Country music often contemplates the relationship of a daughter and her parents, even more often: a daughter and her father. This phenomenon most commonly pokes at the idea that daughters grow up too fast but will always remain “daddy’s little girl.” The tone of these songs typically ranges from sentimental to intimidating (when meant to show who’s boss to the daughters new man.) As a daughter who’s extremely close to her dad, listening to such songs has made me laugh, made me want to go find an extremely bad boy to bring home to dad and, on occasion, made me curl into a bawl and cry about the childhood days being over.
Emotions run wild because of songs like Heartlands’ “I Loved Her First,” Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This,” Rodney Atkins’ “Cleaning This Gun (Come on In Boy)”, and a (probably way too) long list of others. Personally, I can not not sob while listening to the gut wrenching “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw. This popular hit from the major motion picture, Flicka, was an instant favorite of my dad’s, as well as parents of daughters everywhere. I remember my grandma always referencing the dramatic “Go on take on this whole world, But to me you know you’ll always be, My little girl” lyric to my dad and me being super confused on why that was so important and why that made him so sad about me. It wasn’t until my thirteenth birthday party when my mom forced me to get on stage with my dad to slow dance to this heartbreaking story of a dad losing his daughter to the real world that I realized I, too, would eventually leave my dad.
This is how country music portrays the daddy/daughter relationship: the daughter growing up and leaving with zero intentions of turning back. Where, most commonly, the growing up phase covers the first five years where the daughter is still very much a little girl and then, suddenly, is instantly ready for marriage. This most definitely creates a depressed tone towards country music but also a very real one. This is one of country music’s best assets: the ability to make people feel. It’s impossible to listen to Tim McGraw say “When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone. Now look at you, I’ve turned around and you’ve almost grown,” and not feel something, especially as a daughter or a father. The heartbreaking country ballads about being old because I no longer live at home with my dad and am no longer 4 years old will continue to haunt me and make me bawl, I’m sure of it.