12 Best Songs to Honor Father and Son Relationships

Updated on July 21, 2019
Brite-Ideas profile image

Barbara has spent over forty years writing poems, lyrics, and sayings for cards, and interpreting the meanings and messages in song.

10 Songs that honor the loving and sometimes complicated relationship between a father and a son
10 Songs that honor the loving and sometimes complicated relationship between a father and a son

This playlist is a dedication to the complicated and beautiful relationships of fathers and sons expressed through song. Here you'll find twelve of the best songs to describe a father and son relationship. The words to the songs are touching, and many of the songs you may already know well.

This page creation was inspired by a song/poem, and now Video Poem I wrote called "When a Son Loses his Father." It has since expanded from a theme focused on the loss of a father, to father and son related songs for multiple occasions.

As a mother of four sons, and a sister to two brothers, I can safely say, I understand a little bit about the relationship between a father and a son.

When all is said and done, and the problems are washed to the side, what's left are a father and his son standing face to face, with these six words summing it all up: "There is such beauty in it."

Best Father and Son Songs Describing Multiple Types of Relationships

  1. "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens - Father trying to Explain Life to a Son
  2. "A Song for Dad" by Keith Urban - Honoring Dad
  3. "Letter to Me" by Brad Paisley - Older Self Message to Younger Self
  4. "If I Could" by Barbra Streisand - A Loving Life Message for a Son
  5. "He Didn't Have to Be" by Brad Paisley - Honoring Step-Dad
  6. "My Father's House" by Bruce Springsteen - Strained Unresolved Relationship
  7. "Dance with Me" by Luther Vandross - Son Reflecting Mother and Father Dancing
  8. "Hell Yeah" by Neil Diamond - Wanting to Be Remember for a Life Well Lived
  9. "Dear Father" by Neil Diamond - Reflecting on Life Dreams
  10. "Who You'd Be Today" by Kenny Chesney - Remembering Someone Who Died too Soon
  11. "Father and Son" by Phil Collins - A Father who is passed on leaving a message for his son
  12. "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin - A song about a dad who put off spending time with his son, and now his son, a grown man, has become his father

1. "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens

Album: Tea for the Tillerman

Year: 1970

This song will make you cry.

The song is a message from dad trying to help his son understand that the trials in life don't have to define him and that he'll be ok. He's encouraging him to be secure in the journey.

When he says to his son, "look at me, I am old, but I'm happy", that's the result of the journey he wants his son to comprehend. In the end, to keep yourself together and to know that first and foremost, hold onto inner peace.

Essential Lyrics:

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again
It's always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

2. "A Song for Dad" by Keith Urban

Album: Golden Road

Year: 2002

The words are perfect blend of a sons reflection on how he is becoming more like his dad. It's moving to listen to Keith Urban describe a respect and understanding that a son learns he has for father. The lyrics describe how "everyday I see a little more of my father in me". If you appreciate descriptive story telling lyrics, you'll love this song.

Essential Lyrics:

The older I get
The more I can see
How much he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could
And I only hope when I have my own family
That everyday I see
A little more of my father in me

3. "Letter to Me" by Brad Paisley

Album: 5th Gear

Year: 2007

Although this song is not directly about a father and son, it still has a powerful message in the lyrics. Its about what a grown man would write to himself at 17. As we get older, our perspective changes, and yes we grow wiser; and this life story from boy to man is written in a way that, as an adult, we can relate to. It's a goose-bump song.

Essential Lyrics:

And oh, you got so much going for you
Going right
But I know at seventeen
It's hard to see past Friday night
She wasn't right for you
But still you feel like there's
A knife sticking out of your back
And you wondering if you'll survive
But you'll make it through this and you'll see
You're still around to write this letter to me

4. "If I Could" by Barbra Streisand

Album: Higher Ground

Year: 1997

As I understand it, Barbra Streisand dedicated this song to her son. You'll appreciate the way love is expressed in these lyric. Although it's sung by a woman, the words easily translate to a message a father would give to his son. Personally, it's my favorite song for my own sons. The lyrics say it all.

Essential Lyrics:

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow
So I could let you go

5. "He Didn't Have to Be" by Brad Paisley

Album: Who Needs Picture

Year: 1999

Oh my goodness, get out the tissue for this one! With so many step families today, this song pays tribute to all the first rate step-dads out there. Again, another set of lyrics that sketch out a life story as if you've lived it.

