The 30 Best Songs About Family

Tunes inspired by parents, siblings, kids and more

Mother and daughter listening to cell phone music on headphones
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

The holidays are fast approaching, which means most of us will be spending a lot more time with family than usual. Whether you’re trying to psych yourself up for the extra face time with the ‘rents or can’t wait to reunite with your loved ones, it’s important to have a playlist for the occasion. Without further ado, here are the best songs about family to add to your queue, including everything from heartfelt rap hits to funk favorites from the ‘70s.

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1. “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge

  • Release Year: 1979 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

This bumping disco hit from Sister Sledge is an obvious feel-good choice for a family playlist and a shoo-in for any Friendsgiving celebration, since it subtly suggests that the best family is sometimes the one you’ve chosen.  

2. “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone 

  • Release Year: 1969 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

You just can’t help but smile when listening to this peppy soul classic with a positive message about peace and love, plus lyrics that relate to all manner of complicated family dynamics: “You love me, you hate me, you know me and then/You can't figure out the bag I'm in…different strokes for different folks.”

3. “Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone

  • Release Year: 1971 
  • Genre: Funk 

Another chart-topper from the funk and r&b kings of Sly and the Family Stone—the lyrics of this one touch on unconditional love, sibling rivalry and the unbreakable bonds that hold a family together through thick and thin. 

4. “Daughters” by John Mayer

  • Release Year: 2004 
  • Genre: Acoustic rock 

This Grammy Award-winning song has some cringey elements relating to the “what if that were your daughter” trope, but there’s no denying the sentimental family value of a pop hit that pays tribute to daughters, lovers and mothers.

5. “Keep the Family Close” by Drake

  • Release Year: 2016 
  • Genre: Hip hop 

Here, an emotional (if not somewhat bitter) tune about supposed “ride or die” friends and romantic partners who don’t live up to expectations. The takeaway? “Guess it’s what they say you need your family for.”

6. “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon

  • Release Year: 2002 
  • Genre: Soft rock 

Bust out the tissue box, because we can practically guarantee you’ll be misty-eyed after listening to this heartfelt and oh-so sentimental tune about fathers and daughters (duh) that Paul Simon penned for the Wild Thornberrys movie. 

7. “I’ll Always Love My Mama” by The Intruders

  • Release Year: 1973 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

Play it on Thanksgiving, add it to a Mother’s Day playlist, or queue it up anytime you’re feeling homesick and/or grateful for the woman who got you born. There’s really no bad time to listen to The Intruders’ soulful ode to mamas. (Note: This one doesn’t cast fathers in the best light.)

8. “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5

  • Release Year: 1970 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

It wasn’t all hunky-dory in the Jackson family, to say the least, but the brothers did come together to turn out a beloved tune that highlights the power and constancy of sibling love.

9. “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

  • Release Year: 1970 
  • Genre: Rock 

This heartwarming, tear jerking track from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young takes a tender and non-judgmental tone, whilst cautioning parents against falling into the generational trauma trap. In other words, if you’re in need of a song that encourages you to do better and be wiser than your own parents on your child-rearing journey, this one fits the bill.

10. “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men

  • Release Year: 1997 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

Calling all moms: If you’re in need of a song that affirms your value (perhaps because your screaming toddler isn’t quite mature enough to appreciate all that you do), this heartfelt song from the unabashedly cheesy and oh-so smooth ‘90s sensation known as Boyz II Men has got you covered.

11. “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers

  • Release Year: 1971 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

This track is brimming with gratitude for the older generation and features the unparalleled soulfulness of Bill Withers’ voice. Tune in for a beautiful ode to the gentle strength of grandmothers that will surely make you miss your own (and maybe give her a call for once if you can). 

12. “The Best Day” by Taylor Swift

  • Release Year: 2008 
  • Genre: Country 

Pop sensation Taylor Swift takes a break from break-up ballads and turns her attention to wholesome childhood memories and her family unit in this sentimental song devoted to the unwavering support of (good) parents.

13. “Dear Mama” by 2Pac

  • Release Year: 1995 
  • Genre: Hip hop 

The late, great Tupac Shakur penned a rap song about home life instead of street life, and the end result is yet another raw and heartfelt letter to mom, this time acknowledging how her love survived bad circumstances, addiction and the grief her kids caused her in their youth. (OK, we’re actually crying now.)

14. “Mama Said” by The Shirelles

  • Release Year: 1961 
  • Genre: R&B/Pop 

The Shirelles were a classic doo-wop group and the first all-Black female act to top the charts. Collectively, they also had a great deal of respect for their mothers, who apparently taught them all a thing or two about tough days and how to get through ‘em. 

15. “Family Man” by Fleetwood Mac

  • Release Year: 1987 
  • Genre: Soft rock 

This Fleetwood Mac tune is soft, full of casual feeling and slightly weird (we’re referring to the baritone “family man” back-up vocals). It’s also a fitting family listen that invokes a mother, father and brother walking down the road…and sticking to it when the going gets rough. 

16. “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard

  • Release Year: 1968 
  • Genre: Country 

Yet another one for the mamas, this irreverent ditty from country legend Merle Haggard acknowledges what all of us parents know to be true—namely that there’s only so much you can do to keep your kid on the straight and narrow. 

