Anyone with a favorite uncle understands the special and unique role such a relative can have in a person’s life.
Numerous musicians feel the same way. What are some of the top songs about uncles? Read on to find out!
Table of Contents
- Uncle John’s Band – Grateful Dead
- Uncle Remus – Frank Zappa
- Uncle Salty – Aerosmith
- Uncle Walter – Ben Folds
- My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died – Roger Miller
- The Monkey’s Uncle – Annette Funicello
- Uncle Pen – Goldie Hawn
- Uncle Joe – Buffy Sainte-Marie
- Uncle Arthur – David Bowie
- Uncle Son – The Kinks
- Uncle Harry – Noël Coward
- Uncle Joe – The Country Gentlemen
- Third Uncle – Bauhaus
- Uncle Sam Blues – Jefferson Airplane
- Man Called Uncle – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
- Uncle Sam – Tevin Campbell
- Fiddle About – The Who
- Uncle Jam – Funkadelic
- Uncle Toad Said – Gordon Lightfoot
Uncle John’s Band – Grateful Dead
The narrator here asks listeners to come to listen to Uncle John’s Band with him. It’s not clear who Uncle John is; he may be an imaginary figure. This bluegrass-folk song has a sound inspired by Bulgarian folk music. While the single release—which was shortened from the album version—did not chart very high on the US Hot 100, the album it appeared on was a huge hit.
Related: Here is our list of famous bluegrass songs.
Uncle Remus – Frank Zappa
This track’s uncle character was based on Joel Chandler Harris’s writings. The song explores Frank Zappa’s somewhat gentle criticism of ongoing racism and the lack of civil rights advancements in the 1970s, which he believed were sacrificed for the sake of fashion. Similar themes appear in Zappa’s earlier track ‘Trouble Every Day.’
Related: Listen to more songs about unfairness.
Uncle Salty – Aerosmith
This fictional tale of child abuse shows perspectives from all sides, with an orphanage and the “Uncle Salty” working there at the center of the story. Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton plays rhythm guitar on this particular piece.
Uncle Walter – Ben Folds
In this fictional song, Ben Folds finds himself stuck with a friend’s drunken uncle. The uncle tells Folds about modern society’s problems and says he would change things if he was the US President. While Folds does have an uncle named Walter, the character in the song is only partially based on him.
My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died – Roger Miller
This somewhat nonsensical song uses rhymes to make its lighthearted, if confusing, point. Roger Miller’s childhood spent with his aunt and uncle may have inspired some of the lyrics. Despite its strange nature, the song was a minor hit in the United States and a big success in Canada. The 1973 version uses the lyric “mama” rather than “uncle,” making it a little less confusing.
The Monkey’s Uncle – Annette Funicello
Here we have a theme song for a film of the same name, performed by Annette Funicello and The Beach Boys. It’s a somewhat nonsensical song with its narrator talking about a female character who “loves the monkey’s uncle.” It seems that this might just be the guy she likes.
Related: Enjoy our playlist of songs with monkey in the title.
Uncle Pen – Goldie Hawn
Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys first sang this song in 1950. Goldie Hawn’s version was released on her album Goldie in 1972. The country track’s lyrics tell of people who came from all over to dance to Uncle Pen’s fiddle music.
Uncle Joe – Buffy Sainte-Marie
This song finds Buffy Sainte-Marie asking listeners if they ever met someone named Uncle Joe. The song appears on the only country and folk album that Sainte-Marie released, titled I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again, which was released in 1968.
Uncle Arthur – David Bowie
‘Uncle Arthur’ stars a manchild who meets a woman named Sally and finally starts his adult life with her. However, he grows unhappy and eventually moves back in with his mother. The song criticizes 30-somethings who refuse to start independent adult lives and rely on their parents to survive.
Related: Check out our playlist full of song lyrics about growing up.
Uncle Son – The Kinks
The Kinks explore the lives of honest, ordinary, hard-working people and the unfair ways that they may get exploited by politicians and societal systems in this track. Many listeners find that the song still rings true in modern life, especially in a world increasingly divided by political differences.
Related: Working hard or hardly working? Here are the best songs about jobs.
Uncle Harry – Noël Coward
Here’s a novelty track that was the first song Noël Coward performed on a 1955 TV special where he appeared alongside Mary Martin. The song was written to entertain troops in the 1940s and is about a relative who became a missionary. Coward did not have an uncle named Harry, so it is unclear who inspired the song.
Uncle Joe – The Country Gentlemen
The narrator of this song sings fondly of childhood memories with his Uncle Joe. Joe dies in the song, but before he does, he tells his nephew that he is going to heaven. The nephew seems lonely even though he knows his uncle believes he’s going to a peaceful afterlife.
Related: See our list of passing away songs to help you grieve.
Third Uncle – Bauhaus
This song’s protagonist would go to great lengths to hide everything in his life from someone else, who he is either angry at, doesn’t trust, or both. Bauhaus covered this track, which Brian Eno originally sang; other artists have also covered this piece. Bauhaus changed some of the lyrics, as well.
Uncle Sam Blues – Jefferson Airplane
This track has a male protagonist who talks about enlisting in an army and going to war. It seems that he is happy about the prospect of becoming violent without actually breaking any laws. The song shows the illogical nature of war and how we use it to justify harming and gaining power over others.
Related: Head over to our playlist of soldier music.
Man Called Uncle – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Elvis Costello seems to warn a woman about the older uncle-like men she gets romantically involved with in this track. He doesn’t seem sure that he can offer her anything better, but that doesn’t mean she is making the right choices. Various artists have covered ‘Man Called Uncle’ since its release.
Uncle Sam – Tevin Campbell
Prince co-wrote and produced this piece under a pseudonym; Paula Sherield wrote the song’s rap section. The song addresses how the United States government and patriotism are anthropomorphized and talks about how Black people contributed to the country’s development.
Related: You won’t want to miss our list of the most patriotic songs.
Fiddle About – The Who
This piece talks about its protagonist’s rough life leading up to his spiritual enlightenment—particularly familial abuse during childhood. It can be considered a companion piece to The Who’s ‘Cousin Kevin,’ which addresses the same topics. Pete Townshend’s abusive childhood was a likely inspiration for both songs. Ringo Starr of The Beatles is featured on the song’s vocals.
Uncle Jam – Funkadelic
The title of this song seems to play on Uncle Sam, one of the United States’ fictional symbols of patriotism. The song encourages listeners to join an army that is all about music, rhythm, and dancing rather than being bored. This stands in stark contrast to the harsh reality of armies and war.
Related: Hear similar songs on our list of the best war protest songs.
Uncle Toad Said – Gordon Lightfoot
In this song, a character named Uncle Toad criticizes young boys and their sometimes questionable choices. He tries to teach them what is wrong and right, sometimes in harsh ways. Whether these are relatives or just neighbor-type children is hard to tell.