Retirement is the withdrawal from one’s occupation or active working life. For some, it means having somehow struck that financial milestone where they no longer have to actively work for a living. For many, it is simply that point in life when one must pull back from active working life due to age.
After decades of hard labor, the thought of the day when you can rest, enjoy your pension, play with your grandchildren, and listen to the news is surely something worth celebrating. And what’s a better way to celebrate than to throw a retirement party?
More than the retirement gifts, we all know that the key to a good retirement party are the songs. Having a party playlist sets the mood of the environment, and keeps the guests entertained. So, if you’re in a bit of a pickle over which songs to play, here we have listed the best retirement songs for your party playlist!
Best Songs for Retirement
Nothing beats the classics! In this list, we share our favorite classic songs of all time for retirement.
My Way – Frank Sinatra
This is perhaps the retirement song of all retirement songs. From its opening lines to its closing verses, every word, every tempo, and every cadence bears eloquent testimony to this classic song.
The decision to take a bow from the showbiz world by Frank Sinatra was the inspiration for this all-time classic swansong.
Our favorite lines: For what is a man, what has he got? / If not himself, then he has naught / To say the things he truly feels / And not the words of one who kneels
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Judy Garland
The song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is very well-known in the world. It is a slow-rhyming and enchanting lullaby with a deeply ingrained message of hope.
The song is both hopeful and symbolic. It’s about an encouraging look to the future filled with life and joy. It’s about leaving behind the boring monotony of what you’ve known for a much more colorful adventure.
At the time of retirement, nothing warms the heart more than a message of hope. Yes, the future may be uncertain, but as long as hope dwells in the heart, the will to live and still flourish once more is a powerful motivation for anyone facing retirement.
Our favorite lines: Someday I’ll wish upon a star/ And wake up where the clouds are far behind me/ Where troubles melt like lemon drops/ High above the chimney tops/ That’s where you’ll find me.
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
This song is by Survivor, released in 1982. This award-winning song was written by guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik. Originally written especially for the movie Rocky, this song details Rocky Balboa’s struggle and perseverance throughout the famous training montage.
For someone entering into the retirement period, the lyrics evoke a passion for tackling the challenges ahead. The song seems to declare that all your working life was training, and retirement is, in fact, the real game. And, you cannot but be a winner.
Our favorite lines: Rising up, back on the street/ Did my time, took my chances/ Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet/ Just a man and his will to survive
When I’m Sixty Four – The Beatles
This song was released on the band’s album, in 1967. McCartney wrote it when he was 16, and it was one of his first songs. Unlike the other songs on our list, this one is more on the romantic side of retirement. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This song is about the singer’s plans to grow old together with his lover. Because the theme is aging, it resonates very well with couples in retirement.
If you are still happily married at retirement and wish to retain the beauty and romance of your marriage during this period, then this is one of the retirement songs you would want to be listening to every day.
Our favorite lines: When I’m sixty-four/ Every summer we can rent a cottage/ In the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear/ We shall scrimp and save/ Grandchildren on your knee/ Vera, Chuck and Dave
Young at Heart – Frank Sinatra
Young at Heart was the first million-selling hit, recorded in 1953. Inspiration for the song came when lyricist Carolyn Leigh’s father suffered a heart attack and was in hospital. So in a sense, there was a kind of double meaning to the central message to the song being “young at heart,” even when your heart is not so young.
For someone entering retirement, there can be no more precious treasure to life than a healthy heart, a heart that feels young even in an aging body.
Our favorite lines: And if you should survive to 105/ Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive/ And here is the best part, you have a head start/ If you are among the very young at heart
A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
The lyrics speak about the singer’s deep love and devotion to his lover, and how he toils so hard so she can buy all the good things she wants in life. The singer sings of his deep exhaustion and weariness when he comes back home from work, but how the beautiful things that his lover does for his relief strengthens him up again.
The point of bonding with retirement sentiments is all about having worked all day and coming home into the loving embrace of your partner. For a retired couple, this is a really beautiful upbeat song they could dance or jam to.
Our favorite lines: When I’m home everything seems to be right/ When I’m home feeling you holding me tight/ Oh, it’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog/ It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log/ But when I get home to you I’ll find the things that you do/ Will make me feel alright
Modern Retirement Songs
If you’re looking for retirement songs that are a bit more modern, then we have just the songs for you.
