For many of us, dad is the guy that shows us how to do things and reenforce mom with disciplinary action if necessary. Growing up, my dad would take my brother and I with him on his job sites. Dad makes a living with his hands as a general contractor. Over the past two decades I’ve learned how to mow lawns, make concrete sidewalks, build a landscape, paint, operate skid steers, string a hook on a fishing line, and many other useful skills a man should have.
One of the most indelible memories I have is riding shotgun in one of the several pick-up trucks he owned throughout my youth. I can’t deny that to some extent, his musical tastes was an influential starting place for my own tastes. George Strait, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Seger and Creedence Clearwater Revival are all artists that I first heard from inside the cab of a Chevy with my dad driving.
If you’re looking to get into the mood for this Father’s Day, check out our top 10 songs about dad. The good, the bad; it’s all about dad. Check these songs out on the music rental service, Spotify if you’d like. You’re likely to find several other songs not mentioned here.
“Cat’s in the Cradle” – Harry Chapin (1974)
The grand-champion of all dad-related anthems. Chapin’s biggest hit buzzed through 70s radio sets on a daily basis. The story comes from the perspective of a dad who is always on the run, going to work and missing out on his child’s upbringing. Suddenly one day dad has the time, but the son has become a dad himself.
“Love Without End, Amen” – George Strait (1991)
When we did something bad and mom threatened to tell dad about it when he got home, we all cowered in our bedroom awaiting the moment dad walked in the door. Strait’s seminal hit shows that dad’s understand you’ll make mistakes, but will love you no matter what.
“Release” – Pearl Jam (1991)
A cathartic exercise for lead singer, Eddie Vedder–who poured out this emotional track to close out the mega-hit album. Never knowing his real father, Vedder’s lyrics seem to reflect a sense of “releasing” all negative feelings and ill thoughts regarding his biological father by writing this love letter to him.
“A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash (1969)
Not all relationships with dad are good, as displayed in this comical rendition of a Shel Silverstein poem. Sue never knew his father, but resented the man for naming him after a girl. He got his revenge in a knock-down fight in a bar in Gatlinburg, TN. Great message.
“Old Man” – Neil Young (1972)
When you’re young, you often think you’re different than your father until one day, you’re old and realize you and dad aren’t all that different after all. The old man was once like the young man, how easy we forget.
“Someday Never Comes” – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1972)
CCR’s last top 40 hit came in the form of a bittersweet reprisal to a father who can’t guarantee quality time with his children due to divorce. Sung from dad’s perspective, he warns the son to enjoy the time we have together now because we don’t know how long we have on this earth.
“Factory” – Bruce Springsteen & the E Street band (1978)
Springsteen evokes the spirit of the common man. Dedicated to his blue-collar dad, Bruce gives a fitting tribute. Springsteen told Rolling Stone: “When I went to work, I really went to work in my dad’s clothes, and it became a way, I suppose, that I honored him and my parents’ lives, and a part of my own young life. And then it just became who I was.”
“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” – The Temptations (1972)
This long-play funk track lays the law down. One of The Temptations’ last hit singles lays down a killer groove and provides some humor about three boys asking their mom about the dad they never met. Each get a different response.