It’s Father’s Day on Sunday. So, I came up with my own shortlist of classic tunes capturing some issues and the essence of fatherhood. These tracks, which are sure to hit close to home, perfectly encapsulate the power of a father’s love and or how we really feel about them, depending on our current relationship with our old man.
“Father And Son” (Cat Stevens, 1970)
Even if released as a B-side, this track gained popularity as the title alone made it relatable to boys at home with age-gap concern. Stevens, who changed his name to Yusuf Islam, said it’s “for people who can’t break loose.”
“Wild World” (Cat Stevens, 1970)
From the same singer-composer and album Tea for the Tillerman, this piece was actually written for actress Patti D ‘Arbanville, the singer’s ex-lover. Nevertheless, people can’t be stopped from thinking it’s about a father’s song to his young daughter. Thanks to the line “I’ll always remember you like a child, girl.”
“Cat’s In The Cradle” (Harry Chapin, 1974)
This song topped the US Billboard 100 in December 1974 and was inducted to Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. It’s about a father too busy for his son until he realizes he’s a grown man. The band Ugly Kid Joe reintroduced this classic to ‘90s kids.
“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” (John Lennon, 1980)
The ex-Beatle wrote this for his son Sean who was only five years old when he was killed. It included the famous line “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” attributed to him but was actually uttered, with slight alteration, by cartoonist Allen Saunders in a 1957 Reader’s Digest article. Paul McCartney, John’s songwriting partner who turns 78 today (June 18), was caught teary eyed listening to this song.
“Leader Of The Band” (Dan Fogelberg, 1981)
Fogelberg wrote it for his musician-father Lawrence who died in 1982, or long enough for him to still witness his “living legacy” become famous and release a tribute song for him.
“Papa Don’t Preach” (Madonna, 1986)
The music video showing the Mother of Reinvention in her blonde, short hair look apparently clashing with her on-screen dad reinforces her idea that it’s about “standing up to male authorities like my father and his conservative, patriarchal ways.” Well, she made up her mind and keeping her baby.
“Don’t Fade Away” (Acosta Russell, 1992)
The last track in A Little Direction album that also spawned their hit “Deep In My Soul,” it’s a song for anyone departing if not for the call-out “father” in the second chorus.
“Perfect” (Simple Plan, 2003)
The rock band’s drummer Chuck Comeau claimed that this song was his idea because he “can’t be perfect” in the eyes of his dad who disapproved of his ways. The song’s hurting voice sings that his father “used to be my hero.”
“Dance With My Father” (Luther Vandross, 2003)
The singer, with co-writer Richard Marx, penned this 21st century gem for his old man who died from diabetes when he was just seven. It won a Grammy Song of the Year just before he died. He and dad Luther Sr. must be dancing in heaven.
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