Garth Brooks’ ‘Papa Loved Mama’: Story Behind the Song

by Chris Haney
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Country icon Garth Brooks released his third studio album Ropin’ the Wind back in September 1991, and released the hit song “Papa Loved Mama” as the album’s fourth single.

Brooks made music history with Ropin’ the Wind after it sold more than 10 million copies. His second studio album No Fences also sold more than 10 million. Therefore, the musician became the first country artist to ever earn diamond status for two separate albums. Five out of the ten songs on the album became singles that charted at No. 3 or higher, including “Papa Loved Mama.”

Many may know the song, but many more likely don’t know the story behind the song. Garth Brooks and his longtime collaborator and songwriter Kim Williams wrote “Papa Loved Mama.” The song focuses on a truck-driving father and his unhappy and unfulfilled wife.

Brooks Weaves a Tale of Adultery in ‘Papa Loves Mama’

The song is told from the perspective of the couple’s son who is recalling the difficulties of his parents’ relationship. As a trucker, the father is frequently out on the road and not around the house with his family. As Brooks sings, the dad calls his wife often to check in, but his wife needs more in her life than just phone conversations. Her husband isn’t around and doesn’t taken care of her needs, so it leads her into another man’s arms.

The story escalates one night as the son’s father comes home to surprise his mother with roses and wine. As he heads up the stairs to their bedroom he realizes she’s not there, and their children are home alone. The son hears his father smash the wine bottle against the wall as he stormed out of their home in search of his wife.

He speeds off in his truck and finds his wife with her lover at a local motel. As a segment of the chorus’ lyrics go, “Mama’s in the graveyard” and “Papa’s in the pen.” The boy’s father killed his mother in a fit of jealous rage, but even his son admits in the song that he saw it coming. The full chorus sums up the couple’s relationship perfectly.

Mama was a looker
Lord, how she shined
Papa was a good’n
But the jealous kind
Papa loved Mama
Mama loved men
Mama’s in the graveyard
Papa’s in the pen

Garth Brooks ‘Ropin’ the Wind’ Earns Diamond Status

Brooks became an international star the year before when he released his second studio album No Fences to critical acclaim. To this day, it is still his highest selling album with more than 18 million copies sold just in the U.S. The country singer became a household name in 1990 because of No Fences. The album went No. 1 on Billboard‘s country chart and reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

Subsequently, Brooks wasted no time making his next album, which came out a year later. Riding the wave of success from his previous album, Ropin’ the Wind shot up the charts. The LP debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard country albums chart as well as the Billboard 200 chart. In addition, the album has sold more than 14 million copies and was the first ever country album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Furthermore, Ropin’ the Wind contained five singles that all charted, including three that topped Billboard‘s country singles chart at No. 1. Brooks and his record company chose “Papa Loved Mama” as the fourth single off his popular album. The song did not disappoint, and reached No. 3 on Billboard‘s country singles chart.

[H/T Country Daily]

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