31 Of The Best Songs About Sons Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

The relationship between a parent and a child is one of the most complex and emotional bonds a human can experience. Being a son comes with challenges, joys, and struggles. Music can capture and express these feelings in a way that words alone cannot.

In this article, we have compiled a list of 31 of the best songs about sons or being one. From iconic classics to contemporary hits, these songs explore the varied emotions of being a son or the joy of having one.

Whether it is the struggle to live up to expectations or the pain of loss and separation, these songs capture the essence of the son-parent relationship. Let’s get started.

1. “Cat’s In The Cradle” By Harry Chapin

A classic folk-rock song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” was released in 1974 by Harry Chapin. The song tells the story of a father who is too busy with work to spend time with his son, and later in life, when the father has retired and wants to spend time with his son, the son is too busy to make time for him.

Ugly Kid Joe’s hard rock version of “Cat’s in the Cradle” added a new dimension to the classic folk-rock song. The remake was released in 1992 and became a commercial success, reaching the top 10 in multiple countries.

The song is a poignant reminder of the importance of spending time with loved ones and not letting work and other obligations consume our lives. Its message has made it a timeless classic that continues to touch the hearts of listeners today.

2. “You Will Always Be My Son” By Anthem Lights

A beautiful tribute to the love, dedication, and support that a parent has can be heard in “You Will Always Be My Son.” This heartwarming song by Anthem Lights celebrates the special bond between a parent and their child, no matter what challenges they may face in life.

The lyrics are touching and sincere, expressing the unconditional love and devotion of parents. The melody is soothing and uplifting, providing a sense of comfort and reassurance to anyone who listens to it. “You Will Always Be My Son” is a powerful reminder of the enduring love between a parent and child.

3. “A Song For My Son” By Mikki Viereck

Released in 1996 for the album New Wedding Traditions, “A Song for My Son” is a beautiful ballad by Mikki Viereck. It is often used as background music during mother-son dances at weddings because of the message it passes.

“A Song for My Son” is a touching tribute to a mother’s love for her son and the bond they share. The song captures the emotions of a mother as she watches her son grow up and prepares to send him out into the world.

The universal message of love and support is relatable to not just mothers but fathers as well. Who knows, when your son gets married, you might just use this song too to impart a heartfelt message to him.

4. “Boy” By Lee Brice

This heartwarming ballad by Lee Brice was released in 2017. Simply titled “Boy,” it is a touching tribute to a father’s love for his son. The song explores many joys and challenges of fatherhood, from the magic of a child’s first steps to the pain of watching them grow up and move away.

Brice’s vocals and the universal message of love and support have resonated with audiences, making it a testament to the enduring bonds between fathers and sons.

The country song can certainly tug at the heartstrings of many parents. It certainly appealed to fans—it climbed to #14 on the Hot Country charts and #16 on Country Airplay.

5. “Father And Son” By Cat Stevens

A folk-rock song with “son” in the title, “Father and Son,” was released in 1970 by Cat Stevens. It features a dialogue between a father and his son exploring the generational divide and the struggle to find common ground.

The father expresses that “it’s not time to make a change,” while the son wishes to find his own destiny. With its poignant lyrics and melody, the song captures the complex emotions of fatherhood and the challenges of passing on wisdom from one generation to the next.

“Father and Son” is a beautiful reminder of the importance of listening, learning, and growing together. It was a moderate success, yet many artists, including Ronan Keating and boy band Boyzone, created covers.

6. “Child Of Mine” By Carole King

Singer-songwriter Carole King has been releasing songs since 1958. Her “Child of Mine” is a beautiful and heartfelt ode to the unbreakable bond between a parent and their child.

The sweet song captures the gratitude of a parent for the existence of their son or daughter. It expresses warmth, love, and encouragement, as well as the parent’s hope for their child’s happiness and success in life.

King’s vocals are tender and soothing, making the song an ideal choice for parents to sing to their children as a lullaby or a reminder of their love. Released in 1971 in her album Music, “Child of Mine” has become an enduring love song.

7. “Humble And Kind” By Tim McGraw

Released in 2016, this song by Tim McGraw is a powerful reminder to live our lives with kindness, compassion, and humility. The song’s message resonated with many, and it quickly became a hit, winning several awards, including the CMA Award for Song of the Year.

The lyrics are a series of lessons a father is advising his son on a fulfilling life, from opening doors for others to calling his mom. The song encourages listeners to appreciate life and to treat others with respect and love.

McGraw’s soothing voice and the gentle melody make it a touching reminder that, in a world that often seems chaotic and divisive, the simplest acts of kindness can make a profound difference in someone’s life.

8. “Just The Two Of Us” By Will Smith

This classic R&B song by Will Smith, titled “Just The Two Of Us,” was released in 1997. The song samples the classic Bill Withers hit of the same name and features Smith rapping about the joys of fatherhood and spending quality time with his son.

