In this article, we’ve assembled the quintessential list of 27 songs about sons to inspire your thoughts.
1. “He Gets That From Me” by Reba McEntire
Reba was never known to hold back when it comes to singing from the heart. “He Gets That From Me” is a saccharine ditty, no doubt. It’s an ode to her son, Shelby Blackstock. Blackstock is famous in his own right as a professional American race car driver.
This one strikes a special chord with moms and dads alike. According to the lyrics, Blackenstock inherited quite a few things from his parents, including a special affinity for the Ford Mustang.
2. ”Just the Two of Us” by Will Smith
While there are millions of songs about love between couples, few and far between are those expressing the unique love between a father and son. The fourth single off his debut solo album, Big Willie Style it’s heavily sampled from the smooth, Super Seventies hit by the same title.
Smith’s version of the song emphasizes the special relationship between father and son. But, curiously, his first son, Jaden, hadn’t been born yet. We learn this as Jada Pinkett Smith is shown as pregnant with their first child in the song’s music video which takes place on a Hollywood film set.
3. “Boy” by Lee Brice
No charting pop-country song is complete without an impactful narrative. “Boy” was written by composers Nicole Gaylon and Jon Nite. It was later performed by Lee to a strong critical reception.
If there’s a complete song about rural American boyhood, “Boy” could just cover it all. The songwriters make a special point not to exclude the obligatory breaking of hearts along with wild and reckless teenage driving. It’s the complete song for any parent worrying about his son growing up too fast and getting out of control.
4. ”Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons
This song is part of the continuous soundtrack at venues such as Starbucks and Panera Bread. Released in 2007, “Little Lion Man” was the debut single by the British Folk-Rock ensemble, Mumford and Sons.
Concerning the song’s composition, lead singer-songwriter Marcus Mumford indicated it was a “personal story” while stating he wouldn’t elaborate much further on the topic. Mumford has at least one known son with actress Cary Mulligan.
However, following Mumford’s public statement above, little is known about their private family. It’s generally agreed that the song is addressed to one of Mumford’s sons, referred to here as “Little Lion Man.” Perhaps a sort of apology and admission of guilt to both a son and his mother, this is the go-to song for the dad who messed up a good thing going.
5. “I Got You” by Ciara
We love Ciara, and this song should really be higher on the list. Chalk it up to an odd structure. With the refigured classic lullaby at the beginning, it’s two songs.
Dedicated to her new son, Future Zahid Wilburn, Ciara proclaims her boundless love for her new son who she shares with rap artist Future. Honestly, this is the jam to blast if you’re want to let your younger song know you’ll always be there, no matter what.
6. ”When You Need Me” by Bruce Springsteen
There’s are few things more reassuring to the offspring of a parent than knowing mom and dad have every intention of sticking around. “When You Need Me” by The Boss intends to drive that very message home.
This track was originally recorded in Springsteen 1987 but wasn’t released until 1994. Its arrangement ostensibly takes its influence from traditional Irish folk. It’s quite popular as a mother/son dance song at American weddings, however.
7. “You Had To Be There” by Tim McGraw
It’s safe to presume that “You Had To Be There” doesn’t draw from Tim McGraw’s personal life experience. At least not at this juncture. That’s because this song is about a boy discovering for the first time that his dad was sentenced to an extended stay in federal prison.
8. ”Like Father, Like Son” by The Game
Not all childhoods are born from a bed of roses, and The Game is set on reminding his audience of this in ”Like Father, Like Son.” Sampled Family Circle’s Shaft-era classic, “Mariya,” this song might be of particular interest to the diehard Buster Rhymes fan.
It’s a rare instance in which Busta is heard signing only over the catchy hook. ”Like Father, Like Son” is a choice selection for the dad who didn’t exactly take make the right turns in life and doesn’t want his son to repeat the same mistakes.
9. “Sail to the Moon” by Radiohead
This track is huge among Radiohead aficionados. More than a few fans have noted the tune’s rather keen similarities to early Pink Floyd, especially their Dark Side of the Moon album. Purportedly, it’s an ode Thom Yorke’s son Noah. The hook, or “arch,” of the song, as it were, is “pride comes before the fall.” If your son’s a deep thinker and a little emo, this might be the track on which to put him.
10. ”Father, Son” by Peter Gabriel
A rather elusive selection by Peter Gabriel, ”Father, Son” is about the father son-relationship and composed from the point of view of an adult son. Gabriel stated that he wasn’t especially close with his father until he reached old age and developed a disability. This somber and personal song is said to be about some form of physical therapy Gabriel was partaking in with his father. The experience renewed a close relationship between the father and son pair.
11. “Child of Mine” by Carole King
With the two hooks so similar, you almost have to wonder if “Child of Mine” wasn’t the secret inspiration behind Axl Rose’s own “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” That wouldn’t be a surprise at all, given that Carole King is an indispensable songwriting talent that massively defined 1970s soft rock. King’s technical and flawless delivery here might account for one of the best tunes set to tape for putting down an irascible infant son.
12. “Father Son Blues” by Booker T
This blues song in B is old school. It doesn’t have any lyrics and makes for one father-son collaboration that couldn’t possibly be omitted from this list. Booker T’s own son, Ted Jones, describes taking time away from his busy life as a college soccer player at UC Berkley to record this tune with his legendary blues dad. An enviable bonding experience, this is the perfect jam for the father and son duo who chose to occasionally imbibe in whiskey sipping together well into the night.
