I started to listen to music a little differently after becoming a parent. It wasn't just about shielding little ears from raunchy talk and grown-up lyrics, although when my four-year-old started asking to listen to “Stacy's Mom,” I realized I still had plenty to learn about this editing process. But I also found myself becoming much more attuned to songs about children and parents, and realizing that songs I'd listened to with neutral ears in the past were becoming almost unbearably sad to hear now. Case in point: Iron and Wine's “Upward Over the Mountain,” sung from the point of view of a deadbeat son to his stalwart mother, made me tear up from the opening line and had me in full sobs by the end. So from joyous to cautionary, wistful to bittersweet, here's a selection of songs that capture parent-child relationships in all their lovely, messy, and overwhelming humanity.
Kanye West - “Hey Mama”
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - “She Ain't a Child No More”
Cat Stevens - “Father and Son”
Paul Simon - “Mother and Child Reunion”
Merle Haggard - “Mama Tried”
The Be Good Tanyas - “The Littlest Birds”
Iron and Wine - “Upward Over the Mountain”
David Byrne - “Now I'm Your Mom”
Peter Gabriel - “Father, Son”
The Pretenders - “Kid”
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