The lyrics convey Smith’s love and admiration for his son and their special bond. It is a reminder of the importance of family and the joy that can come from spending quality time with loved ones.

“Just the Two Of Us” was an instant hit, peaking at the top of the US Hot Rap Songs chart. Internationally, it was a success as well, reaching the top five in many charts across the globe.

9. “Little Lion Man” By Mumford And Sons

A folk-rock anthem known for its distinctive banjo riff and infectious energy, Mumford and Sons‘ “Little Lion Man” features raw, honest lyrics that explore themes of regret.

The verses speak of the son’s setbacks and inadequacies, but the father does not blame his son for this. Rather, he blames himself. He states, “I really f*cked it up this time,” in a voice tinged with regret.

Released in 2009 as the lead single of Mumford and Sons’ debut album, Sigh No More, “Little Lion Man” was a success. It topped the US Alternative Airplay chart and received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song.

10. “My Little Man” By Ozzy Osbourne

In 1995, English singer-songwriter Ozzy Osbourne released “My Little Man.” It is included as the eighth track of the artist’s seventh studio album, Ozzmosis.

Written for his son Jack, the touching song speaks about the love and admiration Ozzy has for his son and how proud he is of him. He tells the child he wishes to keep him by his side always, but knowing this is not possible, he gives wise words instead “to keep the vultures from [his] back.”

Ozzy’s raspy voice conveys the deep sense of love and gratitude he feels. For us listeners, it is a reminder of the importance of family and the joy that can come from spending quality time with loved ones.

11. “Forever Young” By Bob Dylan

Released in 1974 as part of his album Planet Waves, “Forever Young” is a classic song by Bob Dylan that has become an anthem of hope and inspiration for generations.

The lyrics of the song speak of a father’s desire for their son: for him to grow righteous, true, courageous, and strong, and for all his wishes to come true. Another message is the parent’s wish for him to remain young at heart, to keep dreaming, and to live life with purpose and meaning.

The song voices most things parents desire for their children, whether son or daughter. The truthfulness in those words has resonated with many fans.

12. “My Wish” By Rascal Flatts

Country music band Rascal Flatts had a wonderful message in their song “My Wish.” Released in 2006, the heartwarming piece is similar to “Forever Young.”

The lyrics tell of the narrator’s hopes and dreams for his son. He encourages him to pursue his dreams, never give up, and always believe in themselves.

The harmony of Rascal Flatts in “My Wish” conveys a sense of optimism and hopefulness as they sing about the power of love and the importance of having someone in your corner who believes in you.

13. “The Living Years” By Mike + The Mechanics

A soft rock ballad, “The Living Years” was recorded by British rock band Mike + The Mechanics and released in their 1988 album Living Years.

The lyrics speak of a son’s regret after not being able to express his feelings to his father. Now, it is too late to do so, and he wishes “he could have told him in the living years.”

We often feel this regret after losing a loved one and not being able to resolve past conflicts. The song encourages listeners to communicate with their loved ones before it’s too late and to let go of grudges and resentments.

The melody of the song is hauntingly beautiful, matching the emotional weight of the lyrics. Rutherford’s vocals are sincere, conveying a sense of regret and longing for what could have been.

14. “My Boy” By Elvie Shane

This heartwarming country ballad by Elvie Shane celebrates a special bond. “My Boy,” released in 2020, has gained significant attention and has been praised for its touching and heartfelt lyrics.

In it, the narrator recounts his experiences of becoming a stepfather to a young boy and the challenges and joys that came with it. He talks about the bond he has formed with his stepson and the love he feels for him, even though he is not his biological father.

Shane’s soulful vocals create a powerful and emotional listening experience that is a touching tribute to the joys and challenges of fatherhood, as well as a testament to the enduring love and support of a parent.

15. “Anything Like Me” By Brad Paisley

Initially in Brad Paisley‘s 2009 album American Saturday Night, “Anything Like Me” was released as a single from his 2010 compilation album Hits Alive. The song’s catchy melody and relatable lyrics landed it at the top spot of the US Country Songs chart.

Paisley’s signature guitar work and rich vocals are accompanied by a driving beat and upbeat tempo as he tells the story of a father reflecting on his life and wondering if his son will follow in his footsteps.

The lyrics are relatable and humorous, with lines like “It’s safe to say that I’m gonna get my payback if he’s anything like me.” It is a perfect choice for fathers and sons to bond over and a reminder of the enduring power of country music storytelling.

16. “Son Of A Preacher Man” By Dusty Springfield

“Son of a Preacher Man” is a classic soul song originally recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1968. It tells the story of a young woman who is infatuated with the son of a preacher man whom she meets at the church where his father preaches.

Springfield’s powerful vocals and the song’s melody made it an instant hit, and it is a beloved classic to this day. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, but Springfield’s version remains the most iconic.

