Compiling a playlist for Father’s Day is more demanding a task when compared to its Mother’s Day counterpart.
Music history is littered with songs about father issues, from the Temptations’ “Papa was a Rolling Stone” to Everclear’s “Father of Mine.” Even “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Harry Chapin’s evergreen classic, seems to come from the perspective of a father who missed all of his son’s important milestones.
However, after sifting through a lot of songs that head in the wrong direction, here’s a list of songs that for the most part fit the bill.
Paul Simon – “Father and Daughter” (2002) Later winding up on his 2006 album, “Surprise,” this song actually first appeared in of all places, “The Wild Thornberrys Movie.” On this track, Simon sings a lullaby to a young daughter: “I’m gonna watch you shine. / Gonna watch you grow. / Gonna paint a sign so you always know. / As long as one and one is two. / There will never be a father who loves his daughter more than I love you.” It is genuine and sweet without getting syrupy.
Cat Stevens – “Father and Son” (1970) An old father passes down advice to his son for a calm, happy life, telling him to know when to “take it easy,” “take your time” and “settle down.” These words seem to be delivered with the kind of wisdom of someone saying goodbye. There’s a somber, scholarly sense to this song, as if Stevens is dispensing a rulebook for content survival in a complex world.
Future Islands – “A Song for our Grandfathers” (2014) Continuing in the semi-supernatural vein, this interestingly soulful synth-pop standout from Future Islands is packed with ethereal magic as lead singer Samuel T. Herring contemplates something immense while declaring, “I feel safe. / Grandfather looking over me.” He ponders generations worth of advice.
Beyoncé - “Daddy Lessons” (2016) Combining Southern jazz traditions and some uncharacteristic stabs at country, this ode to her Texas upbringing is a clear standout on the singer's 2016 album, “Lemonade.” Here Beyoncé recasts herself as a gunslinger in a somewhat campy classic Western mold, perhaps fusing her real parental guidance with some fictional embellishments. When she sings “Daddy made a soldier out of me,” you believe her.
John Lennon – “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” (1980) If there is a song that probably best captures the joy of fatherhood, it is John Lennon’s ode to his son, Sean. On this whimsical, Japanese-flavored groove, Lennon sounds relaxed and gleeful while singing Sean to sleep. When he croons, “I can hardly wait to see you come of age. / But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient,” it tugs at your heartstrings.