Fathers and Sons

I don’t know what it is about the 70’s and songs about sons and fathers, but I guess it must be a requirement for admission into the sensitive singer-songwriter club, of which Dan Fogelberg is club President.  Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, James Taylor, Cat Stevens:  all have lifetime memberships.  These classics can cover the gamut from the son who realizes later in life that his father made him into the man he is today (Cats in the Cradle), and odes to fathers that just don’t know how to let their sons grow up to be their own man (Father and Son).

Leader of the Band, Father and Son and Cats in the Cradle — when I hear any of those songs, it gets me every time.  When they come on the radio unexpected, I have to be alone in the car or I must change the station.  Within seconds of hearing the song’s minor chords or the plaintive strains of voice melding with acoustic guitar, my eyes will start to swell with tears and I don’t want to have to explain to my wife, or my coworker or whoever is sitting next to me, why I am blubbering.  Was this always the case? Is this reaction because of nostalgia?  Do any people under the age of 40 get affected by these songs?  Or is it just gag-inducing pabulum to them?  Maybe it’s a combination of the age I was when I first heard these songs, combined with being middle-aged, with my own father now in his twilight years.  When I was a teenager and up through my 20’s, these soft-rock songs from my parents generation seemed hokey and melodramatic.  Punk rock and new wave and heavy metal were what spoke to me.

Yet –yet, I can remember a few songs sneaking through the cracks in the walls that a teenager and younger person builds up at that age.  Some songs, no matter how corny or cliché tug at the heartstrings and no matter how manipulative it seems, you find yourself singing along and getting swept up in the emotions.

It was Dan Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band that I awoke with,  but I don’t remember having any dreams about my dad. Not that the soundtrack to my early morning has to correlate to my dream-state, but often it does. One benefit of deconstructing the SIMH is that it can sometimes reveal things that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.  I think I’m just documenting the songs that get caught, getting them down on the page,  but by create stories out of my over-active mind, the endless loop of song that plays 24/7, I’m able to turn a slight mental condition into a bottomless blog source.

What I’d like to know, is, what songs about Fathers or Mothers impact/ed you when you were younger, do they still impact you today, are there new songs that have that same impact, that can turn you into a blubbering puddle in the middle of the shopping mall? Do muzak versions of the song trigger the same reaction?  Or does it have to be the original?

And what about songs about Mothers and Daughters? None come to mind, but I’m sure there are lots of great ones.  And Mothers and Sons (Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon comes to mind) or Fathers and Daughters?

I can see how some songs that are lyrically vague might work to represent a parent and a child relationship, but I’m more interested in songs that are definitely about the parent/child  bond (or lack thereof).

Who are the sensitive singer songwriters of today? And can only younger people answer this question, because songs like this have to be part of ones formative years?


3 thoughts on “Fathers and Sons

  1. Don’t forget about “Ships” by Barry Manilow! That one always gets me.

    I can’t speak to the current young generation because I am old, but this is certainly a timeless issue. And now as a parent myself, anything like this will send me into fits of tears.

  2. Great pick! I forgot that that song was about his father. And one doesn’t even have to be a parent to be triggered into a fit of tears. You are a Barry Manilow expert. I will have to pick your brain for an upcoming Barry post that I’m sure will be sooner than later.

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