This song finds Beyoncé singing of her father, Matthew Knowles. She recounts how he taught her to be strong and always stand up for herself - making her a "soldier."
The pair have a complicated relationship. Matthew Knowles had been Beyonce's longtime manager from her early Girls Tyme days through Destiny's Child and her early solo career. However, after firing him as her manager in March 2011, they became estranged. Their split was driven in part by Matthew Knowles' infidelity to Bey's mom. (Knowles fathered at least two children outside of his marriage to Beyoncé's mother Tina Knowles-Lawson. The couple divorced in 2011, after 31 years of marriage).
At the end of verse two, Beyoncé sings of her daddy dying. Matthew Knowles is in fact very much alive and she's probably referring to her parents' divorce and subsequent estrangement from her father.
This is Beyoncé's first foray into country and the only track on Lemonade where she is the sole credited main producer. Beyoncé is a Houston girl where country music is huge and would have grown up surrounded by the sounds of Nashville. It is interesting that she uses the type of music she grew up with to revisit her own father's infidelity.
Beyoncé wrote the song with:
African-American singer- songwriter Wynter Gordon, who also co-wrote and coproduced "Sorry
" and has a writing credit on "Don't Hurt Yourself
R&B songwriter Kevin Cossom, who has also penned songs for the likes of Keri Hilson ("Knock You Down'
"), Rick Ross ("Speedin'
") and Rihanna ("Jump
Alex Delicata who is best known for co-writing and playing the guitar on Rihanna's "California King Bed
Kevin Cossom told Billboard magazine the song was written back in 2014. "We were in my condo in Miami," he recalled. "Wynter just wanted to do something from scratch. I called over a good friend of mine, Alex Delicata, who is also co-producer and writer. He played the guitar, wrote it and we pretty much pressed record on the laptop and sang it down - harmonies, stomping and clapping, and that was the vibe. We probably did it a few times till we got it right. We knew that we had something."
"Wynter wanted to take it to Bey," Cossom continued. "She wanted to keep it just as organic, as simple as possible. That situation was an awesome session as far as us being free, open and organic and not being contrived to what we think radio is looking for."
Cossom explained the song's lyrical content: "When I did it with Wynter, I just honestly let her vibe out. It was obviously a female record. When it comes to that, I like to listen as far as the perspective of a woman or how they're feeling. I don't want to take the lead as a man so we were going off on how she was vibing and what her feelings were.
It's pretty much daddy lessons. A girl that grew up tough. Her father was hard on her, didn't want nobody to take advantage of her. Definitely one of those situations. It painted a country picture in our minds. It sounded tough. 'So my daddy said shoot.' You see the whiskey on the table. You see the rifle. It just had that feel to it.
It didn't take the hip-hop element to make it tough, which I think is very cool especially for Beyoncé. And it goes with her being from Texas. Her vibe to it just makes sense for how it all came together."
Wynter Gordon told Entertainment Weekly that she and her co-writers wrote this specifically for Beyoncé. "When I played it for her, I was like, 'This is one of my favorite songs,"' said the songwriter. "She was like, 'This is my life.' I told her, 'You know what, take it, do what you want with it.' She went and re-produced it, she changed some words, added the bridge, it's hers."
"She didn't talk to me about her father," Gordon continued. "We didn't go into details. I see their relationship in the media just like everyone else. I watched the HBO special just like everyone else. When you do work closely with an artist they touch on things and she touched on it. Beyoncé's been in our homes for nearly 20 years. I've loved her since she was in Destiny's Child, so yeah I know her story."
Beyoncé sang this with the Dixie Chicks at the 2016 Country Music Association Awards on November 2, 2016 accompanied by harmonica and horns. During their performance, the quartet flipped to the Chicks' 2002 single "Long Time Gone
." Shortly afterwards a studio version of their collaboration was released.
The collaboration should not have been a major surprise as The Dixie Chicks had covered the song on tour, but some eyebrows were raised as the country trio are still remembered by some conservative critics for the political controversy they sparked in the lead up to US-led invasion of Iraq
Did you catch the Blue Ivy cameo at the end of the song? Beyoncé's daughter exclaims "Good job Bey!" to her mom during the last five seconds.
Blue Ivy Carter already holds one record as an artist. Her father Jay-Z's 2012 single "Glory
" features her cries and coos, which were recorded when she was less than two days old. Listed as a featured artist, Blue Ivy became the youngest ever credited artist to feature on a Billboard chart when the song debuted on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at #74.