A relationship between a father & son or a mother-son both have their unique characteristics and are told by each artist differently. Throughout their career, many artists have written songs about their parents.
Beautiful memories with father, a mother being missed heavily, absent father, rage against mother, parents getting old… All those are little windows through that artist’s life we look at. Indeed, we associate our relations with our parents thanks to those classical songs.
Let’s take a look at some of the greatest songs of all time based on father & son and mother& son relationships!
- 1. Father & Son – Cat Stevens (1970)
- 2. Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own – U2 (2004)
- 3. The Perfect Fan – The Backstreet Boys (1999)
- 4. My Father’s House – Bruce Springsteen (1982)
- 5. Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons (2009)
- 6. Here For You – Neil Young (2005)
- 7. Sweetest Devotion – Adele (2015)
- 8. Sail to the Moon – Radiohead (2003)
- 9. My Father’s Eyes – Eric Clapton (1998)
- 10. Mama Said – Metallica (1996)
- 11. Monsters – James Blunt (2019)
- 12. Father Son – Peter Gabriel (2000)
- 13. I Got You – Ciara (2015)
- 14. Father Son Blues – Booker T (2013)
- 15. Like Father Like Son – Game (2015)
- 16. To Zion – Lauryn Hill (1998)
- 17. That’s No Way to Get Along – Robert Wilkins (1930)
- 18. Mother – Pink Floyd (1979)
- 19. Just the Two of Us – Will Smith (1997)
- 20. Cleaning’ Out My Closet – Eminem (2002)
- 21. Kooks – David Bowie (1971)
- 22. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack (1969)
- 23. With Arms Wide Open – Creed (1999
- 24. Dear Mama – 2Pac (1995)
- 25. Beautiful Boy – John Lennon (1980)
1. Father & Son – Cat Stevens (1970)
We kick off our list with an unforgettable classical. C.Stevens wrote this song for stage work. It is telling the story of a young Russian revolutionary boy and his conservative father.
When asked about the song, he said ‘’I could never understand my father, but the bond was still there’’. The tune is built upon Steven’s sweet guitar and velvet voice, about an irrepressible change of things in time.
2. Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own – U2 (2004)
In that late very personal song of Bono from U2, we see a man reading a letter he wrote to his father. He wishes that he could express himself much more clearly to his father so that his father is more comfortable emotionally.
All these statements are surrounded by an echoed space made with strings and other effects.
3. The Perfect Fan – The Backstreet Boys (1999)
The lesser-known slow pop hit from the late 90s by the popular boy band of the 90s is a declaration of appreciation for the mother.
‘’The Perfect Fan’’ is the mother and she is the one who accepts us with all rights and wrongs.
Song has the nostalgic character that brings us to that 90s slow pop song mood, set with piano, synth effects, and clear vocal lines.
4. My Father’s House – Bruce Springsteen (1982)
This sweet soul-pop take of Springsteen almost feels like a chant with its simple and strong melodic line. A heartwarming yet also heartbreaking tale of a boy who recalls his childhood with his father told beautifully.
Despite this music having a chance to turn into a much louder and more expressive one, Springsteen chose to tell the story in a lullaby-like soft musical setting.
5. Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons (2009)
A rather problematic relationship between father & son is also a reality. It has been expressed very well by a father here with a poem that can be seen as a confession.
What we’d expect for such songs is mostly a heavy, down-tempo musical setting. It is the opposite though, Little Lion Man is a quite catchy tune.
6. Here For You – Neil Young (2005)
If you’d ask me to define a heartwarming song from father to son, that’s surely this one. Harmonica, guitar with wah-wah pedals and sweet rhythm make it all!
A late N.Young tune, Here for You depicts a father promising his child good days, protection, and limitless love. He is though afraid, afraid to become a trouble for the kid.
7. Sweetest Devotion – Adele (2015)
Strong poetry from a mother to son is expressed in that lesser-known Adele tune. It begins with a celestial atmosphere almost reminiscent of film music, then only gets larger in volume.
The song expresses the unconditional love of a mother for her son and making it one of the classical R&B-pop tunes highlights the mother& son relationship.
8. Sail to the Moon – Radiohead (2003)
A tune from the sixth studio album of the legendary British band, Sail to the Moon probably is the oddest example among all father & son songs on our list. The music floats in a calm yet melancholic zone.
It is empowered by a father figure being more honest, he is more helpless about the son’s future and wonders about it. No advice, no fatherly words, just personal concerns.
9. My Father’s Eyes – Eric Clapton (1998)
We see figures like N.Young and now E.Clapton share those personal songs with us much later in their career. Maybe we need time to define the relationship between us and our parents.
The song is like an old 70s Clapton tune in 90s fashion. Here Clapton is like a little boy who admires his father, mentioning his need for him by his side.
10. Mama Said – Metallica (1996)
I believe the most emotional songs that depict a son’s relationship with his parents are the ones that focus on a longing for them during hard times.
We grow up and realize the world is cruel and remember their words. In this personal story, we got a similar setting. The son wants to break free, as he declares that he is not the one her mother thinks.
11. Monsters – James Blunt (2019)
Emotions seem to increase to the top with this already slow pop classic. Monsters draw a line from childhood to the time when a son is grown enough by the side of his old father.
