I can remember the exact moment Superheaven’s “Youngest Daughter” became one of my favorite songs of all time. Summer of my Sophomore year of college in 2013, I moved back in with my parents in San Francisco and had a job as a camp counselor on the other side of town. Having moved to New York City for college, I never got my driver’s license so I ended up taking the bus every day for work.
The job kind of sucked (turns out I’m more attuned to writing about music than running intramural sports for kids), but I have a lot of nostalgia for that hour-long bus ride I took every day. The number 28 bus in San Francisco takes riders through Golden Gate Park, and the climax of that daily commute was when it arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge.
I wasn’t super familiar with Daylight at that point (Superheaven’s original band name before some random euro band threatened to sue), but I’d downloaded Jar after seeing it get attention from people I liked on Tumblr. Listening to the record, “Youngest Daughter” came on right as the bus pulled up to the Bridge.
It had been a strangely emotional summer, I think I knew then that it would be the last time I would live at my parents’ home for an extended period of time. It felt like the city I had grown up in was rapidly changing, and I too no longer felt a lot of connection to what was once home.
So when “Youngest Daughter”‘s first lyrics hit (“It’s useless, I’ve tried to no avail”), I started weeping, looking at the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge, which I could always see growing up in the Sunset District, an icon of people leaving and entering the city for the first time, and realizing I was bound to do something similar. The song’s ability to move between heavy and soft seemed to embody every single emotion going through me at the time, its heaviness leading into the lyrics “please come home.” I had to get myself together in order to not get made fun of by the kids I was supposed to supervise.
From there I followed Daylight, soon Superheaven, as they would tour through New York City multiple times. Never put on a bad show, most times I’d catch them they would play the basement at Webster Hall, a small venue filled with people equally in love with the music as I. They played the night I graduated from College, and I, a huge dork, attended the show in my graduation cap and gown.
Not long after, they announced they were ending as an active band, and their final New York City show happened again at the Webster Hall basement. It was sad, at that time it didn’t seem like they got to the level their peers like Citizen, Basement and Title Fight were hitting, but they seemed to be ending things on their terms. The projects that came after the band’s demise, Webbed Wing and Jake Clarke’s solo work, all produced really solid material.
But over the past year, something miraculous has happened: “Youngest Daughter” connected with countless people thanks to TikTok. The sound has been used in over 35,000 videos ranging from people describing their own emotional vulnerability, to their personal records in lifts, to kids crying about dying in Minecraft, using that beginning of the song’s lyrics “It’s useless, I’ve tried to no avail.”
If there’s a central theme, it’s people posting their own failures to varying levels of humor, and it hilariously referred to as “dad rock.” I wish I was smart enough to report what video was the first that set it off (insert those lyrics here), but unfortunately I’m not.
It’s easy to get annoyed and fall into a gatekeeper mode of hating on young people for getting into something through TikTok. But really, as someone who got into the album through Tumblr I can’t pretend I’m any different. More than anything, it feels like actual magic that the song has connected with so many people. Knowing that small moment I had on the bus more than likely has happened countless other moments with other people.
Though the band has done a few return shows here and there, they’re nowhere close to being as active as they once were, meaning the song’s success was a legitimate organic success.
In an industry filled with corporations chasing that and attempting to astroturf any modicum of success, sometimes a great band manages to succeed by releasing a perfect song. At 24 million Spotify plays, they deserve it.