Songs of Past, Present & Tomorrow: A List of Tunes with Sentimental Value

Album cover of Permanent Vacation by Aerosmith

Lately, I find myself listening to songs that come from all kinds of points in my life, or that remind me of someone close to me. I think it’s a combination of childhood nostalgia and missing my family. These songs are totally random and from the outside looking in, have no obvious connection, but they all play vital parts that make up certain times in my life.

Music is an escape that I’ve been investing in my entire life. Disney songs, pop songs, rock and heavy metal—I have a combination of favorites from all over the place. I love writing about the music I love because it gives me a chance to revisit not just the song, but the memories with it. Sometimes these lists just come to me, and sometimes I have to think about the songs that I simply have to include at the time. The more I thought about this article, the more I realized that the music I’ve been listening to lately has had a specific angle: nostalgia. Yet, it’s also driven me from the past, to today, and even to tomorrow, inspiring me and giving me moments to reminisce upon simultaneously.

Duran Duran—“Ordinary World”


My senior year of high school, I listened to this every night, at least two or three times, before I went to bed. I don’t know what it was about this song, but it sent me away to my dreamland where I excitedly imagined what life would be like in college, away from home. I imagined all the things I’d do and the people I would meet. It was usually a different vision each night, but with the same goal: going out and accomplishing something in the world.

Unlike the song’s title, I envisioned an extraordinary world. Though, looking back now, I better understand the song’s content after giving the lyrics more thought. Still, listening to it sends me back to a time when I was still new to going out in the world on my own, and it makes me feel good to see the things I’ve accomplished (and continue to achieve), alongside the obstacles I’ve overcome, since those days.

Michael McDonald—“I Keep Forgettin'”


Each time I listen to this song, I’m transported to my grandmother’s passenger seat, driving down one of the lush green tree-lined roads of my hometown, back in my elementary school years. She listened to music like this all the time, and she’d dance happily, so much so that it was contagious. I hung out a lot with my maternal grandmother; we’ve always been close. That’s why music like this is so special to me. I’m sure I’ve heard this song hundreds of times, but the moment on the road is the one I keep flashing back to.

Years went by between my elementary school years and my college years when I didn’t hear this song, and out of the blue one of my best friends sent it to me, citing it as one of her favorite songs. It’s funny how anything—songs, foods, movies—that meant a lot to you growing up show up in other ways, and this is one of those examples. I’ve been listening to it often lately—probably because my grandma’s 81st birthday is just around the corner. Happy birthday, Grandma!

Harry Nilsson—“Coconut”


Another essential on the playlist my mom and I share. Since birth, I’ve been listening to this song. It reminds me of my mom because I’ve caught her listening to it so often through the years. It’s a relaxing song, a “chill out” kind of song, if you will. Sometimes we take a break from rock and roll.

We also had the Daddy Day Care soundtrack when my brother and I were little, and this was one of the tracks on it. It seems that was one of our favorite albums, so my brother and I had the words memorized after the third or fourth go of listening to it in the car. Any time we were in the car, you could be sure we were listening to “Coconut” at some point.

The Police—“Spirits In The Material World”


I love, love, love The Police! They’re one of the first bands I was ever exposed to, and I listened to their greatest hits album over and over, every day, throughout my elementary school years, and even in my first year of middle school. I loved the music in this song, and more so now than when I first started listening to this song, I better understand the gravity of the meaning of the lyrics. Society and its unrest is an ongoing problem; there’s always something else to work on and better in the world.

“Where does the answer lie?/living from day to day/if it’s something we can’t buy/there must be another way” are insightful and meaningful lyrics. It inspires me to do something good in the world, each day in any way I can. Making someone smile or laugh is one of the best things we can do for one another. This is my happy song, sending me back to the days of dancing in my pink carpeted room with the sun streaming in through the windows.

Mike Post & Pete Carpenter—“Magnum, P.I. Theme Song”


Being the TV fan I am, I love listening to some of my favorite theme songs from time to time. Magnum, P.I.‘s theme song has a perfect sound for the show’s main character, Thomas Magnum, with its happy and light-hearted tone and vibes.

Magnum, P.I.‘s theme is perfect for summer, too. It’s easy to picture being in Hawaii, driving a red Ferrari, enjoying the palm trees and sunshine. It’s the kind of theme song that not only reminds me of one of my favorite TV characters, but also transports me elsewhere, allowing me some escapism. Magnum, P.I. itself is special to me because it’s one of the things I share in common with my uncle, who has always been a big part of my life, and whose lighthearted nature often reminds me of Magnum himself.

Aerosmith—“Dream On”


It’s 6 a.m., it’s freezing outside, I’ve recently moved to a new school I don’t like, and this song sounds from my alarm clock, waking me from my slumber. I’m 13, just trying to survive middle school, and hearing this song for the first time helps me beyond just waking me up—it reminds me of the important things, the bigger things in life, including my dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer. “Dream On” is pretty much my theme song. The lyrics are among the ones I cherish most, universally relatable and meaningful. Time passes but maybe tomorrow brings something new. If I need a reminder, all I have to do is consult my Ipod and “dream on…dream until your dreams come true.”

The Cardigans—“Lovefool”


This song is plentiful with happy memories for me. It’s one of the first songs I ever remember hearing, and my mom would dance with me and sing the lyrics. Anytime we hear it, we still share a look and start dancing and singing in sync. It’s just one of those special mother-daughter things, and I cherish it dearly.

Nina Persson’s voice sounds like no other, and for me, her voice sounded happy and carefree. I think that’s why it appealed to my mother and me so much. We love to just have fun and be happy. We’ve never had a specific dance routine or anything, but revisiting this song makes me think we should.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—“Into The Great Wide Open”


I love songs that tell stories within their lyrics. When I was 16, this was one of my go-to songs. I listened to it, alongside “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream” endlessly. This one stood out because as a 16-year-old, I was already struck with wanderlust, ready to travel the world and explore.

It’s about running down a dream and navigating life. What stuck with me were the words “the future was wide open.” Anything is possible, the future being whatever you want it to be.

Nirvana—“Come As You Are”


This is my jam. I grew up in the Seattle area, and of course Nirvana is one of my favorite bands of all time. “Come As You Are” just speaks to me in ways that any description I provide would just be an understatement. It’s soothing to my soul, it’s the song I turn up the volume for, and it’s the tune that I have listened to thousands of times but will never tire of.

The music is like no other, a true accomplishment in the music industry. It makes me happy, it helps me reflect, it gives me everything I need in just 3 minutes and 45 seconds. No matter what I’m feeling, it’s a cure, it’s a saving grace, or it’s just a good time listening to a phenomenal track, forever embedded in my “memoria….”

Haerts—“Call My Name”


I keep finding songs I love on Hawaii Five-0. It’s like they know me or something. This particular song played in the background as Steve bids Ellie farewell in a Season 5 episode, and now every time I hear it, I think of that scene.

I’ve listened to it thousands of times since then, enamored with the lyrics and captivated by the music. It sounds nothing like any other song I’ve heard, and I love that uniqueness. Being the film and TV geek that I am, I dream of playing this song in the background as my character is in an airport, leaving everything behind and heading somewhere different to start anew. Every time I travel, I know this song will be on my playlist, and each time “I’ll leave I’ll take away the pain”; meaning, I’ll be leaving a place better than when I found it.

Written by Kacie Lillejord

Kacie is a freelance writer versed in various forms. She loves pop culture, screenwriting, novels, and poetry. She has previously written for The Daily Wildcat, Harness Magazine, Cultured Vultures, and Screen Rant, with 25YL being her newest writing venture.

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