Father’s Day is next week and if you’re looking for that perfect dad’s day song for a little musical accompaniment as you serve his breakfast in bed, you can’t go wrong with country music, which has almost a sub-genre of songs about dads. Some of the best are very well-known: Drive, by Alan Jackson, The Greatest Day and Love Without End, Amen, George Strait, That’s My Job, Conway Twitty, The Walk, Sawyer Brown, Daddy’s Hands, Holly Dunn. And there are others. But here are five that maybe don’t pop up quite as readily on the radar, either because they’re newer, or older, or an album cut. Still, they all reach the same target: your heart.
6) Zac Brown Band, My Old Man
Boy does this one drill you in the feels. In an interview Zac said the clipped vocals in the song, and a couple of places where he loses air as he finishes a word, weren’t production errors…it was him, choking up as he was singing it. They thought about re-doing it but everyone agreed the emotion of the song calls for it. Brown wrote it about his real dad, Jim Brown, but also for a man Brown considered a mentor, Rodney Sheldon, who died in 2015. The title of the song actually comes from the nickname Brown had for Sheldon but, he says, most of the verses are about his dad and what he meant to him.
5) Chris Janson Bein’ a Dad
The most recent dad-related song on this list, the song is from Chris’ latest album, Everybody. Unlike the other songs, which come at the subject from the viewpoint of the child, this one looks at being a dad from a dad, which Chris is (he has two stepkids with his wife Kelly Lynn and the couple have two more together). The whole song is just a celebration of the privilege of being a father, the ups and the downs and the in-betweens. This stanza stood out to me in particular…
These hand prints and these drawings on the walls in the halls can drive me crazy
Gotta keep anything that means anything way out of reach
That brand new bike is laying out there in the yard and it’s raining
I tell them over and over and over
But they don’t practice what I preach
I tried to, but I can’t stay mad
Oh man, I love bein’ a Dad
4) Paul Overstreet, Seein’ My Father In Me
This classic, from 1990, still holds up. Paul Overstreet wrote a ton of hits in the 1980s before embarking on brief but successful solo career (he also had a trio called Schuyler, Knoblock and Overstreet) but this song, about a man getting older and realizing he is in fact his father’s boy, is probably his most deeply personal, and one that nearly any guy can relate to.
And now lookin’ back I can recall the times we disagreed
When I could not take hold of his old fashioned ways
And the more I tried to prove him wrong
The more I proved him right
Now I know why he still stood by me
When I went through that stage
I’m seein’ my father in me
I guess that’s how it’s meant to be
And I find I’m more and more like him each day
I notice I walk the way he walks
I notice I talk the way he talks
I’m startin’ to see my father in me
3) Brad Paisley, He Didn’t Have To Be
Brad’s first single was a major hit, especially because of the unique take on the child-father relationship; the song is about being a step-dad, a version of fatherhood that carries its own unique set of circumstances. Brad addressed that beautifully with lines like this…
And then all of a sudden ah it seemed so strange to me
How we went from something’s missing to a family
Lookin’ back all I can say about all the things he did for me
Is I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be
So if you have a step-dad in your life, and you’d forgotten about this one from 1999, give it a listen
2) Keith Urban, Song For Dad
Keith has talked before about not having the best relationship at times with his father, but credits him for, among other things, turning him on to American country music when he was a boy in Australia. Keith gently alludes to that push-and-pull father/son dynamic in this passage, which, if we’re being honest, is something pretty much every guy has gone through with his own father at some level or another.
There were times I thought he was bein’
Just a little bit hard on me
But now I understand he was makin’ me
Become the man he knew that I could be
In everything he ever did
He always did with love
And I’m proud today to say I’m his son
When somebody says I hope I get to meet your dad
I just smile and say you already have
1) Reba Greatest Man I Never Knew
This song is a tearjerker but I love it for its acknowledgement that not every dad was involved with their kid and up-front with their affections…especially those from previous generations. It was hard for them to say I Love You, but just because they didn’t, didn’t mean they, you know, didn’t. Still, every kid wants to hear it, or wishes they had.
The greatest words I never heard I guess I’ll never hear.
The man I thought could never die has been dead almost a year.
Oh, he was good at bus’ness but there was bus’ness left to do.
He never said he loved me. Guess he thought I knew.