See - not every youth is wasted
Andrew Trendell
12:57 3rd July 2015

What were you doing in your teens? At 13, most are awkwardly facing puberty head on whilst moping their way through school, by 18 you're spreading your wings and evolving into something between a reprobate, party animal and functioning member of society. Everything in between is just growing up, putting a full stop on childhood. Well, for some, they pave the way for future stardom by writing some incredible songs. 

This makes us feel pretty embarassed. While we were writing ring tones on our early Nokias, plucking up the courage to ask that girl in maths to the disco and failing our driving test, Muse, Lorde, Arctic Monkeys and Kate Bush were re-sculpting the world of music from their bedroom and garage. 

Here are 10 brilliant songs written by bands and artists in their youth. You see? Not every youth is wasted. 

  • Kate Bush - 'The Man With The Child In His Eyes', age 13: One of the singer's signature songs, the hauntingly beautiful track was released as her second single in 1978, but was written six years earlier when Bush was just 13. In 2010, her first boyfriend Steve Blacknell claimed the song was written about him. [Photo: John Carder Bush]

  • Alex Turner - 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco', age 18: One of the first demos recorded by Arctic Monkeys, frontman Alex Turner probably recorded this track in 2004, when he was roughly 17-18 years old. It ended up on the Sheffield band's seminal debut, and Turner was promptly proclaimed one of the best songwriters of his generation.

  • Matt Bellamy, 'Sober', age 18: This whiskey-referencing track ended up on a very early demo of Muse's, titled The Newton Abbot demo. Bellamy was just 18 at the time. Three years later, it appeared on Muse's debut album, Showbiz.

  • Stevie Wonder - 'Uptight (Everything's Alright)', age 15: Signed to a label at the age of 11, the soul legend's first hit didn't come until five years later, with the now-iconic 'Uptight'. It was released in 1966 and peaked at No 3 on the Billboard chart - a lucky break for the musician, who had previously been in danger of being dropped from his label.

  • Paul McCartney - 'I'll Follow The Sun', age 18: This ballad, originally recorded in 1960, was recorded by The Beatles in 1964 and has become something of a cult favourite amongst fans. The song's theme centres on a man who feels unappreciated by his partner. 'I'll Follow The Sun' is credited as written by Lennon-McCartney, but was penned solely by McCartney.

  • A Tribe Called Quest - 'Can I Kick It?', age 19: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed recorded what would become one of the most iconic, influential songs in hip hop in 1989, when they were just 19. The track would become their signature song and become a massive commercial hit for the group.

  • Nicky Wire - 'Motorcycle Emptiness', age 18: An evolved hybrid of early Manics demos 'Go, Buzz Baby, Go' and 'Behave Yourself Baby', the band take great pride in penning this song at such a young age. It has gone on to become a staple Manics classic and one of the most recognisable songs ever - due to James Dean Bradfield's iconic guitar riff and the brilliantly cutting and poetic lyrics of Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards.

  • Billie Joe Armstrong - 'Going To Pasalacqua', age 16-17: This punky, early Green Day track appeared on the band's first collection of demos, 1991's 1,039/Smoothed Out Happy Hours. Recording sessions begun in 1988, when frontman Armstrong was just 16.

  • Ray Charles - 'Confession Blues', age 19: Recorded alongside The Maxin Trio, Charles had his first hit with this, jazzy, rhythm and blues track which peaked at No 2 on the Billboard R&B Charts in 1949. Four years later, he would release his first signature hit, 'Mess Around'.

  • Lorde - 'Royals', age 15: The most recent track on this list, New Zealand star Ella Yelich-O'Connor penned this track when she was just 15. A year later, it would make her a global superstar - and showcase an intimidating, wise-beyond-her-years talent.


Photo: Press