I’ll Be Damned: Luke Bryan’s “Build Me a Daddy” Ain’t Half Bad
It will forever be a stain and a laughing stock on the country music genre that at the moment when the American continent was the most roiled in disease and upheaval in modern times, one of the most popular songs, if not the most popular song in country music was a doltish ditty by Luke Bryan about drinking margaritas. Make no mistake, the media outside of the country fold who loves to point and laugh at the imbecilic Southerners and rural rednecks out partying on their on their boats on the local impound lake have had a heyday in their think pieces with this development. And if we’re being honest, they’re right in their revulsion towards Luke’s “One Margarita.”
But anyone aside from those with a reactionary hatred for country music’s Gomer Pyle will confess to you that every Luke Bryan record tends to have one or two pretty good songs. His upcoming album Born Here, Live Here, Die Here will be no different, if for no other reason than “Build Me a Daddy” has made its way onto the track list. Written by Jake Mitchell, Brett Tyler, and Josh Thompson—the latter of whom has become the go-to name in the mainstream when you want a really good track to anchor a record, “Build Me a Daddy” might be one of the best songs Luke Bryan has ever released, even among those gaggle of album cuts on his otherwise dubious studio output.
There is plenty that could render “Build Me A Daddy” much more cheesy than meaningful—the heartstring pulling story of a son losing his father, and oh, let’s make the father a soldier, so we weasel that flag-waving element in there too. It’s ripe for mawkishness, and that’s probably still a conclusion some will be steered towards. But making a highly sentimental subject work is the mark of good songwriters, while the dialed-back production of “Build Me a Daddy” sets it in the right mood.
Luke Bryan may have not written it, but he lived it from a certain perspective. Luke Bryan’s sister died in 2007, and after her husband (Luke’s brother-in-law) died in 2014, they began raising his nephew Brooks, nicknamed Til. Few have ever contended Luke Bryan can’t sing. It’s just what he chooses to sing that people contend with. When he chooses a song with substance like “Build Me A Daddy,” his natural talent shines through.
“Build Me a Daddy” is not a great song. It could have been if they hadn’t loaded it up with so many signifiers so the mainstream crowd didn’t get too scared away by it. But it’s a good one, both for Luke Bryan, and for radio. Now that Luke’s indolent “One Margarita” has etched its inevitable path to #1 on country radio like any single he releases eventually will, a decision is looming on what will be next. If Luke and his record label had any guts, they would release “Build Me a Daddy” next—a much more appropriate song for the moment than “One Margarita.” And if not next, then release it as a single at some point.
July 22, 2020 @ 9:53 am
The dude knows what a good is (good directions, we rode in trucks) and he knows what sells. I can’t blame him for cutting what pays. I wonder when it will hit him that his hits are forgettable songs that will not be remembered like the other greats. Will he ever move to make real country albums like he wanted to when he started?
July 22, 2020 @ 10:16 am
Good directions was Billy Currington
July 22, 2020 @ 10:34 am
… and written by Luke Bryan.
July 23, 2020 @ 3:59 am
If an opinionated person like you can make a living, ANYTHING can happen.
July 23, 2020 @ 12:28 pm
July 22, 2020 @ 10:05 am
Hot take: for every absolute garbage song Luke has ever released, he’s put out an equally great song too. Probably has the most polarizing song catalog out of any mainstream artist, in my opinion.
July 22, 2020 @ 10:17 am
I’d nominate Zac Brown Band for that distinction, with both higher highs and lower lows, although that’s a bit of a different situation.
July 23, 2020 @ 5:34 am
Oh true! I completely forgot about Zac Brown! Aldean would make that list too. What gets me the most is the potential these guys left on the table if they would have stayed more in the country/country-pop/whatever-you-wanna-call-it realm.
North Woods Country
July 22, 2020 @ 11:41 am
Throw Jason Aldean in that group, too. Lots of garbage, lots of gold.
Saving Bro Country Music
July 22, 2020 @ 10:08 am
Not going to pretend it’s an artistic masterpiece, but it’s just impossible to hate on One Margarita. There’s a reason it’s been one of the best-selling songs in all of music for the past few months – and why it went to #1 on iTunes whenever it got exposure. It’s a fun, summery song at a time when people are craving silly escapism. And it’s preposterously catchy.
(And while people will say “it’s because the mainstream has no taste” – it’s still worth noting that this has also been one of Luke Bryan’s best-selling songs in a while, so it clearly offers something that his recent stuff hasn’t).
Fun, silly, “party” singles are Luke Bryan’s brand – and I’d far rather he release something actually fun and catchy (like One Margarita) than nonsense like Kick The Dirt Up or that terrible song with Karen Fairchild.
That said, I obviously agree that he’s shown a flair for legitimately good music at different times in his career – and Build Me A Daddy fits. If there’s slight hesitation about moving forward with it as a single, it would be that it didn’t sell well out of the gate. It was overshadowed by the Zac Brown “dad song” the week it came out, and then didn’t receive much of a spike on Father’s Day (granted, very few songs did – “songs” seem to be more of a Mother’s Day thing than Father’s Day thing).
