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MusicThe 19 best songs about family

The 19 best songs about family

When the legendary poet of our time Vin Diesel, dropped the timeless quote ‘family,’ it hit home for us all. But what does family really mean? Sure, you can Google the textbook definition, but we all know it’s about more than just sharing DNA.

It’s about those folks who stick with you when life gets rough, offering a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, they help you save the world from Charlize Theron. So let’s celebrate it, eh? With this sentiment in mind, here are the best songs about family ever written, from Sister Sledge to Kanye. After all, we are family.

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Best songs about family

‘We Are Family’ by Sister Sledge

Image: Cotillion

1. ‘We Are Family’ by Sister Sledge

Disco deities Sister Sledge created the ultimate ode to female friendship with this ’70s classic written and produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. The lyric ‘I got all my sisters with me’ just screams powerful women unite! The video isn’t too shabby, either – think drunk aunt at a wedding meets red glitter goodness.

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'Father And Son' by Cat Stevens

Image: Apple Music

2. ‘Father And Son’ by Cat Stevens

There are only a few songs on this earth that make me cry every time without fail. This song by Yusuf Stevens is one of them. I am neither a father nor a son, but the lyrics speak more to a universal experience of family, of growing up and of finding your place in the world. I mean, come on, ‘How can I try to explain? When I do he turns away again’? We’re sobbing out here guys.Ella DoyleGuides Editor

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‘Family Business’ by Kanye West

Image: Roc-A-Fella

3. ‘Family Business’ by Kanye West

This 2004 track hints at a past Kanye who was calmer, family orientated and less materialistic. Yes, really! But whether you believe the sentiment or not, it’s a definitely a super-groovy slab of old-school Yeezy complete with his customary soul samples. 

‘Family Is Family’ by Kacey Musgraves

Image: Mercury Nashville

4. ‘Family Is Family’ by Kacey Musgraves

Here, country singer Kacey Musgraves lists all the things your family do to piss you off, before rounding it off with a big ol’ ‘they’re still your family, kids.’ She’s not wrong, obviously, and this family song also shows off her super-hooky and infectious songwriting style.

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'See You Again' by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth

Image: Apple Music

5. ‘See You Again’ by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth

Think Fast and Furious is just high-speed chases and epic stunts? You thought wrong. When ‘See You Again’ comes on as we say goodbye to Paul Walker, it’s all about family, you fools. As Wiz Khalifa says, ‘How can we not talk about family when family’s all that we got?’ He’s so right. Now, back to the car chases.Aarna RajContributor, Time Out London

‘Keep the Family Close’ by Drake

Image: Young Thug

6. ‘Keep the Family Close’ by Drake

Thrashing drum beats, smooth strings, brass – has Drake joined the school choir? Not quite, but he’s heartbroken and getting all reflective again. This song’s narrative may be romantic, but the subtext is definitely family-based. He’s no longer close with someone special so finds himself thinking ‘guess I should have tried to keep my family closer, much closer.’ Maybe you should have, Drake.

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‘Daddy Sang Bass’ by Johnny Cash

Image: Columbia

7. ‘Daddy Sang Bass’ by Johnny Cash

For all the doom and gloom associated with the Man in Black, Johnny Cash could be a big, joyful softie… especially when it came to family. This rousing number – about a traveling family band – incorporates some southern-revival Gospel flair in the middle, and is extra vibrant in the live versions, when Cash’s beloved June Carter chimes in with the iconic ‘mama sang tenor,’ thus completing the family circle. 

'Breathing' by Kate Bush

8. ‘Breathing’ by Kate Bush

Kate Bush is the antithesis of convention, and ‘Breathing’ ranks among her most weird and wonderful tracks. It’s not the most immediately obvious family song, but actually, Bush is writing from the perspective of a child in the womb. Enhanced by her almost child-like soprano vocals, this is an otherworldly ode to maternity and birth on which Bush’s foetus sings about ‘breathing her mother in’ as she anticipates her birth into a polluted world. Nearly four decades after its release, it feels more relevant than ever. 

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‘The Exchange’ by Torres

Image: Partisan

9. ‘The Exchange’ by Torres

Singer-songwriter Torres is well versed in melancholy, and clocking in at just under eight minutes, ‘The Exchange’ is an epic tale of woe. Her choked-up vocals sit almost uncomfortably atop a barely audible guitar line as she sings hauntingly about the fear of losing her parents. Definitely get the tissues out for this one.

