Loretta Lynn’s Father: The Legacy in “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy”

Loretta Lynn’s Father: The Legacy in “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy”
Photo: Rich Fury/Invision

Everything about Loretta Lynn‘s 1971 classic “Coal Miner’s Daughter” centered around her coal miner father, Melvin Theodore “Ted” Webb (1906-1959). The song focuses on the hardships Lynn faced growing up as the daughter of a coal miner in Kentucky and the pride she had in her upbringing. Years after releasing her iconic album, Lynn paid another tribute to her father with “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy.”

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Released on her 1974 album of the same name, “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy” was a hit for Lynn, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and topping the Canadian Country chart.

In the song, Lynn describes her father, who stood six-foot-three, as her protector, a “bear” who worked hard for everything he had.

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

Lynn declares in the song that the pattern for men like her father has been lost:

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 and 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

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Loretta Lynn’s 2022 Father’s Day Wish

Working in the coal mines, Lynn’s father always faced the daily risks of gas explosions and poisoning, collapse, and illness. Webb lost his job at the Van Lear Coal Mines and suffered a stroke while struggling with black lung disease (pneumoconiosis) caused by inhaling mine dust. Just four years after the family relocated to Wabash, Indiana, Webb died of a stroke in 1959 at the age of 52.

Months before her death on October 4, 2022, at age 90, Lynn remembered her father in a social media post on Father’s Day. “I can’t ever explain enough how I loved him,” wrote Lynn. “He was the best. Gentle and wise and such a hard-working man. I guess he was always working. He loved mommy so much and he loved us.”

Lynn added, “I’d give anything for him to see me sing—especially at the Grand Ole Opry. I sure miss him and I promise you they don’t make ’em like my daddy anymore. If you still have yours, hug him and do something special for him. They’re gold.”

Loretta Lynn’s music is a testament to the enduring love and admiration she had for her father. Through songs like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy,” she immortalizes his hardworking spirit and the values he instilled in her. These heartfelt tributes resonate deeply, reminding us of the strength and sacrifices of those who came before us. As we listen to her music, we are invited to reflect on our own roots and the important figures in our lives. Lynn’s legacy not only preserves her father’s memory but also celebrates the resilience and pride of all those who have faced similar hardships.

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