Memories – Maroon 5
This song, released in 2019, is a song about loss. Adam Levine lost a dear friend in 2017 and this song is a tribute to his memory. While a colleague retiring isn’t the same kind of loss, you can feel many of those similar emotions. This song is both touching and sentimental which we think makes it a perfect song for a retirement party.
Our Favorite Lines: Now my heart feel like an ember and it’s lighting up the dark / I’ll carry these torches for ya that you know I’ll never drop, yeah
Life Is A Highway – Rascal Flatts
What we love most about this song is the upbeat hopefulness in it. Retirement isn’t about the chapter that is closing, it’s about the chapter that is about to open. This fun song does a good job of capturing that feeling. This is especially important during a farewell party as it’s easy for farewell parties to feel somber.
Our Favorite Lines: There’s no load I can’t hold / A road so rough, this I know / I’ll be there when the light comes in / Just tell ’em we’re survivors
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
This song, as well as the whole album, was built on the theme of escapism, the imagery is that of a party at night. ”It’s a college anthem for people looking forward to escaping life’s pressures by going out and having a ball,” in an interview with Billboard magazine.
You are not yet finished. There is still a lot of fun to be experienced. If you have spent so long working, then retirement is the time for playing. In a nutshell, the song tells you that retirement isn’t a game over; there is still a night of fun to escape to.
Our favorite lines: I know that we’ll have a ball/ If we get down and go out/ And just lose it all/ I feel stressed and/ I wanna let it go
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
This popular song by Green Day is a farewell party staple. It features very simple instrumentation in the form a single guitar and violin. It captures the emotion of going through hard times with someone, remembering the good times, and hoping everyone involved has the time of their lives.
Our Favorite Lines: Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road /Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go / So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why / It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
Closing Time – Semisonic
Released in March 1998, it was the lead single from their album Feeling Strangely Fine. The song has a very literal meaning—being asked to leave a bar.
According to songwriter Dan Wilson, “It’s all about being born and coming into the world, seeing the bright lights, cutting the cord, opening up into something deeper and more universal.”
The lyrics resonate so well with retirement sentiments when you consider that it paints the picture of a new beginning, a new entrance when the old phase closes. This rhymes beautifully with the expectations of retirement and entering into a new phase of life.
Our favorite lines: Time for you to go out to the places you will be from/ Closing time/ This room won’t be open ’til your brothers or your sisters come/ So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits/ I hope you have found a friend/ Closing time/ Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end
Survivor – Destiny’s Child
This is a song by the American R&B group Destiny’s Child. The inspiration behind the song was that people expected the group to fail at a time when two members broke away. It was written as a defiant statement by the musical group that, no matter what, they are going to survive.
The lyrics express a powerful determination to succeed despite contrary expectations of people. This is a song that would resonate well with anyone just entering retirement. The collective sentiment that one will survive despite the contrary expectations of naysayers is the bonding element.
Our favorite lines: Now I dun’ been through the storm and the rain/ Climbed up the rough side and got tough at times/ But I remain, if I got the stuff to shine
Here’s to the Night – Eve 6
At the risk of getting too sappy, this song has the right feel to leave a whole room crying. If you’re looking for a super sentimental song, with all of the trappings of a tear-filled farewell, then this might be the perfect song. It perfectly captures the emotion that can come with starts a new chapter in life.
Our Favorite Lines: Here’s to the nights we felt alive / Here’s to the tears you knew you’d cry / Here’s to goodbye / Tomorrow’s gonna come too soon
Hall of Fame – The Script
This song by the Irish pop-rock band The Script is about achieving your goals and doing whatever you can to do what you want and be all that you can dare to be.
While it is a song meant to inspire all kinds of people, anyone just entering retirement would surely find the lyrics, particularly inspiring. The sweet and soul-stirring reminder that it is not over yet just because you are retired begins from its very first stanzas, which actually tells what the whole song is all about.
When listening to this song, just visualize yourself in the imaginary hall of fame while listening to the powerful inspirational lyrics.
Our favorite lines: ‘Cause there’s gonna be a day/ When your standing in the hall of fame/ And the world’s gonna know your name/ Cause you burn with the brightest flame
Funny Retirement Songs
No matter how serious the moment may be, there will always be people who prefer a touch of humor. My husband is one of those people. Below are a few funny retirement songs that will get a few laughs and possibly a few groans at the same time.
Everything Is Awesome – Teagan and Sara
This song was suggested by my kids as it comes from one of their favorite films, and I think it’s a fantastic addition. “Everything Is Awesome” is a catchy song that ironically does talk about life after a job (although in the song, the person is fired). Regardless, the catchy song is sure to get some laughs and provides a fast-paced moment of fun.
