The relationship between parents and daughters is a passionate emotional rollercoaster that unfolds throughout our entire life.
This beautiful and troublesome relationship has often been a privileged source of inspiration for musicians and artists of all kinds.
Thus, some of the most famous songs in history can be thought of as the blossoming of that always-changing bond.
On this list, you’ll find birthday presents, songs to teach the alphabet, and even Christmas presents from daughters to mothers.
1. You Are My Sunshine – Jimmie Davies
Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell published “You Are My Sunshine” in 1940.
- This country-style tune features an upbeat rhythm making it great for small kids. Moreover, besides the upbeat feel, the song uses each alphabet letter at least once making it suitable to teach children the alphabet.
- During lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic Gareth Malone, the British choirmaster organized the Great British Home Chorus, a kind of massive choir of people stuck at home singing the same tune. For the grand finale of this initiative, Malone took over 11,000 voices from across the country and made an orchestrated choral version of “You are my Sunshine”.
- The song was first turned into a hit while being sung by Bing Crosby.
2. The Best Day – Taylor Swift
“The Best Day” is part of Taylor Swift’s second studio album, Fearless (2008). It was written and recorded by Taylor Swift.
- Taylor Swift wrote this song using the perspective of a daughter to open up about her feelings to her mom, with whom she’s very close.
- Taylor wrote the song on the road but kept it a secret since her mother usually accompanies her during touring. The song remained a secret until she unveiled it to her mother at Christmas.
- Because her mom was crying backstage every time she performed the song live, Taylor decided to stop playing it and took it away from the song list.
3. Daughters – John Mayer
The song “Daughters” was released as Heavier Things (2003) third single.
- When inquired about the topic of this song and its genesis, John Mayer said that it was a product of his frustration after dating so many beautiful women who had “daddy issues” that would complicate the relationships.
- Some of the inspiration for the tune came from a comedy bit. Yes, John Mayer drew inspiration from Chris Rock’s routine that talks about the father’s responsibility in keeping daughters “off the pole”.
- The song was nominated for and won the Song of the Year Award at the 2005 Grammy ceremony.
4. Right By You (For Luna) – John Legend
John Legend added this sweet song to Darkness and Light, his fifth studio album released in 2016.
- The ballad came to be a song when John Legend and Chrissy Teigen had their first child in April 2016. The name of the song is homonymous with the name of his daughter.
- Since the song was written mostly before Luna was born, it touches on the questions and the anticipation that every father feels before his first daughter is born.
- According to Legend, when he initially played for Chrissy, he burst into tears because it felt very real and appropriate to convey the feelings he had as a soon-to-be father.
5. Unforgettable – Nat King Cole
“Unforgettable” was written by Irving Gordon and published in 1951. Nat King Cole’s version is one of its most famous ones.
- Although the song’s original title was “Uncomparable”, the publishing company that was to release the song asked the writer to change the title to “Unforgettable”, which he obviously did.
- The original version by Nat King Cole was recorded with an orchestra arranged by Nelson Riddle in 1951. It was a hit during its time but it resurfaced in 1991 when Natalie, Nat King Cole’s daughter recorded it and had her voice dubbed to make a duet with her father.
- Although Natalie did a strong effort throughout her life to stay away from singing so that she wouldn’t be compared with her father, her versions of her dad’s songs were received with critical acclaim by the general audience.
6. Isn‘t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
“Isn’t She Lovely” appeared in Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder’s 1976 album.
- Celebrating her daughter Aisha’s birthday was Stevie Wonder’s main motivation to write this song.
- The song includes real noises and crying by Aisha. Yes, the crying of the just-born baby is real, and also the section at the end when Stevie says “Come on, Aisha; get out of the water, baby” is him talking to his daughter while she makes all kinds of splashing noises and protests. Those real sounds respond to memorable moments Stevie Wonder had with his daughter.
- Although he’s a master piano player, Wonder plays every instrument on this track except for keyboards. Furthermore, the harmonica part was improvised, but since it sounded so well, they went with the first take.
7. Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle
“Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle was included in the singer’s third studio album, Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace), released in 1997.
- This song is Brooke’s (Carl’s daughter) gift for her 16th birthday. Together with the song, Carl also wrote a journal under the name “Butterfly Kisses for Fathers and Their Daughters”.
- According to Carl Carlisle, the song came to him in a sudden rush of inspiration fully formed and ready. He made a version of it on a cassette to give to his daughter on her birthday but never thought about making a proper recording of it. Nevertheless, when Brooke showed it to her friends they liked it so much that he decided to include it on his third album and even name it after the song.
- Although the song was written from a dad’s perspective, according to Carlisle, every time he plays the song, he is surrounded by women telling him stories about their dads and how the song impacted them. Therefore, the song has an unintended huge impact on daughters too.
8. Whitney Houston – “Greatest Love Of All”
“The Greatest Love of All” has music by Michael Masser and lyrics by Linda Creed. Its original version can be traced back to 1977 as recorded and released by George Benson.
- The version Whitney Houston recorded of this song was initially intended as a B-side for the hit “You Give Good Love”. Yet, the airplay level it received made it clear to Arista (her label) that it needed to be released as a single on its own.
- The story behind the lyrics is real and sincere according to Linda Creed, who drew inspiration from her own family. She was married to Stephen Lee Epstein with whom she had her first daughter in 1976.
- Filmed at the utterly famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City, the video shows Houston about to sing for a massive audience, and, according to the singer, it was reminiscent of the times she performed at talent competitions as a young girl and was encouraged by her mother.
9. Slipping Through My Fingers – ABBA
10. My Little Girl – Tim McGraw
11. My Wish – Rascal Flatts
12. Blue – Beyoncé
13. Fathers and Daughters – Michael Bolton
14. Coal Miner’s Daughter – Loretta Lynn
15. I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
16. My Girl – The Temptations
17. In My Daughter’s Eyes – Martina McBride
18. Here For You – Neil Young
19. Daddy’s Little Girl – Michael Bublé
20. Dance With My Daughter – Jason Blaine
21. Father and Daughter – Paul Simon
22. Cinderella – Steven Curtis Chapman
23. When You Need Me – Bruce Springsteen
24. My Father’s Daughter – Jewel
25. Prettiest Girl in the World – Logan Mize
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