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Songs You Forgot You Loved: Doug Supernaw’s ‘I Don’t Call Him Daddy’

Texas-born country star Doug Supernaw strummed the listening public’s heartstrings with his lone number one hit, “I Don’t Call Him Daddy.” Following the lead of Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” it considers how innocent children suffer when their parents split up. It’s off Supernaw’s 1993 Red and Rio Grande, which ranks just behind Toby Keith’s self-titled CD when it comes to that year’s best debut albums.

A Kenny Rogers Deep Cut

Old-school country sentiments about broken families and youthful innocence came from the pen of a soft rocker. Writer Reed Nielsen of the duo Nielsen/Pearson joined fellow AM Gold artists Dan Seals, Anne Murray and others to cross over between ’70s pop and ’80s and ’90s country music by writing this future hit.

Country audiences first heard the song on the 1987 Kenny Rogers album I Prefer the Moonlight. Timing can be everything for hits, and Rogers sadly was fading out of style by the time his final RCA album hit shelves. RCA released Rogers’ version as a single to support his 1988 greatest hits compilation. They barely promoted the song, knowing Rogers was leaving the label. Despite being a very good interpretation of Nielsen’s story, Rogers’ single stalled at number 86.

A Star on the Rise

Fair or not, a new name with promise got a fairer shot at a hit than an established name on the decline. The third single off one of the strongest debut albums of the early ’90s netted Supernaw his only number one hit and the second of just three appearances in the top five (with the other two being previous single “Reno” and 1995’s “Not Enough Hours in the Night”). It remains a signature song for a “Long Tall Texan” who still plays live around his home state.

A Fair Take on a Tough Situation

Neither the song nor its music video vilifies the ex-wife’s “new live-in friend.” If anything, it sounds like he’s a good stepdad in the making, even if he’ll never supplant the narrator as “Daddy.” The video shows that the new man in Mom’s life can offer more than a stuffed horse, but even that doesn’t overshadow precious memories of weekends with the little boy’s biological father.

Still, there’s a level of sorrow in the song. As the dad says goodbye after a fun weekend, he knows he’s got to hit the road again, alone. For those of us who grew up in the ’90s, if this scenario doesn’t apply to your upbringing, it at least describes the early experiences of a neighbor or classmate with a loving yet usually absent parent.

A Real Father and Son Experience

The music video shows Doug Supernaw bonding with his real-life son, Phillip. The younger Supernaw wears a sports-themed t-shirt bearing the word “Houston.” Fittingly, he grew up to be signed out of college by the NFL’s Houston Texans. Dad is wearing a red football jersey in the video, as if to predict that Phillip would later play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Currently, he’s a tight end and special teams player for the Tennessee Titans.

“I Don’t Call Him Daddy” Lyrics

It was six in the morning when I made the county line
There’s someone I got to talk to, can’t get it off my mind.
He’s just a kid, and he’s in a pretty rough spot.
Two dimes to make a phone call, that’s about all I got.

How’s my boy today? I know its been three weeks.
But you know how far I’ve got to go these days to make ends meet.
How’s your momma now, with her new live in friend?
Oh, how I hate the wounds that never seem mend.

You said, I don’t call him daddy, but he takes care of things.
When you pick me up on Friday, are you gonna bring me anything.
Oh, don’t worry dad, you know, it don’t matter what we do
‘Cause I don’t call him daddy, he can never be like you.

God bless the little hearts, they’re the ones who really pay
When mom and dad can’t get along and they go their separate ways
In a way I’m glad there’s someone there to fil the empty space.
Tears of understanding stream down a dirty face.You said,

I don’t call him daddy, but he takes care of things
When you pick me up on Friday are you gonna bring me anything?
Oh, don’t worry dad, you know, it don’t matter what we do.
‘Cause I don’t call him daddy he can never be like you

Be like you
Be like you

He’s quite a little man growing up as fast as he can.
And I don’t get to see him half as much as I had planned
There’s so much I need to tell him, so precious little time
A little rain on the window and a little wave goodbye.

You said, I don’t call him daddy, but he takes care of things.
When you pick me up on Friday are you gonna bring me anything?
Oh, don’t worry dad, you know, it don’t matter what we do
‘Cause I don’t call him daddy, he can never be like you

He said, I don’t call him daddy, but he takes care of things
When you pick me up on Friday are you gonna bring me anything?
Oh, don’t worry dad, you know it don’t matter what we do
‘Cause I don’t call him daddy, he can never be like you.

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Songs You Forgot You Loved: Doug Supernaw’s ‘I Don’t Call Him Daddy’