This time we witness promises of a son to a father, probably close to death.
Musically, the song stays within the boundaries of vocal lines, soft piano chords, and a synth-string base. All that surely strengthens the dramatic effect more.
12. Father Son – Peter Gabriel (2000)
A very similar emotional background to Monsters by J.Blunt is set by P.Gabriel in this heartwarming slow hit.
Seems like many artists associated the piano to refer to such family boundaries. Father Son is also set in a similar calm, down-tempo musical base, filled with old memories told by a son to a father.
13. I Got You – Ciara (2015)
Starting with a quote from a classic lullaby, I got You of Ciara directly takes you into pure heavenly space. Mother’s unconditional love and support have been expressed fully with one sentence: ‘’I got your back’’.
As the lyrics get more intense, the string quartet increases the level of drama. Gospel-like vocals add a sweet quality, which gives a soul spice to the tune.
14. Father Son Blues – Booker T (2013)
Sometimes we don’t even need lyrics, just a title, and the music itself is enough. Booker T’s amazing blues ballad feels like a soundtrack of any father-son relationship.
Repeated chords on piano accompany a great organ solo, followed by another guitar solo that brings all memories back.
15. Like Father Like Son – Game (2015)
This catchy rap tune is not only musically different from other songs on the list. Instead of telling a personal story, the song depicts the initials of a father-son relationship.
String samples and moving atmosphere added up with cool lyrics paint a more realistic picture. Maybe we don’t need to get so dramatic each time to tell our son ‘’follow your way’’?
16. To Zion – Lauryn Hill (1998)
A love letter from L.Hill to her son Zion, the grandson of Bob Marley is probably the most effective tune of the 90s in this field.
The child is here almost expressed as a holy relic, something that brought light and happiness to the mother’s life.
Another great aspect is the musical quality of guitar solos sprinkled, supplied by the great featured artist of the album, C.Santana.
17. That’s No Way to Get Along – Robert Wilkins (1930)
That incredible, very old country blues classic has been an inspiration for many artists with its lyrics and music. All we hear is the amazing vocal of Wilkins with a clean, cleverly set jingle-jangle guitar walk.
The song tells the story of a boy who sees the bad side of the world and complains to his mother that he’s been treated wrong. An unchanged reality, the mother is the last resort here again.
18. Mother – Pink Floyd (1979)
Another prolific tune by a British band is titled directly ‘’Mother’’. In reality, though, the song is about what the world has become. The melancholy mixed with the mellow entrance of the organ push lyrics to another level.
When the electric guitar solo comes, questions of the son end and probably he is free to face it all.
19. Just the Two of Us – Will Smith (1997)
In that chilling hip-hop tune from the 90s, we see an open letter to the father mentioning past and future both. By telling his father their story and what his objectives are, the son gives promises.
In fact, in many of such songs, we can also talk about a hidden coming-of-age quality.
We all reconsider things our parents said when growing up, and come to terms with some of them we refused before.
20. Cleaning’ Out My Closet – Eminem (2002)
Well, not every relationship between parents and sons works well. Although we see artists depict good memories more, some like Eminem created that hit on opposite feelings.
Still sorry for not being the ‘’good boy’’ imagined, lyrics depict a very problematic mom raising a son. Eminem says such a son had no other choice but to become a man with inevitable issues.
21. Kooks – David Bowie (1971)
Originally a Neil Young tune, Bowie rearranged the song for the birth of his son. The song is set upon quite a typical drum and guitar pattern of the 1970s.
Lyrics, on the other hand, highlight life’s difficulties quite realistically.
Kooks is more of a song to be listened to in the future by the little son, and more about a supposed future for the child rather than emotional promises.
22. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack (1969)
In this heartwarming mother-son song, R.Flack’s beautiful vocals recreate the moment a mother saw her baby for the first time.
Here the relationship is depicted as calm and naive, yet so monumental and special.
Only very few additional instruments, piano, strings, and drum patterns come and go. That song is real poetry!
23. With Arms Wide Open – Creed (1999
A classic rock tune of the late 90s, With Arms Wide Open, was written right away after band member S.Stapp learned that he will soon have a son.
As he reported, that song, just as many others we’ve seen in lyrics, is a letter in a bottle for the future.
That love song depicts a father who doesn’t want his son to have similar obstacles he’s endured is still a favorite for many among all father-son songs.
24. Dear Mama – 2Pac (1995)
When looking at lyrics, that great hip hop tune from the 90s might seem similar to Eminem’s hit we’ve seen. Both had mothers with drug issues, raised in poverty.
In 2Pac’s case, there is no anger, yet an appreciation for all her efforts, despite all the hardship of childhood. Tune uses a sweet guitar hook along with jazzy soul chords to support the heartwarming atmosphere.
25. Beautiful Boy – John Lennon (1980)
A hit from Lennon’s last album, Beautiful Boy is a little heartwarming record he dedicated to his son, Sean. From the first second on, we enter into a musically magical and a bit childlike atmosphere.
I think the steelpan used on the percussion part of the song gives an enormous impact to achieve such quality, in addition to Lennon’s vocal and lyrical abilities.