and go against what society wants him to be.
    • Former Tull singer Ian Anderson's sequel TAAB2 describes several alternative versions of his adult life.
  • Paul Simon's "Loves Me Like a Rock" fits as well as some of the examples here: "When I was a little boy", "When I was grown to be a man", "If I was the President" (future?). "Darling Lorraine" follows a couple from their first meeting to the wife's death.
  • Carrie Underwood - "All-American Girl" (the title character's birth, high school years, marriage, and presumably motherhood)
  • Alan Jackson - "Livin on Love" (about a couple simply enjoying each other newlywed, elderhood)
  • The Beach Boys - "When I Grow Up (To be a Man)" from the album The Beach Boys Today! (ages 14-32)
  • Dessa - "Children's Work" spans from childhood to adulthood.
  • Train - "This'll Be My Year" (1985, 1989, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2012).
  • "A Bowler Hat" from Pacific Overtures. The lyrics imply that Kayama is gradually growing older while adopting Western clothes and manners, and the makeup applied to him between verses, together with the Reciter's spoken commentary, confirms this impression.
  • The Godfathers' "Birth, School, Work, Death" is pretty self-explanatory.
  • It's not in the lyrics, but Squeeze did a video for their "Hourglass" where in the chorus, the band is in diapers, then schoolboy uniforms, teenage punk clothes, business suits, old codger clothes, and coffins.
  • Jeffrey Lewis' "Back When I Was 4" looks back on ages 4, 6, 8, 12, 15, 16, 22, 27, 31, 40, 50, 63, 74, 87, 106 and 128.
  • Take That's "Wooden Boat": childhood, teenagedom, married with kids and widower.
  • Steam Powered Giraffe: Captain Albert Alexander follows the Captain from boyhood to death.
  • The Title Track of Carole King's album Tapestry.
  • "Mama Used to Say" by Beverley Knight.
  • "Old Admirals" by Al Stewart follows the career of a British naval officer (Admiral of the Fleet "Jacky" Fisher, more or less) from his first cruise on a sailing ship in 1853 through his post-World War I retirement.
  • Lorrie Morgan's "Something in Red" is a variation where what changes isn't so much age exactly (although the singer and her man do age) but the nature of their relationship, with each stage represented by a different color for the clothing she goes to buy: red (seduction), green (envy of another woman who caught his eye), white (marriage), blue (maternity clothes when she has his baby), and finally red again (rekindling their romance). Aside from one line and a tense change, it also has a Dual Meaning Verse.
  • "7 Years" by Lukas Graham has the 20-something year old protagonist thinking back to when he was 7, when he was 11, when he was 20. He thinks to the future as well, when he will be 30 and when he turns 60.
  • Ben Caplan's "Stranger" details the tale of a man being told all his life to trust no one, first as a small child by his mother, then as a schoolboy by his father, and finally by his university professor as a young man. Finally, in his old age, the man looks back and discovers that his lack of trust has made his life miserable.
  • Imogen Heap's "The Listening Chair" is sung in various styles as it progresses, each minute representing 7 years of her life. At first the lyrics are childish and fluffy however as she ages it becomes more serious and often times rather melancholy. What's more, while the song was started in 2014, Heap intends to continue adding another minute to the song every 7 years until she dies.
  • Leonard Cohen's ''Dance Me To The End Of Love'. It is about the stages of a relationship: falling in love, having sex, getting married, and having children.
  • "Myself To Lose" by Eyeshine starts with the protagonist at seventeen, then at twenty-one, and then current time.
  • Ed Sheeran's "Castle on the Hill" is about growing up in the country. It starts when he is 6 and he breaks his leg, then when he is 15 and getting into drugs and drinking with his friends, and then talks about where those friends are now.
  • The Michael Rosen Rap dedicates a full verse to the circumstances of his birth before briefly describing every year of his life prior to his adolescence.
  • Green Day: Wake me up When September Ends
  • "Somebody's Hero" by Jamie O'Neal tracks the relationship between a mother and daughter, first with the mother being a young woman and the daughter being a very young child, then with the daughter getting married, and finally with the daughter taking care of her aging mother in a nursing home. The meaning of the title (and the Aesop of the song) is that they are heroes to each other, even though they haven't done anything spectacular.
  • In 32crash's "100y", Jean-Luc de Meyer's character describes the events that nearly killed him over the years, from age 3 to age 90.
  • Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" chronicles the life of a young black boy growing up impoverished in Jim Crow Mississippi, moving north as a young man to find work in New York City, getting tricked to be a mule, getting busted and spending ten years in prison, and facing dismal prospects afterwards.
  • John Mellencamp's "Cherry Bomb": reminisces about good times growing up, then "17 has turned 35" and he has kids of his own, and hopes they're not laughing too loud when they hear his reminiscings.
  • Wynonie Harris' "Sittin' on It All the Time" goes through the life of the song's virginal subject (15, 22, 25, 31, 35, 44, 49, 52, and 63 - by that age, she's too old for the singer).
  • "The Hook" by Stephen Malkmus charts part of the protagonist's life in six year increments verse by verse. It begins "at age 19 I was kidnapped by Turkish pirates", continues "by 25 I was respected as an equal" and then the final verse begins "by 31 I was the captain of a Galleon".
  • Barbara Pravi's "Chair" (Flesh), a French-language spoken-word feminist song about a woman who went to the hospital at 17 (probably for an abortion in the aftermath of a rape), hated herself and acted out at 20, and finally learned to love herself at 26.
  • The Genesis song "Ripples" is a variation; it's about the narrator pondering a woman's aging process and the fleeting nature of beauty.
    The face that launched a thousand ships
    Is sinking fast, that happens you know
