Penned by two great songwriters Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton, “I Don’t Wanna Play House” was first recorded by Tammy Wynette in 1967. Interestingly, the song became Wynette’s first no. 1 country song as a solo artist.
Spending three weeks at the top spot, “I Don’t Wanna Play House” stayed a total of 18 long weeks on the country charts. In addition, Wynette earned a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song back in 1968.
The song narrates a young mother whose husband has left her. The mother then overhears her daughter describing to a neighbor boy their broken home (broken family). Her daughter tells the boy that she doesn’t want to play house with him because just like what happened in their house, her father left them. And that situation isn’t fun at all.
Song Relevance to Wynette’s Life
The song reflects a story of a broken family. It is not unknown to many that Tammy Wynnette was married five times. To have a recall, she married Euple Byrd (m.1960-d.1966), Don Chapel (born Lloyd Franklin Amburgey) (m.1967-annulled 1968), George Jones (m. 1969-d.1975), Michael Tomlin (m.July 18, 1976-a. Sept 1976) just 44 days, and George Richey (m. 1978-her death 1998).
Wynette was married to Don Chapel by the time she recorded “I Don’t Wanna Play House” in 1968. In the same year, they had their annulment which meant freedom for Wynette. The following lyrics just tell what Wynette was going through during that time:
I don’t want to play house; I know it can’t be fun
I’ve watched mommy and daddy
And if that’s the way it’s done
I don’t want to play house; It makes my mommy cry
‘Cause when she played house
My daddy said good-bye
It is unfortunate that Chapel left her after the one-year marriage. The next year, Wynette met George Jones who was one of the most respected country music artists. Their marriage also did not last as it came to an end in 1975, a six-year marriage. In Wynette’s autobiography Stand By Your Man, she claimed that Jones used to beat her and at one point fired a shotgun at her. The allegations were then denied by Jones.
Tammy Wynette’s short-lived relationships ended with George Richey, her manager throughout her career in the 1980’s. She spent her life with him until her death in 1998. Interestingly, Wynette was also once linked with actor Burt Reynolds and they were good friends up to Wynette’s sudden death.
If Wynette had a theme song about her love life, I’d probably guess, it would definitely be this song. The line, “daddy said goodbye” describes most of her husband who left her. Nonetheless, despite her failed relationships, Wynette was still a successful country artist, and her songs will live on for generations to come.
Watch Tammy Wynette perform “I Don’t Wanna Play House” live in 1967:
A number of artists have covered the song. Most notable versions are Connie Francis‘ cover, which was released in August 1968, Skeeter Davis‘ which was also released in 1968 and included on her album, Why So Lonely. In addition, Lynn Anderson released a cover of the song in 1970 on her album, Rose Garden.
Loretta Lynn had also a cover of the song on her 1968 album, Fist City. In 1973, British country music artist Barbara Ray recorded a version which became a no. 2 hit in Australia. Lastly, Swedish singer Mona Gustafsson released a recording of the song on her album, Countrypärlor in 2010.
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