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Country songsmith Aaron Barker remembers the day when, as a father, he had to lay down the law. His 16-year-old son had broken a few big rules when he took his car out for a spin one day, hit a curb and sent one of its wheels on top of the hood of another driver’s brand-new Porsche.
My son was born when I was 17. I was a kid, too. And I saw him in the hospital, and I thought, “This’ll be great. We’ll grow up together” (laughs). And that worked for a while. And when he was 16, kids start finding their own independence. He got this car, and he went some places he shouldn’t, and on this particular day, it was bad. That Porsche, the guy had just picked it up that day for his birthday. And he was great about it. He kind of laughed about it with me. But that was the night it really came to the reality that I had to be the dad. I couldn’t just be his friend. And I got on him pretty hard, and he finally went to bed. It was a school night, and I did what I call “getting on my knees and playing.”
The song struck a chord with country star George Strait, who turned it into a No. 1 hit in 1990. Barker talked about the tune with Bart Herbison, executive director of Nashville Songwriters Association International.
I got sent home from school one day with a shiner on my eye.
Fightin’ was against the rules and it didn’t matter why.
When dad got home I told that story just like I’d rehearsed.
And then stood there on those tremblin’ knees and waited for the worst.
And he said, “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.”
He said, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.
It’s a love without end, amen, it’s a love without end, amen.”
When I became a father in the spring of ’81
There was no doubt that stubborn boy was just like my father’s son.
And when I thought my patience had been tested to the end,
I took my daddy’s secret and I passed it on to him.
Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I’ve done, they’ll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.