Outsider Picks for Father’s Day: Best Songs to Celebrate All Things Dad

by Lauren Boisvert
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Father’s Day is here, and what better way to celebrate all the dads in your life than with a curated, artisanal playlist just for them by yours truly? How about an Outsider-approved last-minute gift idea? Either way, whether it’s dad, step-dad, new dads, old dads, grandpa, your friend who acts like a grandpa but who is in reality a 29-year-old–we’ve got the songs to get their toes tapping and their hearts full of joy.

Here, there are songs for fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, those who are missing their dads this Father’s Day, and songs for those dads who didn’t have to step up, but did. There’s even a song for when you have kind of a strained relationship with your dad. We run the gamut here at Outsider, so kick back with a cold one on the deck with your father-figure (who probably built the deck) and let these songs start your Father’s Day right.

Fathers And Daughters

Favorite: Father and Daughter – Paul Simon

Let’s start out with a personal favorite for me and my dad, “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon. Originally released on The Wild Thornberrys Movie soundtrack in 2002, Paul Simon wrote this song for his daughter, Lulu. It’s a sweet, simple song about a father always being there for his daughter; it has no sweeping, embellished images, no overly figurative language, no complicated musicality. It’s simply a delightful little song, a reminder that “There could never be a father / Loved his daughter more than I love you.”

More Songs For Fathers and Daughters

  • “Daddy Come and Get Me” – Dolly Parton
  • “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” – Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus
  • “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” – Darius Rucker
  • “Just Fishin'” – Trace Adkins
  • “Daddy’s Hands” – Holly Dunn
  • “Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)” – Billy Joel

Fathers and Sons

Favorite: Forever Young – Bob Dylan

While this song doesn’t explicitly mention fathers and sons, Bob Dylan did write it while thinking about his oldest son, Jesse, who was born in 1966. It reads like a blessing from parent to child, and while Bob Dylan didn’t want to be too sentimental about it, “Forever Young” is just that; a parent’s hopes and wishes for their child to grow up strong, healthy, and happy. It feels like a lyrical departure from Dylan’s other works–especially because I did spend a lot of time recently listening to his very early stuff on repeat–but it still features Dylan’s distinct wail-and-whine, plus that signature harmonica. “May you always be courageous / Stand upright and be strong / And may you stay forever young,” Dylan sings; it’s a sentiment that parents everywhere can relate to.

More Songs For Fathers and Sons

  • “The Walk” – Sawyer Brown
  • “The Best Day” – George Strait
  • “My Father’s House” – Bruce Springsteen
  • “Cat’s in the Cradle” – Harry Chapin
  • “Father and Son” – Cat Stevens
  • “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” – John Lennon

Songs About Missing Your Dad

Favorite: There You’ll Be – Faith Hill

Written for the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, this song is a reminder that “those who love us never really leave us,” to quote in part from Harry Potter. Faith Hill sings, “In my heart there’ll always be a place for you for all my life,” and I think that’s a really important notion for those of us who have lost someone close to us. This song is full of great reminders like that, reminders to keep your departed loved ones in your heart always, and they’ll never really be gone from you. If you’re missing your dad this Father’s Day, this one’s for you.

More Songs For Those Who Have Lost Their Dad

  • “Build Me A Daddy” – Luke Bryan
  • “You Should Be Here” – Cole Swindell
  • “That’s My Job” – Conway Twitty
  • “Here For You” – Neil Young
  • “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” – Alan Jackson

Tributes to Dad

Favorite: They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy Anymore – Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn‘s tribute to her hardworking, coal-mining father is a great song for showing your dad how much you appreciate what he’s done for you, even if he’s not a hardworking coal miner. This one’s for any father who’s helped with a school project, kicked the soccer ball around, or made you ramen noodle soup with an ice cube in it (thanks dad). This one is also for those dads who are working hard to provide for their families and may not be able to see them as often as they like. Loretta Lynn immortalized her father with songs like this one, plus her most famous, “Coal Miner’s Daughter“; isn’t it time you wrote a song for your dad, too?

More Tributes to Dad

  • “My Father’s Eyes” – Eric Clapton
  • “Song For Dad” – Keith Urban
  • “My Old Man” – Zac Brown Band
  • “Daddy’s Working Boots” – Dolly Parton

Songs For Every Type of Fatherhood

Favorite for Step-Dads: He Didn’t Have to Be – Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley’s tribute to step-fathers is perfect for those dads who aren’t blood-related to their children, but who have no less love for them because of it. In this 1999 song, Paisley sings his hopes for becoming “half the dad that he didn’t have to be.” He wrote it with best friend and collaborator Kelly Lovelace, and has said that he wanted to write a song about Lovelace’s experience as a step-parent. According to Paisley, he told his friend, “Let’s make a song about you two that will make your wife cry.” It’s a beautiful piece about families of choice, and that a father figure can even be someone who’s not directly your dad.

More Songs About Fatherhood

  • “Anything Like Me” – Brad Paisley
  • “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” – Reba McEntire
  • “Love Without End, Amen” – George Strait
  • “Watching You” – Rodney Atkins
  • “You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins
  • “There Goes My Life” – Kenny Chesney
  • “Step By Step” – Brandon Davis

What I Want You To Take Away From This Father’s Day

Overall, Father’s Day can mean so many things for so many people. You could be a human dad, a plant dad, or a hamster dad; it’s all valid, important, and should be celebrated with a day full of love. But, once you’ve built a deck, you can officially join the Dad Club. Grab your IPA, your meat tongs, and your New Balance sneakers, we’ve got your Dad Certificate waiting.

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