Hive Five: Bad Dads Playlist

Harry Chapin performs in London, September 1977. Photo: David Redfern/Redfern

Errant fathers have been the source of many magical musical moments, five of which we highlight in this “Bad Dad’s Playlist.” Happy Father’s Day!

1. Harry Chapin, “The Cat’s in the Cradle”

Chapin’s classic folk song tells the tale of a father who was too busy to tend to his son; a sad ballad that climaxes with the little boy emulating his father, years later, with his own son. Chapin admits that the father in this song is none other than himself. [Watch here.]

2. The Temptations, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”

This no. 1 hit for the soul legends found the group moving away from the doo-wop tunes of the mid-’60s, and into the funkier groove of the ‘70s. But the song isn’t as light-hearted and fun; we learn that papa was a lecherous man who cheated, thieved and lied throughout his life. [Watch here.]

3. Jane’s Addiction, “Had a Dad”

Perry Farrell channels fatherless angst and confusion as his family goes to hell. [Listen here.]

4. Lily Allen, “He Wasn’t There”

Allen twists the absent father theme into something redemptive and forgiving, as she sings “I’m so pleased I never gave up on him.” [Listen here.]

5. Tyler, the Creator, “Bastard”

The title track from Tyler’s 2009 debut finds the outspoken Odd Future ringmaster riffing on adolescent struggles: depression, girls and, most notably, his absent father. The song culminates with a disturbing revenge fantasy. [Listen here.]

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