Monday 21 October 2013

My Top Ten Bad Dad Songs

I've looked to a lot of pop songs for advice on fatherhood lately. Here's a few I won't be asking for help...

10. Morrissey - The Father Who Must Be Killed

A stepchild takes revenge against her abusive father... for the way he chews his food? I suspect there's more to it than that. Morrissey champions the underdogs once again. 

9. Genesis - No Son Of Mine

The darker side of The Living Years, which I covered in an earlier post, about a young man trying to reconcile with an abusive father... and not getting very far.

8.  The Indelicates - Be Afraid Of Your Parents

How to cope when your parents are pretentious arses... oh, the horror!

7. Kenny Rogers - The Coward of the County

On his prison deathbed, Tommy's late father tells him to always walk away from a fight. Tommy honours his dad's wishes... until the Gatlin Boys come calling. On that day, Tommy realises, "Sometimes you've gotta fight when you're a man".

6. Eminem - '97 Bonnie & Clyde

You have to wonder how poor little Hailie Jade will end up when she's got a crazy dad like Marshall Mathers. There were any number of Bad Dad songs I could have chosen from Eminem's back catalogue, but this one always makes me smile for its playful parody of an aforementioned Will Smith record...
Don't play with da-da's toy knife, honey, let go of it  
And don't look so upset, why you actin' bashful?
Don't you wanna help da-da build a sand castle?
And mama said she wants to show how far she can float
And don't worry about that little boo-boo on her throat
It's just a little scratch - it don't hurt, her was eatin'
Dinner while you were sweepin' and spilled ketchup on her shirt
Mama's messy ain't she? 

We'll let her wash off in the water and me and you can play by ourselves, can't we?
5. Martin Rossiter -  Three Points On A Compass

The lead track from the Gene man's long awaited debut solo album of last year is a hugely affecting 10 1/2 minute piano ballad aimed squarely at an absent father.
The only thing I got from you
Was my name
(This stupid name)
4. The Beautiful South - Your Father and I

A mother and father bicker over the story behind the conception and birth of their child... but who's telling the truth? Classic Heaton.
(Dad)  I'll remember the birth
For the rest of my time on this land
Your mother sweating buckets
And me holding onto her hand

(Mum) Well, your father was absent
He claimed he couldn't find the ward
Just tugging on mescal
Trying to eat the umbilical cord
3. Johnny Cash - A Boy Named Sue

Sue (aka Johnny) wants revenge on his pa for the cruel hand he dealt his son before doing a runner. But there was method in the old man's madness...

2.  Squeeze - Up The Junction

I almost included this on My Top Ten Songs About Becoming A Parent. There's no better song to chronicle the arrival of a new baby...
This morning at 4:50
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another
The only problem is that after that joyous event, everything goes bad for the alcoholic dad who's narrating this tale and he's left alone with only bitterness and regret.
And now she's two years older
Her mother's with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling
What makes this song even more impressive is that it's all verse, no chorus. Not many hit records can claim that.

1. Pulp - A Little Soul

One of my favourite Pulp singles, allegedly about Jarvis' relationship with his estranged father.
I'd love to help you
But everybody's telling me
You look like me
But please don't turn out like me.
You look like me
But you're not like me I know.
I had one, two, three,
Four shots of happiness.
I look like a big man
But I've only got a little soul.
I only got a little soul.

Any more bad parents I should be aware of? Feel free to share them with the class.


  1. Kenny Rogers!!!!!
    Does Papa Don't Preach count? I suspect he's just trying to do the right thing against a rebellious daughter...but I'd probably want to add Papa was a rolling stone

    1. Saving them for the inevitable Top Ten Papa Songs...

  2. The father in Cher's Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves always sounded a little morally suspect...

    1. So he preached a little gospel and sold a couple bottles of Dr. Good... what's so wrong with that?

  3. Can't argue with your top 3. Also great to see both Mozza and Rozza in here.

  4. Hi, great to see another post on here. I have been a bit slack on my own site, been busy.

    Very glad to see Up the Junction on the list, it would have been my selection - and your comments on it are spot on, its a great song. I also would have suggested Boy Named Sue which you already have.

    And arguably, the songs that have featured high in some of your earlier lists - Father and Son and Cats in the Cradle contain examples of bad parenting too.

    Hope all is going well with the little guy!

    1. Thanks, Deano - at least the dads in Father & Son and Cats In The Cradle learned the error of their ways...


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