Music

Loretta Lynn's "They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore" Is the Ultimate Father's Day Ode

Rich Fury/Invision/AP

She's the coal miner's daughter. It's the first thing that comes to mind with the iconic singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn. But did you know there is another song by the beloved Blue Kentucky Girl which offers a deeper characterization of her hardworking father? "They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore" is a special treat for any Lynn fan and makes for a perfect Father's Day listening.

"They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore"

Not much biographical information is available about Melvin Theodore "Ted" Webb, Loretta Lynn's father. Of course, we know his occupation thanks to "Coal Miner's Daughter": a classic song that illustrates the unique dynamics of the Webb family as they struggled through extreme poverty. But aside from that, Ted Webb is a figure who's somewhat disappeared into the mythology of his daughter's country music career.

Webb was a professional coal miner who shared eight children with his wife, Clara Marie "Clary" Webb. (Lynn was the second-oldest of the bunch.) In addition to Webb's coal mining, he and the family also engaged in subsistence farming meaning they grew food just to meet their immediate needs. When Webb was just 52, he died of black lung disease as a result of long-term exposure to coal dust. At the time, he was living in Indiana with Clary and some of the younger children.

Considering the lack of hard history surrounding Webb's life, "They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore" is a rare delight. The single appeared on Lynn's eponymous album, which was produced by Owen Bradley and released by MCA Records in 1974. That album also featured classics like "Trouble in Paradise," "Behind Closed Doors," and "I've Never Been This Far Before."

"They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore" peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Still, it's not one of Lynn's most famous works. Listening to the lyrics, though, you'll learn about her father's imposing presence informed by serious notes of depression, ambition, and poverty. In the end, it's the physical feeling of hunger that makes Lynn recall the quiet power of her late father.

In the live concert footage above, Lynn concludes the song by speaking frankly about overcoming hardships in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. "This is how I got out of Butcher Holler..." she tells the audience proudly and breaks into the story of her life -- the story that's become so famous now. As Lynn explains it, her future husband Oliver Vanetta "Doolittle" Lynn began courting her when she was just a thirteen-year-old attending the local one-room schoolhouse. After Doolittle bid on a pie she'd cooked (with salt instead of sugar!) for the charity Pie Supper, he walked her home. And the rest is musical history. Interspersed with antique photos from Lynn's childhood, the tale really comes to life on stage.

Considering Lynn's apparent connection to the source material, it might surprise you to learn that "They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore" was actually written by professional lyricist Jerry Chesnut! But given Lynn's illustrious writing career prior to the release of that 1974 album, it's likely the song was indeed inspired by her own experiences. Check out a full transcription of the poetic words below.

Read More: The Resounding Impact of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City"

The Lyrics

I wasn't much more than a baby I thought he was a bear
The way my daddy carried me around
They said I learned to walk while holdin' on to just one finger
On the hand of a man that stands at six-foot-three

Not old enough to understand the meaning of depression
Just something people talked about a lot
My daddy wasn't one that tried to make no big impressions
Just one heck of a man that worked for what he got

They don't make men like my daddy anymore
Guess they've thrown away the pattern through the years
In a great big land of freedom at a time we really need 'em
They don't make 'em like my daddy anymore

From the Johnson County coal camps to the hills of West Virginia
My daddy hauled the timber for the mines
Education didn't count so much as what you had born in you
Like the will to live and a dream of better times

Daddy never took a handout we ate pinto beans a bacon
But he worked to keep the wolf back from the door
And it only proves one thing to me when folks start belly achin'

They don't make 'em like my daddy anymore
They don't make men...
They don't make 'em like my daddy anymore

Now Watch: "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'': The Story Behind Loretta Lynn's Bold Song

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Loretta Lynn's "They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore" Is the Ultimate Father's Day Ode