Some kids do actually take the day to show their fathers just how much they mean to them. The songs below lean towards this sentiment. To be fair, not all of them are necessarily about the best parts of Dad – but let’s be honest, some daddies are bad boys at heart.
1. “Like Father, Like Son” – Birdman & Little Wayne
From the album of the same title, not only is this song about the thuggish side of fatherhood, it’s also the only duet on the list. It makes a more powerful statement when both father and son are on the same track. By far and away the best song on the list to get crunk to.
2. “Pappa Was a Rolling Stone” – The Temptations
In the quintessential absentee father song, the ensemble vocals of the Temptations relate the story of a father’s death and miscreant life. It shows the dark side of being a rolling stone, making it more akin to Bob Dylan’s idea than, well, The Rolling Stones. There’s also fantastic instrumental work throughout the song.
3. “Cats in the Cradle” – Harry Chapin
That’s right, no list like this would be complete without this perennial “father to son” favorite. If father’s day has a carol, then this is it. You all know this song and are probably a little tired of hearing it, if not then play the video and you will be.
4. “Mockingbird” – Eminem
This is the other song on the list that’s written from a father to his kid, in this case his daughter. It’s also one of the most personal and heart felt songs. It’s less sentimental than “Cat’s in the Cradle” but more honest. If you are a girl, especially a girl whose parents are divorced, then you’ll have a tough time not crying to this one.
5. “Daughters” – John Mayer
In true troubadour fashion, Mayer sends out a call to all father’s, with daughters, in this song. Why? Because daughters will love like they do, and no one likes a daughter’s love more than John Mayer. Regardless of what you think about John Mayer, this song does make a good case for why a father’s love is important to young women.
6. “Papa Don’t Preach” – Madonna
A pensive Danny Aiello takes on the role “Papa” in the memorable video from this Madonna hit about a pregnant girl with nowhere else to turn. She’s made up her mind and she’s keeping her baby. This is the only song on this list that could also be on a Mother’s Day List. The song is noteworthy because of the subject matter – what’s more paternal than making sure your little girl doesn’t get pregnant too early?
7. “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore” – Loretta Lynn
This is maybe the most traditional father’s day song on the list, at least in terms of sentiment. Lynn recalls her father’s tough stoicism in the face of The Depression in the south. It’s a short tune that pays homage to paternal financial protection that would be welcome at any Father / Daughter Dance.
8. “Daddy’s Hands” – Holly Dunn
Expressing the same idea as Lynn is Holly Dunn with “Daddy’s Hands”. The difference being that it approaches fatherly care from a more dualistic viewpoint. That is, sometimes being a good father means being a stern disciplinarian. It’s a true slice of American blue collar family life and so cracks the top five of this list.
9. “Color Him Father” – The Winstons
This cool, proto-disco jam is about a child’s love for a caring, hardworking father. This song is heavy on how a father can guide his child to the important things in life, particularly education. It’s also the song on the list that really expresses love for a father by saying it out loud . . . the chorus says that a good father should be colored in love. A truly heartfelt shout-out.
10. “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare” – Gladys Night and The Pipps
How many of us can remember out father’s working on something around the house and cussing up a storm? This song is a great description of a father with maybe a little bit of short-man’s syndrome “Daddy only stood 5’7”, but he could swear. It’s a picture of a father not necessarily as a dad, but as a man. A part of fatherhood that sadly sometimes gets overlooked on father’s day.
11. “Winter” – Tori Amos
This song could also be included on top 10 list of songs with excellent personal imagery. It’s a gorgeous song about a father who wants his daughter to love herself as much as he loves her. There’s not much that can be said about this song – you just have to listen to it.
12. “Just Like You” – Lecrae
Ironically, this is a song from a man who never knew his biological father. No other song about fathers shows how much of an influence father figures can have on our lives, and how sometimes children have to pay for their father’s sins. Being a father is the most important job a man will ever have, so it needs to be done with heart, intelligence, and foresight.