I’d also partially chalk that up to Luke Bryan’s core audience not being as interested in stuff that is even remotely deep. The title track for his album also had a modest first-week showing on iTunes (it’s not a great song, but it’s more substantive and country than his typical singles), whereas One Margarita seemed to click right away.
Which means there’s still the possibility that Build Me A Daddy can sell if exposed to casual fans through radio.
July 22, 2020 @ 10:21 am
July 22, 2020 @ 10:45 am
Yay, another win for the mainstream “country” artists are sometimes once in a blue moon maybe not quite bad enough to stop pretending they’re country argument.
July 22, 2020 @ 11:04 am
Hot dawg I actually enjoyed that quite a bit
I kept one album of his as long as I could tolerate it just because it did have a good track or two
But he just spiraled out of control with worse and worse crud until finally I couldn’t enjoy even the couple good ones because he left such a sour taste that I threw the album away
I didn’t think I’d enjoy that as much as I i did.
It sounded pretty country
July 22, 2020 @ 11:06 am
A bit like Ken Mellons “Paint Me a Birmingham”.
July 24, 2020 @ 9:55 am
I thought that was Tracey Lawrence.
July 24, 2020 @ 10:58 am
Both released around the same time but I associate it with Mellons as I heard his first and prefer his version better.
July 22, 2020 @ 11:38 am
Recorded by another artist the track might be more memorable.
Done by Luke Bryan “Build Me A Daddy” is the exception to the rule between two ass-wiggle-summer-drinking-arena-pop-songs.
Btw…he looks pretty tired on the pic & in the video. Even Luke Bryan is getting older.
In The Pipeline:
Cam – The Otherside – Album – Release Date: 10/30
Tucker Beathard – King – Album – Release Date: 08/21
Tim McGraw – Here On Earth – Album – Release Date: 08/21
Jasmine Rae – Lion Side – Album – Release Date: 07/24 (Australia)
Bill Anderson – The Hits Re-Imagined – Album – Release Date: 07/24
July 22, 2020 @ 1:35 pm
This is a good point. He might do a great job, but I’d still be a bit disctracted by Glenn Danzig singing along, with original backing tracks, to “What a Wonderful World.”
July 23, 2020 @ 4:07 am
hey Jake have you heard the new “Danzig sings Elvis” album?
July 23, 2020 @ 7:44 am
Haven’t yet had the pleasure, I’ll check it out for fun, thx.
He was great in Portlandia.
July 22, 2020 @ 11:53 am
Finally. Nice tele, too.
July 22, 2020 @ 12:08 pm
NEWS FLASH – NEWS FLASH
Eddie Stubbs is retiring at the young age of 58 which, to me, seems oddly too young.
This is terrible news.
Please Trig, get the investigative journalist hat on and go see what and why this is happening.
July 22, 2020 @ 3:49 pm
There is something about Eddie and Bill Cody’s voices that personifies Nashville and the Opry. I can’t help but wonder if Eddie is upset about Bobby Bones being picked as the host of the live cast of the GOO.
King Honky Of Crackershire
July 22, 2020 @ 4:30 pm
I second that emotion. We need a story on Eddie. What the heck is doing!?
I can’t imagine life without him.
July 22, 2020 @ 4:39 pm
I’m working on a story about Eddie that will be posted momentarily. I’ve been trying to get some answers as opposed to telling people what they already know.
July 22, 2020 @ 12:35 pm
If Luke Bryan is the “Gomer Pyle” of country music…
Does that make Blake Shelton the “Otis Cambell” of country music too?
And Reba is the “Aunt Bee”
Carrie Underwood is the boring “Helen Crump”
Tyler Childers is “Opie”
Brad Paisley is “Floyd”
Dustin Lynch is “Deputy Barney Fife”
July 22, 2020 @ 1:47 pm
Cole Swindell would be “Goober” since he’s Like 2.0
And…. Sam Hunt would be the traveling salesman that comes into Mayberry to rip people off…..
Strait Country 81
July 22, 2020 @ 2:30 pm
Kenny Chesney is Andy Griffith so obvious he’s gay doesn’t even have to come out.
July 22, 2020 @ 2:38 pm
Alan Jackson is definitely Andy Griffith… No debate
July 22, 2020 @ 3:51 pm
Luke Combs as Otis.
July 22, 2020 @ 4:07 pm
I wasn’t going by their looks… Just their personalities & humor.
Blake was once known to play the “drunk” part very well. That’s why I casted him as Otis
July 22, 2020 @ 9:55 pm
Gwen and being happy fixed him.
July 22, 2020 @ 11:03 pm
He’s truly Happy Anywhere these days…
July 22, 2020 @ 1:01 pm
Yeah…Luke Bryan’s older stuff, up until about 2010 or so, was very country and even if it was pretty silly or light on the songwriting, it was still catchy and often quite good. Obviously, once bro-country hit, things changed. I still don’t think he is nearly as bad as today’s cookie-cutter boyfriend country pop stars who all look the same, and songs like this prove why. Now lets just hope as he keeps getting older he keeps making more stuff like this…
July 22, 2020 @ 1:05 pm
Thanks for acknowledging Luke. In terms of message (not so much instrumentation) my favorite country song is “Most People Are Good,” I have a lot of LGBTQ friends and “I believe you love who you love, ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of” brings a happy tear to my eye every time I hear it.
