17 Best Songs About Family That Cover Every Emotion

songs about family
The best songs about family. Image by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash.

Last updated on April 25th, 2023 at 08:33 am

Whether you’re someone who sees family as those with whom you share a bloodline or those friends that become the family that you choose, or perhaps you see family as those people that drive you crazy and break your heart, there are plenty of songs about family out there that will perfectly express the feelings that you feel down deep inside.

Do you want to tell your mom and dad how special they are to you? Or are you anxious to reconcile with the family you’ve lost and drifted away from? We’ve got you covered.

Here are 17 songs about family that you have to hear and add to your playlist.

“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

It’s right there in the title. This 1979 recording by Sister Sledge is the ultimate song about family and how that bond, whether by blood or choice, is unbreakable.

Written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, lead vocalist Kathy Sledge, who was just 19 years old at the time, was feeling the beauty of the song, recording the legendary piece in one take.

It’s not just listed in songs about family, but it’s been named as one of the best disco songs ever, one of Billboard’s 100 greatest group songs of all time, and hit the top 10 on several charts.

Now that’s a reason to “get up everybody and sing,” and we will every time.

“Family is Family” – Kacey Musgraves”

Once again, country music doesn’t shy away from telling us how it is.

It may not have been released as a single from her second studio album, Pageant Material, but Kacey Musgraves singing “Family is Family” is still one of our favorite tracks.

It’s true! We don’t choose our family, and it’s not always going to be rainbows and unicorns where we like them at every moment of every day, but family is family. Blood is thicker than water, meaning that no matter what separates us in life when we come together again, it’s like no time has passed.

Every time we listen to this 2015 single, we are reminded of our family, those nearby and far away, and all we want to do is call them and let them know just how much they mean to us.

Related: The Best Kacey Musgrave Songs: Her 20 Greatest

“Keep the Family Close” – Drake

Our favorite rapper and singer, Drake, gave us one of our favorite songs about family when he included “Keep the Family Close” on his fourth studio album, Views, in 2016.

While they say friends are the family you choose, it’s easier to drift apart from them, whether it’s the “just be friends” as a relationship comes to an end that never truly pans out or something else. Drake reminds us of that as he sings of the exact pain of that situation and wishes he’d kept closer to his family because it’s these times that you need your family to depend on.

“Daddy Sang Bass” – Johnny Cash

It’s not hard to fall in love with any song that Johnny Cash gave us, and that’s no different with his 1968 classic, “Daddy Sang Bass.”

Written by Carl Perkins and incorporating lines from another classic hit, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” this country gospel number-one Billboard song perfectly encapsulates the bond of a family coming together to praise the Lord in song even when they’re in the toughest of circumstances. “By and by, Lord… the circle won’t be broken” as long as we keep listening to this beautifully crafted of all the songs about family.

Related: Johnny Cash’s Complete Story of Life and Death

“Breathing” – Kate Bush

“Breathing” by Kate Bush may be more than 40 years old, having been released in 1980, but its relevance still pertains today.

In this unique perspective, Bush writes from the perspective of a child still safe in the womb of its mother, and the safety of that bond as the unpredictability of the world outside is frightening. It’s not the perfect relationship by any means, as there is a reference to the mother irresponsibly smoking while pregnant, meaning the child is absorbing nicotine, but we digress.

However misguided and controversial some of the lyrics might be, the underlying feeling of the bond between mother and child and the child’s safety with the mother makes for a new twist on songs about family.

“Family Business” – Kanye West

Back when Kanye West was less all about himself, in his 2004 track “Family Business,” we get the feel of a man who is more interested in family and not about the material things in life, proving that ultimately, family is forever.

We’ll always love this groovy soul ballad just for that reason.

Related: Who is Kanye West? Birthdate, Relationships, Career and more

“The Exchange” – Torres

Talk about the most epic of all the songs about family.

Torres’ “The Exchange” is a nearly eight-minute piece that tells the heartbreaking story of a strained relationship between a child and their adoptive parents as the child fears losing them. It’s definitely the saddest of all our songs about family, but it’s an important topic to delve into as this indie-rock superstar also brings in the feelings of suicide.

Related: 20 Songs About Depression to Help You Through the Dark Days

Torres described the song as “everything that I’ve tried to articulate to the people that I love but have never been able to for whatever reason. My crippling fear of mortality; my intense, intense love of life; my fear of losing my parents and seeing people that I love get old. That was my own way of saying that I’m drowning, but I’m OK.”