    The water gets below
    Seems not very long ago
    Lovelier she was than any that I know
  • "In Color" by Jamey Johnson is about an old man looking at photographs with his grandson. Each verse focuses on a photo, in age order: in the first, he's an 11-year-old farm kid during the Great Depression; in the second, taken the year he turned 19, he's a pilot in World War II; and the third is his wedding picture.
  • In Brad Paisley's "Anything Like Me", the narrator imagines his son growing up just like him, and the memories/expectations progress in age order from a kid breaking a window to a teenager getting grounded for Skipping School to a young man trying to hide his tears as he moves out on his own.
  • Kevin Johnson's "Rock 'n' Roll (I Gave You the Best Years of My Life)" goes from the narrator buying his first guitar to 1966, 1969, 1971 and finally selling said guitar when he realizes that he's never going to hit the big time.
  • Jimi Hendrix’s “51st Anniversery” is an inversion, starting with a couple married 50 years and then skipping back to their 30th, 20th, 10th, and 3rd anniversaries, and ending with “so now you’re for you has just begun, baby.”
  • Eminem has a couple:
    • "Drug Ballad" has him as an eleven year old as he "sniff[s] glue through a tube and play[s] Rubik's Cube", drinking "back when Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark", as his present self (a rapper whose controversial statements are fuelled by ecstasy), and ends with him at age forty, babysitting his grandkids while his daughter goes off to get wasted.
    • "Lose Yourself" is a variation, in that the song portrays the arc of a rapper going from a stage-frightened, spaghetti-vomiting no-hoper with a dream, to a hugely famous rapper on the brink of Creator Breakdown, to a White-Dwarf Starlet whose moment of relevance has gone, and then back in time to him as a poor, miserable young man telling his mother he has no choice but to try for stardom, even though it will destroy him. The twist is that, although it makes one continuous story, there's two separate characters in the song - Rabbit (the protagonist of 8 Mile) and Eminem himself. The song is designed to highlight the similarities (and differences) between the movie character and the real rapper, with the second verse in particular being ambiguous as to whether it's describing Rabbit in the future (he did not seem likely to get famous at the end of the movie) or Eminem (who was at the height of his imperial phase at the time he wrote the song, not the forgotten 'cold product' he raps as).
      • Each verse in "Lose Yourself" begins with a different digestive process to reinforce the Anachronic Order. In the first verse, the rapper pukes; in the second verse, he shits ("my soul's escaping through this hole that is gaping"), and in the third (chronologically the first), he's chewed up and spat on.
    • "Castle" is framed as a series of letters written by Marshall to his daughter when she's in her mother's womb (December 1st, 1995), a little baby (December 1st, 1996), and an older child (December 24th, 2007). The song also follows his own progression from a struggling kid trying to become a rapper due to not being good at anything else, to changing his sound and image to get successful, to a depressed fat drug addict about to drop a retirement album. The song ends when he overdoses and dies, with the next song, "Arose", being his thoughts as he dies. He rewinds back to "Castle" at the end of "Arose" and changes the ending, flushing the pills down the toilet instead.
  • Conway Twitty's "That's My Job," in addition to being a Parental Love Song. Starts with the singer as a young child, then a teenager/young adult trying to start his music career, then finally a grown man eulogizing his father.
  • Family has the legendary "Weaver's Answer", a tale of a man from birth to death, through marriage, birth of children, grandchildren, even age-related blindness.
  • Shayfer James does this with his song and music video, "Mostly Major Chords," depicting a man's memories and relationship with a time-traveling woman who interacted with him at several points in his life. ("forty years from now," "seven years ago," "twenty years ago," "any minute now.")
  • Neil Sedaka's "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" makes mention of the birthday girl at 6, 10, 13, and of course 16.
  • Rare Americans' song "Brittle Bones Nicky" is about the titular character's progression from a troubled childhood in foster care through to old age, and the various scrapes he gets into along the way, including a fight with the police and jail time.
  • Folk singer Sally Rogers wrote "Lovely Agnes" for her grandmother's 92nd birthday. It goes from courtship, to raising children together, to the family reunion she wrote it for when "her children have children with babes on their knees."

  • Similarly to in the movie, The Lion King's Hakuna Matata shows Simba growing up. The first few verses are sung by the young Simba, and the adult Simba pops in for the final chorus.
  • "I Know It's Today" serves as this in Shrek: The Musical, with the first verse sung by Young Fiona, the second sung by Teen Fiona, and the third sung by Adult Fiona.
  • "Friendship Isn't What It Used To Be" from the Vanities musical. The three verses begin "Three pretty girls in a schoolyard..."(age 17), "Three college girls at the movies.."(age 21), and "Three women stuck at a crossroads..."(age 28), respectively.
  • "Sunrise, Sunset", from Fiddler on the Roof, has parents reflecting on a couple's lives from birth to childhood to marriage, marveling at how quickly the time passes.
     Video Games 
  • "Each Night He Comes Home To Me" from Medal of Honor: Underground combines this trope with Grief Song, progressing from the singer meeting her love interest in childhood, to the two marrying and raising a family, to the husband being drafted into the army and dying in World War II, and finally the widow visiting the battlefield where he fell.


Video Example(s):


Growing Up

A song about growing up...all while the Care Bears and Cousins are growing up.

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Example of:

Main / AgeProgressionSong

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