However I blame radio for overplaying Luke’s summer party songs so much you just get sick to death of them. Not there yet with “One Margarita” but I hope I never hear Sunrise Sunburn Sunset, ever again…
July 22, 2020 @ 6:19 pm
“Most People Are Good” is the singular reason why I have much more respect for Luke Bryan than I have for his contemporaries. That and that he has a good country voice so I truly do believe he is capable of one day doing a solid traditional country album.
I also like “Do I,” adult contemporary as it is.
July 25, 2020 @ 6:44 pm
Chris, I’m also a fan of ‘Most People Are Good’. ‘Fast’ is another one I enjoy by Luke.
July 22, 2020 @ 3:22 pm
Regarding boats and lakes:
As a Westerner from the age of 5, I feel some sympathy for Southerners (especially Deep Southerners) on this one. Whenever we want to clear our minds, we Westerners can always travel to a mountain nearby (or a rugged beach, if you are on the West Coast).
For people living in a flat, forested landscape, however, I can imagine why the greatest enjoyment would come from visiting lakes or rivers.
July 22, 2020 @ 3:26 pm
In any case, this is a beautiful song. Hopefully it signals a change of direction toward more mature songs from Luke Bryan.
July 22, 2020 @ 5:24 pm
Trig, exclusive from the Justin Moore podcast from today
Jon Pardi is putting out a “Live from his barn” EP full of covers of some of his favorite 80s songs!!!
He’s covering Strait, Joe Diffey, Prince, Tom Petty, Keith Whitley, Dwight, and 2 other songs not announced yet.
It’s to be a 8 song ep.
July 22, 2020 @ 6:06 pm
as usual , trigger , your review of this song and this artist is dead on . its respectful of the effort while reminding us that this is an aberration for LB and not a great song .
unfortunately the fact remains that the guys who really CAN deliver this stuff with emotion -joe nichols, josh turner, easton corbin ,…even tristan marez , gethen jenkins and so many more , just don’t get to . we’re still left with LB throwing us a bone , musically speaking , and bracing for his next ‘shake it for me country girl ‘. I think a lot of us agree that these transgresions are far harder to forgive when we KNOW the singer knows better and HAS recorded better .
LB recorded one of my all-time favourite songs …an erin enderlin masterpoiece called YOU DON’T KNOW JACK . then he turned around and started crankin out the s-HITS….some of the WORST music by anyone ever . hard to forgive a guy who knows better and makes a living exploiting those who don’t .
July 23, 2020 @ 6:12 am
Almost every country artist today lives in the land of “Bubble Gum”….
There hasnt been a good country song since 1973!
July 23, 2020 @ 8:31 am
Feels cheesy and insincere to me. For some reason, I just don’t buy it, especially after all the other crap this guy’s put out. I just smacks of pandering. Plus, I can’t stand his voice.
Melissa Lynn Conquest
July 23, 2020 @ 10:33 am
SMarvo what is wrong with Luke Bryan’s voice I love his voice and he is one of the best country singers out there. So I don’t know what you have against Luke Bryan. He is a great singer.
I have been a huge devoted fan of Luke Bryan since 2012. And I love Luke Bryan and his music
July 23, 2020 @ 9:53 am
Where is the rap verse about solo cups and jean shorts???
July 25, 2020 @ 7:06 pm
It’ll be on the remix featuring Ludacris
July 23, 2020 @ 10:53 am
I wouldn’t mind buying a Luke Bryan album, if he builds a good one.
He’d probably make a pretty good neighbor. I may be somewhat annoyed by his choice of tunes while he’s throwing a party at his pond, but at least he probably wouldn’t call out the county to shit on my shooting range down by the creek, as Ms. Maines would likely do.
July 23, 2020 @ 12:49 pm
There are some mainstream country males, who don’t really care about country music, don’t know country music, and can’t really sing anyways. Luke B (like Blake, ZB) knows country music, and likes country music. He just rarely chooses to move away from his eternal spring break imagery to show off that fact. Also his vocals can be weak.
July 23, 2020 @ 1:18 pm
Luke Bryan isn’t what’s wrong with country music. Some of his stuff is pure cheesy but it’s harmless compared to some of the crap out there.
July 23, 2020 @ 3:58 pm
The song is fine i guess, but god, i hate his voice.
North Woods Country
July 24, 2020 @ 7:00 am
I’d just like to declare that Josh Thompson was probably the most mishandled artist of his generation. His first album was excellent and had decent success, then his label hardly promoted the excellent first single from his second studio album (“Comin’ Around” and Change), which was never even properly released. Later on we got to hear the songs through non-physical release, and they were excellent (imagine that).
And don’t get me started on what Toby Keith’s ShowDog label did to him with that atrocious album he released with them. He deserved so much better. I’m glad we still get to hear his songs, even if it’s in a secondary sense.