The Fatherless Child

"The young man stands on the edge of his porch. The days were short, and the father was gone." - Mumford and Sons, "Dust Bowl Dance.”

Growing up without a father is devastating. Plain and simple. As the church, we have been given the responsibility of caring for orphans. Take a moment to read this post and listen to the song below. May your heart soften for the fatherless.


One theme that emerges from the brilliance of the Grammy-nominated band, Mumford and Sons, is the idea of compassion for the fatherless and the orphan. Last month, they performed "The Cave" at the Grammys, a song that says plainly, “I see widows and orphans through my tears.”

In "Dust Bowl Dance” Mumford depicts a young, fatherless boy on a desolate farm with barren fields. The song begins with the picture of a fatherless boy, then it shifts into first person. “I’ve been kicked off my land at the age of 16…” Even though the band has said little about the meaning of this song, the lead singer, Marcus Mumford, has expressed his affection for John Steinbeck and Grapes of Wrath. (Steinbeck won both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes for his work.) Grapes shines a spotlight on the greed that in part caused the disastrous “Dust Bowl” that covered Oklahoma and several southern states, causing massive displacement – including Steinbeck’s fictitious family depicted in Grapes – the Joads.

Marcus picks up this theme – an angry, fatherless boy that has been kicked off his land by greedy oppressors, oppressors who have taken it “from the hands of the poor.” Now the son has come back and brings with him: rage, retribution and a gun. He comes back for justice for himself and for those who have been oppressed, those who have been robbed and displaced. At the pinnacle of the song, the fatherless boy confronts his oppressor and (we assume) shoots him. Throughout the song, the boy makes his confession, “To face what I’ve done, and do my time.” At end of the song, the boy comes clean, “Yes sir, yes sir, yes it was me.”

Some have interpreted the “only son” as Christ returning in wrath and doing justice for those who have been oppressed. But the literal/parallel Grapes of Wrath interpretation is the son (like Tom Joad) returning to his oppressors with blood and vengeance. Either way, the song – like Grapes - shines a spotlight on the greed and oppression, while stirring up compassion for the poor, the fatherless and the least of these.


Do not encroach the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong. He will take up their case against you. Proverbs 23:10-11.

from Fatherless Generation

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