Still too busy to write new Top Tens... but fortunately, I stashed a few away in reserve before our new arrival.
Having a son has made me think a lot about being a father, and about my own father and everything he's done for me. These ten songs put those emotions into words I could never write...
(There are lots of father / son records that do mention the F or S word in the title. We'll get back to those.)
10. Dan Fogelberg - Leader of the Band
Big member of the Dan Fogelberg Appreciation Society right here.
My life has been a poor attempt9. Paul McCartney - Put It There
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.
Those of you who know about the love/hate relationship I have with Sir Thumbsaloft might be surprised to find this one here, yet I always found it to be one his most affecting solo records, based on some wacky old Liverpudlian expression his dad used to come out with.
8. Brad Paisley - He Didn't Have To Be
Brad's first American Number One tells the story of a boy's respect for his stepfather, hoping that when he himself becomes a father, he can be "at least half the dad he didn't have to be". I always presumed this was autobiographical, but iffypedia tells me it's actually about one of Paisley's friends and his son.
7. Mike & The Mechanics - The Living Years
Mike & The Mechanics were an appealing prospect in that they were basically latter-day Genesis minus Phil Collins, with added Paul Carrack. Which is a win-win situation in anybody's book. This is their biggest hit, a heartstring tugger about a son who regrets his fractious relationship with his father once the old man has passed.
6. Nizlopi - JCB Song
Something of a novelty hit, this relies heavily on 80s pop culture references (Zoids, Transformers, BA Baracus and Toberlone) to catch the attention of blokes of a certain age... i.e. me. And although not all our dads will have driven a JCB, many of us can remember a time when we thought our Dad was Bruce Lee...
5. David Gates & Bread - Everything I Own
Yes, I used to think this was just another song about a man pining for a woman too. Puts a whole new slant on it when you realise it's about a son missing his late father...
I would give everything I own4. Bruce Springsteen - Walk Like A Man
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again
Bruce has written a number of songs about his father and my immediate thought for this list was My Hometown in which he rides around town on his dad's lap (no car seats in them days!). But this one gets me in the back of the throat from the opening line...
I remember how rough your hand felt in mine3. Billy Bragg - Tank Park Salute
On my wedding day...
A young boy confronts his own mortality... and that of his father.
I accepted the commiserationsAnd if you think that's a tearjerker... try this:
Of all your friends and your relations
But there's some things I still don't understand
You were so tall
How could you fall?
2. Shirley Lee - The Reservoir
I've written about this song many times before, I'm sure I'll write about it again. Shirley's heartfelt tribute to his late father: it never fails to reduce me to tears. If you can spare the time to listen to it, I challenge you to reach the end without filling up. All the way to the end. Don't say I didn't warn you.
1. Harry Chapin - Cat's In The Cradle
"Frankly," says Harry Chapin in his live introduction, "this song scares me to death."
It's certainly a lesson to busy fathers everywhere...
Which song reminds you of your father?