Friday, May 7, 2021

Revisiting five songs that make dads of daughters cry

NOTE: This is recycled content, but unless you're a really longtime fan of this blog, you won't have read it. It originally ran on April 6, 2012. I posted it again back on February 27, 2015. It is far, far, far and away the most widely read thing I've written here. Whereas a typical post on this blog nowadays garners 100 to 200 page views, this one has 24,654 views at the time of this writing. Apparently people really care about their daddy-daughter songs...

Inside every father of a daughter is a big softie. No matter how hard and tough the guy may seem, I guarantee he has a tender place in his heart for that little girl.

The music industry knows this and has, on more than one occasion, taken advantage of it by producing songs designed solely to make us cry. I hate them for it.

There are actually relatively few things that will make me cry. If a Cleveland sports team ever wins a championship, I will cry (NOTE: This was written before the Cavs won a title in 2016. And for the record, I did mist up a bit.) This is silly, I know, but I won't deny it. If it ever happens in my lifetime, I will cry.

I mist up at most Hallmark movies, too, though I usually deny it and blame it on dust in the room or something.

And anything sentimental to do with my kids – particularly my girls –  will make me cry. I'm no different than most other dads in this respect.

So here, then, is one man's list of the Top Five Daddy-Daughter Songs Designed to Make Grown Men Weep. We'll go in reverse order:

#5 - "Daddy's Little Girl" - The Mills Brothers

No list of this kind would be complete without the most requested father-daughter dance song of all time. From the very first verse, The Mills Brothers go for the heartstrings: "You're the end of the rainbow / My pot of gold / You're daddy's little girl / To have and to hold." If any of my daughters make me dance to this song at their wedding, I will collapse into a sobbing heap right then and there. That's it, just four lines into the song and I'll be done. I'll telling them this now so they can be prepared for major embarrassment on their big day.

#4 - "Stealing Cinderella" - Chuck Wicks

Country singers are experts at exploiting the daddy-daughter relationship. We could actually have filled this list with nothing but country tunes, but for my money, this one is the best. It tells the story of a guy going to his girlfriend's father to ask for her hand in marriage. It's obvious to him the dad worships his daughter, and that "To him I'm just some fella / Riding in and stealing Cinderella." Note that the Cinderella figure will play a major role later on. For now, if you're not familiar with "Stealing Cinderella," check out the video.

#3 - "When She Loved Me" - Sarah McLachlan

Kind of a surprise entry. On the surface, this isn't necessarily a daddy-daughter song. It's from the "Toy Story 2" soundtrack, and it's sung from the perspective of a doll whose owner has grown up and doesn't play with her anymore. But the song has always reminded me of my daughters, and sometimes specifically of Elissa and the two years or so when I worked nights and was with her every day while Terry was at work. "Through the summer and the fall / We had each other, that was all / Just she and I together / Like it was meant to be." Excuse me for a second, someone must have emptied the vacuum cleaner bag because it's getting really dusty in here...

#2 - "Butterfly Kisses" - Bob Carlisle

Darn you, Bob Carlisle. You're an evil, evil man. This song is terrible, and by that I mean it's awesome. What makes it terrible is that it's one of those "let's follow the little girl as she grows up and becomes a woman and end on her wedding day as her father walks her down the aisle" songs. Which of course makes you realize that time passes impossibly fast and that you're probably not making the most of it. Every time I hear this song, I go looking for Melanie to see if she wants to play a board game or go outside or just do anything except grow up like her rotten sisters are doing.

#1 - "Cinderella" - Steven Curtis Chapman

You want to feel guilty? You want to feel terrible? You don't even have to listen to the song itself. Just listen to Steven Curtis Chapman explain the inspiration for it. That's enough right there to make you feel like the worst parent in the world. And then consider how he must feel every time he sings it and has to think about his 5-year-old daughter who was killed when her brother accidentally ran her over in his SUV as she was playing in the family driveway. Sometimes when I listen to this song, I don't know whether to feel terrible, inspired, or both. I lean toward "inspired," but it's hard not to feel guilty about the amount of time you spend with your little girls when he sings, "'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight / And she'll be gone." Wow.

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