When I was about eight or nine, I was at the park with my dad and I fell off the merry-go-round. Through the strange physical laws of childhood, I landed under it with the thing still spinning madly an inch from my face. My dad rushed over, stopped the thing so I could get out from under it, and asked if I was okay. I stood up, brushed myself off, then proceeded to get mad at him for asking. In a lot of ways, I was daddy’s little girl, but I was never going to be the kind of girl—or woman—who played “Butterfly Kisses” at her wedding reception. To be fair, I’m pretty sure my dad and I listened to that song at some point, and I’m pretty sure that he teared up. But that saccharine stuff isn’t quite up my alley.
Of course, I missed my chance for a father-daughter dance entirely, because I had to say goodbye to him when I was only twenty-three. I don’t wish the three weeks I spent in the hospital on anyone, but in a lot of ways, I still feel lucky. When he died, I knew how much my dad loved me, and he didn’t leave me with any lingering questions. We didn’t have a complicated relationship, and I know how fortunate I am to be able to say that.
That said, it’s still fun to think about what we would have danced to, to browse his CD collection, the cases making their clicking sounds as I flip past them. My dad is the one who built my musical foundation. From The Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel to Carole King and Carly Simon, he played albums on Sunday mornings and cranked up songs in the car, sitting in the parking lot until they were over, two habits I still indulge in. So here are twenty of my picks for cheese-free (almost… there is a Billy Joel song in there) songs to dance with your dad to.
- “Vienna” by Billy Joel
- “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
- “Why Walk When You Can Fly” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
- “Both Sides, Now” by Joni Mitchell
- “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor
- “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Birds
- “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” by Paul Simon
- “Carry Me” by Crosby & Nash
- “Turn Around” by Nanci Griffith
- “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” by Simon & Garfunkel
- “Let There Be Love” by Nat King Cole
- “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Judy Garland
- “Wide Open Spaces” by The Dixie Chicks
- “My Girl” as covered by The Rolling Stones
- “Let it Be” as covered by Aretha Franklin
- “Never My Love” by The Association
- “Child of Mine” by Carole King
- “May You Never” by Eric Clapton
- “The Glory of Love” by Otis Redding
- “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon
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