Weekend for songs that celebrate fathers

Father’s Day falls this Sunday and it is increasingly being taken seriously by more families. If you’re wondering what music to put together for the occasion then we can offer some suggestions. Here is a random list of five popular “Daddy” songs that you can select to provide the perfect soundtrack to the day.

‘Daddy was an old time preacher man’ - Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner
Country music icon Dolly was not actually singing about her father but, in fact, the song was inspired by her grandfather, Reverend Jake Owens. He would, in the words of the song, preach so plain that a child could understand.

Parton wrote the lyrics with her Aunt Dorothy Jo Hope and recorded the song with her mentor and musical collaborator Porter Wagoner. This turned out to be one of the duo’s most successful songs and was nominated for a Grammy in 1970

‘Papa was a rolling stone’ - The Temptations

When you turn on this song, you are greeted by a lengthy instrumental and one of the most distinctive bass lines in contemporary pop history. The story itself is a tragic tale of a delinquent father whose notoriety leaves many questions in the minds of his children. Their mother’s stock response is: “Papa was a rolling stone and wherever he laid his heart was his home and when he died, all he left us was alone.”


One of the finest records to emerge from that golden era of Motown Records in the 1970s. What is not common knowledge is that the song was not originally by The Temptations; it was first recorded by the Undisputed Truth, another group on the same record stable in 1971.

When the Tempts turned it into a 12-minute opus a year later, the song shot to No 1 on the U.S pop charts and won no less than three Grammy Awards. It is anything but a happy story but musically, this is a masterpiece.

‘Daddy’s Home’ - Jermaine Jackson

Another product of Motown Records though a lot more charming than the story by the Temptations. Actually, Jermaine recorded this song while still a member of the Jackson 5 in 1972 and it became his first individual hit selling a million copies. The group Shep and Limelites had recorded the original version of the song a decade earlier with similar success.

Jermaine was just 16 when he recorded the song and in the video from the Soul Train TV show, you see the teenager with the huge mop of Afro hair playing the guitar accompanied by his brothers. Incidentally, you can barely spot a tiny Michael Jackson, the future star among the brothers, singing background vocals in the same clip.

There were other versions that came after Jermaine’s song, notably that by Cliff Richard and another by Toots and the Maytals. A sweet ballad and highly recommended for Father’s Day.

‘Dance with my father’ - Luther Vandross

This is an obvious choice, especially because of the poignancy surrounding what Luther called his “career song.” Together with his songwriting partner, Richard Marx, he wrote moving lyrics recalling the childhood memories of the father he lost when he was just 5. His own mother expressed her surprise that Luther had such vivid recollections of the song and dance in the happy household in which he grew up.

Quite apart from dedicating this song to his late father and namesake, this ended up as the last recording by the much-loved singer. Many people immediately connected to the anguished lament for the loss of a father and this song still bears very powerful resonance.

To add to the subtext, the song was released in 2003 as Luther himself was in hospital after suffering a stroke. This won a Grammy for Song of the year in 2004 though the singer never really recovered from the stroke and died in 2005.

‘Just the two of us’ - Will Smith

If you want a “feel-good” song this Father’s Day then you could do a lot worse than reach for this Will Smith tune. Recorded in 1998, it’s a clever adaptation of a love song from the 1970s by saxophonist Grover Washington together with singer Bill Withers.

While retaining just enough elements from the original song, Smith transformed this from a romantic song to one that talks of the relationship between a father and a son.

The actor and rapper wrote a children’s book with the title “Just the two of us” before using those very words in rhyme for this song. It might help to get on to Youtube just to take another look at the beginning of the video where the rapper’s son, Trey says: “Now, Daddy, this is a very sensitive subject.”

Smith’s wife Jada who was pregnant at the time with the couple’s first child Jaden (Trey is from his first marriage) and a host of celebrity fathers like Babyface, Magic Johnson, and Muhammed Ali all appear in the video.