Essential Lyrics:

I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old
He took my mom out to a movie and for once I got to go
A few months later I remember lying there in bed
I overheard him pop the question and I prayed that she'd say yes

6. "My Father's House" by Bruce Springsteen

Album: Nebraska

Year: 1982

You'll notice the video I linked to here isn't the best quality, but the banter by Bruce at the beginning, before he sings, makes it worth listening to. It's a story of a son going back home to visit what was once his father's house. It's touching, and really grasps the journey we take through this life, and how holding onto what was, or letting go of what never was, no matter how wonderful or how bad, are painful dilemmas. In this case the son has to live with a relationship with a father that will never be resolved. It's too late.

Essential Lyrics:

I awoke and I imagined the hard things that pulled us apart
Will never again, sir, tear us from each other's hearts
I got dressed, and to that house I did ride from out on the road, I could see its windows shining in light

7. "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross

Album: Dance With My Father

Year: 2003

I don't mean to keep making you cry, but good luck listening to this one without shedding a few "....cause I'd love my Mother to dance with my Father again...." "I prayed for her even more than me"....oh my gosh, how insanely moving are these words.

Essential Lyrics:

If I could get another chance
Another walk
Another dance with him
I'd play a song that would never ever end
How I'd love love love
To dance with my father again

8. "Hell Yeah" by Neil Diamond

Album: 12 Songs

Year: 2005

How do I start talking about this song.

If you're looking for a song where a man is reflecting upon his life, long lived, and filled with the lessons that age brings, this is your pick.

When my husband and I watched his special on CBS and this song began, we were both visibly moved by the song. In fact, my husband said, "when I leave this earth, play this song for me".

Essential Lyrics:

And I say it loud
I loved it all
And I'm not too proud
I freed my soul just let it fly
Hell yeah, this crazy life around me
It confuses and confounds me
But it's all the life I've got until I die
Hell yeah, it is

9. "Dear Father" by Neil Diamond

Album: Jonathon Livingstone Seagull

Year: 1973

A life lived with dreams and moments of glory and pain. The words are uncomplicated as it's the dramatic music that gives this song it's moody feel. If you're looking for an orchestral song to honor dad, this one fits without speaking too many words. You can almost interpret it any way that fits your life story.

Essential Lyrics:

Dear Father
We dream
We dream
We dream
While we may

10. "Who You'd Be Today" by Kenny Chesney

Album: The Road and the Radio

Year: 2005

If you've lost a father too soon, this song asks the heartfelt question, 'who would you be today'. The song isn't specifically about losing a father, however it could easily be made to fit a situation where dad is being remembered and honored.

Essential Lyrics:

It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
But death tore the pages all away
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place
Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today

11. "Father to Son" by Phil Collins

Album: But Seriously

Year: 1989

This song is exceptionally beautiful. It speaks about a father who passed early in life and he's giving life messages to his son left behind to grow up without him. Very very moving.

Essential Lyrics:

A word in your ear, from father to son
Hear the word that I say
I fought with you, fought on your side
Long before you were born

12. "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin

Album: Verities & Balderdash

Year: 1974

Well the lyrics to this song, and this song, are infamous...and scary. The idea of a son following in his father's footsteps are frightening when painted by these words. The circle of life may need to be broken in this case. He's become his father, with no time for his dad now, as his dad had no time for him.

Essential Lyrics:

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you coming home, dad?
I don't know when
But we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then

When A Son Loses His Father - A Video Poem about a Son Who Lost His Father

The Story Behind "When a Son Loses His Father"

When someone close to me lost their father, I felt very compelled to write a poem that would accurately describe and respect their relationship. Despite the imperfections in this relationship with his dad, he loved his father unconditionally, flaws and all. But in all honesty, he did not have a relationship with his father.

Funny thing was, when I was attempting to write this piece of work, I struggled the entire day to find the best words that would paint an accurate picture. Finally, at the end of the day, I gave up, left my office and computer and headed out on my front step with a nice cold glass of white wine, and no sooner did I sit down to enjoy just one sip, when a light bulb of words swarmed over me.

I headed back down to my office and wrote this entire poem in 20 minutes.

Poll - I'm a Dad and...

I'm a Dad and...

See results

Poll Question - My Father Passed Away and...

My Father Passed Away and...