17. “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens

  • Release Year: 1970 
  • Genre: Folk 

Like most of Cat Stevens’ music, this touching tune about fathers and sons is sappy in the best way possible. Originally penned for a proposed musical set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, this song details an exchange between a father not understanding his son's desire to break away and build a new life, and the son who can’t explain himself but knows “That I have to go away/ I know, I have to grow.” 

18. “Family Business” by Kanye West

  • Release Year: 2004 
  • Genre: Hip hop 

Kanye West’s own family drama might be fodder for the front page of gossip magazines, but he’s keeping it real with this track which paints a heart wrenching picture of grief, separation, loss and childhood memories. The takeaway? Kanye knows that blood is worth more than a Mercedes Benz. 

19. “Blended Family (What You Do For Love)” by Alicia Keys

  • Release Year: 2016 
  • Genre: R&B 

With lyrics like, “Hey I might not really be your mother/That don't mean that I don't really love ya/And even though I married your father/That's not the only reason I'm here for ya,” Alicia Keys sends a poignant message in support of nontraditional families. After all, there’s more to familial love than DNA. 

20. “Mockingbird” by Eminem

  • Release Year: 2004 
  • Genre: Hip hop 

Eminem might be best known for pushing the envelope when it comes to controversial and explicit content, but the real Slim Shady’s heart belongs to his three daughters. Case in point: This searingly honest track in which he expresses his profound love for daughter Hailie Jade and details everything he’s done to show it. 

21. “Mother in Law” by Ernie K-Doe 

  • Release Year: 1962 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

Ernie K-Doe sings this hilarious (and, for many, highly relatable) song about strained relations with the in-laws. It’s impossible not to smile when you’re listening to this one…unless you’re the MIL, that is, in which case lyrics like “if she’d just leave us alone, we’d have a happy home” and “Satan should be her name” probably won’t charm you. 

22. “Isn’t She Lovely?” by Stevie Wonder

  • Release Year: 1976 
  • Genre: R&B/Soul 

It doesn’t get much sweeter than this song off of Stevie Wonder’s epic Songs in the Key of Life album, which is an effusive celebration of the birth of his daughter. Let’s just say that when it comes to expressing the overwhelming love a parent feels for their child, Stevie nails it.

23. “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin

  • Release Year: 1974 
  • Genre: Folk rock 

You’ve heard this exceedingly famous ‘70s song countless times (trust us, you have), but did you ever stop to ponder the lyrics? Harry Chapin’s smash hit is more than just a catchy tune; in fact, it’s actually a very sad story about a father who was too busy for his child until said child grew up and became too busy for him. If you’re in need of a sobering reminder to never take anything for granted, this one will do the trick.

24. “My Father’s Eyes” by Eric Clapton

  • Release Year: 1992 
  • Genre: Rock 

Eric Clapton wrote this in honor of his beloved son, who tragically died at the age of four. In his autobiography he explains that he never met his own father, but looking into the eyes of his son was the closest thing he could experience. Yep, cue the waterworks.

25. “Creatures of Love” by Talking Heads

  • Release Year: 1985 
  • Genre: New wave/pop rock 

Here, another song written by a father for his son. Talking Heads’ “Creatures of Love” off the namesake album has mainstream appeal with an upbeat, poppy sound and cute-but-corny lyrics that describe his son as a “little creature of love with two arms and two legs.” (And all ten little toesies, too, we’re guessing.) 

26. “Kooks” by David Bowie

  • Release Year: 1971 
  • Genre: Rock 

This whimsical little ditty from the late, great David Bowie is chock full of fatherly love and sound advice for his son. Our favorite lyrics? “And if you ever have to go to school/Remember how they messed up this old fool/Don't pick fights with the bullies or the cads/'Cause I'm not much cop at punching other people's dads.” (Noted.)

27. “Family Portrait” by Pink

  • Release Year: 2001 
  • Genre: Pop 

Fair warning: There’s nothing uplifting about this song from Pink—namely because it details the dissolution of a family unit from the perspective of a little girl who would give anything for them to all be as happy as they pretend to be in their family portrait. But sometimes that’s just the kind of music you’re in the mood for, ya know?  

28. “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars

  • Release Year: 2010 
  • Genre: Reggae 

Head back to feel-good territory with this hit song from Bruno Mars—a sugary sweet testament to the love and dependability of a devoted dad with a hook that says it all: “You can count on me like one, two, three.” 

29. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

  • Release Year: 1987 
  • Genre: Hard rock 

Yep, even infamous rocker Axel Rose had a soft spot for family. OK, he actually wrote this chart-topping hit for a romantic partner…but you would never know it, so if ever you’re in the mood to scream your love for a child—say, at a karaoke bar—”Sweet Child O’ Mine” is a fine choice. 

30. “The Nights” by Avicii

  • Release Year: 2014 
  • Genre: Dance/Electronic 

Written by Swedish DJ Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii, this song is an ode to his father and has a surprisingly deep message despite the dancy, upbeat tempo. Just try not to be inspired with lyrics like “One day, my father, he told me, ‘Son, don't let it slip away’/ When I was just a kid, I heard him say/ ‘When you get older your wild heart will live for younger days/ Think of me if ever you're afraid.’”  

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...