“Son of a Preacher Man” has been heard in countless movies, receiving a boost in pop culture when Quentin Tarantino used it on the soundtrack for Pulp Fiction.

17. “Simple Man” By Lynyrd Skynyrd

From the 1973 album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) of Lynyrd Skynyrd, we have next “Simple Man.” This classic song lists the sage advice of a mother to her son, encouraging him to lead a simple and fulfilling life.

The mother tells her son to “be a simple kind of man” and to “do the best you can,” reminding him that material possessions and superficial achievements are not what makes a person truly happy.

The song’s message of prioritizing inner values and virtues over external success and possessions is a universal message to live with authenticity and integrity. The powerful message has made it a beloved favorite among Skynyrd fans and a cultural touchstone for generations.

18. “Love Without End, Amen” By George Strait

Country icon George Strait is known to create songs with poignant messages, and his 1990 song “Love Without End, Amen,” from the album Livin’ It Up, is one of them.

The song tells us the “secret about a father’s love,” which was told to the narrator by his father. In turn, after the narrator had a son, he shared with him that same secret. Its sweet melody and Strait’s smooth vocals make it a touching and memorable tribute to a father’s love, which is “without end, amen.”

The touching message helped pushed the song to the top of both US Hot Country Songs and Canada Country Tracks, and stayed there for five consecutive weeks.

19. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” By Eminem

A song about a son’s feelings can’t be left out of this list, even though it was controversial. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” is a deeply personal and emotional song by American rapper Eminem. Released in 2002 on his album The Eminem Show, it quickly became one of his most popular and critically acclaimed songs.

The lyrics explore the complex relationship between Eminem and his mother, Debbie Mathers. Eminem raps about the pain and struggles he faced growing up with a troubled family life, including his mother’s drug addiction and his battle with substance abuse.

The song’s intense, raw energy and haunting melody make it a standout track on the album. Eminem’s confessional style and unflinching honesty about his struggles have made him a beloved figure in the hip-hop community.

20. “The One Thing” By Shakira

Though “The One Thing” is one of Shakira‘s lesser-known songs, the song’s powerful message is worth noting. Released as a track in her 2014 eponymous album, it talks of the importance of finding that one special person who makes life worth living.

The lyrics tell us how the narrator “was living without a purpose,” but then a special person arrived, giving joy and meaning to her life. For her, he is “the one thing that [she] got right.”

The song does not explicitly state who the special person is. Depending on one’s interpretation, it could be a life-long partner, or it could be a son or daughter. Regardless, the proclamation of love in “The One Thing” is loud and clear.

21. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” By John Lennon

This touching song by John Lennon was released in 1980 on his album Double Fantasy. Written for Lennon’s son Sean, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” expresses the deep love and affection a father has for his child.

Lennon’s tender vocals and simple yet beautiful melody make the song a timeless classic. The song’s universal message has resonated with parents and children alike.

Tragically, Lennon was assassinated just weeks after the release of Double Fantasy, making the song’s lyrics even more poignant. “Beautiful Boy” serves as a lasting tribute to the bond between a father and son and reminds us to cherish the precious moments we have with our loved ones.

22. “Carry On Wayward Son” By Kansas

Written by guitarist Kerry Livgren of the rock band Kansas, “Carry On Wayward Son” is considered a classic of the progressive rock genre. It features intricate guitar riffs, powerful vocals, and a soaring chorus.

Released in 1976, the lyrics reflect on the journey of life and the search for purpose and meaning. “Son” in the lyrics—or rather, “wayward son”—refers to the person who is journeying, and the line “There’ll be peace when you are done” is encouraging him to continue his journey because the rewards will be worth it.

“Carry On Wayward Son” has become an anthem for fans of classic rock. It was one of Kansas’ most popular and enduring hits, landing at #11 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

23. “He Gets That From Me” By Reba McEntire

Grammy-winning singer Reba McEntire has been dropping hit songs since 1974. “He Gets That from Me” is a touching song by the country artist that was released in 2004.

The song is the story of a mother watching her son grow up and noticing the similarities between him and his absent father. Despite the pain of the father’s absence, the mother takes comfort in seeing her son’s positive qualities, knowing that he inherited them from her.

“He Gets That from Me” strikes a chord with anyone who has experienced the pain of a broken family or absent parent while also highlighting the strength and resilience of single mothers who raise their children alone.

24. “You’ll Be In My Heart” By Phil Collins

We all know that Disney animated films has no shortage of great songs. “You’ll Be in My Heart” is one of them, from the soundtrack of their 1999 film Tarzan, performed by Phil Collins.

