21 Soulful Songs About Deadbeat Dads

The subject of absent fathers is something that people are more open to discussing in recent times compared to the past. That is why there are multiple songs about deadbeat dads from some of the most popular artists globally.

These songs paint a vivid picture of how different life is when the male figure abandons their children and leaves all the burdens of raising the child to the mother.

This form of expressive songwriting has made it easier for this interesting topic to be easily discussed in the open.

Some of the songs in this playlist are somber and can make you shed a tear or two. Some tracks will be a source of comfort and can be relatable to a person with a deadbeat father.


21 Songs About Deadbeat Dads

Sit back and grab a tissue as I take you on a journey to explore some of the most soulful songs about deadbeat dads.

These heartfelt tracks come from different genres and generations, I’m sure you will find at least one to add to your playlist.


1. A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash

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The first song on this playlist is a classic from the 1960s. This clearly indicates that absentee fathers are not something new, as many popular artists have explored it in the past.

The song by Johnny Cash explores multiple issues, and one that stands out in the song is a boy being angry that his father left while he was very young.

The other part is about the boy meeting his father and fighting with him because he gave him a female name.

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2. Father of Mine – Everclear

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Father of Mine is one of the popular songs from American rock band Everclear, released in their So Much for the Afterglow album. The autobiographical song is an attack on deadbeat fathers.

If you want a track that invokes the perfect mix of anger and sadness to let go of the pain of abandonment, then this song is for you.


3. There Will Be Tears – Frank Ocean

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Frank Ocean is considered one of the most versatile artists of this generation. From singing to rapping, this shows how his musical style changes when he expresses himself in his songs.

In this song, the artist expresses sadness and hurt while talking about the subject of absent fathers by looking through the list of male figures in his life.


4. Cats In The Cradle – Harry Chapin

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Cats in the Cradle is an absolute masterpiece that always leaves me tearful when I listen to it. The piece narrates a heartbreaking story of a son and father who seem not to get time to spend together.

Though the son tries to have some alone time with his father, he puts his career first. After years the son looks up to his father and builds a similar life as he puts his career ahead of his father.

It’s quite a heartbreaking track due to the emotional and physical absenteeism of the father, which the son inherited.


5. Piece by Piece – Kelly Clarkson

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Piece by Piece is one of my favorite songs about deadbeat dads. It tells the story of a woman’s recollection of her father abandoning his family.

Though it shows that she was in pain because she did not have a present father, her transformation makes the song beautiful.

Kelly talks about how she found a man who restored her piece by piece and showed her that he is a better father for their child.


6. On Coming From A Broken Home – Gil Scott Heron

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Though the majority of the tracks in this playlist are sorrowful, this piece stands out to me because it is heartwarming.

The singer acknowledges in his lyrics that he comes from a broken home, but the women in his family made him the man he is.

The song’s lyrics show the artist has refused to live in pain because of an absent father but to celebrate those who are present.


7. Worst Behavior – Drake


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If you are a fan of old-school hip-hop, then this song is for you. The lyricism on this track is nostalgic and reminds me of a time when Drake was a beast in the rap genre.

Other than boasting about making it big and successful, the lyrics also touch on the theme of abandonment. The artist talks about the overrepresented stereotype where African American men abandon their children.


8. Papaoutai – Stromae

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For men who experienced deadbeat dads, there is a fear that the cycle will continue. The Belgian artist Stomae penned this banger to express his fears that he would be like his deadbeat father.

The song was released in 2013 and gained nearly a billion views on YouTube.

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9. Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – The Temptations

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Written by Motown songwriters, this piece tells the story of a deadbeat father. It is sung from the perspective of a woman telling her kid the kind of father he had.

The extended song intro and the incredible instrumentals make the piece to be in a class of its own.


10. Left Outside Alone – Anastacia

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From Anastacia’s third studio album, Left Outside Alone is one of the most popular songs by the singer. The song showcases her prime angelic voice as we hear the raw vocal power.

The lyrics are about Anastasia’s strained relationship with her deadbeat father. They speak vividly about being lonely and broken, which is relatable to anyone who did not have a father present while growing up.


