Top 10... - June 15, 2014

What Are The 10 Best Songs About Fathers?
by Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

What Are The 10 Best Songs About Fathers?

In case you’ve not walked past a shop window in the past month, then it’s Father’s Day today, the annual day where people take the time to celebrate all the good their Dads do. It’s not quite Mother’s Day, it’s nothing like Christmas, but it’s still a nice occasion. So, to celebrate in our own unique way, we thought we’d put together the 10 best songs about fathers. Some of them are nice, some of them are not very nice, some are a bit of both.

One ground rule, these are all tracks that the composers have acknowledged as being about a father, not just songs with Dad in the title…

(You can check out all the songs in our digital store by clicking on the title, with the exception of Number 10)


10. Jay-Z – ‘Glory’

Written by the rapper just days after the birth of his first child Blue Ivy Carter, this is Jay in an oddly reflective and understandably loved up mood. ‘My greatest creation was you’, he even coos at one point, it’s a rare bit of intimacy from a rapper who normally brings only bravado.


9. Dan Fogelberg – ‘Leader Of The Band’

The much loved and much missed songwriter had his biggest hit in 1981 with ‘Leader Of The Band’, a loving tribute to his late father Lawrence, a musician, and, as you might expect, a band leader. It’s serene, sweet and still sounds just as good.


8. Johnny Cash – ‘Boy Named Sue’

This isn’t a personal song by Cash about his father, but a damn good one story about another man. In this track, a young man decides to seek revenge on his father, who’s only contribution to his life has been giving him the name ‘Sue’, which has brought himself constant ridicule. After tracking his father down, the two proceed to brawl for hours, but there is, luckily a happy ending…


7. Will Smith – ‘Just The Two Of Us’

For his 1998 album Big Willie Style, Smith sampled Bill Withers’ classic track and turned it into a poignant track about a day hanging out with his son. Later, Smith even wrote a children’s book with the same title…


6. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Independence Day’

Taken from Springsteen’s classic album The River, this is a heartbreaking lament about a boy who discovers that his relationship with his father is fundamentally broken and it’s time for him to leave home and make his own way in the world. Stirring stuff.


5. Alice In Chains – ‘Rooster’

Rooster was the nickname given to Alice In Chains’ guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s father by his comrades in Vietnam and was written by the axeman for his Father, as he hoped to repair their relationship. Cantrell spoke openly years later and revealed that his father cried the first time he heard the band play it live and how much it still moves him.


4. Pearl Jam – ‘Alive’

The story behind ‘Alive’ is a very complex one. It’s not all that well known, but three Pearl Jam songs from their hugely successful record Ten are actually a trilogy. ‘Alive’, ‘Once’ and ‘Footsteps’.

‘Alive’ tells the story of a young man who suddenly discovers that his father is actually his stepfather. Things then get even weirder, when his mother’s grief leads to an incestuous relationship with her son, who looks a tremendous amount like his biological father.  

In ‘Once’, the man then descends into madness and goes on a killing spree, with the final chapter ‘Footsteps’ finding the man in a prison cell awaiting his execution.

The song was particularly personal for Eddie Vedder, who himself had discovered as a teenager that his father was in fact his step father and his real father was dead. Fortunately the other parts are pure fiction…


3. Madonna – ‘Papa Don’t Preach’

This one is the spikiest of the lot and the most controversial. Taken from her 1986 True Blue album, this opens up about a young girl who falls pregnant and refuses to give the baby up, despite what her Dad tells her. Driven by a jarring string section and funky bassline, this remains one of Madonna’s best moments.


2. The Temptations – ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’

As soul and motown goes, this is one of its bitterer classics. Most famously recorded by The Temptations in 1972, this is the story of a deadbeat dad who drifts from town to town, always borrowing money and generally being no use to anyone. As the songs goes “When he died, all he left us was alone…”


1. Cat Stevens – ‘Father And Son’

There could be no other Number One. This remains one of the most moving songs ever written and has the most bizarre beginnings. Originally written for a musical named Revolussia, which Stevens dreamed up with actor Nigel Hawthorne. The song tells the story of a boy who wanted to join the revolution in Russia against the wishes of his father, but, it’s also one of the most memorable and emotive pop songs ever written.


A number of great Fathers Day offers are running in hmv stores all over the UK, drop in to your local store to check them out. 

The River
The River Bruce Springsteen

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