Dads, am I right? I am. No, really, I am. Stop questioning me, OK? Anyway, if you’re reading this post, you probably already know Sunday is Father’s Day, and like any respectable holiday, it demands a soundtrack. The Great American Songbook is chalk-full of quality recordings celebrating fatherhood, fathers, and even stepfathers. But most of these songs are, frankly, too positive to be either good or interesting (see: Will Smith’s “Just the Two of Us” or Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter”). In other words, they’re songs you’d play at a barbecue. And that’s just fine. I won’t be at your barbecue. In the meantime, here are four songs that you should not play at your Sunday barbecue. Here are four songs that will ruin Father’s Day, for sure.
1. “Hey Jude” — The Beatles
I know what you’re thinking: I can’t believe that woman managed to convince everyone she was black. Insane, right? Totally insane. I mean, how many people … sorry, I got off track. Okay, where were we? Oh, yeah, the Beatles. So, despite this being one of the most popular songs of all time, “Hey Jude” was written to console Julian Lennon, whose father, John Lennon, was in the midst of a divorce at the time. The only thing is this song wasn’t written by John Lennon. It was written by Paul McCartney, which probably made for a brutally awkward studio session. Also, you know, nothing says “Happy Father’s Day!” like a classic retelling of one son’s journey into mid-divorce darkness.2. “This Year” — The Mountain Goats
Replete with vivid imagery and frontman John Darnielle’s reliably confessional lyricism, “This Year” is the quintessential Mountain Goats song. It’s also thoroughly devastating. Darnielle, who is now a father of two, has a penchant for pairing sunny melodies with relentlessly bleak storytelling. On “This Year,” he recounts his awkward years as a teenager living in southern California with his mother and serially abusive stepfather. It makes for one of the most confusingly catchy choruses in recent memory.3. "Biological Didn’t Bother” — Shaquille O'Neal
Despite the king-hell bummer of a title, this track is mostly just Shaq rapping about his well-to-do stepfather, Phil Harrison. Nonetheless, with a chorus like “Phil is my father, ‘cause my biological father didn’t bother,” the track probably isn’t going to be the great familial unifier we’re all searching for. Unless, of course, your family just happens to have an amazing sense of humor (they don't). That said, it was a rare moment of emotional candor on 1994's Shaq Fu: Da Return.4. “Father of Mine” — Everclear
Much like Darnielle, tattoo-obsessed Everclear frontman Art Alexakis has an intrinsic knack for taking the more sordid and tragic details of his youth and re-purposing them into pop-infused goodness. (I will debate the merits of Everclear in another post; now’s not the time, so simmer). But unlike Darnielle, Alexakis lacks any sense of subtlety and it’s never more apparent than on the band’s 1996 hit “Father of Mine.” With lines like “Father of mine / tell me how do you sleep with the children you’ve abandoned and the wife I saw you beat?,” it’s remarkbale this song charted right alongside Sixpence None The Richer's "Kiss Me" back in 1999.