Tuesday Tunes 14: Fathers

This week, for a change, I thought I’d step away from themes related to lockdown and news items deriving from it. Here in the UK, as in 90 other countries, this Sunday was Fathers’ Day. According to Wikipedia this is marked in over 160 countries around the world on a variety of dates, though the most popular choice is the third Sunday in June. As this is used in China, India, the US and many of the other most populated countries I think it a safe bet that the majority of the world was celebrating its Dads this Sunday, hence this week’s theme for my tunes: fathers.

Unsurprisingly, you will find many songs which include father, dad, pop, papa or other derivatives in their title, though two of the best songs I know about father/child relationships don’t feature any of them. My first selection this week does, however. This is still, to my mind, one of the most profound songs ever written about the different ways parents and children see their world. It has been covered many times, including the abomination by Groaning Ronan and his band, but none, for me, has got even remotely close to the sensitivity of the original. This live performance from 1971 is heartbreakingly beautiful, especially when you know that Cat has said that the song is autobiographical:

The song was written when he was just 21 and displays a remarkable maturity for one so young, in much the same way that Richard Thompson’s song Meet On The Ledge did. No doubt you can think of many other songs which show a wisdom beyond their years, but as a description of a parting of minds between parent and child I think Cat’s song is hard to beat. It featured on his Tea For The Tillerman album, released in 1970, and was a large part of him becoming viewed as a serious singer-songwriter, compared with the pop-based earlier version of himself, before he contracted TB – from which he nearly died. He wrote a great many fantastic songs while he was recovering, and that album was the second of three that began his reinvention (the others are Mona Bone Jakon and Teaser And The Firecat). They are, to me, masterpieces and I don’t think he has bettered them since, though he has made many fine albums.

This week’s second tune is rather different, coming from a feminine perspective. It uses the ‘father’s eyes‘ metaphor that others have addressed, such as Eric Clapton. You may not know of the Webb Sisters but, on the strength of this, I think you should:

That is such a lovely song, beautifully textured and with gorgeous harmonies – the sort that siblings often excel at. It comes from their album Savages, which was released in 2011, and which I highly recommend. They have made little music together since then, but have been far from idle: they have toured extensively with Leonard Cohen, who called them ‘sublime,’ and featured in his shows with an incredible version of his song If It Be Your Will. Again, highly recommended. They were also an important part of what turned out to be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ final tour. They therefore have quite a pedigree: Cohen and Petty are no bad judges!

In recent weeks I have extended my tune choices from the original two to three, and I’m doing it again this week. My third selection is one of those that doesn’t have ‘father’ in the title, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. This song is all about how busy dads can be, to the detriment of their relationships with their children. I can empathise with this, as I often went several days at a time leaving for work before my girls were awake, and getting home after at least one of them was in bed. Thankfully we managed to work things out better than the character Harry Chapin describes here:

That was on Chapin’s fourth solo album, Verities & Balderdash, and was a #1 single in the US. Sadly, it didn’t chart here but the album came out just before my final year at university and I recall the song getting a lot of radio airplay. It feels such a sad song to me: I’m so grateful that things didn’t turn out like that for me and my two girls, who are both lovely, well rounded women balancing great home and family lives with successful careers. My now ex-wife is probably due most of the credit for that but I like to think I helped a bit. And it was good to see both of them for socially distanced visits this past weekend.

And as a little bonus piece of history, this is me and my Dad – still with us at 92 – from the days well before social distancing had been invented:

I mentioned earlier that there are two songs which, for me, are great examples of different parent/child relationships. If you want to know what the other one is you’re going to have to click on the link (to the right) to my blog’s Facebook page, as I made it my #SongOfTheDay on Sunday – the accompanying video for it is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and is a perfect fit for a lovely song.

I seem to have been in a more reflective mood with this week’s songs, but why not, for a change? That’s a wrap for this week. Maybe I’ll return to a lockdown theme next Tuesday, or maybe I won’t. But I hope you come back to find out! Until then, stay safe and well, and enjoy your gradually increasing freedom.

