With Apologies To Zach Bryan, “Open The Gate” Is My Kid’s Pump-Up Song For Potty Training

Zach Bryan country music
Samuel Elkins

Sorry Zach, but it just works.

My youngest kid was a little reluctant to ditch the diapers. We sat him on the toilet and coaxed him, praised him, bribed him, but nothing would happen. To help him picture what he had to do, my wife came up with an analogy.

“It’s like you have a gate keeping the poop inside. So just open the Poo-Poo Gate and let it out!”

Open the gate….

In the moment, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate song than Zach Bryan’s “Open the Gate” to get my kid fired up about taking a dump in the toilet for the first time in his life.

So, I opened Spotify, hit play, and filled the bathroom with the catchy, rhythmic, opening guitar melody.

By the time the fiddle kicked in, my kid swayed on the toilet seat, bobbed his head, and swapped an apprehensive frown for a big, goofy grin. And just like that, “Open the Gate” became the soundtrack to potty training.

I doubt Zach envisioned his song echoing off the damp walls and smudged mirrors of a kid’s bathroom. But the song hits hard, whether you’re in the crowd at a show, or sitting butt naked on the potty.

And I’m so grateful because I’m desperate for that glorious day when I change my last diaper. Zach Bryan’s going to get me there, I just know it.

The song tells the story of a young bull rider following in his late father’s footsteps. Despite the danger, and knowing he has his own kid on the way, the hero rides that bull anyway (aptly named “To-Hell-I-Go”), boldly chasing a tragic destiny that he seems powerless to avoid.

The cadence of this song gets your heart pumping while the story builds a layer of sadness under an otherwise defiant and passionate tone. It’s the conflicting emotions in this song that make me a little sad and a little like wanting to run through a brick wall when I queue it up on Zach’s heralded new album, “American Heartbreak.”

“So, open the gates, I’m here to prove
I’m better than my father was
And where he came from, too
Open the gates, I’m here to ride
To-hell-I-go, with daddy by my side”

The helpless rider responds to the inevitability of his path in life with a reckless, “no regrets” commitment to his family tradition, taking comfort in knowing that “daddy’s by [his] side.”

Growing up and wiping your own ass are the inevitabilities my son is dealing with at the moment.

So, I’m glad to see him bucking and waving atop his porcelain “bull,” recklessly committed to squeezing out a turd like a big boy so I can throw those diapers away for good. In fact, I might just run through a brick wall in celebration that day.

Open the (poo-poo) gate, son, and ride on into a diaper-free world. Daddy’s by your side.

To Hell I go, with a wad of toilet paper and a couple of M&M’s in my hand.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock