Many, many musicians cite their grandparents as an influence. A living link to history, our grandparents have gathered a trove of wisdom and learned countless life lessons by the time we’re learning to hold up our own heads. Grandmothers in particular represent safety and warmth, and can often act as second mothers to their grandchildren, as is the case for many of the musicians on this list and the songs about grandma.
Most of us will experience losing a grandmother at least once in our lives, and it’s an incredibly difficult thing to navigate. There’s songs on this list to help you navigate that grief, and there’s also songs to help you celebrate all the wonderful things that grandmothers do for us. Here are our 21 best songs about Grandma.
Top Songs About Grandma
“Marjorie” – Taylor Swift
In this tender ode to her grandmother, Marjorie, Swift recalls all the valuable lessons she taught her. She also reveals that despite how devastating the loss is, she still feels her grandmother’s presence in her everyday life and wishes she had made the most of her time with Marjorie.
Swift shares a special link to her grandmother that goes beyond blood – Marjorie Finley was an opera singer and had a successful musical career just like her granddaughter. Her vocals are even sampled in the track and she is credited as a backing singer.
“Supermarket Flowers” – Ed Sheeran
Whilst he was making his third album ÷ (Divide), Sheeran’s grandmother passed away in hospital. “Supermarket Flowers” describes the aftermath of her death – not just the emotional act of processing it, but the physical act of organising her things and clearing out her hospital room.
“Supermarket Flowers” was originally written as a personal tribute to Sheeran’s grandmother, intended to be played at her funeral but not to be included on the album. However, after the funeral Sheeran’s grandfather urged him to include the song, and it became the album’s closer.
“Tell You Something (Nana’s Reprise)” – Alicia Keys
Keys gets everything off her chest in this track, which speaks directly to her grandmother during a long illness. Knowing that her grandma is approaching the end of her life, Keys expresses that she feels an urge to say everything she needs to before her grandmother passes away. The track isn’t your standard tearjerker – it’s urgent and passionate, capturing that frantic feeling of time running out.
“Grandma’s House” – Killer Mike
Killer Mike tells his life story in “Grandma’s House”, whilst also paying ode to the woman who raised him. “A lot of our Grandmas was our Mamas” he raps, and describes the safety that his Grandma represented after he was dragged into a life of crime at a young age.
The verses of “Grandma’s House” take us all over America as Mike describes events in California and Las Vegas, but time and time again he comes back to his Grandma’s house for advice and support. It’s a reminder of the grounding impact that grandmothers can have.
“Grandma’s Hands” – Bill Withers
“Grandma’s Hands” sees soul singer Bill Withers describe the impact that his grandma had not only on his life but on his wider community. His grandma’s hands are a place of safety, comfort and protection, and Withers laments that they aren’t around to offer him comfort anymore.
Withers’ version of the song was released in 1971 and has been covered many times since, including a version by Barbara Streisand. It was also sampled for the hook of “No Diggity” by Blackstreet.
“My Angel” – Kellie Pickler
Pickler lovingly describes the impact that her grandmother had on her life as a young girl, detailing their afterschool routine together and the songs that they would sing. Heaping praise down on her grandmother, she laments that her ‘angel’ is no longer there to see Pickler’s successful music career and witness her dreams coming true. It’s classic country and knows exactly how to tug on the listener’s heartstrings.
“Nan’s Song” – Robbie Williams
This love letter to his grandmother, Bertha, was the first track that Williams wrote without the help of a collaborator. He saw it as a fitting first solo project, as he and his grandmother had been incredibly close – he even has a letter ‘B’ tattooed behind his ear in tribute to her. The track describes one of the final conversations between the singer and his grandmother, and the presence that he still feels in his room after she passes on.
“Better Days” – Diane Reeves
Reeves asked her grandmother plenty of questions as a young child, and she lists many of them in this track. As a young Reeves enquires what love is, why their family is poor, and what life is all about, her grandmother sits quietly in her rocking chair and encourages her to be patient. “You will see those better days/But you gotta be patient” she encourages.
As an adult, Reeves tells the listener that she still carries that advice with her. She wonders if her grandmother is watching over her as she makes her way through life.
“Grandma” – A$AP Ferg
A$AP Ferg excitedly updates his grandma on the developments in his career, rapping through calls from record labels and million-dollar deals. But after the first verse he switches to detailing the struggles that his grandma went through. He wishes she was still around to witness his success, and that he could have made the end of her life a little easier.
“Grandma’s Garden” – Zac Brown
Brown pays tribute to a true matriarch in “Grandma’s Garden”. Brown’s grandma doesn’t just tend to her plants, but also to her family and community, helping them to grow up strong and stay on the straight and narrow.
“Grandma’s Garden” appeared on the multi-artist concept album Southern Family. Developed by producer Dave Cobb, the album brings various country artists together to create a body of work about their southern roots.
“Baghdad” – Flo Perlin
Perlin describes magical conversations with her grandma in this beautiful acoustic track. Describing the Baghdadi side of her family, specifically her beloved grandma whose memory is beginning to fail, Perlin expresses her deep wish to understand that part of her heritage, and her hope that her grandparents will be able to keep on sharing their stories.
‘Baghdad’ is also a sad song, as Perlin knows she will never experience the life that her grandma did in Baghdad. She imagines what her own childhood in her ancestral home might have been like and wonders if it would have been similar to how her grandma lived.
“Vernie”– Blind Melon
Blind Melon sing a tender ode to a beloved grandma in this sweet track. They weave a treasure trove of imagery associated with Vernie – her collection of glass chickens, her caramel cake recipe, the jars in her cupboard unopened since 1983. It’s a portrait of a grandma that may feel familiar to many listeners.
The song is about lead singer Shannon Hoon’s own grandma, Vernie. “If I had a heart I would want it to be like Vernie’s,” sings Hoon. He later told publications that Vernie would always say “I love you” as they said goodbye to each other, just in case it was the last ever time.
“Grandma’s Song” – Gail Davies
Gail Davies describes the outpouring of love and grief in her community after the passing of her grandma in this sweet country track.
Opening the track with a sample of the old folk song that her grandma taught her, she goes on to paint a picture of a town in mourning for a special and graceful old woman who loved everything that crossed her path. “I pray that there is a little of her in me,” sings Davies.
The sample at the start of the track is the real voice of Davies’ grandma, Frances Marion Whitten, singing an old folk song called ‘The Fox Hunting Song’.
“Clancy’s Tavern” – Toby Keith
This gentle country track sees Toby Keith describing his grandmother as she runs her nightclub in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The song is an outpouring of admiration for a hardworking woman who was renowned as a pillar in her community. Keith later described how this tavern featured in many of his earliest memories as he grew up visiting his grandma.
Although the track is called ‘Clancy’s Tavern’, the real nightclub was called Billy Garner’s Supper Club. Keith explained that Clancy was a nickname that his granddad gave his grandma because she kept a ‘saloon’.
“Sunday Candy” – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
This sweet ode to all things wonderful sees Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment bragging about having the very best grandma in existence. A general dose of positivity, the track is a sunshiny, joyful collaboration with Chance the Rapper and Jamila Woods. Chance described the track as being “in honour of teamwork and positivity and grandmas”.
“Grandma” – Gretchen Wilson
Wilson sings a wonderful unique and tongue-in-cheek country song about her adventurous grandma. On her 92ndbirthday, Wilson’s grandma suddenly announces that she can’t believe she’s never stoned. The family decide to smoke together, and Wilson’s grandmother smokes an entire joint in order to make up for “wasted time”, before beginning to spout words of wisdom. “You ain’t seen a thing til you’ve seen Grandma getting high,” sings Wilson.
The unorthodox track as a sweet ending, as Wilson’s grandma flies off to heaven without any regrets. Wilson realises what her grandma is really trying to teach her – that you shouldn’t keep putting off the adventures you want to have.
“Grandmother Song” – Sheffy Oren Bach
This moving folk song sees Sheffy Oren Bach connect with her roots and commune with her ancestors. Bach listens to the voice of her grandma and sees her place in a long line of mothers, teachers, and powerful women. Threaded with forest sounds and uncomplicated in its arrangement, Bach’s ‘Grandmother Song’ has the effect of a spell.
“Nancy Mulligan” – Ed Sheeran
This upbeat song from Sheeran’s third studio album, ÷, describes the love story between his granddad and grandma. William Sheeran and Nancy Mulligan meet in the Second World War and ran down to the Wexford Border to get married, despite their differences in religion and upbringing. They went on to have eight children and twenty-two grandchildren – one of which, obviously, was Ed Sheeran.
“Grandma Plays The Numbers” – Wynonie Harris
A grandma playing the lottery doesn’t sound so unusual, but the ‘numbers’ that Grandma gets caught playing in this 1948 track are a little less orthodox. Before the government ran a national lottery, it was an illegal game run by gangsters. Despite this, many grandmas did play the numbers, with the grandma caught red-handed in this Wynonie Harris song being one of them.
This 40s track gained modern attention when it was included in the game Fallout 4. Curious gamers flocked to online forums to ask what was so shocking about grandmas gambling habit.
“Grandma Harp” – Merle Haggard & The Strangers
Merle Haggard tells a history of a family matriarch known as Grandma Harp. Haggard makes it clear that Grandma Harp isn’t a particularly unusual grandma, but it’s still incredibly special that she navigated her family through poverty and lived for 90 years. He stands up to give a eulogy at her funeral and wonders how he’s supposed to sum up such a long life in only a few lines.
“Grandmother (I Am The Earth)” – Ayla Schafer
Schafer reaches out to her grandma in this mystical track. “I am the Earth and the Earth is singing through me,” she sings. “I am the Earth and the Earth is breathing through me.”
Through the memory and presence of her grandma, she feels connected to everything around her. Schafer’s folky composition demonstrates how important the memories of our loved ones can be, and how they can help to guide us even after they have passed.
Our grandmas can be many things to us – our second mother, our moral compass, our place of refuge or our best friend. Music can be a great way to celebrate everything they bring to our lives, and it can also help us to navigate life without them.
Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.