With so many great songs written by fathers and for fathers, it’s not easy finding which ones should make our Top 5.
Depending on how a relationship with a father or a son or daughter and the circumstances that affect them, the choices does take on a very personal meaning for each concerned party.
There’s Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” which, while not exactly about his daughter Natalie, automatically became about both of them when her voice was mixed with his 1961 recording to create the 1991 Grammy-winning duet.
“Sunrise, Sunset”, the classic show tune from “Fiddler On The Roof”, is about a father singing about how fast his children have become grown-ups, while Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” is about a daughter begging her father to support her teenage pregnancy.
And while other songs like Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven”, Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle”, Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader Of The Band”, Will Smith’s “Just The Two Of Us”, and The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” are just as deservingly worthy of this list and should certainly mean more to others, each of the following selections represents a different way of recognizing the most important day of the most important man in our lives.
5. “DANCE WITH MY FATHER” BY LUTHER VANDROSS
A moving tribute to Vandross’ late father who passed away when he was only seven, the song recalls a fond childhood memory of the singer’s father dancing with his mother. Covered by many artists, the song recently became a highlight reel for Jessica Sanchez after she knocked it out of the park with a performance dedicated to her own father, a US Navy serviceman about to be stationed in Singapore.
Best line: “If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him, I’d play a song that would never end.”
Here’s Jessica performing the song with her father beside her on board the USS Midway:
4. “ISN’T SHE LOVELY?” BY STEVIE WONDER
The six-minute version of this R & B classic from 1976 begins with the cry of a newborn child as Stevie celebrates the birth of his daughter Aisha and asking all of us who can see her the touching title question.
The song ends with the sound of an older Aisha now playing in the shower with her dad. As Creed would later echo in “With Arms Wide Open,” there are no words to describe the joy of becoming a first-time dad.
Best line: “I can’t believe what God has done, through us he’s given life to one. But isn’t she lovely made from love?”
Here’s Stevie performing this live in Japan:
3. “BEAUTIFUL BOY (DARLING BOY)” “BY JOHN LENNON
Similar in theme to “Isn’t She Lovely” but this time referring to a son instead of a daughter, the loving tribute by the former Beatle to offspring Sean was recorded shortly before his untimely demise.
It describes how a father comforts his son after the latter just had a bad dream. It’s paternal bonding at its best as only Lennon can thoughtfully conjure it.
Best line: “Close your eyes, have no fear. The monster’s gone, he’s on the run and your Daddy’s here.”
Here’s the music video for “Beautiful Boy”:
2. “FATHER AND SON” BY CAT STEVENS
In an interview, Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) describes his 1970 folk-rock classic as “for those who can’t break loose”.
A variation on the well-known biblical parable of The Prodigal Son, the song is an interchange between an older and wiser father and his rebellious, free-spirited son as sung by Stevens in his unforgettable lower and higher registers.
Best line: “I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy to be calm when you’ve found something going on.”
Here’s a 1976 live performance of “Father and Son”:
1. “FLESH AND BLOOD” BY WILSON PHILLIPS
Although only a minor hit for the vocal trio who were at peak of their popularity in the early ’90s, it has since become an anthem for anyone who grew up with an absentee father.
The song is a heartfelt plea from Wendy and Carnie Wilson to their estranged dad, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, whose mental illness kept them apart for years.
Chynna Phillips could very well relate to the song as she also had to deal with an absentee father of her own in Mama’s And The Papa’s founder John Phillips.
Best line: “You can get through there’s nothing stopping you from getting to us. No one can take away the fact that we’re only flesh and blood.”
Here’s the music video for “Flesh and Blood”: