Song Spotlight: “Yes, My Darling Daughter”

  • Mood: Nervous excitement
  • Themes: Parenting, Moms and Daughters, Dating
  • Tempo: Upbeat
  • Genre/style: Big Band era

I’ve been trying to think of a good song to highlight for Father’s Day, but the one that keeps coming back is a favorite from my Mother’s Day playlist. There’s a fatherly twist, though, so we’ll go with it.

Yes, My Darling Daughter” is a 1941 song written by Jack Lawrence and made famous by Dinah Shore. The melody Jack Lawrence used as the basis for this song has an interesting backstory. The music is based on the Ukrainian folk song “Oj ne khody Hrytsju,” which is thought to have been written by Catterino Cavos in 1812. This same folk song was published in translation in 1816, and its English version did gain some popularity in the United States. Interestingly, the final phrase of the melody, to the words, “yes, my darling daughter” follows the Hyrts sequence, a melody common in Ukrainian songs and one that was used by several classical composers, including Haydn, Mozart, Boccherini, and Liszt. Musical motifs really do travel across time and distance, don’t they?

Daddy, may I go out dancing? Yes, my darling daughter!

Anyway, let’s get back to Jack Lawrence’s lyrics. In this song, we hear the conversation between a nervous young woman on her way to the dance, and her beloved mother. Here are a few lines from the beginning of the song:

Mother, may I go out dancing?

Yes, my darling daughter

Mother, may I try romancing?

Yes, my darling daughter

What if there’s a moon, mama darling, and it’s shining on the water

Mother, must I keep on dancing?

Yes, my darling daughter

I actually first heard on the 2007 movie “Because I Said So,” with Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore. In that film, the song provides the perfect background to the mother-daughter relationship and the dating advice given by the mother and (sometimes) taken by the daughter. This song definitely is a great springboard for talking about the advice parents give to their children, and about how young people learn about romance from their older relatives. Here are a few questions I might ask a some older adults about their experiences:

  • Did you ever go out dancing when you were younger? How did you get to know the young men/women?
  • Did your mom or dad give you advice on how to handle romance? What did they say?
  • How did you meet your husband/wife? Was it in a traditional, romantic way?
  • How were things different for your kids or grandkids?

But, wait! This is supposed to be a post about Father’s Day! Actually, there is one mention of the father in this song about a mother and a daughter, and when I play this song for a group, I often ask them to listen to that one mention of Papa. Here it is:

What if he should insist on one embrace,

Mama, how can I keep him in his place

If his manner becomes a shade improper?

Tell him that your heart belongs to papa

Now, that one often gets a laugh! I’ve run into quite a few protective fathers in my music therapy groups, and I can say that my sweet husband is already talking about how he will handle our daughter’s dating years – and she’s not even two years old yet!

What do you think? Can I count this as a Father’s Day song? What is your favorite Father’s Day song? Please leave your ideas below.

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.

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4 thoughts on “Song Spotlight: “Yes, My Darling Daughter”

  1. Faith Halverson-Ramos says:

    It’s interesting to me that there seem to be many songs for mothers, but not so much for fathers. A few father/daddy-related songs I’ve used in hospice are: Daddy’s Hands and Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine, but admittedly they’re more introspective and not so upbeat.

    • soundscapemusictherapy says:

      I’ve used those songs, too, Faith, and I spotlighted “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine” for Father’s Day last year. Another that I use frequently is “Daddy Sang Bass.” It would be an interesting study to look at popular songs about father-child relationships, wouldn’t it?

  2. musicsparks says:

    I see this as a great song for sparking conversation. It would also work well in a teen and older adult intergenerational setting. I’d call this more of a parenting song than a Father’s Day song, but the lyrics could easily be changed from mother to father.

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