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Published: Sunday, 6/19/2005

Sing out his virtues - and mistakes


Whether we tapped our feet, sang along, or cried over the storyline, we have enjoyed extolling the virtues of fatherhood expressed by songwriters and vocalists.

Mothers have been placed on a higher plateau in the history of music, but still, vinyl archives prove that dear old dad is worth singing about. Called Father, Papa, and Daddy in lyrics, he's left his mark on our hearts.

Many artists revealed their own personal relationships with their fathers through song.

For example, Bruce Springsteen's 1978 song "Factory" earned him the reputation of relating to the common man. Springsteen did not get along with his father while growing up, but the song speaks of the appreciation he had for his father's work and the way he took care of his family.

Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, wrote "Teach Your Children," about the often difficult relationship he had with his dad, who spent time in prison.

Then there are the hit songs scold fictitious fathers for their actions, such as the Temptations classic, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." In this early-1970s song, the memorable line is, "Wherever he laid his hat was his home." The tune was about a father who was never there for his family and left them in debt after his death.

One of Madonna's most controversial songs, "Papa Don't Preach," spoke of a confused, pregnant teenager who wants advice from her dad during this difficult time in her life. This 1986 hit, done again later by Kelly Osbourne, climbed to the top of the charts, but left those on both sides of the abortion debate either praising or criticizing Madonna.

Still, the best songs are those that conjure up the feelings we have, good, bad, or indifferent, for the men we know as father. Luther Vandross struck a nerve for those whose fathers have died in his 2003 chart-topper, "Dance With My Father." The artist's title track speaks of yearning for a loved one, specifically a father, and is considered the most personal tribute Vandross has ever written. The song is about Vandross's own father, who died when the artist was 7 years old.

On this Father's Day, select a song that reminds you most of dear old dad. Here are some suggestions:

  • "Cat's In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin

  • "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" by Barbra Streisand

  • "Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon

  • "My Father's Eyes" by Eric Clapton

  • "To Know Him Is To Love Him" by the Teddy Bears

  • "The Story of My Old Man," by Good Charlotte

  • "Father of Mine" by Everclear

  • "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens

  • "Better Man" by Pearl Jam

    Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com or 419-724-6101.

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