Listen Here: Father’s Day

Listen Here is a monthly playlist picked and curated by members of the Deadshirt staff around a certain theme. This month’s theme is “Father’s Day,” with a playlist selected by several Deadshirt staffers and curated by music editor Julian Ames.

There's never been a better time for the dad rock stylings of Steely Dan.

There’s never been a better time for the dad rock stylings of Steely Dan.

Since May’s theme was Mother’s Day, it’s fitting and fair that the June theme be Father’s Day (which is June 21, in case you were wondering). So in that spirit, the Deadshirt staff once again gathered to collect their favorite songs for dads, by dads, and about dads and make them into one big playlist. What follows is the resulting playlist, picked by Mike Duquette, Max Robinson, Haley Winters, David Lebovitz, Sam Paxton, and Julian Ames. We hope you and your fathers enjoy the tunes.

“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder
Less about a father than sung by one, this song was written by Stevie Wonder to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Aisha, and even begins with a recording of her crying. The song is classic proud father stuff with Stevie calling his daughter “lovely,” “wonderful,” “pretty,” and “the angel’s best,” and seemingly being astonished that she even exists. On a personal note, the album this song is from, Songs In The Key Of Life, was on constantly in my house as a child, so any time I hear anything off this record it reminds me of both my mom and my dad. – Julian Ames

“Reelin’ In The Years” – Steely Dan
Look, it wouldn’t be a playlist For Dads, By Dads(?), About Dads if there wasn’t some of the ol’ Steely Dan on here. My father definitely listened to a lot of them when I was growing up, and I’ve caught him defending them in my Facebook mentions on more than one occasion. While I can’t say that their particular brand of jazz-infused rock has ever caught my attention too much, I have always had a certain fondness for “Reelin’ In The Years,” with its catchy bassline, infectious chorus and admittedly scorching guitar solo. This one’s for you, Pops. – Sam Paxton

“No Son of Mine” – Genesis
Happily, Father’s Day is a joyous time for me—my dad has always been a crucial part of my life—but dad relations can be tricky. For anyone who’s ever felt an uneasy peace with their old man, I present to you the lead single from 1991’s We Can’t Dance, the final Genesis album to feature Phil Collins as frontman/drummer. Over a mutated Mike Rutherford guitar riff and Collins’ own signature snare cracks, ol’ Phil spins a yarn about a failson offering an olive branch to his estranged family, only to have it thrown back at him in one of Collins’ throatiest choruses. It’s definitely a departure from the lighthearted prog-pop of Invisible Touch (blame Phil’s weighty solo album But Seriously…, released two years before We Can’t Dance), but it’s the lightest of the many, many lead balloons on this dark album. – Mike Duquette

“Sing Me Spanish Techno” – The New Pornographers
I had the incredibly good fortune to inherit my parents’ good taste in media—one thing I’ve always had in common with my dad in particular is our mutual love of music. Even though he doesn’t have a shred of talent with an instrument, he’s always been hip to indie bands, and pushed me to check out new music when I was stuck in my annoying Floyd/Zeppelin phase. If I’m being honest, I probably owe my songwriting tendencies towards jangly pop to my father introducing me to bands like The Shins and Arcade Fire when I was in college. My obsession with the New Pornographers started similarly: in the car with my parents, possibly on my way to or from college, my dad popped in Twin Cinema and said “I just bought this CD; I think you’ll really like it,” and as always, he was right. The New Pornographers was one of the first concerts I went to with my dad, and we still compare notes whenever a new album comes out. – Sam Paxton

“Closing Time” – Semisonic
Odd choice for this playlist? Not once you know what the song is actually about—Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson wrote this song about his impending fatherhood. It’s not about being bounced from a bar, it’s about being bounced from the womb. Think about the lines “open all the doors and let you out into the world,” “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here,” and “this room won’t be open ‘til your brothers or your sisters come” and this makes a scary amount of sense. On a somewhat related note: has anyone seen Dan Wilson and Ben Folds in the same place at the same time? Because I’ve got a theory… – David Lebovitz

