Daughter (1993) – Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam 1993 at SunFest

This is the fifth song from Pearl Jam to appear here at the Music Library Project. Oh man did I wear the socks off of this single in my alternative-Seattle grunge music days. If you would like to read more about the backstory of Pearl Jam and how vocalist Eddie Vedder exploded onto the scene, then I invite you to read my first article on them – Alive (1991). Daughter was released as the second single from the second studio album Vs..The song topped the US Album Rock and Modern Rock Billboard charts, spending a total of eight weeks at number one.

Don’t call me daughter, not fit to
The picture kept will remind me
Don’t call me daughter, not fit to
The picture kept will remind me
Don’t call me

She holds the hand that holds her down
She will rise above, uh uh

Eddie Vedder said about the song “Daughter“:

The child in that song obviously has a learning difficulty, and it’s only in the last few years that they’ve actually been able to diagnose these learning disabilities, that before were looked at as misbehavior; as just outright rebelliousness, but no one knew what it was. These kids, because they seemed unable or reluctant to learn, they’d end up getting the shit beaten outta them. The song ends, you know, with this idea of the shades going down—so that the neighbors can’t see what happens next. What hurts about shit like that is that it ends up defining people’s lives. They have to live with that abuse for the rest of their lives. Good, creative people are just fucking destroyed.

To be honest, I had no idea until researching Daughter, what the song was about except to do with child abuse. A lot of Jam’s early work seemed to be focused on domestic violence and reminds me of what courses through a lot of The Smiths songs. Interestingly Daughter was first performed live at Neil Young’s 1992 Bridge School Benefit but contained different lyrics than the version that would ultimately wind up on Vs..Daughter is played at nearly every Pearl Jam show, almost always with an extension of the ending that could be an improvisation or a segment of another song.

A different form of extension to the song was first introduced in the band’s performance on Saturday Night Live in April 1994, just eight days after the death of Nirvana frontman and grunge pioneer Kurt Cobain. A tribute to Cobain, it is called “Daughter/Hey Hey, My My” by fans, since the extension is from the Neil Young song “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”, which Cobain’s suicide note had quoted.

Reference:
1. Wikipedia – Daughter (song)

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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