Hi, and welcome to the Perspectives Series the Guide is covering throughout the month of January.  We have partnered with Brandi Kennedy from Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman to focus on life issues from a single parent’s perspective.  She tells the perspective of a single mom.  And we here at the Guide focus on the single father’s perspective.  Today we agreed to cover music that would focus on our lives as parents.  I would focus on music for fathers.

I admit I was a bit worried at first.  After spending quite a bit of time looking up quotes on fathers, I began to panic.  Would I be able to find enough music on fathers I really connected to and found meaning in?  The silly thing was, I shouldn’t have been worried.  I ended up finding a ton of songs on dads.  So many I think I may revisit this prompt sometime in the future.  Because there seems to be no lack of inspiration when it comes to being a father(musically speaking anyway). I think many of the artists out there write about their own relationships with their father’s, difficult or otherwise.  The second most common thing they do when they write is to focus on their own children as they become new fathers.

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I could go through a top five list of songs out there on dads, but somehow after choosing the songs I wanted to focus on, doing a top five list didn’t seem right.  I would have a hard time trying to list songs in a particular order that focused on dads, or on the issues a dad feels.  Instead, I wanted to cover a couple songs which touched me the most.  So as I was going through the songs I found, two songs stood out to me the most.

When it came to the songs I chose for this post, I admit I chose songs with a particular theme.  And for me, I think this theme resonates as a single father.  The theme single father’s and single parents of all stripes feel is that of loss.  From the moment we separate, we lose time with our children as they spend time with the other parent, and we suffer the loss of the relationship with the other parent.  No matter how toxic the relationships may have been, we still feel the effects of its absence.

So when I started to listen to songs about dads, the ones which talked about the loss they felt hit me harder.  Both of them were father’s suffering through the loss of a child far beyond the loss I felt when going through my divorce.  They actually lost their children in horrific accidents.  Both of them lost their kids in front of their family through neglect or tragic accidents.  And both relay something different about the experience.  So with this explanation in mind, I present to you the two songs which moved me as a dad deeply:  “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton, And “Cinderella” by Stephen Curtis Chapman.


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Music For Fathers  (Heartbreak And Longing)

Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

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Eric Clapton had left his son with his mother.  She was at a friends apartment on the fifty-third floor and Clapton’s child fell out the window and onto the fourth floor of an adjacent apartment building.  Clapton was there shortly thereafter, seeing his sons crumpled body on the rooftop. He practically went catatonic for months, hiding out from the rest of the world.  And when he began to write again, this beautiful work came out.

The obvious loss felt in the song is palpable.  He imagines his child in heaven.  And should he be with his child there, would he be recognized.  What kind of connection would there be?  How would loss and time affect the relationship they once had?

He imagines this new place where his child would be, and yet he knows it is no place for him right then.  He needs to keep living.  And so he must be strong and carry on for those around him.  His heart breaks knowing he does not belong where his child is now.

I think the place I most keenly feel the loss is during the bridge of the song.  When he gets into what time does to every one of us.  Because as time moves on, we all experience loss.  And the loss is often devastating.  Time brings you down, both literally and emotionally, making you weak.  Then when you feel oppressed it actually causes you to submit to the pain and pressures of time.  And ultimately time breaks your heart as you lose the ones around you which you love the most.   And no matter how much you feel consolation in a peaceful future you still suffer the pain more.

Check out the video here:  Tears In Heaven

Cinderella – Stephen Curtis Chapman

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She spins and she sways to whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I’m sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders
It’s been a long day and there’s still work to do
She’s pulling at me saying “Dad I need you
There’s a ball at the castle and I’ve been invited
And I need to practice my dancin’
Oh please, Daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

She says he’s a nice guy and I’d be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, “Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancin’
Oh please, Daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

She will be gone

But she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, “Dad, the wedding’s still six months away
But I need to practice my dancin’
Oh please, Daddy, please!”

