Deadbeat dads have inspired songs since words were set to music. The absent father is a narrative that has shaped countless tunes and continues to be a popular theme today.
But not every papa in song is a rolling stone. Some characterize the good guys who provide for their family and love their kids. The timeless ones offer unique perspectives. Here are five enduring songs that glorify fathers with five distinct takes.
“I Don’t Call Him Daddy” – Doug Supernaw
Written by Reed Nielsen, this song touts the virtues of the decent divorced dad. The point of view is derived from a working-class man and the tribulations associated with seeing his son after a failed marriage.
The touching song conveys the message that the son understands the situation perfectly, reassuring his father that nobody can replace him. Because “I Don’t Call Him Daddy, he can never be like you”.
The tune was first recorded by Kenny Rogers in 1987 but The Gambler’s version fizzled out at #86 on the charts. The definitive recording of “I Don’t Call Him Daddy” was released by Doug Supernaw in 1993. Supernaw included the song on his debut album. It went on to become his biggest hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts in December 1993.
“Make Him Wait” – Abby Anderson
Texas songbird Abby Anderson writes from the heart. Her highly personal ballad “Make Him Wait” shines as a terrific example. Released in 2018, the tune is uniquely melodic, intensely soulful, and refreshingly genuine.
Since its debut, the song has been streamed more than 4 million times on Spotify. Its impact however extends far beyond sales figures. “Make Him Wait” has become an anthem for self-worth and resilience.
The tune focuses on the father’s role of instilling morals, values, and self-respect. “It’s honestly the easiest song I’ve ever written and ever will write…It’s everything my dad ever taught me about knowing my worth, trusting my worth, and just knowing what I deserve in a guy”, says Anderson.
Discouraged girls the world over implement the song as a source of empowerment. Fathers utilize it as a blueprint for raising strong and confident daughters.
“Love Without End, Amen” – George Strait
“Love Without End, Amen” was released by George Strait in 1990. George was already a superstar, but this song cemented his legend. It illustrates dad’s predicament of using tough love while loving unconditionally.
The narrator tells of when he was a boy and gets in trouble. The boy awaits a beating from his father, but the punishment never comes. Instead, his dad reveals a secret about a father’s love.
The tune skyrocketed to #1 and is Strait’s first single to spend multiple weeks atop the charts. “Love Without End, Amen” was written by American singer-songwriter, and frequent George Strait collaborator, Aaron Barker.
The song concludes with the narrator standing outside the Pearly Gates when he hears a voice from the other side. It repeats the secret told to him so long ago. The voice saying, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then, It’s a love without end, amen”.
“Color Him Father” – The Winstons
This late 60’s R&B classic tackles the tricky ground of mixed family. “Color Him Father” details a young man and the admiration he has for his stepfather.
The man wed the boy’s mother, assuming responsibility as the head of the family. However, what strikes the boy is the fact that the stepfather always treats him with the love and respect of a natural child. Eternally grateful, the boy declares, “I think I’ll color him father. I Think I’ll color this man love”.
The tune was the first single for Washington, D.C. funk/soul band The Winstons, written by saxophonist and bandmember Richard Lewis Spencer. “Color Him Father” peaked at #7 on the Billboard US Hot 100 and won the 1969 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Song.
“Holding Things Together” – Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard is known for edgy patriotic songs and tunes geared toward the working man. But The Hag could also pull at the heartstrings. “Holding Things Together”, from 1974, is perhaps his most poignant effort.
The song laments the struggles of the single parent but is unique in that the mother has abandoned the family. It is the father who is left to hold things together. In a departure from earlier hits like “Mama Tried”, Haggard denounces the mother and praises the honorable father. It truly celebrates the single dad before it was fashionable to do so.
Music superstar Dwight Yoakam stated that the tune stopped him “dead in my tracks”. In Ken Burns’ 2019 documentary “Country Music”, Dwight is extensively featured. Yoakam’s encapsulation of “Holding Things Together” tells you all you need to know about Merle Haggard. It also personifies the power of songs that glorify fathers.
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