Every time I hear a band I love dismissed as “dad rock,” I get confused and defensive, like a 10-year-old who has no idea why anyone would make fun of his Transformers collection. It’s awesome.
The term has been stuck to bands like to the Black Keys and Wilco, and it’s usually meant to diminish their music.
Well, get me a pair of Obama’s dad jeans because I love dad rock.
The bands who most often get labeled as dad rock aren’t exactly bad company for the Black Keys and Wilco. You’ve got Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Urban Dictionary throws in the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who.
My dad listens to almost all of the above, along with some Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, R.E.M. and Van Morrison (yes, I’m a “Brown Eyed Girl”).
Whether or not you’re a fan of this music, you can’t say any of it is just plain bad. So what’s up with the dad rock hate?
In honor of Father’s Day and rockin’ dads everywhere, here’s a dad rock playlist that proves your old man’s taste in music is actually really great.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising”
Honestly, there’s really no reason I picked “Bad Moon Rising” over all other CCR songs. This is a dad rock band that doesn’t seem to have clicked with my generation as well as some of the others, but I like this song, so there you go.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Runnin’ Down A Dream”
There are so many Tom Petty songs that could be on this list. “Runnin’ Down A Dream” just seemed like a good choice that wasn’t as obvious as “Free Fallin’” or “American Girl.” But by all means, rock out to those too.
Van Morrison, “Brown Eyed Girl”
I know I’m not the only one for whom this is a father-daughter song, and I also know I’m not the only one who has acknowledged the weirdness of this song’s legacy. Proud dads of brown-eyed girls have been willfully ignoring every lyric of this song except the chorus, and those girls spend a good chunk of their childhoods not realizing what the song is actually about. Whatever. It’s fine.
The Who, “My Generation”
Any “Full House” fans out there? Remember when Danny Tanner tries to be cool by performing this song? That’s my dad rock mental image: the leather-jacket clad insistence that dad and his music are still very cool. At the very least, this song has hung on to its cool.
Pink Floyd, “Set The Control To The Heart Of The Sun”
Pink Floyd is its own special kind of dad rock. It prompts many a speech about how no one makes cohesive albums anymore (look to The Roots, dads). In living rooms everywhere, dads are turning up the surround sound systems and teaching kids the difference between stereo and mono with “Dark Side Of The Moon.” Then there’s this song, and the virtues of instrumentals.
Bruce Springsteen, “Glory Days”
Before dads were dads, they were probably more into “Born To Run,” but children tend to put a stop to all that running around. “Glory Days” has a more nostalgic touch to it.
R.E.M., “Man On The Moon”
R.E.M. might not be every dad’s choice, but it works for many of them. While the kids were getting into hair bands or grunge, their dads had to find something in the ‘80s and ‘90s with a little less angst and hairspray.
Wilco, “Pot Kettle Black”
Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy once defended the dad rock label in an interview, insisting that it’s just pure rock ‘n’ roll, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So we’ll close out with one of the best albums from the dad rock-defender.