My Father’s Son: The Top 10 Songs About Fathers

Father and SonMay 3rd was my beloved father’s birthday. He’s in China due to work (my family’s a bit scattered around the globe), so I wasn’t able to celebrate with him, but we talked on the phone, and he seems to be in good spirits. He’s a good, good man, and I’m honored to have half of my genetic material passed down from him.

His birthday got me thinking about songs that deal with father-son or father-daughter relationships in the lyrics. So here now, I present you the Top 10 Songs About Fathers. Brace yourself; it ain’t a pretty picture.

10. No Son of Mine – Genesis (The son gets sick of watching his dad beat up his mom and runs away. Hoping his dad learned a lesson, the son comes back only to find the dad–an asshole to the end–refusing to take him back. “He sat me down to talk to me. He looked me straight in the eyes. He said, ‘You’re no son, no son of mine.”)

9. The Saddest Song – The Ataris (The son grew up without a father. It sucked. “I remember waiting for you to come, remember waiting for you to call, remember waiting there for nothing at all”)

8. Family Portrait – Pink (The daughter knows her father is leaving the family and begs him to stay. “I’ll be so much better. I’ll do everything right. I’ll be your little girl forever.”)

7. Kenji – Fort Minor (The son tells the story of his father, a Japanese-American forced into an internment camp during WWII. “These people had trashed every room, smashed in the windows and bashed in the doors. Written on the walls and the floor, ‘Japs not welcome anymore.’ And Kenji dropped both of his bags at his sides and just stood outside. He looked at his wife without words to say.”)

6. Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance (In true John Hughes style, the father overwhelms his son with his expectations and demands. “Son when you grow up, will you be the saviour of the broken, the beaten and the damned?”

5. Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna (Madonna’s written about her dad more than any other artist. Interestingly, the lyrics to this one–her most effective daddy tale sung from a pregnant teen’s point of view–wasn’t written by her at all. “You always taught me right from wrong. I need your help, Daddy, please be strong.”

4. Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross (The father died at a young age. The son remembers how he and his mother grieved. Luther’s subtle performance makes the song that much more gut-wrenching. “I know I’m praying for much too much. But could you send back the only man she loved? I know you don’t do it usually. But dear Lord she’s dying to dance with my father again.”)

3. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman (The father’s an alcoholic. The daughter quits school and works to support him, even while she desperately wants to escape. “You see, my old man’s got a problem. He lives with the bottle, that’s the way it is. He says his body’s too old for working. I say his body’s too young to look like his.”)

2. In Living Years – Mike & the Mechanics (The grown son’s father dies. Then the son has a son of his own. It all comes full circle.

“I wasnt there that morning
When my father passed away
I didnt get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years”

Amazing stuff.)

Dad1. On Your Porch – Format (The song just slays me. The father’s sick. The son can’t handle it. The father tells him, “Don’t worry about me. Just go out into the world and make your dreams come true.” Oh, man, the tears just come, typing this stuff.

“Well, my dad was sick,
My mom she cared for him,
FormatHer loving nursed him back to life,
And me, I ran, I couldn’t even look at him,
For fear I’d have to say goodbye,
And as I start to leave,
He grabs me by the shoulder and he tells me,

“Whats left to lose? You’ve done enough,
And if you fail then you fail but not to us,
‘Cause these last three years,
I know they have been hard,
But now it’s time to get out of the desert and into the sun,
Even if it’s alone.”

Oh, Dad. I love you. Please don’t ever, ever die… Happy birthday! –Love, Tommy)

One Response to My Father’s Son: The Top 10 Songs About Fathers

  1. […] Format’s “On Your Porch” as the best song ever about father-son relationships (https://tommylander.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/my-fathers-son-the-top-10-songs-about-fathers/) . I definitely stand by that, and I’ve just found a student film with it on Youtube. The guy […]

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