The top father songs can be about a son or daughter’s fond remembrances of growing up, bittersweet songs of regret or loss, or a father’s promises of devotion to a child.
Quite often, though, they are grudging but grateful admissions from children who thought their father was too hard on them but realized later it was for the best.
10) ‘Father to Son’ Phil Collins
In this ballad — from 1989’s ‘…But Seriously’ — the former Genesis frontman portrays a father giving his son advice, as the young man pursues the girl of his dreams. To end his song, Collins lovingly tells his son, “Remember what I said / I’ll always be with you, don’t forget / Just look over your shoulder, I’ll be there.”
09) ‘Just the Two of Us’ Will Smith
The former “Fresh Prince” shows a more serious side on this father song from his first solo album, 1997’s ‘Big Willie Style.’ Smith recasts Bill Withers’ romantic love song of the same name into a vow of devotion to his son Trey, who appeared in the video. His second son, Jaden, stars in the 2010 remake of ‘The Karate Kid.’
08) ‘Seein’ My Father in Me’ Paul Overstreet
Perhaps best known as a songwriter to country music stars, Overstreet also recorded many hit singles of his own, including this one from 2005’s ‘Forever and Ever Amen.’ Over a gentle country shuffle, he recounts a family reunion — which revealed how much of his father he sees in himself, despite his best efforts to rebel earlier in life.
07) ‘My Father’s Eyes’ Eric Clapton
This R&B-influenced track from Clapton’s 1998 album ‘Pilgrim’ deals with two significant deaths in the guitar legend’s life: The 1985 passing of his father, who he had never met, and the tragic 1991 death of his son Conor. He comforts himself with the thought that he did, in fact, meet his father, through the eyes of his son.
06) ‘The Best Day’ Taylor Swift
In perhaps the top father song in recent years, young Swift recounts the years of her life, remembering the love and support from her father. Whether she was five and riding on tractors, or 13 and dealing with schoolyard fights, she could count on him to make it “the best day” as long as they were together.
05) ‘Song for Dad’ Keith Urban
In this uptempo foot-stomper from 2002’s ‘Golden Road,’ Urban recalls thinking his dad was too tough on him as a child. However, now that Urban’s grown into his own man, he realizes his father was just pushing him to be everything he could be — and hopes he can continue to see more and more of his father in himself.
04) ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ Harry Chapin
Sometimes the best father songs are cautionary tales, like this classic from 1974’s ‘Verities and Balderdash’ album, wherein a father’s busy days prevent him from spending time with his young son. Later, as he seeks to bond with his now grown-up son, he finds it’s the young man who is too busy to spend time together.
03) ‘Dance With My Father’ Luther Vandross
The soul singer’s final Top 40 hit — from the 2003 album of the same name — was co-written by ’80s pop star Richard Marx and shares Vandross’ fond memories of dancing with his father when he was a young child.
He wishes for one more dance with his late father, this time with a song that “would never, never end.”
02 ‘Father and Son’ Cat Stevens
Stevens takes on the roles of both father and son by singing in two different registers, low for father and high for son, in this coming of age tale from 1970’s ‘Tea for the Tillerman.’
The younger man is convinced the time is right to break away and make his own life for himself, while the father preaches patience and thoughtfulness.
01) ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ Simon and Garfunkel
This wise choice for the best father song starts as a gentle piano ballad, then builds to an epic, symphony-backed crescendo, as Art Garfunkel pledges to be by his son’s side through absolutely anything.
The power of both the words and the music from this title track to Simon and Garfunkel’s final studio album makes it hard to doubt him.
What Are Your Favorite Father Songs?
Be sure to tell us what your favorite father songs of all time are in the comments. And for more sentimental lists, check out our roundup of the Best Father Daughter Wedding Dance Songs and the Best Mother Son Wedding Dance Songs.
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