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papa what if

The first thing Indiana did when she woke up this morning, was to wish me Happy Father's Day... so excited to share the sweet card and gift she had for me. And so, the first thing I want to do this morning is wish all the Papa's out there a Happy Father's Day too, and share a sweet little three-minute gift with you from me and Indy...

Last fall, after one of my concerts here in the hall at the farm, Indy said she wanted to sing a song with me, which was a special thing for me to hear, because even though she has come out on stage with me at some point in almost every concert I've done (and every concert Joey and I did when she was just a baby), she's never sang a real song with me on stage before.

It didn't take me but a moment to think of which song it should be - one that I've known and loved for years. Actually for decades.

"Daddy What If" is a Shel Silverstein song (the writer of Where The Sidewalk Ends, The Giving Tree, and many other wonderful children's books and songs) and was originally recorded by Bobby Bare and his son back in the early 1970s. I first heard it as an eight-year-old boy in Kansas riding through the endless fields of corn in my father's old Buick and he and I would sing along with the radio when it came on.

In time, when I had my own children, my oldest daughter Heidi would sing it with me in the shows I played back in Texas in the 90s when she was only 7 or 8 and so it's been a special part of our life for a long time. And so I taught to Indy, who just turned eight) the same way I taught it to Heidi, which was by typing out the lyrics, and drawing pictures with crayons & markers of the parts she would sing... using the word Papa instead of Daddy, because that is what Indy calls me.

In no time, Indy had learned her parts and wanted to practice singing it together on the couch after supper, in the car when we were driving, after bath time, before bedtime, and pretty much anywhere and everywhere we went. She was so proud of herself and so happy that she could sing a real song with her Papa.

By Christmas time, she was joining me on stage to sing it in front of the room full of folks who'd traveled from all across the country to be with us... and oh, what a special moment it was for her, for me, and for the surprised people in the concert hall.

So special in fact, that I began to wonder what it would be like if we actually went into the studio and recorded the song together... and so I shared the idea with my producers Ben Isaacs (from The Isaacs) and Matt Johnson. I think they both cried the first time they heard it. Over the next few weeks, Ben and some wonderful musicians built a beautiful track at his studio in Hendersonville and sent it to Matt. And a few days later we went into the studio in Columbia with Matt and recorded Indy's parts and mine.

In the early spring, we picked a pretty evening here at the farmhouse, and with the help of a few friends and Aaron David Thomas' wonderful camera work, we turned the song into a video and moment that we could treasure forever. And also one that we could share today, in hopes that it might bring a smile to the faces of all the fathers and daughters out there... the way it brings a smile to ours.

I am thinking of my own father this morning and of Joey's father Jack. And of my older girls Heidi and Hopie and the gift God gave me to be their father and Indiana's. And of course, I'm thinking of Joey and how she would so love this moment. To hear our little one sing with her Papa, and see what a beautiful young lady she's becoming. And to know that the music that was inside her, is also inside her little girl.

Blessings to you all. Happy Father's Day.

- rory

PS: The evening we made the Papa What If video, we filmed lots of different things... thinking that the song would need some more storyline to go with us singing. But in the end, what we loved best was the video with just me and Indy on the porch singing the song together. And so, here's a little behind-the-scenes footage from the evening that my nephew Mikel Hunt put together and shared with me a few days ago...



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