When looking to pop music to make us think of special bonds, there is no shortage of songs about mothers. But for too long, most songs about fathers were about pain and regret.
Mothers have been honored by songs for decades, from the Italian staple “Mama” that was recorded countless times, to American artists as varied as Tupac Shakur, Dolly Parton, Bob Seger, Boys II Men, Kacey Musgraves and The Beatles, just to name a few. The songs these artists and others sing about their mothers are overwhelmingly positive and sentimental.
When it comes to fathers, one has to dig a lot deeper. In fact, probably the two most well-known songs about fathers of the last 50 years are “Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations, and both seem to tell tales of absentee fathers who put their children last.
Another song about fathers that was very popular in the 1980s was “The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics, but it’s a tale of regret. One may point to “My Father’s Eyes” by Eric Clapton in 1998 as a beautiful tribute to a father, and it is. Yet it is also about a father that Clapton never met.
Without a doubt, there have been some positive songs about fathers. One that comes to my mind as among the most powerful is “Dance With My Father” by Luther Vandross, which is about Vandross’ childhood memory of his late father dancing with him and his mother.
In it, he tells a tale about his father spinning him around till he fell asleep and then carrying him upstairs and him knowing “for sure” that he was loved. He also wishes for another walk, another dance with him and how he prays for his mother to have him back as well.
There also are a lot of songs about fathers and sons, the most famous of which is probably “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens. It’s a beautiful song that connected with millions because it’s relatable — it’s an exchange between a father trying to give his son advice and not understanding his son’s desire to break away and start a new life, and the son who cannot explain why but nevertheless must go out on his own.
Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to learn about a new song about fatherhood that has struck a chord with many, going viral on TikTok with more than 350,000 views in just a few days.
The song, called “Checking In,” is from singer-songwriter Michael Farren, and when he first performed it at the Listening Room in Nashville shortly after writing it, he recalled in an Oct. 25 news article that “It wrecked the room. Grown men sitting there crying at a public place.”
The reason the song seems to resonate with many is that it inspires people to call their dad. Written by Farren and fellow songwriters Kenneth Hart and Garrett Jackson, it has inspired many to share it on social media along with the hashtag #CallYourDad.
Farren explained a bit about the song, saying, “It’s really more about motivating people to take the phone call and make the phone call,” Farren said. “This is the most disconnected, busiest culture that has ever existed … You only get so many days, you only get so many minutes, you only get so many walks.
“The beautiful thing about this song with the three writers involved [is] all of us all still have our dads. And all of us have different dynamics with our dads, and no parent is perfect. It’s not about being perfect parents or perfect kids. It’s about choosing to love well and connect with those that matter.”
As a father myself and someone who works every day to protect fathers’ rights, it is refreshing to not only learn that there’s a new, positive song about fatherhood but that it’s being so well-received by the public. It’s long overdue.
If you haven’t heard it, I urge you go seek it out. Here’s a video.
Jeffery M. Leving is founder and president of the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving Ltd.
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