Pearl Jam: Daughter Meaning
Song Released: 1993
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Young girl... violins... center of her own attention
The, mother reads aloud, child, tries to understand it
Tries to make her proud
The shades go down, it's in her...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:
Eddie Vedder had some tough issues in his childhood. He was about 15 when he moved out of home to fend for himself, his mother leaving him to go to live interstate, while he tried to work and still go to school, which I believe he had to dorp out of due to the work getting in the way, he later overcame some things and got through school. By the time his mother told him who his real father way, the guy had died of multiple sclerosis. So we might wonder if the line, the picture kept will remind me, refers to a picture he had of his father.
Whether Eddie sings for his own female psyche, for a sister or for any person who has felt abused, I feel he sings for those who have suffered feelings of abuse at home, particularly if the mother condoned or did the abuse or if the mother turned a blind eye to the abuse, but no child wishes to break ties with a mother, and it takes so much to finally break that tie of abuse. The abuse may be verbal, mental, or physical. It could be blaming a child for a step fathers violence, it can be many things. So like all great songs this song is open to hundreds of interpretations that allow the listener to release the hurts of abuse, particularly if it is hurt from the mother, as this is the hardest to let go of, as we all want to love our mothers. Nobody's childhood is perfect and just about everyone has some feeling of betrayal to release.
i think there is a certain point in life where we need to see our parents as people, not as a perfect mother or father, and at this point we are no longer the son or daughter, but if respect is there we can move into a more equal friendship. If abuse and disrespect continues sometimes one has to release the parent to move on.
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Nov 19th 2006 report
It's about a girl with dyslexia, whose mother doesn't know nor understand - and in fact contributes to the problem. The dyslexia is undiagnosed and the mother is the one holding the girl down - by nt recognising the condition. 'The shades go down' refers to the confusion in the girl's mind. The title line of the song reflects the daughter's perceived shame and humiliation in the eyes of her mother - who she only wants to make proud of her.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:anonymous Oct 16th 2011 report
Here's what I've always thought it was about:
The child in the song has a learning disability, but the parents don't understand her struggle to read. The young girl tries to understand the stories her mother reads, tries to connect the words her mother is saying to the words on the page, but she just can't. Her parents begin to get upset when she can't read or write a simple word and so they start to yell and possibly abuse her. (Still shaky on that part) She tries to grow up strong but she's forced to hold her parent's hands, which is the same hands that beat her down. I don't think the picture kept is an actual picture, but it's rather a memory of how her parents treated her. She hates what they've done to her, how they couldn't understand, so she feels they have no right to call her their daughter.
Again, this is just what I've always thought.
anonymous Sep 30th 2020 report
I thought it was about a girl who was abandoned by her father. He then comes back into her life years later and she refuses to acknowledge the relationship.
anonymous Nov 3rd 2018 report
As someone said previously, it's about the true story of 'Sybil.' There's a book and a movie. She was severely abused as a child by her mentally ill mother. Among other things, she would be locked inside a small trunk with crayons. She developed multiple personality disorder from the trauma. When she went back to her childhood home she found the pictures she drew inside the trunk. That's what confirmed that the abuse wasn't made up.
anonymous Jun 3rd 2018 report
I always thought he meant that he had a daughter that didn't never meet his expectations so she wasn't fit to be his daughter. Cause he's not a bad person but she is.
All bad people are a relieve to somebody all of them. So now he carries a picture when she was young and there's no real getting into trouble as young kid. And that's all he wants to remember.
I also get a hit that the daughter is letting him know everyone should live they want even if it only a short life. Cause it's your life right?
i remember once reading an interview from eddie saying that it was about a child with a disablilty. and the mother didnt really love her. and so the daughter tried to always make her proud but the mother never really ever loved her. and so the picture kept is all the mother needs to remind her.
it was a awhile back when i read it but i almost think there was even a line on how the child was abused that i could be wrong on it.
i just remember the interview Vedder said "its a song on f***ed up situation..." i could be wrong but thats what i kinda remember
anonymous Aug 14th 2012 report
It kinda sounds to me like the girl's father died and her mother recently remarried.
