Backstory: Gary Allan’s “Tough Little Boys”

By on September 1, 2023

If you are a fan of country music, you probably know Gary Allan, the singer-songwriter who has been making hits since the 1990s. But do you know the story behind one of his most popular and emotional songs, “Tough Little Boys”?

“Tough Little Boys” is a song that was released in June 2003 as the first single from Allan’s album See If I Care. It was written by Harley Allen and Don Sampson, two Nashville songwriters who have penned many hits for other artists. The song became Allan’s second number one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in October 2003.

Gary Allan
Gary Allan, photographed in a live concert performance. (Photo Credit: Larry Philpot /

The song tells the story of a man who has been through many tough situations in his life, such as fighting, breaking up, and losing his father. He always prided himself on being strong and not showing his emotions. However, everything changed when he became a father to a little boy. He realized that he was not as tough as he thought, and that he would do anything to protect his son. He also learned to express his love and vulnerability, especially when his son grew up and left home.

The song resonated with many listeners, especially fathers who could relate to the feelings of the narrator. Allan himself said that he was moved by the song when he first heard it, and that it reminded him of his own relationship with his son Dallas. He said that he cried every time he sang it on stage, and that he often saw other men crying in the audience.

The song also had a personal meaning for Allan, who had lost his wife Angela to suicide in 2004. He said that the song helped him cope with his grief and that it gave him hope for the future. He said that he felt like his wife was watching over him and his children, and that he wanted to honor her memory by being a good father.

“Tough Little Boys” is a song that celebrates the bond between fathers and sons, and the power of love to heal and transform. It is a song that touches the hearts of many people, and that shows a different side of Gary Allan, one of country music’s most talented and authentic artists.

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