Track of the Day: 'St. Judy's Comet'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

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.