Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published February 13th 2021
Sons worth singing about
My son's birthday is February, a few days after Valentine's Day. Yeah, what a Valentine's that was! Now, I have mentioned his birthday before, but this year he turns sixteen (16! How do I have a 16 year old son?) and so, I have decided to dedicate another song list to him.
So, songs about sons. Actually, there are heaps of them, so I had to restrict myself to songs with the word 'son' in the title, and then I went through, one song per artist, and found 15 that I really like… plus one comedy song. Now, here's a small issue. Not all of these are positive songs. Apparently, being a son is not a good experience for a number of people. That's a shame. But the music here is still really good, and I hope you will find something to enjoy.
We'll start with the comedy song! 'You're My Son' by Kenny Rogered (The Hee Bee Gee Bees) (1981) NSFW! No, really!
A parody of Kenny Rogers and his story songs, particularly 'The Gambler', this is such a cool country song with the strangest lyrics that could almost be done seriously with just a tweak. I recently discovered that Australia was the only place the Hee Bee Gee Bees (from the UK) did well in the charts, so it's good to see my fellow country-men have a sense of humour.
And now the list proper…
'Son Of A Preacher Man' by Dusty Springfield (1968)
Dusty fell in love with the titular son of a preacher man. Dusty Springfield had such an amazing singing voice, so emotional and powerful. This is one of her better known songs, and it is a great example of her work, but, really, you need to listen to everything she recorded. Stunning.
'The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp' by Johnny Darrell (1968)
A song about growing up with a mother with a reputation and fourteen children because her husband left her… we're full of good cheer today! It's actually sung really well as a country song, with the sort of emotion that makes you wonder how autobiographical it actually is. It was subsequently covered many, many times, but I like the original.
'Fortunate Son' by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)
A protest song about how the sons of politicians and leaders and the wealthy were not sent to the Vietnam War. A song that seems more relevant today, now that those same "fortunate sons" are in power and are still sending others off to fight. Okay, sorry for getting political. This is one of CCR's finest songs, showing they could really rock out when the situation called for it. And if you get the opportunity to hear it, the version by John Fogerty with the Foo Fighters is also damn fine.
'Father And Son' by Cat Stevens(1970)
A great example of the "conversation song", where the father and the son talk to one another about how they feel, and yet neither really listens to the other. It is a sad commentary on the generation gap, and, again, one that is probably still unfortunately relevant today. One of Stevens' best songs, the way he changes his voice between the characters, but the covers in the 80s and 90s by various bands were awful. Stick with the original.
'Son Of My Father' by Chicory Tip (1972)
Proto-glam rock (I guess), this cheerful song is about a guy whose father tried to mould him into a mini version of himself but the kid rejects it to have his own life. Still, I like this song. That keyboard motif is catchy as all out and it just chugs along nicely.
'Father To Son' by Queen (1974)
One of the better tracks on Queen II, this hard rock ballad is about a rocky relationship between a father and son that sounds like it might sort itself out. It starts gentle, builds up, and then Brian May hits a guitar solo that is blistering. What a track; Queen were the best.
'Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas (1976)
That SoCal easy rock made popular by The Eagles is well represented here by Kansas' classic track. It's like three different musical styles rammed together to form a whole that is amazing. Some of the instrumentation is magical. Kansas had a few popular songs and some good deep cuts, but could not match The Eagles. Shame; I liked them.
'Fightin' Sons' by Rose Tattoo (1978)
One of Rose Tattoo's early tracks, this song about Vietnam veterans is a rocker and yet has a point to make and makes it well. Between this and 'Khe Sanh' it seems Australian rock in the 70s really took the side of the veterans and the way they were treated, continued in the 80s through Redgum… sorry, getting off track there. Great track from one of Australia's great pub rock bands.
'European Son' by Japan (1982)
And we jump from pub rock to synth-pop. Just like that! I actually only own the 12" remix of this song, and the 7" version in the video is much tighter. Japan are often overlooked in the New Wave world, but they released some great music, and this is one of those tracks.
'Rebel Son' by Survivor (1986)
For most people, Survivor was the 'Eye Of The Tiger' band and nothing else. I own three of their albums and they had some really good, strong 1980s rock tracks, and this is one of them. The slow-fast-slow structure helps this song no end. It's just a good song, really.
'Runaway Son' by Mike Oldfield(1989)
I really like a lot of Mike Oldfield's music – I think there is now only one of his albums I don't own. This album is a good one, though virtually unknown by most, and songs like this – pounding along at a good rock speed, with some great guitar breaks – are examples why it is so good. A guy asking forgiveness for his life's mistakes, this is a great track.
'All Our Sons And Daughters' by John Farnham (1990)
A protest song about the state of the world driven along by a good guitar riff and Farnham's great singing voice. The album this track comes from – Chain Reaction – is one of his better ones, with some great instrumentation and strong song-writing; hard to find a bad track on it, as evidenced by this deep cut.
'Wild Hearted Son' by The Cult (1991)
A song about Native Americans, I bought this song on cassingle "back in the day" because I just loved the way it sounds, the great guitar playing, and the driving beat. I hadn't listened to it for over twenty years before doing this column, and I am glad I have heard it again – it really is an amazing track.
'No Son Of Mine' by Genesis (1991)
A song of regret, of a guy who runs away from an abusive home, only to return and be rejected, this track came out, made a blip on the charts, then disappeared, but my friends and I really got into it (actually the whole album We Can't Dance was awesome). It's a great song with some interesting keyboard sounds. And the lyrics are really strong as well. People derided Genesis after Peter Gabriel left; they were still great, just in a different way.
From my favourite album of 2004, this song also featured on one of the Rock Against Bush albums, so it's not difficult to guess who it is about. It is a good piece of punk-pop (like much of the album). The video features the version from the stage musical, by the way, but it's still not a bad version of the song.
And there we are – songs about sons. So many different sons… It's an interesting song theme and lends itself to a lot of different styles and lyrical ideas. Hope I haven't depressed you too much.