Comedian Tom Shillue, the author of Mean Dads for a Better America thinks a mean dad is a good dad, and he’s found all the proof he needs in this list of his favorite father/son songs. Shillue will release the book, fully titled Mean Dads For A Better America: The Generous Rewards Of An Old Fashioned Childhood, on June 6, 2017. In Mean Dads, Shillue waxes nostalgic about his younger years and being raised with traditional values. For example, he longs for a time when neighbors disciplined each other’s children without fear of being sued, kids made it to the family table for dinner, parents’ rules were gospel, and the occasional fistfight was considered a fair way to solve a problem. It was a time when children were free to roam, make mistakes, and experience the first tastes of independence. Shillue has an hour special on Comedy Central, has been featured on Broad City, is a member of Jimmy Fallon’s barbershop quartet, and the former host of the Fox News late night show Red Eye with Tom Shillue.
This Cat Stevens classic contains my favorite lyric ever from a dad- “you’re still young, that’s your fault” He blames his son for his age! Now that’s a mean dad.
This dad hears his kid swearing up a storm in the car, and realizes the only way his son could have learned those words was from him. He asks God for forgiveness and, lo and behold, the kid learns how to pray. Better late than never, dad.
This guy did something really bad and he is going off to prison, and this song is his last chance to tell his son to:
Do as mother says and never sin,
Be the man your daddy might have been
Are you kidding me? That’s got to be the saddest lyric ever written. Jimmy Roselli used to sing this one as his closer and all the mobsters would cry. You think you can get through it without welling up, tough guy? Give it your best shot.
This dad was so mean he named his boy “Sue”, so he’d be mercilessly teased all through childhood. The kid gets him back by tracking him down and almost killing him. But the dad reveals why he gave him a girl’s name:
Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And you see? His project worked–his kid turned out to be a badass that people write songs about.
I saved this for last, everyone’s favorite song about a so-called neglectful dad. But this mean dad, like most, is misunderstood and his son turned out just fine. In the opening lyrics, the dad admits his son “learned to walk while I was away…” Doing what? Ostensibly, working his tail off to feed his growing family. And then, by the end of the song, when his grown son blows off his dad, he tells him:
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad, it’s been sure nice talking to you
Yeah. His son turned out just like him, all right. A hardworking, committed family man. Mean dads didn’t raise sons to be their companions, they raised them to be men! Husbands. Fathers. Providers. Your son turned out like you? Damn right he did.