Sunday, 22 September 2013

My Top Ten Father & Son Songs... That Don't Mention Fathers or Sons In The Title

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 attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.
9. Paul McCartney - Put It There

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 own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again
4. Bruce Springsteen - Walk Like A Man

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 mine
On my wedding day...
3. Billy Bragg - Tank Park Salute 

A young boy confronts his own mortality... and that of his father.
I accepted the commiserations
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?
And if you think that's a tearjerker... try this:

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?


  1. Not sure if it suits but Kate Bush's The Fog is about parenthood... the hardest part, letting your kids go out into the world and letting them take a risk whilst being in the background, waiting, should they need you.

    1. The Divine Ms. B. appears to have written a number of great songs about parenting.

  2. That was your mother, Paul Simon 'before you was born dude, when I was still single and life was great" LOL.....ah ok then, a bit harsh, how about

    "Just the two of us" Will Smith. Lovely song.

    1. Ah, K: how soon you forget...

    2. Oh my! I wonder if they were both in my mind because of reading that, frankly I am put in this comment section to #fail.

      I would retire gracefully but one day I might catch a pearler!

  3. Hi, hope you are surviving the early days Ok..
    I love your choice of number one, but beyond that, I am struggling to come up with some others that fit the theme.

    Maybe A Boy Named Sue? for a slightly more dysfunctional relationship.

    1. A Boy Named Sue will get his time in the sun... very soon!

  4. THat's a great list...not a cobweb on show. I might throw in Foo Fighters, My Hero...which strictly speaking may not be relevant, but it's a great song and every father should be their kid's hero (at least for the pre-teen years)

    1. At which point, the son swaps My Hero for You're An Embarrassment?


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