13. ”Love Without End, Amen” by George Strait
“Love Without End, Amen,” is one of the best representations of early 90s country. Few songs about sons provide such a unique shifting in narrative perspective that begins with being a son to later becoming a father in mid-song. This multi-week No. 1 charting single was Straight’s biggest hit. And there’s no doubt as to why. “Love Without End, Amen” is well structured, even delving into the concept of unconditional love from the “theological father” in the third and final verse.
14. “Kooks” by David Bowie
A lot of us have “kookie” parents. It’s not only Beverley Owen from The Munsters. Evidently, David Bowie fancied himself as one dad among this group of kooks, which is why he wrote the song for his son Ducan Jones. Ironically this track, “Kooks,” sounds more like The Kinks. It’s a type of English rock sound we’re not entirely used to from Bowie. Nevertheless, if you’re starting to get the cues that your son finds you a tad strange, blowing the dust of this old Bowie record might not be a bad idea.
15. “Rufus Is A Tit Man” by Loudon Wainwright
Well, at the risk of appearing crass, we included this song because the title generally speaks for itself. This is one father’s reaction to watching his newborn son breastfeed. Loudon Wainwright was also a comedic actor, of course, appearing on a handful of M*A*S*H episodes. This was by far his biggest hit.
16. “Anything Like Me” by Brad Paisley
For the nervous father-to-be, “Anything Like Me” brings it back home. Again, with the strong commercial country narrative, it tells the story of an expecting dad who’s extremely worried that his son might turn out just like he is. By the end, the song resolves itself in the moral of self-acceptance (perhaps even narcissism, if you’re a cynic) as Paisley concludes, “there’s worse folks to be like.” Time will only tell…
17. ”Watching You” by Rodney Atkins
You might notice this list becoming somewhat Country and Western-heavy. That surely wasn’t for a lack of diving deep for alternatives. Rodney Adkins writes a good bit of his own music. “Watching You” might have something of meta-story insofar as state police forces in the places like the American South also like to remind over the radio that your son is always watching you.
18. “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd
“Walk on my son,” we’re going out on a creative limb here by including Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” here. Do keep in mind, it would be ranked much higher than 10 if this song wasn’t principally about departed bandmate, Syd Barret, who flew the cuckoo’s nest after ingesting too many substances.
That much disclosed, the track is rumored to be inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 and all the shattered dreams that go along with the corrupt dystopian society he enumerated therein. It’s a good starting point to open up a dialogue with your son about a few wider societal issues of the day, men’s mental health among them.
19. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
It’s sort of nebulous as to whether or not this song is about a mother seeing her newborn son for the first time or if it’s about romantic love at first sight. Flack didn’t write the tune, and its history is a tad foggy. She herself associates it with a deceased cat. Flack’s version appears in Clint Eastwood’s, 1971 Play Misty for Me. You know, upon reflection, bonding with your son over that masterful piece of film couldn’t hurt either.
20. “A Song For My Son” by Mikki Viereck
Even if we’re not the biggest Mikki Viereck fan, this song is trending higher because it’s directly on topic. And it has has multiple millions of views of YouTube. It’s about a mom telling her song in plain English how to behave in his marriage on his wedding day. What else can we mention?
21. “Lullaby For Wyatt” by Sheryl Crow
I love Sheryl Crow. Mick Jagger loves Sheryl Crow. You love Sheryl Crow… There are very few people in the environment who do not love Sheryl Crow. That’s why she’s so high on this list. In “Lullaby For Wyatt,” you’ll find a technically sweet original lullaby for her son, Wyatt.
22. ”You Will Always Be My Son” by Anthem Lights
We wanted to ensure this collection was both Millennial and Zoomer inclusive. “You Will Always Be My Son,” by Anthem Lights, is another variation on an ever-present theme.
23. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon
John Lennon is one the most prolific pop songwriters in contemporary history, and this one get’s straight to the point. Appearing on the last album released by the singer, this forward-looking island-themed song is about Lennon’s, son Sean. Paul McCartney stated “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” among his favorite songs ever written by his rock-n-roll collaborator and compatriot.
24. “To Zion” by Lauryn Hill
Arguably the most moving track off her famous The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, “To Zion” was written about her first son, Zion David Marley, a child she shares with Rohan Marley, Bob Marley’s son. This song is all about the message, namely facing down uncertainty over her pregnancy and career to only discover the boundless joys of being a parent to her son.
25. “That’s No Way To Get Along” by Robert Wilkins
You may otherwise know this song as “The Prodigal Son” by the Rolling Stones from their Beggars Banquet, an album on which a writing credit to Wilkins still fails to appear. Taken from Luke 15:11-32, the song tells the story of the younger of two sons who demands his share of his father’s inheritance while he’s still living before absconding off to a distant land. There, he lived riotously as a spendthrift. The son later comes to his senses and returns home to receive the forgiveness and unconditional love of his father.
26. “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Inspired by the passing of the late Ronnie Van Zant’s grandmother, “Simple Man” recounts a few valuable lessons a son gleaned from his mother. Chief among those were the avoidance of lust and the fast life while keeping things simple. Not unlike many of the songs included here, Simple Man is not laking the obvious theological overtones around the word “son.”
27. “Circus” by Eric Clapton
Most lists like this one would usually end it here, and perhaps rightfully so, with Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven.” We felt like that’d be a bit trite, if not entirely predictable. “Circus” is the rare counterpart to “Tears In Heaven.” It too is written about Clapton’s deceased son, Connor who died tragically in a falling accident.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.