Readers recommend playlist: songs about family

The Cranberries, Kate Bush and Talking Heads offer up songs about their nearest and dearest in this week’s selection

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of your suggestions last week. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.

It’s all in the blood! So say Slyand the Family Stone: yes, it’s a Family Affair starting our list. The relationship can blow hot and cold at times, particularly when visits are infrequent, so it’s always worth family Coming Around Again – as Carly Simon sings so beautifully.

Listen on YouTube to Carly Simon singing Coming Around Again

Sometimes, family secrets can really complicate our lives. Shawn Elliott tells a tale with some disturbing facets: it seems there is Shame and Scandal in the Family. Best to come clean quickly – it could still work out. The secrets families keep take a toll, but no matter how rough it gets, the desire to make things work can be strong. Pink tries to keep her folks together in Family Portrait, but you can feel the pain runs deep and the ground is shaky.

Much better are Kate Bush’s memories, shining as they do through The Fog of the past. How wonderful to have retained that elation from a bit of courage passed down from her father. Close to my own heart are memories of my mom and dad in the front seat, my brother and I in the back having a raucous time as we careened along mountain roads. Nice to see it’s shared by the Saw Doctors. The roads of Galway and Mayo sound marvellous.

As the years go by, the memories can fade. Maybe you even want them to. But lurking somewhere there’s bound to be that family chronicle: The Picture Book. The Kinks know all about that.

In many a neighborhood there’s The House. The kids all know, if things are messed up in their home, they can still get some quality family time down the street. Everyone’s welcome; there’s always room. Air Traffic Controller obviously had theirs, and are still celebrating.

As human institutions go, the Family Reunion likely dates to prehistoric times. It’s a gathering where everyone’s on display, open to critique and love. Ancient battles are re-fought, new members introduced, food is shared. All the small joys and pains of life are writ large. Jill Scott does a fine job celebrating hers.

Those new family members aren’t always immediately accepted by all. There’s that time when the older siblings debate the baby, and what to do about it. Talking Heads Stay Up Late figuring ways to make their parents pay for bringing him into their lives.

Eventually the sibling unit becomes a circling of the wagons. If a mother and father insist on being ridiculous, brothers and sisters can figure it out for themselves. Alex Lahey sings I Love You Like a Brother to her sibling, and they just get on with it.

Hopefully the family is a source of strength to carry you through life. Our parents’ job was to love us so much we would want to leave, carrying their hopes for us whether we knew it or not. It’s a truly paradoxical undertaking that can be fraught with peril. Still, its rewards are long-lasting and joyous. The Cranberries crafted a lovely lullaby called Ode to the Family, and I think it gets close to that truth. Wrap yourself in it for a bit.

New theme: how to join in

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Gary Willis

The GuardianTramp

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