While there are many songs about childhood, finding songs about being 10 years old can be tricky.
Despite their subject matter, the supporting themes often vary wildly. What unites these songs about being 10 is an overarching sense of nostalgia. Many of the speakers reminisced about a better time or the sensation of being young and carefree.
“Ten Years Old And Barefoot” by Gary Fjellgaard
Starting our list of songs about being 10 is “Ten Years Old and Barefoot” by Gary Fjellgaard.
It’s a song that reflects on the speaker’s childhood.
It’s presented as an idyllic part of their history. It depicts a simpler time, where boys and girls play together as unthinking equals, prices are lower, and a child’s greatest problem is getting caught in a gust of heavy rain.
But even as the speaker reminisces, they acknowledge that time moves on. We may want to stay perpetually 10 and live lives as uncomplicated as they were when we were kids. But eventually, responsibility catches up to everyone.
However, it’s an optimistic song. Growing up might be inevitable, but that makes our memories of being 10 years old even sweeter to think back on.
“Ten” by Sofia Gobbi
Sofia Gobbi’s song “Ten” is another nostalgic meditation on what it’s like to be 10 years old. Like other songs mentioned, it skips through the speaker’s childhood memories. Some, like a mother brushing her child’s hair, are sweet. Others, like the youthful fear of monsters under the bed, are unsettling.
Gobbi’s song stands out because of its bittersweet commentary on what it means to grow up. Mixed in with the childish innocence of age 10 is an increased awareness of other people's opinions.
No wonder the chorus longs for time to stand still in a simpler, brighter past.
“Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell
“Circle Game” is one of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s best-known songs. Like other songs about being 10, the tone is nostalgic.
Unlike other songs discussed so far, it isn’t exclusively about being 10, though that trying age takes up a whole verse. Mitchell skips through the years in her speaker’s life. That lets her dissect the shifting moods and feelings of people on the cusp of adulthood. She does this with beautiful lyrics, many of which, like the motif of carousel ponies, evoke childhood.
But those painted carousel horses are also a metaphor for the inevitability of growing up. A merry-go-round never stops turning, and we never stop getting older.
But that’s not a bad thing, says Mitchell. Rather than wallowing in the past, she encourages her listener to keep finding new and exciting dreams to chase. That way, you never stop feeling like the excited, cartwheel-turning 10-year-old you used to be.
“Lemon Tree” by Peter, Paul, and Mary
An integral part of being 10 is having adults give you pearls of wisdom that don’t make sense at the moment. “Lemon Tree,” sung by the folk band Peter, Paul, and Mary, is about exactly this.
It tells a tale as bittersweet as the eponymous fruit. In it, the speaker recounts a doomed love affair. He learns too late that love doesn’t always last forever and that when it leaves, the loss can be painful.
The song concludes by emphasizing that even if lemons are too tart to eat, sometimes it's worth trying them anyway. The song says that love is like that, too. And that’s a truth that any 10-year-old understands because they are still brave and gutsy enough to take risks that adults balk at.
“Names” by Cat Power
“Names” is another song about being 10 years old. But that’s not the only age to come under scrutiny. Power’s song is a potent reminder of the dangers of idealizing youth. Some of us enjoy idyllic and uncomplicated seasons in the sun. But that’s a luxury not everyone has.
In “Names,” Power explores the darker side of childhood. For the children named in her song, the world is a terrifying place, and their adults, far from helping them, exacerbate the problem.
“Oh My Soul” by Trevor Rebello
Trevor Rebello’s “Oh My Soul” is another melancholy song about being 10. It’s the age the fictional speaker was when he started to grapple with complex emotions like loss and grief. And those feelings define his character.
As the song progresses, we see how loss transforms the speaker's life, particularly by fracturing their soul and sense of trust. Unlike “Lemon Tree,” there’s no optimistic note here.
Instead, Rebello ends by reminding us that for some people, time stops when they experience a powerful emotion, and few feelings are as powerful or clock-stopping as a potent loss.
“The Tom Green County Fair” by Roger Miller
“The Tom Green Country Fair” is another love letter to being 10. It’s a nostalgic song that reminisces about the joys of being young, innocent, and able to enjoy the sweeter things in life.
In the case of Miller’s late-sixties-era song, these things have all the trappings of local attractions at the country fair. That’s understandable because 10-year-olds stand on the cusp of nascent adulthood. They’re young enough to find the Ferris wheel charming but old enough that the fair is less appealing than more grown-up activities.
It’s a delightful song about appreciating life's pleasures and cherishing those moments while they last.
“The Vicar’s Daughter” by Manfred Mann
At first glance, “The Vicar’s Daughter” looks less like a song about being 10 than about being several ages. But as it progresses it becomes apparent that it’s that first, stolen kiss at age 10 that defines the speaker.
It’s a sweet reflection on first love. Specifically, it examines how thrilling and innocent our first taste of romance can be.
As the speaker observes, life goes on, and many of us find other partners to spend our lives with. But there will always be something special about the moment you discover romance, whether it's at age 10 or one hundred.
“IOU” by Metric
Like other songs before it, Metric’s “IOU” is a compelling reminder that not all childhoods are innocent.
Its lyrics tackle complex subjects like the horrors faced by child soldiers. We might romanticize childhood, the speaker says, but for many people, being 10 comes with terrifying maturity and even violence.
Far from idealizing the past, it’s a call to action for adult listeners to protect their children and ensure they enjoy the luxury of a childhood untrammeled by violence
“Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
In “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Harry Chapin sings about how easily and mundanely a person can fracture a childhood.
In this song, the parent-child relationship comes apart because the speaker’s father is absent. All their major milestones, from learning to walk to riding a bike at age 10, happen in his absence.
When the father does reach out, he finds his child unavailable. It turns the refrain into a poignant commentary about how nothing is more important than our connection to other people, especially in childhood.
“Healing” by Anna Helen
Finally, “Healing” is another song about being 10 that tackles the importance of love and affection.
The speaker explores themes of neglect and isolation. In particular, she examines how much harder life is for children when they can’t rely on the adults around them.
Songs About Being 10 Years Old, Final Thoughts
When we think about songs about being 10 we think of the cheerful things that punctuated our childhoods; Balloons, fairs, and birthday cakes.
But 10 is a difficult age because it’s the beginning of the shift from childhood to adolescence. And as many songs remind us, for some children, that transition is harder than others. Others are nostalgic, optimistic songs about a bygone age.
What they have in common is a belief in the importance of those formative years and a conviction that we should cherish them.