For the dad that has everything, this year, offer him a Father’s Day playlist that will have him all in his feelings. Sure, this gift doesn’t cost much, but the tears he will shed will make it priceless, we swear. This is dad music with a twist. A soundtrack for the dad-themed holiday that is not just full of tracks for fathers by fathers about being fathers—though, there is a plethora of those on here—but dedications to fathers for how they made us who we are. For better and sometimes worse.
There is some dad rock on here in the form of Cat Stevens, David Bowie, and Bob Dylan. Along with a few offbeat choices like Mac DeMarco and Tori Amos that might help your dad get into something new. And lots of advice for new fathers courtesy of Will Smith, Drake, and John Legend. Not to mention more Blue Ivy than you might expect on a Father’s Day playlist.
More than anything, though, there’s a lot of very good, very dad lyrics. These are the lines that will make the most stoic of dads totally lose it. Don’t worry, we’ve pointed out the best dad lyrics in each song for easy access.
John Legend, “Right By You (For Luna)” (2016)Most Dad Lyric:
“When you’re growing old and feeling out of touch/ Listen to this song and just take care/ And know that I will be there, yeah, I will be there”
Legend’s jazz ballad full of questions and concerns for her future is actually a soothing reminder to his daughter Luna
know that no matter what, he’s there for her.
Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely” (1976)Most Dad Lyric:
“Isn’t she pretty, truly the angel’s best. I’m so happy we have been heaven blessed”
Wonder celebrated the birth of his daughter Aisha Morris
with a song that begins with her cries and ends with her coos. Wonder would again collaborate with his daughter on his 2005 album, A Time To Love.
Jay-Z, “Glory” (2012)Most Dad Lyric:
“You’re a child of destiny/You’re the child of my destiny/You’re my child with the child from Destiny’s Child/That’s a hell of a recipe”
Two days after Blue Ivy
was born, Jay-Z
put her on a Pharrell-produced track, (credited as simply B.I.C.) that talks about yes, the glory of becoming a father for the first time. That is both her heartbeat and her cries on this sweet track that had her following in her musical parents’ footsteps before she could even walk. Blue Ivy would show up once again on her dad’s 2017 album, 4:44,
with additional vocals on “Legacy.”
John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” (1980)
Most Dad Lyric: “I can hardly wait/To see you come of age/But I guess we'll both just have to be patient/'Cause it's a long way to go”
In honor of his son, Sean Lennon, the Beatle wrote him this lullaby about not wanting him to grow up too fast even if he can’t wait to see who he becomes. It also gave us the iconic line: “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
Beyoncé, “Daddy Lessons” (2016)Most Dad Lyric:
“Came into this world/Daddy's little girl/And daddy made a soldier out of me”
It’s not the first time she’s written about her dad (See: 2003’s “Daddy”
) but this horn laden downhome track about what her dad from Alabama taught her, both good and bad, is a closer look at her inner world. In the key of Bey, of course, with a little help from Blue Ivy, making her second appearance on this playlist.
Loudon Wainwright, “Daughter” (2007)Most Dad Lyric: “
That's my daughter in the water/I lost every time I fought her/Yea, I lost every time”
This sentimental cover of Peter Blegvad’s 1996 original
is bound to bring any dad to tears. It’s also bound to make you want to watch Knocked Up,
since it plays over the film’s end credits.
David Bowie, “Kooks” (1971)Most Dad Lyric:
“A trumpet you can blow and a book of rules/On what to say to people when they pick on you/Because if you stay with us/You're going to be pretty kooky too”
This plea from Bowie to his newborn son Duncan Jones to love his parents no matter how kooky they are goes out to all the eccentric dads (and moms)
out there. We see you, and we love you, even when you embarrass us.
Andrew McMahon & The Wilderness, “Cecilia and the Satellite” (2014)
Most Dad Lyric: “For all the things my eyes have seen, the best by far is you”
With help from a kick-drum beat, McMahon writes an anthem for his little girl that lets her know where she comes from.
Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus, “I Learned From You” (2006)
Most Dad Lyric: “You taught me to stand on my own/ And I thank you for that, it saved me, it made me”
This daddy-daughter duet off the Hannah Montana soundtrack has Miley admitting that sometimes just being Miley isn’t the best choice and she should actually listen to her dad sometimes. And you know what, Billy Ray realizes he should do the same so there’s a lot of growth happening thanks to this track.
Bob Dylan, “Forever Young” (1974)
Most Dad Lyric: “May you build a ladder to the stars/And climb on every rung”
Dylan’s step-by-step guide to growing up written for his youngest son, Jakob, is the most dad song ever written. Fight me.
Will Smith, “Just The Two Of Us” (1998)
Most Dad Lyric: “I want to kiss you all the time/ But I will test that butt when you cut outta line, trudat”
With a little help from Bill Withers, Smith raps about becoming a father for the first time to his son, Trey, who makes a cameo on the track. In his Big Willie Style, Smith offers a bit of comedy while also dishing out some real life lessons on how to be a man, which include crying when you need to and being respectful to women.
Cat Stevens, “Father and Son” (1970)Most Dad Lyric: “Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy
Break out the tissues for this strummer that will make you want to call your old man who is only getting older by the minute as Cat Steven reminds us. That is, after you stop crying over the cruel concept of time, of course.
Luther Vandross, “Dance With My Father” (2003)
Most Dad Lyric: “If I could get another chance/Another walk/Another dance with him/I'd play a song that would never ever end”
Vandross’ tribute to his late dad is all about wanting more time with those we love. Unfortunately, fans didn’t get enough time with Vandross, who died two years after the release of this track. If you needed more reasons to tear up, just watch the video, which shows Beyoncé and others dancing and paying tribute to their dads.
Gladys Knight & The Pips, “Daddy Could Swear, I Declare” (1973)
Most Dad Lyric: “Cursin', just a-fussin'/And a-bein' mad/ But I hope the Good Lord will understand/ That my daddy's is just bein' my dad”
While Knight keeps this funky number G-rated, she makes it clear that her dad might not have been able to read or write, but he had a vast vocabulary of curse words. More importantly, he was good at standing up for himself.
Drake, “March 14” (2018)Most Dad Lyric:
“I promise if I'm not dead then I'm dedicated”
Drake officially confirmed he was a dad
on this Scorpion
track that gets really honest about what it’s like to unexpectedly become a parent. On the double album’s closer, Drake makes it clear he isn’t with the mother of his child, but promises to be a co-parent to his son.
Tori Amos, “Winter” (1992)
Most Dad Lyric: “When you gonna make up your mind?/When you gonna love you as much as I do?/When you gonna make up your mind?/Cause things are gonna change so fast”
On this piano ballad off her debut, Little Earthquakes, Amos thanks her dad for the confidence he instilled in her by writing his advice right into the song. No surprise, it’s very good advice that might help you as much as it did Tori.
Mac DeMarco, “My Old Man” (2017)Most Dad Lyric: “
Uh-oh, looks like I'm seeing more of my old man in me”
Not everyone’s relationship with their dad is sunshine and rainbows and DeMarco offers an alternative Father’s Day anthem
for those who aren’t sure how to feel about the similarities they share with their old man.
Paul Simon, “Father and Daughter” (2002)
Most Dad Lyric: “As long as one, and one is two, oh there could never be a father love his daughter more than I love you”
Think of this track from The Wild Thornberrys Movie as the sequel to “Mother and Child Reunion,” where Simon gets to let his daughter know all the hopes he has for her.
Kanye West, “Only One” (2014)
Most Dad Lyric: “Hello my only one, remember who you are/No you're not perfect but you're not your mistakes”
With a little help from Paul McCartney, Kanye wrote a song from the perspective of his late mom Donda as she meets his daughter, North West, for the first time. But, it also feels like a reminder to ‘Ye that his mom is always with him looking down on him, too.
John Mayer, “Daughters” (2003)
Most Dad Lyric: “Fathers, be good to your daughters/Daughters will love like you do”
Most people wouldn’t offer fatherly advice without ever having actually been a father, but John Mayer is not most people.