(STATE COLLEEGE, PA) — I’m here in PA visiting my kids. My younger son turns 15 soon and I’m looking forward to celebrating his birthday with him. Right before I arrived in PA I was in Ashland, KY, where my biological father’s side of the family has lived for a couple hundred years. I visited a cemetery and found the graves of many of my ancestors. I wasn’t in contact with my father’s family at all after age 4, so I missed out on meeting many relatives who were alive when I was a kid, including my grandfather and my great-grandparents. All of this got me thinking about fathers and sons and about songs that deal with that subject.
YUSUF/CAT STEVENS: “FATHER AND SON”
You knew this one was going to be on this list. First of all it perfectly fits the theme. It’s also one of the most beautiful songs ever written, in my opinion. This version features a lovely animated video by Chris Hopewell, Jacknife Films and Black Dog Film.
HARRY CHAPIN: “CAT’S IN THE CRADLE”
Another guaranteed inclusion on this list. These days this song has been played so many times that some of its original shine has dimmed, but if you can try to listen to it with fresh ears, it really is a lovely song.
DAN FOGELBERG: “LEADER OF THE BAND”
A heartfelt tribute from a son to his father. Watch this video clip to see Dan Fogelberg talk movingly about his father’s reaction to this song.
JOHNNY CASH: “A BOY NAMED SUE”
Let’s wrap up this list with a song that’s very different from the three above, but no less sincere in its own funny way.
Have you got a favorite father/son song? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.