In honor of Father's Day, which falls on Sunday, WNYC's Culture team compiled a mixtape with songs that honor dads, daddies, fathers, pops and papas. Let us know your favorite song to add to the mixtape by posting a comment below.
"My Heart Belongs To Daddy" by Cole Porter Among the stars who covered Cole Porter's 1938 song are Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt and Marilyn Monroe. Mary Martin performed a striptease while singing the song in the musical "Leave It to Me!" Shout out to Porter for finding words to rhyme with daddy — like caddy, finnan haddie, and laddie: "So I want to warn you, laddie/Though I know you're perfectly swell/But my heart belongs to daddy/'cause my daddy he treats it so well."
"Song For My Father" by Horace Silver Horace Silver dedicated this swinging 1965 Brazilian jazz tune to his father John Tavares Silva. (Silva appears on the cover of the Song For My Father album on the Blue Note records label.) The song has reportedly since been remixed by MadLib and sampled by Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire.
"A Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash What's worse than a father flying the coop? Giving your boy a girl's name, apparently. That's the basis of the 1969 song "A Boy Named Sue," which was most famously covered by Johnny Cash. Still, the song has a happy ending: "Got all choked up and I threw down my gun/And I called him my pa, and he called me his son/And I came away with a different point of view."
"It was Good Enough For Daddy" by Clarence Reid Maybe it's not always best to follow the advice of your dad. In this funk classic from the late '60s/early '70s, Reid sings/raps a story he heard on a street corner in which a son follows his father's advice regarding a bride, only to have her walk out on him the next day.
"Father and Son" by Cat Stevens In 1970, Cat Stevens wrote this song for Tea for the Tillerman. It's a conversation between a father and son about growing up. Some similar lyrics (although just the son's side of things) in "Fight Test" by The Flaming Lips resulted in a lawsuit over the song's lyrics.
"Someday Never Comes" by Credence Clearwater Revival "Grow up fast." That's one of the messages in this CCR song from 1972: "When Daddy went away, he said, 'Try to be a man and someday you'll understand.'"
"Daddy Could Swear, I Declare" by Gladys Knight and the Pips Turns out Gladys Knight had a father with a sharp tongue: "Daddy couldn't read/Daddy couldn't write/But one thing daddy sure could do right/He could swear/Oh, Lord/I declare." This 1973 hit was made in the same era as the group's popular "Midnight Train to Georgia."
"Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin This is one of the best-known songs about a father-son relationship, Chapin wrote the song in 1974, although it was covered by Cat Stevens, Ugly Kid Joe and Ricky Skaggs. "My son turned ten just the other day/He said, 'Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play/Can you teach me to throw,' I said 'Not today/I got a lot to do,' he said, 'That's OK.'"
"Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy" by Kid Creole and the Coconuts Poor Annie gets a wake-up call in this hit from the 1982 Kid Creole and the Coconuts album Tropical Gangsters. "And I'm telling it to you straight/So you don't have to hear it in another way/Oh Annie, I'm not your daddy." August Darnell, the Bronx native who is singing the lyrics, takes it a step farther and says if he was Annie's dad, she wouldn't be so ugly. Ouch!
"Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna Madonna's video for "Papa Don't Preach" just might transport you back to Staten Island in 1986. In it, she's having a hard time telling her Roman Catholic conservative dad, played by Danny Aiello, about her new man — and pregnancy, if these lyrics are to be believed: "Papa don't preach, I'm in trouble deep/Papa don't preach, I've been losing sleep/But I made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby, oh/I'm gonna keep my baby, mmm..." Since then, the song's been covered by Kelly Osbourne and the cast of Glee.
"Just the Two of Us" by Will Smith Smith raps to his son Trey on this 1997 joint: "It's a full-time job to be a good dad/You got so much more stuff than I had/I gotta study just to keep with the changin' times/101 Dalmations on your CD-ROM." The song is off Big Willie Style, and was based on the original by Bill Withers and George Washington, Jr.
"Papa Was A Rodeo" by The Magnetic Fields We're not really sure what Stephen Merritt means by the lyrics in "Papa Was A Rodeo," but we like them: "Before you kiss me you should know: papa was a rodeo/What a coincidence, your papa was a rodeo, too." The 1999 song comes off of Volume 2 of 69 Love Songs. Merritt also gives a shout-out to moms in the song: "Mama was a rock 'n' roll band." Vocalist Shirley Simms also sings on the song.
"Pops Rap III ... All My Children" by Common Common's dad Lonnie "Pops" Lynn first started to appear on his son's albums in 1994, when Resurrection was released. Ever since, Lynn has been a regular guest. And on "Pop's Rap III," released in 2000 on Like Water for Chocolate, it doesn't sound like Lynn's giving the mic back: "I'm back as a special guest by special request/And I want to thank my son for loaning me this microphone once again/They may have to wrassle to get it back."
"Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon This 2002 song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song as part of The Wild Thornberrys Movie. On it, Simon croons that although he can't guarantee there's nothing scary hiding under his daughter's bed but, "I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard of a Golden Retriever/And never leave 'til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head."
"Pop's Recipe" by Mavis Staples Mavis wrote this song for her late father Roebuck "Pops" Staples, who played guitar and sung with the Staples Singers when Mavis was first creating her soulful gospel sound. "Accept Responsibility/Don't forget humility/Every opportunity" From Staples' 2004 album Have A Little Faith.
"Django: Tiny Variations on a Big Dog" by Gabriel Kahane Gabriel Kahane wrote this solo piano piece for his dad Jeffrey in 2008, who is the music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Jeffrey played the piece for his son in WNYC's Soundcheck studios in 2009.
Honorable mentions go to "Father Figure" by George Michael and "Big Poppa" by the Notorious B.I.G.