As people approach their 40s, they may begin to reflect on their lives and the passage of time. Musicians have done the same, and many have written songs about being 40 years old. Some look forward to that big milestone, while some look back. Either way, here are the best of them.
1. “See You When You're 40” By Dido
Song Year: 2003
This relatable song by Dido describes the protagonist's decision to end a toxic relationship that obviously won't work out. It showcases their disappointment with a person whom they've waited around for but would no longer choose to be with today if given a chance to start over.
So, they bid farewell and tell their ex-lover that they'll see them when they're 40 and alone, not necessarily sad because they lost the relationship, but more so because they're an attention seeker who thinks they're deeper than they are. The singer is ready to move on and find something more meaningful.
2. “Forty Years Old and I'm Livin' in My Mom's Garage” By Austin Lounge Lizards
Song Year: 2000
This ballad is somewhat humorous when it comes to songs about being 40. It tells the story of a 40 year old man who has hit hard times and is forced to move back in with his mother. The lyrics begin with the singer describing how he and his girlfriend have drifted apart because she expects him to act his age.
According to him, he's living the life of an artist, and it sometimes causes him and his mom to butt heads. The song pokes fun at the idea of a grown man living in his mother's garage but also touches on themes of remaining young and everyone eventually appreciating a person's creative genius.
3. “40 Years Old” By Casey Lowry
Song Year: 1999
The song “40 Years Old” is about wanting to live life to the fullest and not be stuck in a mundane routine. The lyrics express a longing for adventure, excitement, and fear of being trapped in a tedious job. She wants to be 40 years old and still love the life of a young girl who looks nice and has a fast car, not slowed down by her age.
One of the verses refers to the singer's mind not being a bullet that's fast or flies, which could be interpreted as a feeling of inadequacy or self-doubt. However, the artist still hopes and desires to live a fulfilling life.
4. “Change the World” By Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Song Year: 2000
“Change the World” is about the group's desire to impact society and the world positively. The lyrics encourage listeners to join in making a change for the better, to unite, and work towards a common goal.
They speak about the struggles and challenges they've faced in their own lives and the issues facing their communities and the world at large. He mentions being 40 years old and still trying to go platinum, continuing to try to make an impact and aspire to new heights.
The song's chorus serves as a rallying cry for people to take action and make a difference. The song ultimately sends a message of hope and a call to action to work towards a better future.
5. “Cool” By John Michael Montgomery
Song Year: 2003
“Cool” reflects the differences between generations and the realization that what is considered “cool” changes with time. The narrator describes his father, who was once regarded as uncool to him, and he thought to himself it must be difficult to be cool when you're 40 years old. However, he has come to understand and appreciate his father's values and taste as he has gotten older.
The song also touches on teenage pregnancy and the fear of making mistakes. The father's advice highlights that everyone goes through moments of not feeling cool and that these moments of vulnerability can help one grow and become a better person.
6. “Read Me” By J.O.A.D
Song Year: 2018
“Read Me” seems to be a reflective song about the passage of time and the choices we make in life. The lyrics express a sense of nostalgia and longing to connect with one's past and future selves.
The song begins with questions about the state of the singer's life and relationships, as well as their sense of purpose and fulfillment.
The singer wonders if they have made the right decisions, if their life is going well, and if they are still connected to their loved ones. It then shifts to the singer addressing their 40 year old future self directly.
They also offer advice, urging their future self to take pride in their accomplishments, pay attention to their loved ones, and cherish what they have earned.
7. “When I'm With You” By Chris Stapleton
Song Year: 2020
“When I'm With You” is one of those songs about being 40 that describes finding happiness and contentment in a relationship, despite feeling like life may not have turned out exactly as planned.
The narrator is forty years old and feels he has not accomplished much that will be remembered after he's gone.
He reflects on the places he's been, some of which he would go back to and others he wouldn't, and acknowledges that his body doesn't work like it used to. Despite all this, when he's with his partner, he feels like a dreamer whose dreams have come true. He describes feeling like his skies are all blue when he's with her.
8. “Punk Rock Dad” By Titanosaur
Song Year: 2018
“Punk Rock Dad” is an ode to the experience of being a father who is also a punk rocker. The lyrics describe the day-to-day routine of getting the kids ready for school in the morning, with punk rock music blasting in the background.
The singer proudly identifies as a 40-year-old punk rock dad with tattoos on his arms and a leather jacket that makes him look like a “madman.”
He is unapologetic about his punk rock lifestyle, even though it may cause some people to stare. Despite his punk rock image, the singer is still a devoted father who makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for his kids. His children find his punk rock style amusing, even painting his nails and trading his earrings.
9. “The Blues Man” By Alan Jackson
Song Year: 1999
The song tells the story of a musician who has faced many challenges, including addiction and legal troubles, but has found solace in his music. The opening verses describe the narrator as a talented musician dedicated to his craft but prone to sadness and nostalgia.