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2007 Barbara Tremblay Cipak

    Are You or Were You Close with Your Dad? Your Thoughts are Appreciated

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      • profile image

        JC, MD of Divinity 

        4 months ago

        I prefer Beautiful Boy, by John Lennon

      • Brite-Ideas profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

        16 months ago from Toronto, Canada

        So lovely, and so moving. Brings tears to my eyes. Having lost my dad too, I know exactly, with every breath I take, what you're saying, and how much your dad meant to you. Aren't we the lucky ones to have had the love of our fathers and terrific families. My dad passed in my parents 53rd year of marriage. I miss him more than I can say. But I know you understand this. Sometimes it shocks me that he's not in body, only in spirit. It's been five years.

      • profile image

        Tom Roach 

        16 months ago

        I always thought growing up, if I could be just half the man my Father is, I would be a really good man. My Father never swore, never drank, never looked at another woman. My Mother was his absolute dream girl. I believe the he fell deeper in love with her year after year. My Father worked three jobs to raise his family of five kids. I remember when I got my first job after high school, I stopped by the little country store my Father owned and worked 12 plus hours a day at. I showed my Father my check and he looked proud, but I couldn't keep my teenage mouth shut as I went on and on what a horrible check and how little money I made. My Father, very softly said, "That's more than I make" then turned and went back to work. You could have heard a pin drop. My Father didn't raise his voice but I think I would have felt better if he had. That was 40 years ago yet it seems like yesterday. Almost three years ago I became very Ill and ended up having no choice but to retire after almost 38 years at the same company. I had two non-curable diseases and I couldn't understand, why me?? Then a few days later was rushed to the hospital. My Father wouldn't be going home to the small farm my Father worked so hard at raising cattle cattle, planting large gardens by hand with my sweet Mother. He was moved to a nursing home because he was to frail and my Mother wasn't far behind him. Ironically the nursing home was 5 minutes from my home and since I had just retired due to disability I couldn't do anything except for one, I was able to go sit by my Dear Fathers, almost every day. For the first few weeks we were able to talk and enjoy each others company but he was going down fast. I put up bird feeders outside the window so he enjoy the birds. Then i put toy cattle on the window sill because he loved his cattle. It broke his heart when he had to sell them. As my Father became worse it got so I couldn't understand him and it broke my heart as he tried so desperately to tell me something and I just couldn't understand him and he was too weak to write. All that I knew to do was to assure him that we would take good care of my Sweet Mother, my disabled brother, the farm, etc.... I kept saying it over and over again. Then came the moment that once I realized that we would all die some day, even my Father, the gentleman who could do anything i my eyes. I and most of the family were there holding his hand, telling him how much we loved him and thanking him for being such a wonderful Father, husband, brother, Christian, Korean War Vet, etc. and it happened. He took his last breath, my hero was gone. Right before this past Christmas My Sweet Mother, my Fathers Sweetheart of 69 years reunited. I asked my Mother to stay with me but she told my sister that she really missed my Father and she wanted to be with him. You asked the question, "Were you close with your Dad". It will be three years in January since I told him that I loved him but recently I was sitting at my desk when I felt someone behind me put their hand on my left shoulder. The kind of reassuring hand on the shoulder my Father would give me when I needed a little boost. I turned around but just just because I didn't see anyone doesn't mean they weren't there. Was I close to my Father? Yes, very much and I still am.

      • John Dyhouse profile image

        John Dyhouse 

        5 years ago from UK

        I was close to my dad but really feel that I could have been much closer. No real issues but I think we both had problems showing our feelings. I saw your first song by Cat Stevens and your conmment. I also find my eyes filling with tears when I hear this.

        I also find The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics brings out an emotional response, This was released just after my Dad died with cancer and I played it over and over and over.

      • asereht1970 profile image


        5 years ago

        Yes, we were close. And I missed him up to now.

      • VioletteRose LM profile image

        VioletteRose LM 

        5 years ago

        Beautiful :)

      • Old Navy Guy profile image

        Old Navy Guy 

        5 years ago


      • goldenrulecomics profile image


        6 years ago from New Jersey

        My father died after a long illness when I was 5, so I never really knew him. It's also why I try to be there for my kids as much as possible. Some great songs here, with the Cat Stevens one probably my favorite.

