Our Top 10 Songs About Songs article presents a list of some of our favorite songs written about sons. If you have ever been a mother or a father to a son or a daughter, then you understand the miracle of life and a love that is deeper and richer than any other love you will ever experience.
# 10 – The Greatest Discovery – Elton John
We open up our Top 10 Songs About Sons with one of the most beautiful songs about sons ever written. Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s magnificent song “The Greatest Discovery,” was released on Elton John’s U.S. debut album entitled Elton John. The album was released in 1970. The song is not just about a son being born but also the discovery by a sibling that he or she has a brand new brother. The song’s closing lyric in which that moment is described is as heartfelt as one can get in song.
# 9 – Fortunate Son (by Creedence Clearwater Revival)
Released in 1969 from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fourth studio album, Willy and the Poor Boys, “Fortunate Son” was a rather angry song criticizing the American government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. How does this song rate as a song about sons? When the U.S. government sent its military overseas to fight in the war, scores of American sons as young as teenagers were separated from their families to engage in something not every citizen agreed with. While the fathers and sons were exchanging gunfire at the battlefront in Vietnam, the rest of the American population fought a war of their own on their own soil. In the US, the ammunition used was political and social protests that quickly escalated to violence as both sides of the argument were deeply passionate about their beliefs.
When “Fortunate Son” was released, it quickly became an anti-war movement anthem among protestors who were not happy about the events taking place in Vietnam. This song became a cult classic as it peaked as high as number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also became a big hit in Belgium as it charted as high as number six. In Canada, it was a number thirty-seven hit, despite the fact it received minimal airplay at the time. The subject matter of the song itself was triggered by what John Fogerty saw as elitists abusing their wealth and power at the expense of so many lives.
This unfortunate reality sparked “Fortunate Son” to serve as a protest song that would earn a spot in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance. Today, critics continue to credit “Fortunate Son” as one of the most iconic songs in rock music history. The popularity of this song earned it a triple platinum certification with the RIAA, as well as single platinum among the nations of Denmark, Italy, and the UK. It was certified gold in Germany. To this day, “Fortunate Son” has continued to spark the sons and daughters of various nations to protest against something they disagree with.
# 8 – When You Need Me (by Bruce Springsteen)
If you’re looking for the ideal song to play at your son’s wedding, Bruce Springsteen’s “When You Need Me” would be it. This song of reassurance as a parent extends their love to their son (or daughter) was first recorded in 1987 by Springsteen but it wasn’t released until 1994 when he released his four-disc boxed set recording, Tracks. Performed as an Irish-style folk song, “When You Need Me” painted a musical promise that Springsteen would always be there for his children. When this song was released, he already had two sons, Evan and Sam. He also had a daughter, Jessica. While “When You Need Me” may not be a recognized hit, it is a major fan favorite among Springsteen fans who have families of their own.
#7 – Little Lion Man (by Mumford & Sons)
From the 2009 debut studio album, Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons released “Little Lion Man” as their debut single. This folksy rock song was a personal story shared by Marcus Mumford that shared bits about his life as a son having to contend with the challenges he often faces with his own father. It was also perceived by fans this was also a song that made reference to his own son as “Little Lion Man” was a song that had a dual perspective. When listening to the lyrics, the song was told as a father sharing important lessons with his son only fathers are truly capable of doing. Although folksy, this rock song was performed as a punchy reality check of how life works in a world that seems to have placed so many expectations.
“Little Lion Man” became an international hit that peaked as topped the US Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, at number sixteen on the US Billboard Adult Top 40, and at number forty-five on the US Billboard Hot 100. In Australia, Belgium, and New Zealand, it was a top-ten hit. In sales, “Little Lion Man” became certified double platinum with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as well as the United Kingdom’s British Phonographic Industry (BPI). It was most successful with Australia’s ARIA by reaching platinum four times over. “Little Lion Man” also reached platinum in Canada and New Zealand. Gold certifications for the single came from Belgium, Germany, and Italy.
# 6 – My Beautiful Song – Brian Kachejian
The song “My Beautiful Son,” was written and performed by Brain Kachejian in 1998. The song was eventually released on Brian Kachejian’s American Experience album which was released in 2007. This recording comes from a live performance of the song in 1998. When it comes to songs written about sons, this one is pretty genuine. While the video and sound may be of lower quality, the images and words will probably touch your heart.
#5 – Forever Young (by Bob Dylan)
Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” was originally written as a lullaby for his eldest son, Jesse, in 1966. In 1973, Bob Dylan recorded two different versions of this song that would appear on his fourteenth studio album, Planet Waves. One was slow-paced while the other was fast. In the song, Bob Dylan expressed his hope that his son will live a happy life as a strong individual whose spirit will remain “Forever Young.” He opened the song with a famous biblical quote from the Book of Numbers. The song left a solid impression among a fan base who now had something in common with a man who just became a father.
While Dylan’s version was never recognized as a hit on any of the US Billboards music charts, it still sits on top as an all-time fan favorite. In 1974, Joan Baez covered Dylan’s “Forever Young” and it became a number thirteen hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Louisa Johnson’s version after she won the 2015 edition of The X Factor series became a number nine hit on the UK Singles Chart after it was released as a single. Although Baez and Johnson turned their versions into hits, Dylan still comes out on top with his two originals. Around the world, especially among American and Canadian fans, Dylan’s “Forever Young” is a timeless classic that never gets old.