22 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 14: Fathers

  1. petespringerauthor June 24, 2020 / 1:12 am

    You picked an excellent theme today, Clive. Being a dad is one of the all-time blessings, although my son is more like his mom than me in that he likes country music. I’m that guy who sticks with rock to the chagrin of his wife who thinks her husband is still a teenager. 🤣

    I haven’t researched it before, but I’m curious if the Chapin song is reflective of his relationship with his dad or son. Such a sad song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 24, 2020 / 12:30 pm

      Thanks, Pete. It seemed a good time for it! We are indeed blessed to be fathers, though I’m not sure where I went wrong: neither of my daughters shares my tastes in music or supports my teams!

      I did a bit of research for the post, i.e. I looked on Wikipedia. He inherited three step kids when he married, but the son he had with his wife could have only been 7 at most when he wrote the song. As his own father was a musician too I’m guessing that the song isn’t autobiographical.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs ESTJ June 23, 2020 / 7:57 pm

    Great photo. I was grateful to have forgotten that Boyzone cover until now. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 8:00 pm

      Thank you. Sorry to dredge up that memory: an object lesson in how to massacre a great song 😉


      • Mrs ESTJ June 23, 2020 / 8:05 pm

        This song and all the others covered by Boyzone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive June 23, 2020 / 8:16 pm

        Louis Walsh and his mate Cowell should be put in the Tower for crimes against music.


  3. Grammy Writes June 23, 2020 / 5:50 pm

    Nice post! Great songs! Who can’t relate – at least a little bit – to Cats in the Cradle?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 5:56 pm

      Thank you, glad you like them. You’re right, we’ve all been there at some time.


  4. robertawrites235681907 June 23, 2020 / 4:59 pm

    I love The Cats in the Cradle, it is a terrific but poignant song. The father learns his mistake in putting his work before his child to late and realises that his son is just like him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 5:54 pm

      I’m sure many fathers can relate to it, sadly.


  5. Jim Borden June 23, 2020 / 4:34 pm

    what a great set of song choices; Cat and Harry are two of my favorite singer-songwriters. I was not familiar with the Webb sisters, but what a lovely song. I also checked out your Facebook pst of Silver Thunderbird. I was not familiar with that tune wither – but another winner! I hope you had a good Fathers Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 4:39 pm

      Thanks, Jim, and thanks for following the link to the bonus post. I’m glad you liked them, especially the two that were unfamiliar to you. These are all excellent songs – but I would say that, wouldn’t I 😉

      Fathers Day was good, thanks, hope yours was too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jim Borden June 23, 2020 / 6:59 pm

        I agree, they were all great songs.

        I did have a good Father’s Day, thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Darlene June 23, 2020 / 2:21 pm

    I would have been disappointed if Cats in the Cradle was not included. Such a poignant and relevant song. A great post. Happy Father’s Day to you Clive. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 2:24 pm

      I’m glad I didn’t disappoint you! Thanks for your kind comments, Darlene x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. tidalscribe June 23, 2020 / 1:35 pm

    Cats in the Cradle s my favourite of those. Love the photo, what a sweet baby. Old black and white photos are precious, people did not take many, but the ones they did take have lasted well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 1:39 pm

      It’s a great song. Thank you, I think I’ve changed! I’m indebted to my Mum for the photo – she kept ‘my first 7 years’ books for my sister and me, and that is a mobile phone shot of one of the photos in my book.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tidalscribe June 23, 2020 / 1:55 pm

        My sister and cousin digitalised lots of family photos so we all have copies now. Our grandparents and great grandparents would never have imagined their tiny photos enlarged onto a computer screen!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive June 23, 2020 / 2:03 pm

        My cousin did the same for us, and it’s great to be able to share them. I don’t think my Dad has quite got his head around it yet: pictures of his great-granddaughter on a screen are beyond his frame of reference!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Stevie Turner June 23, 2020 / 12:40 pm

    Great photo of you and your dad, Clive. Yes, those 2 songs by Cat and Harry sprung to mind immediately when I thought of songs that pertain to fathers. I’ve never heard of the Webb Sisters, but will check that song out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive June 23, 2020 / 12:45 pm

      Thanks, Stevie. I’m glad I managed to find an obscure one for you 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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