The Ultimate Dad Rock Playlist


At once rockin’ and wistfully nostalgic, “Baba O’Riley” — like much of the 1971 album it kicks off, “Who’s Next” — belongs squarely in the fatherly canon. In the words of the comedian Joe Pera, in his wonderful sketch celebrating the glory of this track, “Maybe I just don’t get it, but it seems like they realized they’d written the perfect song and then panicked, so then they added a violin solo.”

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I could have chosen just about any Steely Dan song, so why not go with one of my favorites, this tuneful ditty from the group’s great 1974 album “Pretzel Logic.”

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Just about any Tom Petty song qualifies as dad rock, too, but I’ve picked this 1993 hit for personal reasons: My dad played this song in the car a lot when it came out, and my sister and I would always giggle when Petty sings “underwear.”

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Dads don’t cry, of course, but they do get a little choked up at the line “when the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band,” because they’re thinking about the beautiful friendship between Bruce Springsteen and his late saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

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Mitchum identified the National in 2019 as “purified dad-rock in band form.” Its members are some of the younger, second-generation practitioners of the genre, now in their late 40s to mid-50s. (Just don’t tell Dad they’ve worked with Taylor Swift.)

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Dads will not be able to truly assess the quality of a set of speakers or headphones until they’ve conducted the most important test: “How does ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ sound on them?”



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