7 Songs to Help You Survive Visiting Your Hometown
Cope with nostalgia, attention, and endless questions
We’ve all been there. A visit to your hometown—or perhaps, you’ve just grown up and changed while still in your hometown—is met with mixed emotions. It’s like for every fond memory and bout of nostalgia you experience, you also experience equal parts dread and anxiety.
You run into people from high school. Your well-meaning but nosy neighbor asks you a billion questions about your life. Someone you used to date or have a crush on is suddenly in your literal periphery again. It can be overwhelming.
Luckily, these feelings have been actualized into songs time and again. And I’ve picked my faves to help you survive your next visit to your hometown:
“Stranger” by Skegss
It’s totally normal to feel like a stranger in the place you grew up and thought you knew like the back of your hand—even if you come back to visit often. Heck, even if you still live in your hometown, the people and places are constantly changing around you. Or, maybe more fitting: You’ve changed and your hometown hasn’t.
With lyrics like, “Everything is changing, as I’m aging in these shoes” and “I’m just a stranger to this place,” Skegss perfectly capture what it feels like to have outgrown a place. After all, sometimes you’re not meant to stay put in your hometown forever—you’ve simply changed.
“Past Lives” by Real Estate
If you’re like me, the feeling of nostalgia can overwhelm you. For example, when I sit on this bench near the river in my hometown, it reminds me of when I used to be a directionless teenager and can be too intense to this day (...and ok, maybe I never grew out of that teen angst phase).
The song “Past Lives” by Real Estate alludes more to a past romance, but I think the messaging is universal for the feeling of nostalgia of a place that brings back a lot of memories: “I cannot come back to this neighborhood without feeling my own age. I walk past these houses where we once stood. I see past lives but somehow you're still here.” Did you get chills or is that just me?
“Different Now” by Chastity Belt
In case you haven’t heard from one of the many motivational speakers, self-help books, or inspirational meme accounts, you don’t need to have everything figured out in life. But for whatever reason, whenever we visit our hometown, we pack on extra pressure for ourselves to be this version of ourselves that do.
Luckily, Chastity Belt’s “Different Now” is basically like your cool, wise friend reminding you that, “You'll find in time, all the answers that you seek” and “[And] you'll finally be right where you need to be.” Feel better?
“When I Look Back” by Lev Snowe
Ah, young love—remember it? Whether it was your first relationship, crush, or unrequited love (in my case), there’s no denying that teen years are the most heightened for that butterflies in the stomach feeling… and hormones. So naturally, young love and your hometown will be forever intrinsically linked (read: running into your first-ever ex).
In Lev Snow’s dreamy song, “When I Look Back,” lyrics like, “teen years have almost come and gone” and “cause youthful days have plenty of laughs when I look back,'' speak to that young love feeling—even long after you’ve grown up and moved on.
“Patience” by Tame Impala
Probably the biggest thing I dread about visiting my hometown is the inevitable, “So what are you up to?” Even with social media, it seems we can’t escape that rather-nosy probe from family members, people you went to high school with, etc. And while it is just a conversation topic, it can be a tricky one to navigate, like, “what the hell have I been up to lately?”
Well, it seems that Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker must feel the same way, because “Patience” is essentially that narrative. His response to "So what you doin' with your luck?" Well, he’s “Just growin’ up in stages” and “Livin’ life in phases,” like same old (and you know—being one of the biggest musicians and producers of the moment).
“Freaking Out The Neighborhood” by Mac DeMarco
Us humans, we’re not perfect. Sometimes we get caught up with new (slightly more degenerate) friends, drop out of college, quit a job, etc. and our parents—bless them!—can, let’s just say, be dramatic about it. And once they start talking, pretty soon the whole neighborhood of your hometown know all of your business.
For when you’re feeling like the “problem child” returning back home (don’t worry, I’m right there with you), look no further than Mac DeMarco’s classic, “Freaking Out The Neighborhood.” With lyrics, “There are times I get carried away. Please, don't worry. Next time I'm home, I'll still be the same,” I’m sure we can all relate to this endless reassurance to our parents.
“Nostalgia” by Surf Curse
Sometimes we’d rather not reminisce on our younger days, perhaps out of embarrassment or hurt. But other times, we simply can’t help it. Especially if you’re visiting your hometown where a lot of fond memories with friends, family, or someone you dated took place.
In “Nostalgia,” Surf Curse sings, “I remember when, and I’m trying to forget” about a past love from their younger years. After all, it’s easy to let your mind wander to those moments from your youth, especially when you’re physically in the place where it all happened.
I hope these songs help you survive a visit to your hometown as much as they do for me. And if you are heading back home, godspeed to you.