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

Like Eric Clapton, Stephen Curtis Chapman lost his daughter in a way which was unimaginable.  Because the person directly responsible for his daughter’s death was his own son.  His son was backing out his SUV when Champan’s daughter ran directly behind the car and was crushed.  They rushed little Maria Sue to the hospital but she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.  As hard as not having my daughter around has been, I cannot imagine losing a child. And  I definitely can’t imagine losing a child at the hands of my other child, no matter how accidental it might have been.

When it comes to this beautiful song, as opposed to Clapton’s filled with loss and pain, Chapman’s imbues his lyrics with hope and meaning.  It’s not that Clapton’s lacks hope.  I just believe Chapman’s focus is on the hope and meaning behind the loss of a daughter.

Champman breaks his song down into three distinct portions of the experience with a daughter.  The first part tells of the small child invited to go to a dance.  She fears to look silly at the dance.  As the weary father looks at his daughter, “wearing the weight of the world on his shoulders,” he cannot imagine doing anything else than teaching his daughter how to dance.

The second portion of the song is about his teenage daughter preparing for prom.  She tells her dad about the nice guy she is dating.  And she seeks the approval of her father.  She even wants to know that her dad approves of the dress she wears as well as the boy who will be dancing with her.  But the one thing she wants to make sure she does is be able to dance well for her prom.  She seeks connection with her father.  The daughter needs her dad to walk her through her dancing steps.  Again we mark the passage of time and the dad who cannot imagine not helping out.

The third section the dad faces the loss of his daughter from his home altogether.  As the dad stares at the ring on her daughter’s fingers he knows he must give his daughter to someone else.  The wedding may be six months away but the daughter wants to know she has her father’s approval.  She wants him to dance with her once again, as the dad prepares her for the most important relationship of her life.

On some levels, this feels odd against the backdrop of extreme loss Chapman suffered.  But I think when you hear the chorus you get a keen sense of Chapman’s loss.  But you also understand Chapman’s hope at the same time.  In the chorus, Chapman reminds the audience he knows something so important.  He knows it while the Prince in Cinderella did not.  What he knows is that when the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella vanishes.

Why is this so important?  It’s important because of what he as a father realizes.  The dad realizes every moment with his daughter is precious.  And he refuses to let one moment pass without infusing it with the meaning it deserves.  When you realize you are not promised tomorrow, you must live each moment to its fullest.  Chapman can be happy for every moment he lived with his daughter because he loved her fully every moment.  He recognizes the need to live and love to the fullest now, as life is precious. We can be happy if we have lived and loved to the fullest in the now, no matter what the future holds.

Check out the video here: Cinderella


Loads Of More Songs –

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There are a ton of more father songs out there.  Some of them I really love as they display the love of a son for his father.  They imbue these beautiful songs with the significance their father has been in their life.  I am definitely considering coming back to this.  But I felt these two songs not only expressed deep emotions and important aspects of being a father, but it expressed the loss that a father feels.  We feel loss when our child grows up.  Sometimes we even feel at a loss as to how to deal with our kids as they grow.  It’s like we lose them as we grow.

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And as a single dad, we lose them when we do not see them.  It almost feels like we are an outsider who all of a sudden sees a child grow so fast we didn’t even know it.  Today I was at a birthday party where the grandmother hadn’t seen my daughter in three years or more.  She tells me my daughter grew so much.  She hadn’t been there to see it and as time passed it looks like she magically grew so fast she didn’t see it.  As a single dad, sometimes life with my daughter feels like this.  So much goes on I never get to see.  It hurts. And the missing time I will never regain.  So I have to live life in the here and now.  And I love my daughter every moment.  Clapton’s and Chapman’s songs express this feeling so vividly to me.


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Continue The Conversation

So what are some of your favorite songs about parents?  And what are some of your favorite songs from or about father’s and their children?  I would love to hear from you about what music really inspires you.

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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life