Music

'Daddy's Hands': The Story Behind Holly Dunn's Hit

Associated Press

Few subjects are as revered in country music as fathers. The men who provided and helped shape the lives of the artists are a constant source of inspiration for their work. One of the all-time classic celebrations of fathers in a country song is the Holly Dunn classic "Daddy's Hands," which was the final single released from her self-titled debut album Holly Dunn.

The song was released on August 23rd, 1986 and was written as a tribute to Dunn's father, a Church of Christ minister from San Antonio, Texas. At the time Dunn was still relatively unknown, but her paternal tribute turned her into a star overnight. The single spent a whopping six months(!) on the charts, peaking at number 7 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart.

The following year, in 1987, Dunn received two Grammy nominations for "Daddy's Hands":  Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. Thanks to the song she also named the Academy of Country Music's Top New Female Vocalist for 1986 and won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award in 1987. She was officially a Nashville star. After that, the country hits just kept on coming and never stopped until she did. Though "Daddy's Hands" never hit number one, Holly Dunn would eventually reach that milestone with a later single, "Are You Ever Gonna Love Me."

Read More: Holly Dunn May Be Gone, But Her Country Legacy Lives On

This "Have a good long cry session on Father's Day" classic is still beloved by daughters (and sons too, though they're probably less likely to admit it) to this day. I admit that "Daddy's Hands" may or may not be on one or two of my more, shall we say, emotional playlists. (Sometimes I just wanna light a candle a cry, okay!) And it's obvious why. The song is sweet and simple and the lyrics, which Holly Dunn wrote, speak for themselves.

Though Holly Suzette Dunn passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 59 in 2016 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, her work, especially this wonderful tribute to fathers, lives on.

'Daddy's Hand' Lyrics:

I remember Daddy´s hands, folded silently in prayer
And reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare
You could read quite a story, in the callouses and lines
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind

I remember Daddy´s hands, how they held my Mama tight
And patted my back, for something done right
There are things that I´ve forgotten, that I loved about the man
But I´ll always remember the love in Daddy's hands

Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´
Daddy´s hands, were hard as steel when I'd done wrong
Daddy´s hands, weren't always gentle
But I´ve come to understand
There was always love in Daddy´s hands

I remember Daddy's hands, working 'til they bled
Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed
If I could do things over, I´d live my life again
And never take for granted the love in Daddy's hands

Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´
Daddy's hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong
Daddy's hands, weren´t always gentle
But I've come to understand
There was always love in Daddy's hands

Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryin´
Daddy's hands, were hard as steel when I´d done wrong
Daddy's hands, weren´t always gentle
But I've come to understand
There was always love in Daddy's hands

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'Daddy's Hands': The Story Behind Holly Dunn's Hit