Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” Lyrics Meaning
It is obvious that the subject of this song, the titular “daughter”, is someone who is suffering from a learning disability like dyslexia. But that may be an aspect of this narrative that vocalist Eddie Vedder, who also wrote these lyrics, didn’t necessarily pick up on or originally intend himself.
In other words, the main point of this story, plain and simple, is that the subject is the victim of child abuse. And whereas being treated in such a manner is a crime against humanity in and of itself, in this particular case it is also made abundantly clear that she is so quite unfairly treated. In other words, her mother is beating her due to her aforenoted learning issues the daughter possesses. But of course, being born dyslexic is absolutely, positively no fault of the child. In fact it may be that she actually inherited this condition from the selfsame mother who is abusing her.
But to reiterate, in the grand scheme of the story, it can be said that whether or not the mother is aware of this condition is ultimately irrelevant. Indeed she is depicted as someone who is “not fit to” be a parent, obviously not in a physical sense. She lacks the maturity to have this daughter under her care.
And it isn’t such that the daughter can speak up for herself, one of the reasons being that she is naturally inclined to love her mom nonetheless. So one of the points this song is intended to get at is that the physical and/or psychological ramifications of this treatment is now something which the “daughter” is going to have to deal with for the rest of her life.
Pearl Jam is a band that sprang from early early-1990s Seattle. They are a part of the music industry-significant grunge movement which emerged from that city during the late 20th century. It was also around that time that the band experienced their most notable success.
Pearl Jam released “Daughter” on 19 October 1993 as part of their second album, Vs.. This song also acted as a single from that project and proved to be its best-performing track, as on its own it topped Billboard’s Alternative Airplay and Mainstream Rock charts.
Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard are credited with writing this song.
The entire band, which at the time included Dave Abbruzzese, Jeff Ament and Mike McCready, is recognized as producing this track, alongside Brendan O’Brien. (And to note, Ament and McCready also remain part of the outfit as of the writing of this post.)
The first time Pearl Jam performed this song live (in uncompleted form and under its working title “Brother”`) was at a 1992 charity concert known as the Bridge School Benefit that was hosted by Neil Young.
Overall, “Daughter” holds the distinction of being one of their most-performed songs.
This song was notably covered by a singer named Nancy Wilson (not to be confused with the mid-20th African-American one) in 2021.