Can someone please get us a tissue?!

“Family Man” – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac gives us all the family vibes in this 1987 single.

Although it may not have cracked the top 20 on any chart, we love the pride exuded that when the going gets tough, the narrator will never be afraid to proclaim that he is “a family man.” He is who he is, and we love to listen to it over and over again.

“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert

While Miranda Lambert’s 2010 hit single, “The House That Built Me,” isn’t immediately about family, the sentiment is there as the singer remembers the memories of her family home. This country ballad driven by an acoustic guitar with a fill of the steel guitar gives us warm and fuzzy feelings as we find ourselves relating to the memories that Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas perfectly paint in their lyrics that Lambert’s vocals bring to life.

We have no misgivings about why this song received a standing ovation at the Academy of Country Music Awards and earned her the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Don’t worry, we ‘won’t take nothin’ but a memory’ as we put this song on repeat and take in all the sentimental feelings it gives us.

“Family Table” – Zac Brown Band

Who wouldn’t agree that some of the best family memories happened around the kitchen table?

Zac Brown Band reminds us of that in their 2017 track, “Family Table,” off their fifth studio album, Welcome Home.

As the song’s opening line declares, “it’s just an old piece of wood on top of four legs,” but it’s a place where memories are made, where everyone is welcome because it’s “held together by lovin’ never dies.” We could listen to this one repeatedly, and it is one of the best songs about family we’ve ever had the pleasure to hear. 

“Mother-in-Law” – Ernie K-Doe

Well, there is nothing like a contentious song to throw into our songs about family list to mix things up a little.

It’s no secret that there’s a stereotype about mothers-in-law, particularly among men, which is probably why Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law” became a number-one hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B charts.

It just goes to show that family songs aren’t always pleasant, but remember, when you have an unruly mother-in-law, just focus on the fact that you love their son/daughter.

“Kooks” – David Bowie

David Bowie shows his paternal side in this fun 1971 hit, “Kooks,” as he encourages his son, Zowie, to embrace his inner child and experience what it means to have a happy childhood.

Every kid would want their father to tell them, “if the homework brings you down, we’ll throw it on the fire.”

“I’ll Always Love My Mama” – The Intruders

Queue up this 1973 single for your mom on Mother’s Day and tell her exactly how you feel about her.

The Intruders’ “I’ll Always Love My Mama” perfectly encapsulates how beautiful and vital mothers are in our lives. It certainly reminds us to embrace that, especially when we found out that Kenny Gamble wrote it after losing his own mother in 2012.

Mamas, indeed, are “one of a kind,” and we love ours with all our hearts.

“Family Affair” – Sly and the Family Stone

This number-one classic funk song is easily one of the best songs about family ever written.

“Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone was one of the most successful singles of the group’s career, as it marked the first chart-topping song to include a drum machine in the production.

It remains a hit among other artists, too.

The cover of the song by John Legend, Van Hunt, and Joss Stone even won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 2007.  

“Dance With My Father” – Luther Vandross

There are plenty of mother-related songs about family on our list, but let’s not forget about the presence of a father. Luther Vandross doesn’t in his 2003 single, “Dance with My Father,” which was written in tribute to his late father, Luther Vandross Sr.

We can’t help but be brought to tears as Vandross emotionally sings of being a child and knowing that he was nothing but loved when his father would carry him up the stairs to bed after a night of dancing with his parents in the living room, wishing that he could dance with his father just one more time.

It’s a unique look into the relationship between father and son, the bond that’s never breakable, and the pain that comes with loss. If that weren’t enough, when the narrator reveals his recognition that his mother’s pain is even more significant and begs the Lord to send him back so his mother can dance with him again, too, has us reaching for the tissues every time.

“Family Portrait” – Pink

Families aren’t perfect, as Pink demonstrates in her 2002 R&B single, “Family Portrait.”

Although it received praise from critics, it didn’t from her own mother.

Pink even told Q magazine that her mother “went to the National Enquirer. We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t the best way to address family problems.”

Despite this, we think it’s one of the better songs about family simply because it lets other struggling families know they’re not alone in their struggles.

Related: Triumphant Return For Pink On Beautiful Trauma Tour

“Brotherhood” by Stormzy

Sometimes it’s those who will ride or die with you until the end that’s your family and, according to Stormzy, that’s called “Brotherhood.”

In this theme song of the 2016 British crime drama film of the same name, the British rapper, singer, and songwriter raps about the solidarity of those among us who may not be related by blood but is family in every other sense of the word.

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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