We celebrate Father’s Day this month not just with tacky new neckties or economy-sized packs of whitey tighties, but through the power of music, songs written by loving dads that amplify the father-child bond. We’ve included dads of all stripes — chart toppers from decades past to local songwriters who’ve shared with us the unique stories behind songs to their kiddos.
"Kooks," David Bowie
David Bowie, in his mid-20s, wrote this Hunky Dory gem about his son Duncan Jones. This song captures what it’s like to begin your relationship with your child, and hoping that they are all right with living life with you and your partner, who you are simply madly in love with. After all, isn’t that what this whole love, marriage and baby carriage thing is all about?
"Will you stay in our lovers' story?
If you stay you won't be sorry
'Cause we believe in you
Soon you'll grow so take a chance
With a couple of kooks
Hung up on romancing."
"Still Fighting It," Ben Folds
This love anthem from singer-songwriter Ben Folds to his young son Louie gives parents of babies, especially, all the warm feelings, because we want to freeze time. Our babies still crawl, toddle and babble. But they do eventually grow up, and whether we like it or not, will take after us in some form or another.
"Good morning, son
Twenty years from now
Maybe we'll both sit down
And have a few beers
And I can tell
You 'bout today
And how I picked you up
And everything changed."
"Tears In Heaven," Eric Clapton
A lot of parents outlive their children, and it’s important that they have songs they can play for themselves when they need to grieve. Eric Clapton wrote “Tears in Heaven” after his 4-year-old son Conor fell from a high-rise apartment. In the song, Clapton asks his son if he’d know him in Heaven.
"Would you know my name
If I saw you in Heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in Heaven?"
"Beautiful Boy," John Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono had one son together, Sean. And the late Beatles star wrote a beautiful song about Sean titled, well, "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)." It follows the sentiment of knowing your child will one day outgrow you, so you’re better off appreciating their little moments of kisses and hugs than dwelling on the tantrums and long nights.
"Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's here."
"Forever Young," Bob Dylan
This is a fun song that you can share with your child pretty early on. Bob Dylan wrote it as a lullaby for his son Jesse, and I think all parents can appreciate the sentiment here; we all want our kids to grow up happy and healthy and make the right choices.
"May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you."
"Here For You," Neil Young
This is a great love song to dedicate to a child who may be heading to college or moving away. Neil Young wrote this bittersweet tune to highlight the importance of being present for your children, while also allowing them their own space to grow and figure out the world.
"In the spring, protective arms surrounding you
In the fall, we let you go your way
Happiness I know will always find you
And when it does, I hope that it will stay."
"Isn’t She Lovely," Stevie Wonder
This Stevie Wonder classic begins with a bath-time recording of his daughter Aisha and continues with Wonder’s fascination of his new baby. Seemingly written within minutes of her birth, it’s a true testament to how it feels to create something you think is perfect with the person you love.
"Isn't she pretty?
Truly the Angel's best
Boy, I'm so happy, We have been heaven blessed."
"CLP," E.B. The Younger
Midlake frontman and local songwriter Eric Pulido wrote a song for his son Conrad Lee on his album To Each His Own under the moniker E.B. The Younger. The song title comes from Conrad's initials, and Pulido wrote the song when his son was 2 years old. "Lyrically, I wanted it to have an ‘Us versus the world’ sentiment and just celebrate that time in his life and my love for him," he says. "I hope he always cherishes this tune like I do."
"Even when you’ve fallen
And we’ll pave a way."
"Mountains, Oceans and Elephants," John Singer Sargeant
Local musician John Dufilho has written a lot of music, and played in a lot of bands (including Deathray Davies and CLIFFS). But under the name John Singer Sergeant, he called on the help of Ben Kweller for a song about Dufilhlo’s daughter June. Of the song, he says: “Most everything else in life seemed kind of trivial in comparison, after my daughter came along.” We think most parents can understand that.
"Mountains, oceans and elephants
The sky the sun and the moon
Mountains, oceans and elephants
And my heart for June."
"Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)," Billy Joel
Billy Joel wrote the melody of this tune originally in the style of a Gregorian chant. He later added lyrics describing a man who had lost his faith. But after hearing the final recording, changed the song up completely and instead added lyrics inspired by his daughter Alexa Ray Joel.
"Goodnight my angel,
now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be."
"Baby Boy," Childish Gambino
Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino, wrote this song when he first became a father in 2016. He was in a rocky relationship with his newborn son’s mother, and wrote lyrics that reflected his insecurities of potentially not being able to see him in the future.
"I've never lied about us
We were never supposed to be together
When you see me with some other one
And they know your son
Oh, please don't take him away
You said you won't but you will."
"Hey Jude," The Beatles (Paul McCartney)
Topping the pop charts for nine weeks, this Beatles gem — which was the band’s first single on their own record label, Apple — was written by Paul McCartney to John Lennon’s son Julian. Originally titled “Hey Jules,” McCartney is said to have written it as a means to comfort Julian after his father left his mother for artist Yoko Ono, offering a positive outlook on the situation at hand, and to encourage Julian to take every opportunity to pursue the one he loves.
"Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better."
"Best Parts of Me," The Motel Pines (Michael Carrasco)
Local songwriter Michael Carrasco of the band The Motel Pines wrote this sad but beautiful tune not only about his own child, but his mother and wife. Each verse describes his point of view as a son, a husband and a father. His mother died after years of suffering from a then-unknown disease, and Carrasco subsequently suffered from depression. His new marriage was on the rocks, and eventually, he and his wife had a daughter. Carrasco says the arrival changed everything, and eventually he and his wife worked through their differences. “If [Amri] hadn’t been born, I truly believe I would have committed suicide many years ago,” he says.
"I’ve never felt so whole as when I hold you
And you must believe me when I tell you this is true
I owe you my life."
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"All My Life," K-Ci & JoJo
Joel "JoJo" Hailey of the brotherly duo K-Ci & JoJo wrote "All My Life," which topped the charts back in 1998. The song, which was the group’s only number one hit, was inspired by JoJo’s daughter, but was commercially advertised as a romance ballad.
"All my life, I've prayed for someone like you
And I thank God that I, that I finally found you
All my life I've prayed for someone like you
Yes, I pray that you do love me too."