Single Review: John Mayer “Daughters”

Album: Heavier Things
Year: 2004

John Mayer doles out parental advice straight from Sigmund Freud in the patronizing ballad “Daughters.”

Mayer is in love with a girl. Being around her brightens his entire day. However, he can’t figure her out and bewildered by her moodiness. He’s given up on trying to date her and decides to deal with it the best way he knows how: blame someone else. (“I know a girl/She puts the color inside of my world/But she’s just like a maze/Where all of the walls all continually change/And I’ve done all I can/To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands/Now I’m starting to see/Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me”).

In the chorus, he points the finger at her dad by mentioning fathers first. “Dr.” Mayer tells fathers to treat their daughters right and they, in turn, will respect him back. He explains that girls will grow up, find a man, sleep with him and later, have children with him. As an afterthought, he tells mothers to treat their daughters well. His attempt to downplay the deadbeat dad stereotype fails since it dominates the entire chorus. (“Fathers, be good to your daughters/Daughters will love like you do/Girls become lovers who turn into mothers/So mothers, be good to your daughters too”).

He explains the girl he’s interested in is stuck at the emotional age when her father left the family. Because of him, Mayer says, she has trust issues and is afraid for any man to love her. (“Oh, you see that skin?/It’s the same she’s been standing in/Since the day she saw him walking away/Now she’s left/Cleaning up the mess he made”). This lyric implies he did get to know her. Otherwise, how would he know such intimate details of her life?

In the third verse, Mayer says men are the stronger gender and handle emotional trauma better than girls. (“Boys, you can break/You’ll find out how much they can take/Boys will be strong/And boys soldier on…”). He adds it all wouldn’t happen without a loving mother to nurture him. (“But boys would be gone without the warmth from/A woman’s good, good heart”).

He then tells every woman on the planet a man provides them the support for a healty, emotional, trauma-free life and a reason for living. (“On behalf of every man/
Looking out for every girl/You are the god and the weight of her world”). If it weren’t phrased in a general manner, it wouldn’t be as insulting.

The chorus is sung to end the single.

The American Family Association finally has its theme song. Mayer is espousing some of the values stated in his single. He supports the traditional family (a man and a woman) and that children from divorce are unable to lead healthy, normal lives. However, he leaves out two facts: 1) some women aren’t maternal and are cold towards their children and 2) some boys cannot automatically move on from trauma because of their gender. “Daughters” is ignorant and naive for those reasons alone. It discounts modern families and is stuck in another era.


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