      • TACTCI LM profile image

        TACTCI LM 

        6 years ago

        Another great take-me-back lens! Great job on this page, helps remember how great and blessed we are to have Dads. Hope my kids will feel this way as well one day.

      • John Dyhouse profile image

        John Dyhouse 

        7 years ago from UK

        Enjoyed the read, especially your poems. Coincidentally, My favourite from this list would also be Father And Son (Cat Stevens) - blessed

      • Othercatt profile image


        7 years ago

        That song He Didn't Have to Be by Brad Paisley has always given me goosebumps because it's so sweet and so true.

      • Scarlettohairy profile image

        Peggy Hazelwood 

        7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

        Very nice collection of poems about fathers and sons. Thanks for sharing this,

      • BusyMOM LM profile image

        BusyMOM LM 

        7 years ago

        What a beautiful lens. I'm very touched by it. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing this.

      • TheBaseballCoach profile image


        7 years ago

        Wonderful father and son songs and poems

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Very beautiful and inspiring lens.

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Great memories. Thank you

      • Bill Armstrong profile image

        Bill Armstrong 

        7 years ago from Valencia, California

        Love the lens, thanks for sharing all your hard work

      • Countryluthier profile image

        E L Seaton 

        8 years ago from Virginia

        Very touching lens, great poems for fathers and fathers to be. Keep it up

      • CruiseReady profile image


        8 years ago from East Central Florida

        I may be his daughter, not son, but I do so miss my Daddy. (And mama, too)

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        A hard topic, but a nice read. It made me think about how we don't always recognize the love and sacrifice of our fathers, until we're fathers ourselves. It's a deeper love than I ever thought it would be.

      • tlholley717 profile image

        Thomas Holley 

        8 years ago from Evansville, IN

        My dad passed 2/16/11. He is greatly missed.

      • nuestraherencia profile image


        8 years ago

        Great lens...I was looking for some poems about Father's and Sons for my husband...he is an awesome dad to our son...and I found this...I love it! Thanks! I've lensrolled into my Best Gifts for Men lens.

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        I missed my father very much, but he has gone to another world already!

      • Krafick profile image


        8 years ago

        Very nice lens.

      • Brite-Ideas profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

        8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

        @anonymous: thanks, I'll check it out,


      • profile image


        8 years ago

        I often listen cat steven song for many years..but I think you must add "simple plan-perfect" to your list, I'm really3x love that song

      • profile image


        8 years ago

        A very nice lens. Thank you, I really enjoyed listening to When I Get Where I'm Going - Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton.

      • Kelsey-Budden-16 profile image


        8 years ago

        I must say, this is a nice lens. I choked up when reading a few of these poems and listening to the poem/song video you had up there. I never truly had my father with me. I know him but don't know him personally. He lives in another community. After reading this, it makes me want to try to get in touch with him. Too bad it's too difficult in my case.

        By the way, if I was a Squid Angel, I'd bless this lens!

      • mich1908 profile image


        8 years ago

        Nice lense. I'm a daughter who had a great dad. It's been years since he passed on and still being missed terribly.

      • profile image


        11 years ago

        I would love to have you in my Parenting Group!

        Parenting on Squidoo. I'll even create a special category just for you!


        Hollywood Glam on a Budget

      • profile image


        11 years ago

        Very Nice Lens. I have created a lens on the Best Poems For Funerals which I hope will help people in their time of grief, I hope you will drop by and take a look

      • rksmythe lm profile image

        rksmythe lm 

        12 years ago

        Very moving! Fortunately, my dad was a great example for me, so my son has benefited. I love being a dad.

      • Brite-Ideas profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

        12 years ago from Toronto, Canada

        SemperFidelis, that video you put the link to was so moving, the tears poured. Thank you.

      • teamlane profile image


        12 years ago

        Very nice. A 5 from me! My husband is a great Dad and I am thankful. This video is probably the most touching father video I've ever seen. :)

      • Lady Gotrocks profile image

        Lady Gotrocks 

        12 years ago

        Wonderful lens.

        You are invited to join the Raising Stars group

      • Brite-Ideas profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

        12 years ago from Toronto, Canada

        Connie, I'm moved by your words,

        Thank you, Barb

      • profile image


        12 years ago

        I'm not a son, but I relate to the loss of father...this is a very touching lens, and I am happy you have found meaning, and are so willing to "contribute." I will be perusing the resources you have here. Nice lens...Connie aka Squid Angel


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