He Didn't Have to Be

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"He Didn't Have to Be"
He Didn't Have to Be.jpg
Single by Brad Paisley
from the album Who Needs Pictures
B-side "I've Been Better"[1]
Released August 30, 1999
Genre Country
Length 4:42
Label Arista Nashville
Producer(s) Frank Rogers
Brad Paisley singles chronology
"Who Needs Pictures"
"He Didn't Have to Be"
"Me Neither"
"Who Needs Pictures"
"He Didn't Have to Be"
"Me Neither"

"He Didn't Have to Be" is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Brad Paisley. It was released in August 1999 as the second single from his debut album, Who Needs Pictures. It became his first number one single in December 1999, holding the top spot for one week.

Song meaning[edit]

The song was based on Paisley's frequent co-writer and best friend, Kelley Lovelace's stepson McCain Merren, who attended the 2000 ACM Awards as Paisley's guest.[2] According to Lovelace, Paisley said to him, "Let's make a song about you two that will make your wife cry."[3]

The song is written from the perspective of a son of a single mother; the single mother begins dating a new man who almost immediately includes the child in things like going to the movies. In the final verse, the son is now about ready to become a father himself, standing in the hospital next to his stepfather and hoping that he can be "at least half the dad" that his stepfather "didn't have to be." The song is in the key of A major in cut time, with a vocal range from A3 to D5.[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Deaton Flanigen and premiered on August 17, 1999 on CMT.

Chart performance[edit]

"He Didn't Have to Be" debuted at number 72 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs for the week of September 4, 1999. "He Didn't Have to Be" spent 30 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs, peaking at number one in December 1999 and holding that position for one week.[1]

Chart (1999) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[5] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 30
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1999) Position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[8] 51
Chart (2000) Position
US Country Songs (Billboard)[9] 33
Preceded by
"When I Said I Do"
by Clint Black featuring Lisa Hartman Black
Billboard Hot Country Songs
number-one single

December 11, 1999
Succeeded by
"When I Said I Do"
by Clint Black featuring Lisa Hartman Black


  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 313. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  2. ^ Anon (2001). "Biography: Part II" at the Wayback Machine (archived June 10, 2001) aristanashville.com. Retrieved September 17, 2009
  3. ^ USA WEEKEND Magazine |
  4. ^ Contemporary Country (1 ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. 1999. pp. 67–73. ISBN 0-634-01594-X. 
  5. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9713." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. January 31, 2000. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  6. ^ "Brad Paisley – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Brad Paisley. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
  7. ^ "Brad Paisley – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Brad Paisley. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  8. ^ "RPM Top 100 Country Tracks of 1999". RPM. December 13, 1999. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Best of 2000: Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2000. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]