Reporter's Notebook

Songs Inspired by Parenthood
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Readers pick their favorites and the memories associated with them. Submit your own to, and listen to the Spotify playlist as it grows here.

Show 6 Newer Notes

Track of the Day: 'Kooks'

From a young mother of two:

Thanks for posting that list of songs from your reader. I’ll use it to create a little playlist; I love songs about singers’ kids. My favorite is “Kooks” by Bowie.

Miranda July is also moved by the song and wrote about it in The Wall Street Journal last year:

Bowie wrote “Kooks” just after Angie, his wife at the time, gave birth to their son Duncan in ’71. The music is bouncy and catchy, but the lyrics are what get me. They’re written as a playful letter, advising Duncan to give his kooky parents a chance: “Will you stay in our lovers’ story? / If you stay you won’t be sorry / ’cause we believe in you.” What an impossible thing to ask of your child! But maybe all parents do this. I don’t think my parents will ever forgive me for leaving their lovers’ story.

She briefly discusses her childhood and ends with:

Now when I hear him sing the line, “We believe in you,” it makes me want to cry. They’re begging him to stay and believe in them, too. From the moment your kids are born, you’re always losing them.

A reader sends a lovely email on parenthood:

A recent Track of the Day mentioned in passing John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy.” That got me thinking about the many songs I own that were written by a songwriter about their own children.

Both “Beautiful Boy” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” always makes me cry a little. Blue Ivy got immortalized by both her parents—“Blue” by Beyonce and “Glory” by Jay-Z. The award for most unintentionally ironic song about a child definitely goes to Loudon Wainwright III’s “Rufus is a Tit Man.” Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” perfectly captures what every new parent wants to shout to every stranger they meet.

There are lots more, but my favorite song in this genre is Paul Simon’s “St. Judy’s Comet” [seen above]. Most of these type of songs are about how much the parent loves their child. But Simon’s song deals with that most dreaded of parental tasks—trying to get your kid to sleep. I’ve always loved his self deprecating lyrics “If I can’t sing my boy to sleep, it makes your famous daddy look so dumb.” After all, if even Paul Simon had trouble, I could certainly cut myself some slack.

If you have a favorite song about parenthood and a memory attached to it, drop me an email.