Our Favorite Lines: Have you heard the news? Everyone’s talking / Life is good ’cause everything’s awesome / Lost my job, there’s a new opportunity / More free time for my awesome community
Bye Bye Bye – NSYNC
While it might not be the most applicable song on this list word-for-word, I think that can be overlooked for the plain fact that the song almost seems to celebrate that you’re telling someone goodbye. If the celebrant has a great sense of humor and is a sucker for a catchy melody, then let Good Ol’ Justin Timberlake send your friend or colleague off!
Our Favorite Lines: So now it’s time to leave and make it alone / I know that I can’t take no more / It ain’t no lie / I wanna see you out that door / Baby, bye, bye, bye…
The Golden Girls Theme Song – Cindy Fee
There’s not much I can say about this wholesome song other than it was the opening theme for a well-beloved sitcom. The show holds a dear place in many peoples’ hearts and the irony of it being used in a retirement party is part of what makes it so funny.
(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes
While this song might be a staple on most of these kinds of lists, we’re including it in the “funny section” for one primary reason: the combination of being so over-used paired with its very sentimental nature makes it perfect for going overboard on something. This would be the perfect song to pair with a slideshow of funny pictures.
Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
While this song has had a resurgence of popularity due to the popular “Rick Roll” fad, this resurgence makes it perfect because people now hear this song and it triggers a “funny” response. 20 years ago, people wouldn’t have thought anything of this song, but now, watch the laughs roll in.
Saved By The Bell Theme Song
While this theme song might be talking about school, one can’t help but think that retirement is similar to the school bell ringing. Pair that with the fun, whimsical, and upbeat nature of the song and you’ve got a great addition to your retirement party song playlist!
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees
I completely love this song, but I had to put it in the “funny” section because it eludes to “staying alive.” It can be interpreted in a number of ways, such as retiring from work will save their life, or that they’re getting older and are just trying to stay alive. It all depends on the sense of humor that your celebrant has. Either way, it needed to be on this list.
U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
Few songs are so iconic as this one, but the overt confidence it has is part of why it’s a perfect song for this list. It’s a feel-good song that will have people laughing out of sheer nostalgia.
Best Retirement Songs for a Slideshow or Video
If you’re making a retirement slideshow or a retirement video, then here are some great songs that might fit the feeling you’re trying to create.
Photograph – Nickelback
Aside from the fact that this song is literally talking about photographs, it’s also a song about the past, memories, and nostalgia. It provides ample opportunities to include photos of the surrounding area and even some childhood photos if you have them.
Our Favorite Lines: We used to listen to the radio / And sing along with every song we know / We said, “Someday we’d find out how it feels / To sing to more than just the steering wheel”
Happy – Pharrell Williams
Taking a more upbeat angle, this song is perfect for an upbeat retirement slideshow. The lyrics are very neutral and provide plenty of opportunities to put in fun and happy highlights from years past.
Our Favorite Lines: Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof / Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth / Clap along if you know what happiness is to you / Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
The Laverne And Shirley Theme Song
The montage at the beginning of Laverne and Shirley is a perfect lost memory to dredge up in your slideshow. I think everyone remembers this show and the opening theme. It can add the perfect comic relief to a slideshow.
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
Going back to a more sentimental feel, this song is a song of well-wishing and hope. Perhaps the person won’t actually dance, but maybe their “dancing” in retirement is painting, traveling, or enjoying time with family. No matter what it is, we’re all hoping for the best for our celebrants in the future!
Our Favorite Lines: I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, / You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger, / May you never take one single breath for granted, / God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
Walking On Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
This song is perfect for an upbeat retirement video featuring happy memories and accomplishments. Include group photos of smiling faces and funny bloopers where possible. This feel-good song will bring a smile to everyone who sees it.
1999 – Prince
Prince’s 1999 anthem has been a staple of many parties and events. The song very much takes a “live for today because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed” tact. Who can argue? Why spend a retirement party feeling sad when you can party like it’s 1999?
Ending with a Bang
Retirement is indeed a great thing to celebrate. By being present at such a moment, we are giving the celebrant a powerful applause that will ring until the end, even when the party’s over. There is no greater way to tell them that their past labors have really been worth the while.
We hope any of the retirement songs above in our choice list will liven the occasion and ensure a truly unforgettable experience for everyone. More than anything else, retirees can look forward to their next phase in life with renewed hope and vigor.