Between the 1960s and 1990s, sitcoms immortalized some of the most famous uncles. No one will ever forget Uncle Charley of My Three Sons, Uncle Bill of Family Affair, Uncle Jesse in Full House, or Jerry Seinfeld's fictional Uncle Leo. Hollywood has even cashed in on the concept of the parental male sibling, releasing the 2018 Uncle Drew film starring NBA great, Kyrie Irving.
However, while all this TV and movie activity was happening, the music world was also paying tribute to your favorite uncle. Here are fifteen of the best songs ever written about men called uncle.
1. Ben Folds Five - "Uncle Walter"
Promoted by a delightfully comic video, this track helped make Folds' self-titled debut the most welcomed piano act since late '70s Joe Jackson.
"Your Uncle Walter's going on and on
'Bout everything he's seen and done
The voice of 50 years experience
He's drunk, watching the television"
2. Aerosmith - "Uncle Salty"
Buried below hits like "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion" on Toys In The Attic is this catchy gem, which precedes the also excellent "Adam's Apple (She Ate It)."
"Uncle Salty told me stories of a lonely
Baby with a lonely kind of life to lead
My mammy was lusted, daddy he was busted
They left her to be trusted till the orphan bleeds"
3. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - "Man Called Uncle"
"I'm so affected by the effects of your affection" the rock wordsmith snarls on this Get Happy tune. It's one of twenty songs on the single disc follow up to Armed Forces and again produced by Nick Lowe.
"Look at the man that you'd call uncle
They'd like to sink their teeth into you
For the pride and the pleasure
And the privilege of having you"
4. John Wesley Harding - "Uncle Dad"
While the title might appear odd, it makes sense when you realize that Wes Tace has written it about a divorced father with contact every other weekend.
"He's there without warning
He's gone in the morning
And never gets boring
5. Norman Blake - "Uncle"
Although the parent's sibling is never named, this portrait is the highlight of the bluegrass legend's 1974 LP, The Fields Of November.
"He learned as a boy to have someone
To show him things sometimes
To set him straight on down the road
To help and ease his mind"
6. Paul McCartney - "Uncle Albert"
"Admiral Halsey" is the second part of this hit, Paul's first #1 after the breakup of The Beatles.
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert
We're so sorry if we caused you any pain
We're so sorry, Uncle Albert
But there's no one left at home
And I believe I'm gonna rain"
7. Grateful Dead - "Uncle John's Band"
Jerry Garcia penned this classic, which reflects his admiration of bluegrass, country, and folk.
"Come hear Uncle John's Band by the riverside
Come on along, or go alone
He's come to take his children home"
8. The Sadies - Uncle Larry's Breakdown
Travis Good (fiddle) and the late Dallas Good (electric guitar) are joined by their dad Bruce (autoharp), uncle Brian (acoustic guitar) and the titular Uncle Larry (banjo), who indeed breaks it down.
9. Loretta Lynn - "Dear Uncle Sam"
Instead of her mama, papa, or unfaithful husband, the Coal Miner's Daughter sings about a slightly more distant member of the family.
"Dear Uncle Sam
I just got your telegram
And I can't believe that this is me
Shaking like I am"
10. The Who - "Fiddle About" aka "Uncle Ernie"
Keith Moon admirably portrays the creepy uncle of deaf, dumb, and blind Tommy in the rock opera of the same name.
"I'm your wicked Uncle Ernie
I'm glad you won't see or hear me
As I fiddle about, fiddle about, fiddle about"
11. Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys - "Uncle Pen"
"Soldier Joy," "Boston Boy," and "Jenny Lynn" are three of the songs dearly recalled as having been played by Bill Monroe's Uncle Pen (Pendleton Vandiver).
"Late in the evening about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, oh how it would ring
You can hear it talk, you can hear it sing"
12. Frank Zappa - "Uncle Remus"
A quirky piece decrying racism, this ditty appears alongside the huge hit, " Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" on Zappa's 1974's Apostrophe LP.
"Just keep yer nose
To the grindstone, they say
Will that redeem us
13. Jefferson Airplane - "Uncle Sam Blues"
This anti-war anthem fit perfectly into the band's set at Woodstock.
"Well, Uncle Sam ain't no woman
You know he sure can take your man
Said Uncle Sam ain't no woman
You know he sure can take your man
Well, there's 40,000 guys on the service list
Doing something somewhere
They just don't understand"
14. Roger Miller - "My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died"
Accompanying the title in the refrain are some immortal lines:
"My uncle used to love but she died
A chicken ain't chicken 'til he's licking good and fried
Keep on the sunny side
My uncle used to love me but she died"
15. Country Gentlemen - "Uncle Joe"
For fans of the classic sitcom, Petticoat Junction, the Gentlemen are not singing about the lazy character played by Edgar Buchanan.
"Then he closed his eyes a little
His arm fell down on my knee
Uncle Joe has gone on to Heaven
He's no longer here with me"
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on September 14, 2019:
I've got another favorite. It is "Me and My Uncle." Written by John Phillips, of the Mamas and the Papas, my favorite version is by the Grateful Dead.