The song is a heartfelt tribute to the love between a parent and child, expressing the idea that no matter what happens, the parent will always be there for their children. The song’s powerful message of love and support has resonated with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

“You’ll Be in My Heart” has become a beloved favorite among fans of the film and beyond. Its simple yet powerful melody and heartfelt lyrics have made it a cultural touchstone, inspiring countless covers and interpretations over the years.

25. “Son Of Man” By Phil Collins

We have another song by Phil Collins and for the same Disney animated film mentioned earlier. Written by Collins himself, “Son of Man” was featured as the main theme song of Tarzan.

The song has a distinct African-inspired sound, with powerful drums, percussion, lush strings, and Collins’ signature vocals. The lyrics reflect the theme of the film, which is about the struggle to find one’s identity and place in the world.

It mentions “son”—rather, “son of man”—in the song, which refers to the main protagonist of the film, Tarzan. Outside the movie, however, it can be used to refer to all people trying to find who they are in their life.

26. “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Written and released during a time of intense social and political turmoil in the United States, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 song “Fortunate Son” protests against the war and calls for greater social and economic equality.

The classic rock song criticizes the inequality and injustice of the Vietnam War era. It takes aim at the wealthy and privileged classes (the “fortunate sons”) who were able to avoid military service, while working-class and poor Americans were drafted and sent to fight and die in the war.

“Fortunate Son” is considered one of CCR’s most iconic and influential works. It has been featured in numerous films, television shows, and political rallies, and its message remains relevant and powerful to this day.

27. “Your Song” By Elton John

If you were a parent and loved your son or child, you would do your best to give everything to them. But what if you didn’t have much? “Your Song” by Elton John gives a beautiful example of giving what you can, even if it appears little.

The 1970 song has a beautiful melody as the narrator expresses he would shower his son with riches if only he had money, but since he doesn’t, all he has is a song to give for the child to call his.

“Your Song” is one of the most beloved love songs of all time, and it has been covered by countless artists over the years, like Rod Steward and Ellie Goulding. The simple yet powerful message of love and appreciation continues to be a cultural touchstone that inspires and uplifts listeners around the world.

28. “Perfect” By Simple Plan

While most of the songs here are about loving relationships between a son and his parents, Simple Plan‘s “Perfect” is a son’s cry of frustration. The song is from the group’s album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls was released in 2002.

“Perfect” begins with the narrator addressing his father and asking if he grew “up according to plan.” From the line “It hurts when you disapprove all along,” we can assume the father’s answer.

The feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt are expressed throughout the song, and finally, the narrator embraces his imperfections and says, “I’m sorry I can’t be perfect.”

“Perfect” is a powerful and relatable song that speaks to the struggles and insecurities of youth. It became one of Perfect Plan’s biggest hits, ranking in the top 10 in the US, Australia, and Canada.

29. “Father, Son” By Peter Gabriel

English musician and singer Peter Gabriel released “Father, Son” in 2000. The song features a gentle, acoustic sound, with Gabriel’s emotive vocals and sparse instrumentation.

The lyrics explore the complex and often fraught relationship between a father and his son. It speaks of the universal experience of children growing up and leaving the nest and the struggle for parents to let go and allow their children to find their own path in life. In the end, however, they still have each other.

The music video for “Father, Son” features Gabriel performing at a piano with black-and-white clips of him and his father doing things together, highlighting the personal nature of the lyrics and capturing the tenderness and intimacy of the father-son bond.

30. “I Am Your Child” By Barry Manilow

From Barry Manilow‘s 1973 eponymous album, “I Am Your Child,” is a thank-you letter from a son to their parents. It expresses the love and gratitude he feels towards his parents after all that they have done for him.

The simple yet powerful message of love and appreciation has made “I Am Your Child” a beloved classic. Its lyrics have resonated with many fans as it reminds us of the deep bond between parents and children and how that bond can sustain us throughout our lives.

31. “God Bless The Child” By Billie Holiday

And finally, the jazz standard “God Bless the Child” was recorded by the iconic singer Billie Holiday in 1941. It features a simple, soulful melody and powerful lyrics that speak of the struggles and hardships of poverty.

The song is a commentary on the struggles of poverty and the importance of being able to take care of oneself in a harsh and unforgiving world. In the line “God bless the child that’s got his own,” the child is not just anyone’s son, but it is a metaphor for all people.

With the song’s emotional depth, “God Bless the Child” became a timeless classic. In 1976, it received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and was one of the Recording Industry Association of America and National Endowment for the Arts’ Songs of the Century.

Summing Up Our List Of Songs About Sons

The bond between a parent and child is one of the strongest and most enduring relationships in our lives. The songs written about songs featured in this article offer a powerful reflection of that bond, exploring the many joys, challenges, and emotions that come with being a parent to a son.

From rock anthems to tender ballads, each of these songs offers a unique perspective on the experience of raising a son and how that experience can shape their lives and relationships.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list, but it is far from complete. Which have we left off? Let us know, and we’ll add it for you.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.