25 Best Retirement Songs

Looking for songs to help celebrate a retirement? Or bring up fond memories of the place of work before leaving? Well, these are the best retirement songs you can use to mark this significant occasion perfectly.

1. “Hello, Goodbye” by The Beatles

Song Year: 1967

Although arguably more of a children’s song by its styling, this classic tune from the legendary Beatles is all about hellos and goodbyes, repeated constantly throughout the song. You can easily hear this about a difference in places or opinions, with neither of the people indicated on the song on the same page.

However, you can also hear it as one person saying goodbye and feeling wistful, while the other person is greeting new opportunities. Retirement is a significant change for most people, and it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot to look forward to.

2. “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas

Song Year: 2009

Although not a retirement song on the first hearing, this pop hit from one of the better-known bands in the genre is particularly accurate for a retirement day. It starts with a focus on repeating the feeling that a good night is coming before finally deciding what to do with it.

That’s an essential part of any retirement day. More specifically, what are you going to do when you feel like nothing is weighing you down? The lyrics follow interesting pacing, too, with a middle section that’s significantly different from the starting and ending portions.

3. “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor

Song Year: 1982

Easily recognized in its first two seconds, Eye Of The Tiger is a hard rock song that, in many ways, is the perfect retirement tune. It talks about holding on to dreams, doing your time, and rising to face new challenges. While it may be most associated with the Rocky boxing movies, the truth is this song can apply to an incredible range of situations.

Eye Of The Tiger is arguably one of the most iconic songs in rock, with incredible public recognition. Its distinctive intro lets you know what you’re hearing, and that’s a claim even many songs with more listens can’t claim. This is an excellent song by practically any metric, and it easily deserves a place on this list.

(For more on rock, check out our list of the best classic rock songs ever.)

4. “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Song Year: 2002

Can’t Stop starts with an instrumental section to build up the feeling and pacing but soon transitions to its bold vocals and steady progress. The lyrics focus on moving forward, and bring in a wide range of themes and symbols. Can’t Stop can seem almost nonsensical at first hearing, but make far more sense once you begin parsing the lyrics.

At about four and a half minutes, this is relatively long for a retirement song, and it keeps a forward attitude throughout the lyrics to end on a high note. The Red Hot Chili Peppers say that life is something to be active with, not passively read through, and that’s an important thing to keep in mind if someone is retiring.

5. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

Song Year: 1969

Frank Sinatra is one of the most legendary pop singers, and My Way is his signature song. Although he’d eventually come to see the song as a little self-indulgent, the song also shows his full range of skill. Other artists (including Elvis Presley himself) would eventually cover the song, showcasing its staying power.

My Way is fiercely independent, talking about living a full life and actively choosing things to do throughout. It’s a song for people who believe in themselves and take the initiative, for leaders and anyone who has pursued their dreams.

6. “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters

Song Year: 1970

Mixing pop and rock style with some folk, this tune from the Carpenters is an excellent example of songs about retirement. Many people see retirement as an ending, but it’s also a new beginning, often with far more freedom in people’s lives than they’ve had for a long time.

Beyond that, however, the plural identities are central to this song. It’s not about the performance of an individual person like My Way, but rather what two people can be doing together once they finally have an opportunity. In some ways, this is more of a love song, which makes it an unusual twist on the overall genre.

7. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton

Song Year: 1980

Dolly Parton is a legendary singer, with a range of hits throughout her long career. Written for a comedy film of the same name, this song focuses on the daily grind of a traditional job, including many of the problems thereof.

For retirement, this song is a reminder of what work life can be for many people and what someone is leaving. Most songs about retirement are forward-looking, but it’s good to look back and remember the good and bad of things that have already happened. For the best listening experience, though, consider watching the whole movie.

8. “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day

Song Year: 1997

This relatively brief indie song from Green Day is rather wistful and nostalgic, with powerful guitar elements throughout that can almost overshadow its lyrics at times. It recognizes that things may not always go right, but it’s also fundamentally optimistic in expressing the hope that someone had a good time.

That theming stands out on this list. It’s easy to look back and complain and to look forward to good things in the future, but few songs represent the feelings of coworkers left behind as well as this tune. It’s worth the brief listen, while the award-winning music video version adds a visual layer to an already-excellent song.

9. “Get A Haircut” by George Thorogood

Song Year: 1993

Coming in at a little more than four minutes, this classic rock song discusses dreams and ambition from the point of success. In it, George Thorogood discusses the attitudes of many people he met when he was young, who told him to change his looks and do something different with his life.

However, if he listened to them, he wouldn’t have achieved the success he did. As a retirement song, it’s a good reminder that many of the best things in life don’t come from trying to follow a formula put down by someone else. Instead, following your passions can lead you to a much better place in the time you have left.

10. “Closing Time” by Semisonic

Song Year: 1998

The iconic end-of-the-night song, this pop-rock tune features bar and alcohol theming for a story about one ending moving to a new beginning. It’s introspective and thoughtful and emphasizes that while you don’t necessarily have to go someplace in particular, you can’t stay where you currently are.

Few songs mark endings so well, so this is often the final song people play at a retirement party. Some people even time their exit to the end of the song, heading out through the doors as it concludes to make a final statement. Whether you use it for that or not, it’s worth a listen, perhaps as the last song of your day.

11. “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” by The Animals

Song Year: 1965

If you’re looking for something a little different, this classic tune from The Animals can be a tongue-in-cheek way of saying it’s time for someone to move on. The lyrics go from seeing the loss of others to the feeling of needing to do something different, an emotion that most people approaching retirement can comfortably relate to.

However, the emphasis in the song is on “we,” or the idea that it’s better to move on together instead of staying on your own. Most people think about the people they leave behind when they retire, but they often have people who are staying with them through the change. That may not be emphasized often enough.

12. “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett

“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett

Song Year: 1977

For many people, relaxing with a drink is one of the iconic parts of retirement. Sitting down, watching people pass by, and enjoying life being slower can be a significant change from the past, and margaritas are one of the classic examples of what a retirement drink can be.

The gentle mix of folk tunes with pop and rock elements makes this a relaxing tune, although the lyrics go deeper if you listen carefully to them. Jimmy mentions everything from an unknown tattoo to losing a salt shaker for the drinks, but with a nod toward drinks helping him hang on. Not everyone needs alcohol, but it’s good to have something you care about in retirement.

13. “The Best Is Yet To Come” by Frank Sinatra

Song Year: 1964

How was Frank Sinatra so good that he landed on this list twice? Sinatra popularized this song with a mix of pop and swing elements on top of its jazz base, though Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh originally made it for Tony Bennet instead. It’s since become one of Sinatra’s most popular covers, and it was the last song he ever sang in public.

As a retirement song, it’s fundamentally optimistic and focuses on the idea that even better things are in store. That’s something nearly everyone hopes for as they reach the end of their working time, and like most of the better retirement songs, it focuses on the idea of enjoying that time with someone else.

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