The lyrics also suggest that the narrator has found redemption and hope through his relationship with a woman who loves him unconditionally.
He says he's 40 years old and if he didn't have her his days would be so cold. He acknowledges the love and support of his partner and expresses gratitude for her presence in his life.
10. “Revenge of a Middle-Aged Woman” By Tracy Byrd
Song Year: 2005
The song talks about a woman who's a little older than 40 years old and her husband cheated on. She is looking for a cheap car in the classifieds when she stumbles upon a two-year-old Mercedes for only seven hundred dollars. She calls the number listed in the ad and arranges to meet the woman who is selling the car.
When she arrives, she meets the woman in a short skirt and a tan who offers to throw in some golf clubs. During the test drive, the protagonist realizes that the woman selling the car is the wife of her cheating husband.
The two have breakfast, and she tells her about her husband's infidelity and many affairs with younger women.
11. “Full Plate” By Spice God
Song Year: 2021
“Full Plate” is about the struggles and ambitions of an up-and-coming musician. The song begins with the artist catching a groove and feeling like they're in the zone, wanting to live long enough to see their story told. He says when he turns 40 going to hit the road and head to some unknown destination.
Despite having a full plate, they're focused on success and not letting anyone get in their way. The lyrics also suggest a degree of distrust towards others, with the artist stating they won't pick up the phone unless it's for a check, and warning others not to intrude, as they'll defend themselves if necessary.
12. “Photograph” By Sonofold
Song Year: 2008
The lyrics of “Photograph” discuss someone holding onto memories of a past relationship through photographs.
The artist says they have the other person's photo and are willing to give it up for free, indicating that they don't place a monetary value on the memory. The cracks in the wall serve as a reminder of the person and their past together.
They want to return when things were better and imagine a future where they could be together again. However, the lyrics also describe the emotional toll from a past relationship, as he brings up a demon that's maybe 40 years old, and the artist may be trying to push those feelings aside.
13. “Beautiful Boys” By Yoko Ono
Song Year: 2010
This song is about the beauty and potential of young boys and how they grow and change as they get older. The beginning describes a young boy who has already seen so much of the world and cries easily, but the singer encourages him never to be afraid to cry.
The second verse describes an older man who is 40 years old and has achieved success. He has everything he can carry yet still feels empty. Overall, the song emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself and not being afraid to face one's fears, even if it means going to “hell and back.”
14. “Middle Age Crazy” By Tom Jones
Song Year: 1999
The song “Middle Age Crazy” describes a man experiencing a midlife crisis. He's 40 years old and has traded in his practical car for a flashy sports car and is dressed in youthful attire. He is trying to hold onto his youth by pursuing a younger woman, even though he has a long-time love at home.
Despite his business success, he feels unfulfilled and seeks excitement in risky behavior. The lyrics suggest that he tries to prove to himself and others that he is still capable and desirable, even as he reaches middle age. The song highlights the struggle many people face as they enter middle age and grapple with changes in their lives and sense of self.
15. “The Frozen Logger” By Johnny Cash
Song Year: 1995
“The Frozen Logger” tells the story of a logger, as recounted by a 40 year old waitress to the singer (Johnny Cash) in a small cafe. The waitress recognizes the singer as a logger because he stirs his coffee with his thumb, a habit unique to loggers. She then tells the story of her lover, who was also a logger.
One freezing day he came to see her, and when he left to go home, the weather did its best to freeze him. He was tough and resilient, but the freezing temperature eventually got the best of him, and he froze to death.
The waitress comes to the cafe to remember him and waits for someone to stir their coffee with their thumb as a reminder of her lover's strength and unique habits.
16. “Expensive Genes” By Phonte
Song Year: 2021
“Expensive Genes” reflects on the struggles of aging and the fear of mortality. Phonte talks about the consequences of poor health choices and how they can cut a life short.
He laments his own struggle with weight, wishing he could fit into “expensive genes” that allow for a slim waistline and large pharmaceuticals to combat health issues.
He's 40 also addresses the fact that young people are dying from “old people stuff,” such as heart disease, while older people are struggling with sleep apnea, diabetes, and cancer. He mentions that by age 40 you've lived most of your life. The song is a sobering reminder that life is precious and fleeting and that caring for oneself is crucial for longevity.
17. “The High Tension Line” By The Fall
Song Year: 1991
“The High Tension Line” appears to reflect the mundanity and emptiness of modern life. The group comments on fashion trends, such as 40 year olds wearing multi colored shirts, and the pressure to conform to them. However, it he feels overwhelming stress to fit in with how things are.
The rest of the song references buying houses, dealing with technical issues, and avoiding responsibilities. Overall, the song conveys a sense of disconnection and dissatisfaction with contemporary society.
Top Songs About Being 40 Years Old, Final Thoughts
Hopefully, you've enjoyed these songs about being 40 that touch on different themes, from the wistful and nostalgic to the celebratory and defiant. These songs reflect a range of perspectives on the age and offer insight into how music can help us make sense of our lives and emotions.