Friday, September 7, 2012

Top 5 Songs About Single Dads (and Their Children)

A few weeks ago, I published a blog entitled "Mother's Day and Motherless Children" in which I linked to video of a live Eric Clapton performance of his cover of the blues standard, Motherless Children. A somewhat obscure musical reference with which most folks might not be familiar unless the those same folks remember the theme music from the 1980's HBO comedy series Not Necessarily the News, it got me to thinking about songs about the single dads and their kids.

Musical taste is, almost by definition, subjective. Still, when it comes to relatively few songs about single fatherhood, it seems each one is written and sung from a place in the heart divorced and widower fathers profoundly relate.

Here are my favorites:

1) I'm So Happy, I Can't Stop Crying - Sting: Admittedly, I was never a huge fan of The Police or Sting, for that matter. However, he really seem to put the listener in the shoes worn by a divorced, weekend dad. Check this:

Seven weeks have passed now since she left me
She shows her face to ask me how I am
She says the kids are fine and that they miss me
Maybe I could come and baby-sit sometime
She says, "Are you O.K.? I was worried about you
Can you forgive me? I hope that you'll be happy."
I'm so happy that I can't stop crying
I'm so happy I'm laughing through my tears

2) Single Father - Kid Rock: Already the subject of a post (Kid Rock's 'Single Father' and Grief), Single Father written by David Allan Coe and performed by Kid Rock is a great, heartfelt, contemporary treatment of a divorce single father's circumstances and emotions.

3) Motherless Children - Blind Willie Johnson: "Motherless children have a hard time when your mother is dead, Lord" is a powerful, direct, and painfully honest line from this classic blues standard. Not surprisingly, it was covered by the artist of the next on the list, among others.

4) Motherless Child - Eric Clapton: Could almost be the sequel to Blind Willie's Motherless Children. A motherless child, likely a grown man, apologizes for his failures and shortcomings as they pertain to a romantic relationship. "If I mistreat you, girl, I sure don't mean no harm. Well, I'm a motherless child, and I don't know right from wrong."

5) Don't Cry Daddy - Elvis Presley: Depression, while not doing anyone in the family any good, is certainly a possible reaction to loss. Elvis sings (in a way that only he can) Mac Davis' lines describing a single father's child encouraging his widower father to get it together: "Daddy, you still got me and little Tommy. Together, we'll find a brand new mommy. Oh Daddy, please don't cry."

While it's true that tastes in music are personal, there's just something comforting about knowing another person not only gets it, but took the time to write a great song about it. For me, there's just something about the blues that makes me happy.


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