Although Jimmy Dean's songs cover a diverse range of topics, his most famous song, "Big Bad John," was inspired by his close friend John Minto, who was six feet and five inches tall. Other song lyrics concerned subjects such as hitchhiking ("Bummin' Around") and family life ("Please Pass the Biscuits").
Much of Dean's music included spoken narration to tell a sentimental story. "I.O.U." is a classic tribute to motherhood that has become a sentimental Mother's Day staple. His song "Sleeping Beauty" is told from the perspective of a father who tiptoes into his little girl's room to watch over her while she sleeps. The popular "P.T. 109" was based on John F. Kennedy's war service in the South Pacific.
Dean was married twice. He had three children with his first wife, Sue Wittauer Dean. He was married to music producer Donna Meade Dean at the time of his death in 2010.