'If We Have Each Other' by Alec Benjamin

Image: Apple Music

10. ‘If We Have Each Other’ by Alec Benjamin

Sweet and soulful Alec Benjamin poured his heart into this song dedicated to his sister. He dives into the story of their grandparents’ struggles, weaving in love for his parents and sibling. And the lyrics? Well they’re sibling goals; ‘I’m thankful for my sister even though sometimes we fight. When high school wasn’t easy, she’s the reason I survived.’ So wholesome.Aarna RajContributor, Time Out London

‘Family Man’ by Fleetwood Mac

Image: Warner Bros.

11. ‘Family Man’ by Fleetwood Mac

Lyrically this Lindsey Buckingham-sung song is far from complex, but its 80s production and classic Mac melodies are definitely infectious – it’s taken from the band’s 1987 comeback album Tango in the Night, home to the huge hits Everywhere and Little Lies. So give it a listen whether you consider yourself a family (wo)man or not.

‘Mother-in-Law’ by Ernie K-Doe

Image: Minit

12. ‘Mother-in-Law’ by Ernie K-Doe

Let’s face it – in-laws can be problematic, and Ernie K-Doe knows. So, back in 1961 he kind of created a mother-in-law diss tack so you don’t have to. Grit your teeth and smile knowingly as he sings that ‘sin should be her name.’ Calm down, Ernie – you love her daughter, remember! 

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‘Kooks’ by David Bowie

13. ‘Kooks’ by David Bowie

Maybe it’s because he‘s one of the most influential and enigmatic pop stars ever, but sometimes it’s easy to forget David Bowie had a private life. Written for son Zowie (now film director Duncan Jones), ‘Kooks’ is a humorous yet comprehensive list of advice on how to be a child. When he sings, ‘If the homework brings you down, we’ll throw it on the fire,’ your inner child will BEAM.

‘I’ll Always Love My Mama’ by The Intruders

14. ‘I’ll Always Love My Mama’ by The Intruders

Mums are bloody great, aren’t they, and this well-raised US soul group definitely agree. The tune, a real Mothers’ Day anthem, is over six minutes long and completely irresistible. If you never need to hear the Spice Girls’ ‘Mama’ again, this song is your alternative. 

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‘7 Years’ by Lukas Graham

Image: Apple Music

15. ‘7 Years’ by Lukas Graham

This playlist is (obviously) made up entirely of songs about family, and there’s no song that reminds me of family more than this one. It’s a reminder of childhood vacations, important lessons, and where we (or our kids) will be in the next thirty years. Do we look back at days gone by, or have we finally learned to live in the moment? No easy answer to that one, but this song is a tear-jerking, head-banging piece of food for thought.Camille BaveraContributor, Time Out London

‘Family Affair’ by Sly and the Family Stone

Image: Epic

16. ‘Family Affair’ by Sly and the Family Stone

This slick San Fran soul band were made up of two brothers, a sister and various other talented members – so it makes sense that they’d pen a track like ‘Family Affair’. A US Number One hit in 1971, it’s gone down in history as an absolute classic funk banger and one of the best songs about family. 

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‘Dance With My Father’ by Luther Vandross

Image: J

17. ‘Dance With My Father’ by Luther Vandross

The late, great Vandross is the epitome of silky-voiced goodness, so it’s no surprise this serenade to his lost father is a real tear-jerker. Simple production carried by an oh-so-’80s piano line (even though the song dropped in 2003) makes this both a weeper and a keeper. Nostalgia personified.

‘Family Portrait’ by Pink

Image: Arista

18. ‘Family Portrait’ by Pink

Pop’s somewhat unsung hero, Pink has been launching belters into the charts since the late ’90s. This 2001 R&B tune is a deeply personal exploration of her unhappy family life growing up. ‘Can we work it out, can we be a family?’ Pink pleads. It’s kind of harrowing, but also catchy enough to do the business at a noughties-themed club night.

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‘Brotherhood’ by Stormzy

Image: Black Butter Records

19. ‘Brotherhood’ by Stormzy

Croydon-raised Stormzy is a firm London favourite and this track shows off his sense of loyalty. ‘We don’t do friends round here,’ he raps. ‘Round here, it’s brotherhood.’ It’s a welcome reminder that family isn’t just the folks you’re related to by blood. 

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