The Best Country Songs About Family

Family is one of the important tenets of American society. The stronger the family, often the stronger the individual. As such, the music of the American heartland—country music—often focuses on the importance of family.

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Here are ten such songs from some of the genre’s biggest names, past and present.

1. “Coat of Many Colors,” Dolly Parton

The title song of Parton’s 1971 record, “Coat of Many Colors” was one of her first solo hits. Parton, who comes from a big and musical family, said she wrote it while on tour with former mentor Porter Wagoner in 1969. Having no notebook around, she wrote it on the back of a dry cleaning receipt that was later framed in the wake of the single’s success.

The song itself is an ode to Parton’s mother who made her a coat of many colors from scraps of other clothes while telling her the Bible story of Joseph and his (exquisite) coat of many colors.

But they didn’t understand it, and I tried to make them see
One is only poor, only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors my momma made for me

2. “Family Bible,” Willie Nelson

Another country icon from a big family, Nelson wrote this song early in his career while he was in the Pacific Northwest. He began writing this song in 1957 while working as a DJ in Vancouver, Washington. Later, he moved to Texas and then Nashville. But for a brief stint, he worked in music in the Pacific Northwest.

Nelson ended up selling the song to Paul Buskirk, who then brought it to Claude Gray, whose recording hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Country chart. In 1971, Nelson recorded a rendition of it for his album, Yesterday’s Wine. And just recently he recorded a version, below, with his family.

3. “For My Daughter,” Kane Brown

Just this year, Brown has become known for the song he did with his wife, “Thank God.” Earlier, in 2018, the song Brown wrote for his daughter dropped on the extended digital edition of his LP, Experiment.

Someone to play catch with, out in the backyard
To pick up the pieces of your first broken heart
Someone to say slow down when you turn sixteen
Yeah, I grew up without a dad
I’m gonna be the best one I can be

4. “Mama Tried,” Merle Haggard

Released in the summer of 1968, “Mama Tried” comes from another legend in the industry, Merle Haggard. It was the title track from Haggard’s album that same year. It quickly became one of his signature tracks and on it, he talks about putting his mother through the ringer from his time spent in jail.

And I turned twenty-one in prison doin’ life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried

5. “Family is Family,” Kacey Musgraves

From the country singer’s 2015 second studio LP, Pageant Material, this song is about the special forever bonds between kin, for better and for worse.

Family is family, in church or in prison
You get what you get, and you don’t get to pick ’em
They might smoke like chimneys, but give you their kidneys
Yeah, friends come in handy, but family is family

6. “Song for Dad,” Keith Urban

From the country star’s 2002 album Golden Road, this heartfelt four-minute tune is an ode to Urban’s father. Urban sings about his dad doing the best he could and loving the family, providing that important foundation.

The older I get the more I can see
How much he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could
And I only hope when I have my own family
That every day I see a little more of my father in me, yeah

7. “Things Dads Do,” Thomas Rhett

A standalone single from the country standout in 2021, “Things Dads Do” is about the grand plan those great fathers have. Chores, managing plans.

He won’t let you quit your football team
Or hang with the kid who lives down the street
‘Cause he heard he smokes dope and got holes in his jeans
Lookin’ back, he was right, I guess

8. “Family Table,” Zac Brown Band

From the rambunctious band’s 2017 album, Welcome Home, “Family Table” is about the place around which the family gathers. It’s simple but it’s important beyond words.

It’s just an old piece of wood
On top of four legs
It’s got a few coffee stains, and a thousand marks from “god knows when”
Ain’t too many thing’s, that could stand the test of time
But this family table’s held together by love that never dies

9. “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” Martina McBride

Recorded by McBride in 2003, “In My Daughter’s Eyes” was a hit on the Billboard country charts, hitting No. 4. The swelling number is about the loving relationship between mother and daughter.

In my daughter’s eyes
I am a hero
I am strong and wise
And I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I want to be
In my daughter’s eyes

10. “Mama’s Song,” Carrie Underwood

Released in 2010 from Underwood’s album Play On, “Mama’s Song” is a loving sentiment from daughter to mother in which the daughter reassures her mom it will all be okay as she grows up and makes her way in the world.

Mama, you taught me to do the right things
So now you have to let your baby fly
You’ve given me everything that I will need
To make it through this crazy thing called life

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images

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