To Daddy

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"To Daddy"
Single by Emmylou Harris
from the album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town
B-side "Tulsa Queen"[1]
Released 1975
Format 7" single
Genre Country
Length 2:46
Label Warner Bros. #8498
Writer(s) Dolly Parton
Producer(s) Brian Ahern
Emmylou Harris singles chronology
"Making Believe"
"To Daddy"
"Two More Bottles of Wine"

"To Daddy" is a country song, written by Dolly Parton. It was also performed by Emmylou Harris in the 1970s, and included on her album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town.


To Daddy is said to describe the pain Parton's mother experienced as she ignored her husband's occasional affairs and his lack of affection.[2] It relates to how her mother, in having the family's best interest at heart and to be the best possible mother she could to her children, that she stood by her husband through difficult times. (Unlike Parton's parents, however, who remained together, the mother in the song ultimately leaves the family.)

In the song, related from the vantage point of a teenage girl, her mother seems to not care that her husband is neglectful and cold, concluding each verse with, "if she did, she never did say so to Daddy". In the final verse, however, the family members wake one morning to find a note in which their mother confesses that she stayed for as long as she had because her children needed her, but now that they are getting older and don't need her as much, she's left to search for the love and affection that she never received from her husband.

Critical reception[edit]

In 1979, shortly after Emmylou Harris covered the song, the Teenager described the song as "being like an O. Henry short story".[3] Billboard called it "a fine interpretation".[4]

Harris's rendition of the song appears on her album Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town. Released as a single in 1977, it peaked at number 3 on the Billboard country singles charts.[1] It was also a Number One single on the RPM Country Tracks charts in Canada.

Other versions[edit]

Parton's own rendition of the song, recorded in 1976, was intended to appear on her All I Can Do album, but was ultimately not included on the album; the recording later appeared on her 1995 compilation "The Essential Dolly Parton One".

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1977–1978) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[1] 3
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100[1] 2
Canadian RPM Country Tracks[5] 1


  1. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 181. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ Melton Alonza McLaurin and Richard A. Peterson (1992). You wrote my life: lyrical themes in country music. Taylor & Francis. p. 103. ISBN 2-88124-554-4. 
  3. ^ Volume 10. Teenager. p. 111. 
  4. ^ "Single reviews". Billboard. November 26, 1977. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "RPM Country Tracks for March 11, 1978". RPM. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
Preceded by
"You're the One" by The Oak Ridge Boys
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

March 11, 1978
Succeeded by
"Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson