BEST OF…. The Wonder Years

By Jason Swearingen

Welcome to Best Of… a playlist featuring the best tracks from certain artists picked by friends, readers and staff of Punktastic. This month on we have Jason Swearingen making us his ultimate playlist for The Wonder Years. 

In as short of a space as I have here, I’m not sure I can summarize how much The Wonder Years mean to me. I discovered the band with the release of 2011’s ‘Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing’, an album that grew on me like a barnacle on a ship’s hull. The record is captivating and lyrically astute, something that can’t really be said for much of the band’s earlier work. It seemed like lightning in a bottle. I doubted the band would capture my attention equally as strongly with their next effort, but I hoped they would.

When I first heard ‘The Greatest Generation’, for whatever reason, it didn’t stick. Looking back, I’m glad it didn’t, because when it hit me a few months later, at that point in my life, it was exactly what I needed. The record is a profound statement on maturation, family, mental illness and the nature of self. I spent months listening to little else, shouting every word through tears as I drove to work in the morning.

Recently, the first single for their new record, ‘No Closer To Heaven’, was released. ‘Cardinals’ already stands out as an epic yet raw look at brotherhood, responsibility and empathy. I listened to it over 50 times the day it was released.

One of the best things about being an avid, active fan of music is how it can, occasionally, shake you to your core. The Wonder Years, for reasons I could ruminate on for hours and still not quite quantify, do that for me like no other. Their songs vibrate at my particular emotional resonance frequency.

Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite songs of theirs. Instead of saying a little bit about each song, I’ve chosen instead to just quote some of my favorite lyrics from each track. Enjoy!

‘There, There’

“You’re just trying to read, but I’m always standing in your light. You’re just trying to sleep, but I always wake you up to apologize. I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times.”

‘And Now I’m Nothing’

“I had dreams of myself as the Allen Ginsberg of this generation, but without the talent, madness or vision. I guess it’s looking hopeless. We’re a city left digging out cars in unison and humming like we’ve healed.”


“So if you call me back or let me in, I swear I’ll never let you down again. I know the devil you’ve been fighting with. I swear I’ll never let you down again. We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers”

‘My Last Semester’

“I’m not sad anymore, I’m just tired of this place.”

‘Teenage Parents’

“My mother wore a sundress on the day that she got married. They held the wedding in a backyard near the city. I was just one then. I would never remember it, but I heard the voices and implications telling me who I could never be.”

‘Came Out Swinging’

“My heart keeps saying ‘stay young.’ My lower back seems to disagree.”

‘Dismantling Summer’

“I grew up on your back porch, and I watched the storms light up the clouds. They hung like paper lanterns to guide the way back toward your house. I’ve been putting off long flights hoping that you’ll be all right, and I’ll be there in the meantime.”

‘You Made Me Want to be a Saint’

“Because I can still hear you in the bass drum beat after ‘I’ll Catch You’.”

‘The Devil in My Bloodstream’

“So I searched through my great-grandpa’s memoirs for the devil in my bloodstream. Depression grabbed his throat and choked the life out of him slowly. I’ve got the same blood coursing through my veins, and it’ll come for me eventually.”

‘Local Man Ruins Everything’

“It’s not about forcing happiness; It’s about not letting sadness win.”


“I’m letting go. No we can’t keep out of trouble. I thought my kids would call you uncle. I thought we’d never be alone.”

‘Woke Up Older’

“Hey Jess, I woke up older carrying two years in the bags under my eyes. Hey Jess, I watched you wake up and get dressed. You left the room receded like my hairline.”

‘Living Room Song’

“We don’t have trouble sleeping. No one’s gonna take that away from me. We don’t have trouble sleeping. We know who we wanna be.”

‘I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral’

“Because I’m sick of seeing ghosts and I know how it’s all gonna end. There’s no triumph waiting. There’s no sunset to ride off in. We all want to be great men, and there’s nothing romantic about it. I just want to know that I did all I could with what I was given.”

If you want to submit your own Best Of… playlist for an artist send us an e-mail with what band and why.