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Songs about fathers

fathers day beerI don”t really care much for Mothers” Day or Fathers” Day, mostly because I”ve had neither mother nor father since I was 18. Still, as a father I damn well expect to get breakfast in bed today. High hopes”¦ Fathers” Day, of course, does bring to mind my late father, who died suddenly when I was 11. It has occurred to me that I am now at the same age he was when I was born, the fifth of his six children. He doubtless was far more mature than I am now. He probably wouldn”t have written blogs about moustaches in pop and the twattery of Michael Fucking Bolton. But then, I didn”t fight in World War 2, my brother did not die in war, my father was not persecuted by the Nazis, and I”ve never been widowed. Of course he was more mature than I will ever be.

My father was not quite an absentee father, but he was away a lot. The little time he had free, he needed to share between relaxation and a little socialising, wife, and, lastly, children. When he spent time with us, he was very loving, but there never wasn”t enough of him. I”ve learned from my father to make career sacrifices so that I could be a constant presence in my son”s life.

For a few years after my father died, I had occasional dreams that it was all a hoax; that he faked his death and was now coming to fetch us. About a decade after he died, I dreamt about him. He was hugging me, and I could smell him, a scent I had long forgotten (and never thought of). That was the last of my hoax dreams. In fact, twenty years or so on, I don”t think he has ever appeared in my dreams again.

Here then a few song about fatherhood, inspired by a recent series on the subject on the fine Star Maker Machine blog.


Everything But The Girl – The Night I Heard Caruso Sing.mp3idlewildNot so much a song about parental relations than one of despair and hope. Released on 1988’s Idlewild album, the singer notes that just where his father lives in Scotland, the military has set up a missile system. That persuades him that he does not want to be responsible for bringing a child into this ugly world. But then he comes across something of great beauty “” a recording of early 20th century opera singer Enrico Caruso “” and it changes his notion of fatherhood, about his unborn child and about being the child of a father. It is a very beautiful song from a desperately under-appreciated album.


Cardigans ““ Don”t Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds).mp3
cardigans_segThis quite brilliant 2005 track is an indictment of a really shitty father who seems to have abandoned his family. The song drips with bitterness and anger and sarcasm and a healthy shot of self-pity. “Your autograph”s worthless so don”t send me letters, and don”t mail me cash “cause your money is no good. What”s left in your mattress is holes that lack of love left, some hair from a horse and none of it is yours, man.” Somebody has Daddy Issues”¦


Loudon Wainwright III – A Father And A Son.mp3
loudonLoudon”s children, Rufus and Martha, evidently are not great fans of his parenting style, as we”ll see in the next song. Here, Loudon addresses his teenage son, recalling his own difficult relationship with his father, suggesting that volatile filial interactions are hereditary. He”d rather not fight with his son: “I don’t know what all of this fighting is for; but we”re having us a teenage/middle-age war.” Presumably father and son don”t hold back when screaming at each other. And yet: “This thing between a father and a son “” maybe it”s power and push and shove; maybe it”s hate”¦but probably it”s love.”


Martha Wainwright – Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole.mp3
martha_wainwrightPerhaps Loudon can persuade his son, but daughter is disenchanted. He has clearly caused Martha (and, it seems, her mother) so much pain that the breakdown in their relationship is complete: “I will not pretend, I will not put on a smile, I will not say I”m all right for you”¦” And then the repeated outburst: “You bloody mother fucking asshole. Oh you bloody mother fucking asshole.” No breakfast in bed for Loudon on Fathers” Day then?


Gladys Knight & The Pips – Daddy Could Swear, I Declare.mp3
gknightAh, a father after my own heart. A man of my height (what do you mean “only” 5″7, Gladys) who knows how to swear and a short fuse. But he loved his children. This song, from 1973″s Neither One Of Us album, should resonate with adult children remembering their father through the medium of anecdote: “Ooh, my brothers and sisters still talk about how Daddy lost his temper that day. You see, he built a picket fence from the garage to the house. Well, Sam, tell me what I say, the same day the garbage man backed into the fence and the whole darn thing gave way. You should have been there”¦”


Johnny Cash – Daddy Sang Bass.mp3
cash_stquentinThe family that sings together, stays together. Until somebody dies. Johnny Cash didn”t have a particularly happy family; his father blamed Johnny for the accidental death of his older brother. In this song, written by Carl Perkins, the family enjoys harmony, despite poverty. “Daddy sang bass, mama sang tenor. Me and little brother would join right in there.” Now, however, they”re all dead. Cash remembers the closeness and has the religious convictions to presume meeting them again in the afterlife: “Singing seems to help a troubled soul. One of these days, and it won”t be long, I”ll rejoin them in a song.” Cash died 34 years after recording the song at San Quentin jail.

  1. June 21st, 2009 at 13:54 | #1

    Nice post and happy Father’s Day, Dude. Hope you got that breakfast in bed.

  2. jumpinjack
    June 21st, 2009 at 14:44 | #2

    Thanks for the offers here. A few I don’t know. Not a Springsteen fan, huh?

  3. June 21st, 2009 at 15:09 | #3

    That’s a sad story, Dude.

    I’m sorry you missed out on an adult relationship with your parents, your Dad especially. I had a rough time with Dad as a kid, but my adult relationship with him has been nice – the best part.

    This is a great playlist. I love the Wainwright tracks. The Louden Wainwright song is magnificent – I love that guy!

  4. June 21st, 2009 at 20:22 | #4

    Frog Pajamas: not only did I not get breakfast in bed, but I had to cook lunch (lasagna, as you ask). Well, I volunteered, so I’m not much the victim of anti-Fathers’ Day sentiments.

    I was actually thinking of Independence Day, jumpin. And then forgot.

    Chris, that song in particular is a real Loudon favourite. That line “…maybe it’s hate, but probably it’s love” is just brilliant.

  5. Kevin Killion
    June 21st, 2009 at 23:22 | #5

    Some more songs for Fathers’ Day:

    Color Him Father — The Winstons
    A Boy Named Sue — Johnny Cash
    Love Without End, Amen — George Strait
    Father and Son — Cat Stevens
    If I Could Fart Like My Dad — Da Yoopers
    God Bless My Daddy — Dennis Pavao
    Patches — Clarence Carter
    Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone — Temptations
    Cleaning This Gun (Come on in Boy) — Rodney Atkins
    Papa Loved Mama — Garth Brooks
    Oh Daddy — Fleetwood Mac

  6. June 22nd, 2009 at 07:45 | #6

    Oh yes, some god picks there. To go with A Boy Named Sue, you’ll need Shel Silverstein’s sequel, Father Of A Boy Named Sue, which I posted a little while back: http://halfhearteddude.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/american-road-trip-vol-6/

  7. June 22nd, 2009 at 08:16 | #7

    I also like Boyzone’s remake of ‘Father and Son’. I forgot who the original singer was.

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