It is only natural that the family unit should inspire some of music’s greatest hits across generations. Our relationships with our loved ones are so personal, so visceral, and often conflicting that they’re hard to describe in just a few words. So it comes as no surprise that songwriters have taken up the challenge of trying to capture what it means to be a family and what comes after.
But the best songs about families capture more than just a concept; they’re poems that we can all relate to, with universal themes of love, redemption, and gratitude.
Here’s a list of 20 best songs written about families.
Family Affair – Mary J Blige
Mary J Blige’s hit song, “Family Affair” is one of her most popular tracks and is a great way to start this playlist. The song was so popular, it charted onto the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart at number three and helped her debut album’s sales surge too.
Cat’s in the Cradle – Ugly Kid Joe
This track, originally written and performed by Harry Chapin has become a classic. It describes the struggle many parents can relate to—the struggle between work and home life, which means that sometimes kids grow up without their parents being there to raise them.
You’ll Be in My Heart – Phil Collins
Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be in My Heart” is a touching tribute to families. The song reminds us that no matter how much time we spend away from our loved ones, the love we have will always remain in our hearts.
Family Portrait – P!nk
In this song, P!nk examines the relationship she has with her family from a child’s perspective, recalling memories of growing up with them. The lyrics are very humorous as she sings about “the screaming fights”, but she also remembers the good times, reminding us that those memories are what makes her family strong.
Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
In this song, a young man is trying to impress Stacy’s mom but can’t because she is always out with older guys. It turns out that she just wants a guy that will respect her – a sentiment many mothers have tried to explain. The song’s comical interpretation of family relationships is what makes it so enjoyable.
Father and Son – Cat Stevens
One of the first songs written about family relationships, Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” reflects on a father’s reluctance to let go of his son as he becomes an adult. Although it is normal for children to leave their parents behind as they grow older, this song reminds us that letting go can be very difficult.
Family Man – Hall & Oates
This song focuses a family man trying to fend off the advances of a woman who isn’t his wife. The man knows that he should stay faithful to his family, but temptation is just so hard to resist.
We Are Family – Sister Sledge
Who doesn’t love “We Are Family?” This anthem is the perfect reminder that when we stick together, nothing can stop us. It’s an iconic song for reunions, parties, and rallies.
Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield’s hit song describes a young girl who fell in love with a boy she grew up with, the only problem was that he was the son of their church’s preacher! The lyrics are a wonderful tribute to the complexities of family relationships.
Father Figure – George Michael
In this song from George Michael, he describes a man who has a deep longing to be loved by a father figure. His struggle is so relatable and the lyrics and rythym are intense. This song became George’s second largest solo single in the UK.
Family Bible – Wilie Nelson
Another classic song about family relationships, Willie Nelson’s “Family Bible” is a touching tribute to the bonds that hold a family together. The lyrics describe the importance of always having a bible around to remind us that our family is always there to support us in good times and in bad.
Mama, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne’s track describes a son who feels guilty after leaving his mother for so long. Although he may love his life, he knows that the most important thing in his life is his family and will never leave them again.
Mama Told Me (Not to Come) – Three Dog Night
This song is a humorous portrayal of what happens when children defy their parents. It’s extremely interesting listen, especially the part where the father kicks his son out for being disobedient.
Family Reunion – Blink 182
Blink 182’s “Family Reunion” is a description of the excitement that goes into attending a family reunion. The song describes waiting in anticipation for the event to arrive and then remembering each relative’s stories and anecdotes during the event.
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
This song describes the relationship between a young boy and his mother. He confesses to his mother that he has just killed a man. He is letting his mother know that because of his actions, he now must go, and will never see her again.
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
One of the most popular songs written about family, “Wish You Were Here” is an emotional tribute to someone who has died. It’s extremely touching and beautifully expresses what it truly means to be missing a loved one immensely.
Barking at The Moon – Jenny Lewis
This heartwarming song was one of the signature soundtrack songs in Disney’s “Bolt”. It is about how family don’t have to be blood relatives. Sometimes the family you need can come from anywhere, and home is wherever you feel surrounded by those you love, and those who love you back.
A Song For Mama – Boyz II Men
In this song, Boyz II Men sings about their mothers and how they’re everything to them. It’s a touching tribute to what a mother does for her children, and how she never stops being there for them no matter what happens.
Keep the Family Close – Drake
Drake’s track is about how he refuses to let go of the family that has always been there for him. He encourages listeners to keep their families close and not take family members for granted. It also discusses how friends turn into enemies, but family will never do that.
Kim – Eminem
This is one of Em’s more disturbing and violent tracks. It it largely about his tumultuous relationship with his ex wife, Kim. The story follows a man who plots to kill his wife once he finds out she is planning to leave him because of the way he has been treating her.