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February 26

From the Son of a Single Mom: “He Didn’t Have to Be?”

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From the Son of a Single Mom: "He Didn't Have to Be?" 1

Brad Paisley/Youtube.com

Single motherhood comes with a unique set of emotional challenges that can, at times, feel overwhelming. The challenges faced by a single mom – from self-doubt and anxiety over money to the stress of making decisions alone – are best understood by women who share them. Countless other moms grapple with exactly the same issues, and they’ve come up with some creative solutions that may work for you too.

Children of single-parent families suffer measurable harm. But the problems of the family are far more complex than the popular debate often suggests.

Now, this song that I am going to share and talk about is unlikely the common notion you’d think about single moms and their children. This Brad Paisley hit narrates a son of a single mother and his reaction to his mom dating a new guy. Nevertheless, the stepdad just lets his stepson feel whatever he wants to feel and sets him free. Happy or not, ‘he didn’t have to be’…

‘He Didn’t Have to Be’

Released in August 1999 from his debut album, Who Needs Pictures, “He Didn’t Have to Be” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Brad Paisley. In December 1999, it became his first number one single, holding the top spot for one week.

The song was based on Paisley’s frequent co-writer and best friend, Kelley Lovelace‘s stepson McCain Merren, who attended the 2000 ACM Awards as Paisley’s guest.

“He Didn’t Have to Be” debuted at number 72 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs for the week of September 4, 1999. In addition, it spent 30 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, peaking at number one in December 1999 and holding that position for one week.

Behind the Song

Written from the perspective of a son of a single mother, the song tells a story of how a single mom tries to meet a new man into her life.

The single mother begins dating a new man who almost immediately includes the child in things like going to the movies. In the final verse, the son is now about ready to become a father himself, standing in the hospital next to his stepfather and hoping that he can be “at least half the dad” that his stepfather “didn’t have to be.”

Lovelace co-penned it from personal experience having become a step-dad to McCain Merren when he married his wife, Karen.

According to an interview with the songwriter in USA Weekend magazine, Paisley told Lovelace,

“Let’s make a song about you two that will make your wife cry.”

Paisley’s most life-changing song ever written

Paisley and Lovelace penned this song as an inspiration of the latter’s relationship with his stepson McCain Merren. According to Paisley,

“‘He Didn’t Have to Be’ was probably the most life-changing three minutes that I’ve ever written, because I really believe we wouldn’t be sitting here anymore talking. Maybe we’d be sitting here with me having written a number 1 song for somebody else, but I don’t think I’d still have a record deal without that song. It broke the ice for me with radio. It was like you could see potential in it, and that’s an important thing. I was really lucky, it wasn’t like we knew what we were doing. I just happened [to write] that with my best friend from the bottom of my heart about his situation.”

The song was later included on Paisley’s 2009 album, Playlist: The Very Best of Brad Paisley, as well as on his 2010 Hits Alive record.

Here’s the complete lyrics of the song.

When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new
It always winds up feeling more like a job interview
My mama used to wonder if she’d ever meet someone
Who wouldn’t find out about me and then turn around and run

I met the man I call my dad when I was five years old
He took my mom out to a movie and for once I got to go
A few months later I remember lying there in bed
I overheard him pop the question and I prayed that she’d say yes

And then all of a sudden ah it seemed so strange to me
How we went from something’s missing to a family
Lookin’ back all I can say about all the things he did for me
Is I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be

I met the girl who’s now my wife about three years ago
We had the perfect marriage but we wanted somethin’ more
Now here I stand surrounded by our family and friends
Crowded ’round the nursery window as they bring the baby in

And then all of a sudden ah it seemed so strange to me
How we had gone from something’s missing to a family
Lookin’ through the glass I think about the man that’s standing next to me
And I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be

Lookin’ back all I can say about all the things he did for me
Is I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be

I hope I’m at least half the dad that he didn’t have to be
‘Cause he didn’t have to be 
You know he didn’t have to be

Any thoughts folks? Tell us what you think. Don’t forget to like and share this post. Share the country spirit folks! For more country reads, visit our website, https://www.countrythangdaily.com/.


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Brad Paisley, He Didn't Have to Be


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