March 29.2016 – Story Behind “He Didn’t Have To Be” by Brad Paisley

Here the story here!

The second single from Brad Paisley’s debut album, Who Needs Pictures, this became his first Country #1 in December 1999, holding the top spot for one week.

The song was penned by Paisley with his frequent co-writer and best friend Kelley Lovelace and based on the latter’s relationship with his stepson McCain Merren. “‘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,” Paisley said. “Maybe we’d be sitting here with me having written a #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.”

“He Didn’t Have To Be” was written from the perspective of a son of a single mother; we hear how the single mom begins dating a new man who immediately builds a relationship with the child as well. 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 said to him, “Let’s make a song about you two that will make your
wife cry.”

Top session drummer Eddie Bayers played on this. The winner of the Academy of Country Music’s Drummer of the Year Award for eight straight years, Bayers has played on songs by the likes of John Denver, George Straitt, The Beach Boys, Garth Brooks, Glen Campbell, Kenny Chesney and Elton John.

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.

LYRICS: Written by Brad Paisley and Kelly Lovelace
When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new
It always winds up feeling more like a job interview
My momma 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 prayed that she’d say yes

And then all of a sudden
Oh, 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 that’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 now all of a sudden
It seemed so strange to me
How we’ve gone from something’s missing
To a family
Lookin’ through the glass I think about the man
That’s standin’ 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

Yeah, I hope I’m at least half the dad
That he didn’t have to be
Because he didn’t have to be
You know he didn’t have to be

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About Robynn

Robynn Jaymes has spent her whole life in radio… 30 years!! And almost half of them have been at Star Country. Originally from Cincinnati, Robynn came to the area as a Liberty University student. Along with all things country music, Robynn is a big fan of Football!—The Virginia Tech Hokies, The Washington Redskins and, of course, the Cincinnati Bengals. And also, “I’m addicted to the Weather Channel,” she says. Right now, Robynn is a big fan if the music coming from Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Chesney! Robynn is also a winner of the Billboard Air Personality of the Year award. Hear all new Warm & Fuzzies with Robynn M-F at 11:45AM!

One thought on “March 29.2016 – Story Behind “He Didn’t Have To Be” by Brad Paisley

  1. Cathy H

    Robynn! Greetings from Cincinnati. Do you have any way of finding out WHO played the dad in the video you’re talking about? My husband and I (and many others I’ve found out) are trying to decide IF it’s Lee Majors. I think it looks just like him, my husband disagrees. Thank you so much. Cathy

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