The empty kitchen indicates they just moved in.
"Violins" might simply mean she's a typical kid getting ready to head out to school.
Child NEEDS to make Mom proud because Mom is all the girl thinks she has left. But she also blames Mom for the whole situation and "holds her down".
"Don't call me Daughter" is being said to the step-father. He is not her dad so it's "not fit to" call her Daughter.
"The picture kept will remind me"...who her father really is.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
Now that you guys mention it, the Autism route makes a lot of sense, but when I heard this song it took me back to my parents' divorce.
"Breakfast table" is most likely a space at home and the room may be empty, because a parent and his/ her stuff is gone.
The thing the mother read could either have been the settlement or a restraining order or some last letter of the dad leaving and the issue with understanding doesn't have to be literal. Children don't understand things like divorce.
The "don't call me daughter"-bit could easily be some resentment on the girl's part, as well as perceiving her mother's hand as holding her down. "Not fit to" could allude to a daughter as a familial position and no home means no daughter.
The eerie "shades go down" part could then be the slow realisation of the way things are going to be from then on.
I could just be projecting, but it's a tribute to the ambiguous nature of Pearl Jam lyrics. Great song!
anonymous Jun 18th 2011 report
i do always laugh becuase eddy has in many songs used words that sound like other. The lyrics are "violins" but does sound like violence. just a thing i noticed about alot of the songs. exapmle "i dont know whether was the box or the bag" --what will he brought back home in box or the bags..."i dont know i was the boxer or the bag" both take a beating
anonymous Jun 3rd 2009 report
I always thot this song was about a dad that abused his daughter or step daughter not the mom. where are people getting the mom from?
Or maybe it's about an adopted girl who can't get comfortable with the idea that these are who her new parents are.
anonymous Dec 31st 2008 report
This song represents the true life story of Sybil, the woman with multiple personalities... Watch the movie
anonymous Dec 19th 2008 report
Its about a girl with dislexia or something... and she cant seem to do well in school or anything for that matter... and her mother is so frusturated because shes spent all her money on trying to make her daughter better that she beats her often...
anonymous Oct 13th 2008 report
I believe the song is a girl that her dad abuses. And the picture she has, is that of her mother, being that if the mother was alive this would not be happening to her. Also if she makes em proud he'd be to embarrassed to continue with the abuse. Thats why she says "Don't call me daughter, not fit to."
I have a slightly different interpretation on this one. Eddie Vedder had a step dad whom he hated and would beat his mother (betterman). The child is Eddie, the young girl is his mother.
"tries to make her proud" -shows the love the child has for their mother, as he is trying to make her proud, not avoid a beating.
"young girl... violins" -placing the young girl (aka. mother) on a pedistal
"shades go down, its in her head" -the shades go down, as mentioned before to hide the domestic violence from the neighbors, however "it's in her head" shows that these curtains are not real, rather a coping mechanism that the mother uses to block out domestic from herself.
"Don't call me daughter, not fit to" - This confuses me, however I think that it might mean that the stepdad refers to the little boy as daughter, as a demeaning term, and he's not fit to as he is only a step dad... or it could be a little girl and her mother,,,
"the picture kept will remind me" - he has an old picture of his real father to remind him that his step dad is not his real father
"she holds the hand that holds her down" -In reference to her mother still being in love with his stepdad despite the abuse
anonymous Feb 20th 2007 report
I believe the song is about either an adopted child or the relationship between a step mother and her 'daughter'.
Don't call me daughter, not fit to
The picture kept will remind me (picture of her real mother)
...She holds the hand that holds her down (the mother is either abusive or a bit over protective.)
bah... That is just what I got out of it.
anonymous Nov 17th 2006 report
I think the girl is describing an abusive mother. She is saying that the mother is not fit to call her, "daughter." she also says that she holds the hand that holds her down, which means that she has a toxic relationship with her mother...
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