#4 – Cat’s in the Cradle (by Harry Chapin)
From the 1974 album Verities & Balderdash, “Cat’s in the Cradle” was a single performed by Harry Chapin that became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as the Canadian Adult Contemporary Songs chart. In Australia and the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, it peaked as high as number six. In 1975, “Cat’s in the Cradle” earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. It was then inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. What makes this father and son song so legendary is an all too familiar tale of two people struggling to spend some quality time together.
At first, the son yearns to be with his father as he looks up to him as his hero. However, the father’s work obligations constantly interfere throughout the boy’s childhood. As the boy promised he’d grow up to be just like his father, how little did he realize how true those worlds would become when he became an adult himself. Before the song is over, the roles are reversed. The retired father has all the time in the world and yearns to be with his son. However, the son is now a grown man who has work obligations of his own. He really did grow up to be just like his dad, along with all the unfortunate consequences that came with it. Harry Chapin’s version of “Cat’s in the Cradle” became RIAA-certified gold.
“Cat’s in the Cradle” really hits home with so many families who can relate. In 1992, Ugly Kid Joe covered Harry Chapin’s classic which also met with great commercial success. It also became certified gold by the RIAA, as well as platinum with the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) as their version topped the music charts belonging to that nation. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it peaked as high as number six. On a global scale, it was at least a top ten hit among the nations of Austria, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. The reality of how important relationships are between parents and their children was beautifully portrayed in a song that has become a legend.
#3 – Father and Son (by Cat Stevens)
You knew we had to have this one on the list. Released in 1970, “Father and Son” featured a dialogue between a father and his son as Cat Stevens explored the generation gap between these two men as the two tried to work with each other to reach a common ground. In their conversation, the son wishes to carve his own path while the father feels he’s not ready yet to do so. The complexities of this relationship include the father attempting to pass on what he’s learned to his son.
This folksy rock song peaked at number twenty-three in the Netherlands. In 2014, “Father and Son” was released again and became a number fourteen hit in Italy. Many recording artists covered “Father and Son” over the years. Little did Cat Stevens know how much of an impact his emotional song made on so many people as it wasn’t regarded as a big hit when it was first released. The original “Father and Sons” became certified platinum in Italy, as well as certified gold in Germany.
In 1995, the Irish-based boy band known as Boyzone performed an emotional version of “Father and Son” that would become a major hit among several nations. Aside from becoming a number one hit in Ireland, it was a top ten hit among the nations of Australia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, and the UK. Their version became certified platinum in the UK, as well as certified gold in Australia. As great as Boyzone’s cover of “Father and Son” was, nothing truly beats the original.
According to music critics, it was one of the best recordings that Cat Stevens ever performed. “Father and Son” came from his fourth studio album, Tea for the Tillerman. In the US, it was released as a single and it received considerable airplay on progressive rock and album-oriented rock stations. “Father and Son” also played a key role in the career development of Cat Stevens in the music industry. Tea for the Tillman was the same album that produced one of Stevens’ most influential cult classics, “Wild World.”
# 2 – Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (by John Lennon)
In 1980, John Lennon wrote and recorded “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” for his son, Sean. Released from the album Double Fantasy, this was the final recording he and Yoko Ono produced together before his untimely death on December 8, 1980. In the song, John Lennon is comforting Sean after he wakes up from a nightmare. The love expressed between a father and his son was made evident in this song which usually requires a box of tissues to listen through, especially among listeners who can relate.
What are the top ten songs that come to your mind when we talk about sons? On this list of top ten songs about sons, we will peer into the story behind them and why we feel they’re so great. While every music fan will have their own list of personal favorites, this one focuses on what makes them classic rock legends.
There are some songs sung about sons that are filled with joy. On the same note, there are others that may require a box of tissues to listen through. Either way, they’re nothing short of fantastic. Speaking as a fan of some incredible son-related songs that have graced the airwaves, there are a few that really drive straight into the heart. Perhaps there may be at least one on this list that has a special place in yours.
#1 – Simple Man (by Lynyrd Skynyrd)
“Simple Man” was a beautiful ballad performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd as the final track from their debut album, which was released in 1973. The lyrics featured a mother addressing her son, wishing as he grows up to become a man appreciating the simpler things in life instead of chasing after superficialities. It is her hope he learns to trust God, find a good wife, and live his adult life as contently as possible. Usually, this is the hope most parents have. When it comes to their children, there is a desire for them to grow up to become decent human beings who appreciate all the blessings they have in their life instead of whining about what they don’t have.
Although the song was recorded and released on the Lynyrd Skynyrd album in 1973, it wasn’t until 2021 “Simple Man” was released and charted as a single. On the US Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, it peaked as high as number thirteen. In New Zealand, it was also popular enough to become a hit as it peaked as high as number nine. One of the biggest standouts in this song was Gary Rossington’s guitar solo. The fact this classic became a hit nearly fifty years after it was first recorded serves as a testament to just how a simple little song can stand the test of time for the lyrical and melodic gem it is.
Top 10 Songs About Sons article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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