11. Styrofoam Plates – Death Cab For Cuties

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Dealing with an absent father can make someone build up anger. Styrofoam Plates can be a song that you can use to let go of your built-up anger.

The rock band made this cutting song that is from personal experience. While there is a lot of screaming and thrashing in many hard rock songs, I have never heard a song that expresses more emotion than this soft rock piece.


12. Oh Father – Madonna

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After the mother of Madonna died, her father was everything to her. After a while, he remarried their housekeeper, which did not sit well with the artist.

This led to her developing unresolved feelings in which the singer felt he was not present as he used to be. The song also has a theme in which Madonna questions her religious upbringing and how it made her feel.


13. I’m Bugged At My Old Man – The Beach Boys

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I’m Bugged at My O’l Man is one of the most entertaining songs about deadbeat dads from the 60s.

The song was part of Summer Days and Summer Nights albums, released in 1965. The song’s lyrics were inspired by the complicated relationship Brian Wilson, a member of the Beach Boys, had.


14. Had a Dad – Jane’s Addiction

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Jane’s Addiction song explores loss and abandonment from the perspective of someone whose father died during their upbringing.

The lyrics show the artist is in a state of longing and confusion as the absence impacts their development. I found the guitar riff quite refreshing as it intensifies the emotions expressed in the song.

The artist starts doubting God because of his bad experience.


15. Daddy Wasn’t There – Ming Tea

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Everyone has a different way of dealing with past trauma, and this track clearly indicates it. While most of the songs in this playlist are melancholic, the singer decided to take a different approach.

Their hilarious take on deadbeat dads can make someone smile though some of the song’s lyrics are quite deep. The song is the third soundtrack of the Austin Powers movie.

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16. Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father) – Lindsay Lohan

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Lindsay Lohan and her father are the subject of this song. The lyrics paint a clear picture of their relationship and how the artist questions her father if he ever loved her.

The singer wrote the song as a letter to her father after he was sent to prison after he was charged with DUI.


17. A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son – Sleeping with the Sirens

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How many people can relate to songs about deadbeat dads is quite interesting. Most of the song is very sorrowful or depicts a lot of anger from the composer, but this track differs.

The lyrics of this electrifying song are a tale of a child seeking validation and acceptance from his deadbeat father. In the song, you can feel the artist’s pain as he seeks to understand why his father was absent.


18. Biological Didn’t Bother – Shaquille O’Neal

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Biological Didn’t Bother is part of the legendary basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s second album. The album was titled Shaq Fu: Da Return and was released in 1994.

Though the song is a dedication to his stepfather, he outclassed his deadbeat dad. He praises the man who stepped up to raise a child who wasn’t his and turned him from a boy to a man.


19. Rhyme or Reason – Eminem

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This track is one of Eminem’s most popular songs, which discusses many issues in his life. The one that stands out is his deadbeat father.

He talks about the man who left his wife and children.


20. Daddy Won’t You Please Come Home – Annette Hanshaw

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This song by Annette is the oldest in the playlist, as it was released in the late 1920s. With nearly a century since it was composed, the simplicity of the lyrics and melody is what captivates me.

The theme and message of the song are quite clear as it is about a young girl who wishes her absent father was at home.


21. Rockabye – Clean Bandit & Sean Paul & Anne-Marie

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The last song in the playlist is the most popular, as it has over 2.8 billion views on YouTube since its release in 2016.

The song’s main message is to encourage single mothers who step up to care for their children. Through the song, we get to look through the protagonist’s life, who got pregnant and her husband left, but she does all it takes to provide.


Last Words

The songs about deadbeat dads in this playlist mainly depict sadness, often due to not having a father at home.

While most artists use anger or some use humor to project what they feel, it is quite clear that a father-child relationship, or the lack of it, can dictate how one moves through life.


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Music is the lifeblood of my veins. I love to listen, play and write music. Being a music band manager is what I love to do mostly because I love working with artists on their personal branding and brand building while helping them find the next level of success.

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