About the song

Ah, yes, “Papa” by Paul Anka. Released in 1962, this poignant ballad holds a special place in the hearts of many. Anka, a Canadian singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1950s with catchy pop tunes like “Diana” and “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” surprised audiences with this introspective and deeply personal song.

---> Scroll down for the VIDEO

“Papa” marked a turning point in Anka’s career. At the time, most of his music catered to a teenage audience, chronicling the joys and heartbreaks of young love. “Papa”, however, delves into a more mature theme: the complex and enduring bond between a father and son.

The song opens with a gentle piano melody, setting a contemplative mood. Anka’s warm vocals then paint a vivid picture of his childhood. We hear about his hardworking father, who tirelessly provides for the family, and his loving mother who tucks him into bed each night. The lyrics evoke a sense of idyllic family life, albeit one marked by occasional “years of sadness and of tears.”

The narrative takes a poignant turn when Anka describes his mother’s passing. The grief is palpable as he sings about his father’s heartbreak and withdrawal. This verse resonates with anyone who has experienced the loss of a parent.

Despite the sadness, “Papa” ultimately celebrates the strength and resilience found within families. Anka’s father, though devastated, encourages his son to pursue his dreams and “make it on his own.” This act of selflessness, putting the child’s needs before his own, speaks volumes about the enduring love between a father and son.

The song concludes with a reflective maturity, as the now grown-up narrator reflects on his own fatherhood. He remembers his father’s words, “Your children. They live through you. And they’ll grow. They’ll leave you, too,” and finds solace in the cyclical nature of life.

Read more:  I Got Lucky - Elvis Presley (1961)

“Papa” was a critical and commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard charts in the United States and Canada. It cemented Anka’s status as a versatile songwriter, capable of crafting both lighthearted pop anthems and deeply affecting ballads. The song’s enduring popularity lies in its relatable themes of familial love, loss, and the bittersweet passage of time. It’s a testament to the power of music to evoke strong emotions and connect with listeners across generations.

Video

Lyrics

“Papa”

Everyday my papa would work
To try to make ends meet
To see that we would eat
Keep those shoes upon my feet
Every night my papa would take me
And tuck me in my bed
Kiss me on my head
After all the prayers were said
And there were years
Of sadness and of tears
Through it all
Together we were strong
We were strong
Times were rough
But Papa he was tough
Mama stood beside him all along

Growing up with them was easy
The time had flew on by
The years began to fly
They aged and so did I
And I could tell
That mama she wasn’t well
Papa knew and deep down so did she
So did she
When she died
Papa broke down and he cried
And all he could say was, “God, why her? Take me!”
Everyday he sat there sleeping in a walking chair
He never went upstais
All Because she wasn’t there

Then one day my Papa said,
“Son, I’m proud of how you’ve grown”
He said, “Go out and make it on your own.
Don’t worry. I’m O.K. alone.”
He said, “There are things that you must do”
He said, “There’s places you must see”
And his eyes were sad as he
As he said goodbye to me

Read more:  The Seekers – Georgy Girl

Every time I kiss my children
Papa’s words ring true
He said, “Children live through you.
Let them grow! They’ll leave you, too”
I remember every word Papa used to say
I kiss my kids and pray
That they’ll think of me
Oh how I pray
They will think of me
That way
Someday