Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Doug Supernaw, “I Don’t Call Him Daddy”

“I Don’t Call Him Daddy”

Doug Supernaw

Written by Reed Nielsen

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

December 17 – December 25, 1993

Radio & Records

#1 (3 weeks)

December 10 – December 31, 1993

Doug Supernaw closes out 1993 with his sole No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

Doug Supernaw was yet another talented young traditional artist from Texas, who honed his craft on the local music scene.  He was discovered in the early nineties and signed to BNA, which released his Red and Rio Grande set.  Its first single, “Honky Tonkin’ Fool,” was a minor hit, and he broke through with the top five hit, “Reno.”  His third single was originally recorded by Kenny Rogers, who had little success with it in 1988.  Supernaw took it all the way to the top.

The No. 1

If Supernaw was only going to have one No. 1 hit, at least it’s a bona fide classic.

“I Don’t Call Him Daddy” captures the anguish of a father who is doing his best to provide for his song after breaking up with mom, but is on the sidelines while the new man of the house gives the day-to-day guidance and support that he wishes he could provide himself.

“He is quite the little man, growing up as fast as he can. And I don’t get to see him half as much as I had planned.”

Supernaw got some pushback from adoptive stepfathers, but was able to calm them by sharing that he had adopted his own stepchildren.  His ability to play this role with such empathy is a credit to his talent as a singer.

The Road From No. 1

Red and Rio Grande eventually went gold, with the title track being the final single and peaking with in the top thirty. His second BNA album, Deep Thoughts From a Shallow Mind, was less successful, though a label change to Giant brought him a final top five hit with “Not Enough Hours in the Night.”  After that project, he recorded for some minor labels, and he continued to be a popular draw on the concert circuit.  Sadly, his career ended too soon because of a fatal bout with cancer, which claimed his life in 2020.  He was sixty years old.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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3 Comments

  1. Remembering the reactions to the country music of the early nineties from my roommates, friends, and bosses while at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota is one of the joys of revisiting these songs. Everything was live for me at the time these songs were topping the charts. It was magical that country music was happening as a popular musical force and influence.

    A first year roommate of mine – who was a huge Billy Joel fan – loved this song. He was child of divorce and it connected with him deeply, which I get because the song is so generous of spirit. There is no acrimony or judgement of the situation. There are no bad guys. A begrudging acceptance of the stability the new “live in friend” offers his boy that he cannot speaks to a father simply wanting what is best for his son even under difficult personal emotional circumstances. This is just such a mature, level-headed song. It doesn’t gloss over the hard-ships of shared custody or over romanticize the time spent together. Just honest as can be.
    It is another classic!

  2. Doug Supernaw was one of my favourite artists when I was first getting into country music and the Red and Rio Grande album is one of my favourite albums of the 90s. I got a lot of mileage out of that CD.

    This is simply an excellently-written song and excellently-performed song. As someone whose parents divorced when I was quite young, this song was very relatable (although the specifics of the song are obviously different from my personal situation).

    I enjoyed Doug Supernaw’s other albums, although none of them could match Red and Rio Grande in terms of overall quality. His last album (Fadin’ Renegade) didn’t do much commercially, but it is quite an underrated album.

  3. If you’d told me that Doug Supernaw only had one #1 single, I would have put money on Reno. I was around ten years old and remember hearing that song constantly (and thinking it was by Boy Howdy, but I digress). Still, it’s no surprise I Don’t Call Him Daddy was the chart topper, I remember it being ubiquitous as well and it really fit the mold of the narrative tearjerkers that were one of the hallmarks of the era.

    It’s really interesting how his career started so strong, but wasn’t able to sustain. That he didn’t become a major act certaintly was no reflection on his talent. This write up inspired me to listen to Reno and IDCHM again for the first time in years- and they really hold up and his voice is as country music as it gets.I’m sad to hear he recently passed away, I hadn’t heard.

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