Is that what it’s really about? – Eydie Gorme’s “Yes my Darling Daughter”

This is only the second subject of an extremely occasional series of reflections on well-known, very successful Sixties songs whose innocence of aspect and seeming-naivete of lyric conceals a slightly different – and definitely not innocent – aspect to the story.

Like it’s predecessor, on Status Quo’s 1968 hit, Ice in the Sun, subjects in this feature are inspired by my hearing them on Sounds of the Sixties, so blame producer Phil Swern for the delay.

I’ve written elsewhere of my general indifference to the pre-Beatles Sixties music, and Eydie Gorme, a veteran of the big band era, falls firmly into that bracket, but ‘Yes, my Darling Daughter’ is one of many late-Fifties/early-Sixties songs that conjure up memories of my early years, and my mother having the Light Programme on all day whilst she did her housework. Gorme had a number 10 hit in Britain with this in 1962, though the song itself is twenty years older, and it’s melody is apparently stolen, like Paul McCartney’s ‘Those were the Days’ for Mary Hopkin, from a Ukrainian song.

Anyway, with those sort of antecedents, you’d expect it to be all Tin Pan Alley bland and sugary, professionally romantic and, of course, determinedly asexual. Which, in the first verse, it is. Darling Daughter, who is all sweetness and innocence/naivete, is seeking permission to go out dancing, and sweetly indulgent Mama is encouraging her to do so.

‘Momma, may I go out dancing?/Yes my darling daughter/Momma, may I try romancing?/Yes, my darling daughter’

This song is written as a two-person question and answer lyric, but Gorme sings both parts with no change of tone or inflection. But I digress.

Of course, Momma is properly protective of her little girl’s virginity – sorry, I mean innocence – for when little miss butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth starts talking about a moon shining on the water, ie, sneaking outside for a quick snog, dear old Momma tells her to stay inside with the dancing.

In fact, Momma’s pretty eager about all this dancing because when Darling Daughter starts going on about her still-imaginary suitor getting honourable ideas on the first date, Momma’s all for it: ‘What if he’ll propose, Momma darling,/When the night is getting shorter/ Momma what should be my answer?/ Yes my darling daughter’.  And that’s before Momma has even run her eye across the ability of Mr Imaginary to keep Darling Daughter in the style to which she is accustomed (parents used to be very big on such things, way back then).

So far, so predictable. There’s a comparatively long instrumental break for an under-two-minutes single, replacing all versions of the middle eight, before we’re back with more of the same for the second and final verse. Fondly indulgent but deeply practical Momma assures Darling Daughter that, yes, it will be exciting, yes, she looks inviting (which is a bloody odd way of describing your virginally innocent daughter in 1962, let alone 1941: yes darling, you definitely look up for a shag), but then a strange note comes into this conversation.

Darling Daughter is starting to get worked up about being held sufficiently tight that her knees just turn to water, which we have to read as a conventional reference to feminine weakness in the presence of a handsome man rather than the idea of our helpless little female being crushed to death, but that’s just a prelude to the last couplet:

‘What if he’ll persist, Momma darling,/ doing things he hadn’t oughta/ Momma what should be my answer?/ Yes my Darling Daughter’.

Only it’s not ‘Yes’, it’s ‘Yes, yes. Yes, yes. Yes, yes!’ with rising intensity, sounding rather like Momma’s imagining herself about to be sexually assaulted and potentially raped by the guy she’s wishing onto the apple of her eye and getting pretty durned hot at the thought.

I mean, hold on a minute there. This is this sweet, innocent song and suddenly, with no change musically or vocally, our traditionally protective Momma is now telling Darling Daughter that if he starts getting fresh, wandering hands, sneaking them up skirts, no doubt slipping panties to one side, all the sort of things that unknowing girls who’ve led sheltered lives and have just been let off the leash for the first time, maidenheads ripe for deflowering, prospects for ruination, even the risk of adolescent pregnancy, the stuff they know nothing about (because, let’s face it, Darling Daughter’s head is full of nothing but inane romantic imagery and probably wouldn’t know what a penis is when a man puts it in her hand) and dear old Momma is saying that if he wants to do anything to you, whether you like it or not, let him do it.

You lie back and think of England whilst I have a quick orgasm at the very thought of it.

And people went around saying rock’n’roll was a corrupting influence.