“Still Fighting It” – Ben Folds
Harry Chapin was wayyyyy better than his sad-dad anthem “Cat’s in the Cradle.” By the same token, piano-punk Ben Folds was wayyyyy better than “Brick,” the inexplicable sad-almost-dad-to-be ballad that was the only Top 40 hit for his beloved Ben Folds Five. Folds was perhaps never better than when he wrote “Still Fighting It,” a gorgeous ode to dad potential off his brilliant solo debut, 2001’s Rockin’ the Suburbs. Ben’s beautiful melody and stirring visual imagery (“Twenty years from now/maybe we’ll both sit down and have a few beers/and I can tell you ‘bout today/how I picked you up and everything changed”) make for one of the most perfect, underrated songs about dads of the last two decades. I may be a long way from becoming a father myself, but when I do, I hope it feels as blissful as what Folds is selling here. – Mike Duquette

“Bridging the Gap” – Nas ft. Olu Dara
Nas has a few songs about fatherhood–both about the struggles of being a father (“Daughters”) and about his complicated relationship with his own father (“Poppa Was a Playa”)—but what I like best about “Bridging the Gap” is the father-son collaboration between Nas and Olu Dara, as they bridge the gap not only between the musical genres they each came up in, but the gap between their personal selves. Set over a stomping sample of Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy,” “Bridging the Gap” is a bit of a schoolboy’s tutorial in music evolution, and there’s something vaguely adorable about the hardness with which Nas recites his father’s lessons. And the bit of back-and-forth calling at the end (“You the greatest, Pop!”) makes this an oddly feel-good Father’s Day track. – Haley Winters

“Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine” – Billy Joe Armstrong/Norah Jones
Gene Autry’s old standard about wanting to undo all the heartbreak and wear and tear you’ve caused your father should resonate with just about anyone–I know it does here. The difficulty was picking a version. Autry’s original wouldn’t fit, and the Everly Brothers’ version isn’t on Spotify, so I defaulted to Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong’s version off of Foreverly. Besides being a Good Version, both Jones and Armstrong both famously have…interesting relationships with their father—Armstrong’s dad died when Billie Joe was just a kid (as memorialized in “Wake Me Up When September Ends”), and Jones was estranged from her father, sitarist Ravi Shankar, before reconnecting with him when she was 18, and by most accounts it was a source of relief for both of them. Personal connection + old cowboy song + song about making up to dads = Happy Father’s Day. – David Lebovitz

“A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash
This Cash standard, written by, I-kid-you-not, Shel Silverstein, is the perfect Father’s Day song. It is, essentially, a multi-minute dad joke elevated by Silverstein’s witty lyricism and Cash’s smirking delivery. Moreover, it’s a winking parody of the kind of hyper-masculine, narrative-heavy country songs Cash is famous for. “A Boy Named Sue” is a fitting tribute to the lowdown sons of bitches we sometimes call “Dad” and the legacies they leave behind. – Max Robinson

“Boys Can Never Tell” – J. Roddy Walston & The Business
This ballad by southern rockers J. Roddy Walston & The Business is all about a father talking to his estranged son. After the second verse implies that the son might be gay, the song becomes an apology with the father explaining that the reason he was so hard on his son was to toughen him up to the cruel world. The third verse reveals that his wife, the boy’s mother, left him with the baby, and the song shifts into a plea for his son to listen to him because, he says: “I have learned what love is, and what it cannot be.” The song is hauntingly beautiful; “I’m gonna love you son, even if you love no one,” is repeated throughout. It’s also complicated, as I’m sure this situation in real life would be, and Walston’s wailing voice reflects that pain. – Julian Ames

That’s Deadshirt’s hand-picked Father’s Day playlist – now, you tell us what songs remind you of Dad. Comment below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter! And don’t forget, Father’s Day 2015 is on June 23rd!

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