10 Great Songs for Father’s Day

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There’s no shortage of songs about dads. Fathers are always a popular theme in music—Clapton (“My Father’s Eyes”), Springsteen (“My Father’s House”), the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens (“Father and Son”) and Madonna (“Papa Don’t Preach”) have all penned popular tunes inspired by their dads. So with Father’s Day approaching this weekend, we present a list of 10 songs written by fathers, about fathers and/or for fathers.

What are you favorite songs about fathers? Leave them in the comment section below.

1. The Avett Brothers – “A Father’s First Spring”

“The realest thing I ever felt/ Was the blood on the floor and the love in your yell.” Scott Avett has been quoted as saying this song “wrote itself very quickly.” The song is about a young father’s perspective and how he is affected by the birth of his daughter.

2. Ben Folds – “Gracie”

“And there will always be a part of me/ Nobody else is ever gonna see but you and me/My little girl/ My Gracie girl.” Folds’ song “Gracie” appears on his 2005 album Songs for Silverman and was written about his daughter of the same name. Folds also wrote the song “Still Fighting It” for his son, Louis.

3. Colin Hay – “Dear Father”

“Dear Father” appears on Gathering Mercury, an album inspired and written after the death of Hay’s father. The song is an expressive letter to his dad, with the most poignant lyrics being, “Dear father I never got to say goodbye/I was singing on the River Clyde and I didn’t know.” The night his father died, Hay was performing a show on the River Clyde in Glasgow just streets away from where his father was born.

4. Drive-By-Truckers – “Outfit”

This blue-collar anthem was written by Jason Isbell as a gift for his dad. It is comprised of the humble advice his father, Mike, gave Isbell growing up and serves as a kind of instruction manual for life.

5. Martin Sexton – “Friends Again”

Unfortunately, not all father/child relationships are amiable. “Friends Again” was inspired by a rift Sexton had with one of his sons that has now been mended: “There’s a wall gone up between us, ten feet tall and ten feet wide/We can hear each other screaming, but can’t see the other side.” However, the song offers a glimmer of hope at the end: “But when the tidal wave of life rolls in I can only offer help/ I don’t know, some kind of compromise, maybe we could meet halfway/ I know we can be friends again.”

6. Peter Gabriel – “Father, Son”

The basis for this song came after a week-long yoga retreat with his father. Gabriel’s father, Ralph, had practiced yoga for 40 years; therefore, in an effort to get to know his father better, Gabriel rented a hotel room in the English countryside and hired a yoga instructor to join them. The shared emotional experience can be heard in the lyrics: “Father, son / Locked as one / In this empty room / Spine against spine / Yours against mine / Till the warmth comes through.”

7. Paul Simon – “Father and Daughter”

“I believe the light that shines on you will shine on you forever/ And though I can’t guarantee there’s nothing scary hiding under your bed/ I’m gonna stand guard like a postcard of a golden retriever/ And never leave ‘til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head.” Simon’s “Father and Daughter” was originally written as the theme song for the movie, The Wild Thornberrys. The song describes a father’s love for his daughter told from the father’s point of view.

8. Steve Earle – “Remember Me”

“I’m holdin’ your tiny hand in mine/ And god knows it ain’t gonna be any time
Before you’re grown/ But I wasn’t young when you come along/ And chances are long before that day comes/ My time in this sweet ol’ world’ll be done/ And I’ll be gone.” As an older father to a new son, Earle wrote the melancholy “Remember Me” for his youngest son, John Henry, because according to Earle he’s, “reached an age where I’m losing people…I probably in a lot of ways wrote this song because I had to because I felt like I need to leave something specific behind just in case.”

9. John Prine – “Paradise”

Prine wrote the nostalgic “Paradise” for his father so, “he would know I was a songwriter.” The song came about while Prine was in the army, stationed in Germany. Prine’s father sent him a newspaper clipping detailing how the town where Prine’s parents were from, was bought by a coal company, strip-mined, and left defunct. According to Prine he had to borrow a reel-to-reel machine to play the recording for his father, and when the song came on, his father went into the adjoining room and sat in the dark so he could pretend it was on a jukebox.

10. Horace Sliver – “Song for My Father”

It doesn’t get more clear-cut than this. Silver released this album by the same name in 1965. The album’s cover artwork features a picture of Silver’s father, John Tavares Silva, to whom the song was dedicated. It’s perhaps Silver’s best-known composition and has become an essential hard bop recording, having been covered by numerous well-known jazz musicians. Additionally, Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder borrowed parts of this song for their own hits.