I had the unenviable task of writing a Mother’s Day column for this week’s paper. I say unenviable because I just didn’t want to write about how much I love my Mom (lots) or what a good mother Sabine, my wife, is (a great one). I feel like I’ve been there and done that.
Instead, I decided to create playlist on Spotify (it’s public – you can find it on there under Mother’s Day by Mike). Some of these songs are nice, some of them aren’t – but they all have Ma, Mama, Mom, Mother or Mommy in the title. Aren’t I clever?
Let’s take a look at the list before you take a listen.
1. Mama Said – Dusty Springfield – “Mama said there’ll be days like this. There’ll be days like this, mama said.” – You ain’t kidding, Dusty. There will be days when you might find yourself staring at a blank page, time ticking away and lunch not agreeing all that well with you… you just have to suck it up and get through it. Great tune and good way to kick off the list. I love Dusty’s soulful vocals.
2. Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters – I wanted to keep a bit of the soul, go forward into the future (or not so distant past, actually) and keep things moving. This is a fun song and I’m not exactly sure what it’s really saying. I guess the guys singing it are suggesting they take your mama out and show her a good time – drinking, dancing, etc. I’m trying not to read too much into this and it’s probably best you don’t either.
3. Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon – This song has a bit of a snazzy beat too but man, looking at the lyrics is a bummer. “No I wouldn’t give you false hope on this strange and mournful day but the mother and child reunion is only a motion away.” Wow. Is Paul Simon all mothers and children are reunited eventually in Heaven? Am I reading to much into this? We need something not so serious.
4. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne – A great and seriously underrated band, Fountains of Wayne knocks this pop song out of the park. The narrator may be dating Stacy but he has eyes for her Mom. So funny and what a catchy tune.
5. Mama Tried – Grateful Dead – It seems like when spring rolls around, I get a hankering to listen to some Grateful Dead and this one pops up in a lot of the recordings from their concerts. The narrator is a bit of a bad seed, but he lets his audience know that it wasn’t his mama’s fault. “Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin’ I denied, That leaves only me to blame cause Mama tried.” It’s nice that there is some accountability there. No blame games.
6. Thank You Mom – Good Charlotte – This is just a nice song with the singer telling his Mom how much he loves her. “And I love you, I’ll always love you. There’s nothing I won’t do to say these words to you. That you will live forever.”
7. Dear Mama – 2Pac – This song is a little rough (explicit lyrics, sorry) but important because like “Mama Tried,” the narrator here, 2Pac, I guess, apologizes for his rough early days and admits “There is no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand, You are appreciated.” You are likely a fan of rap or you’re not – there tends not to be much middle ground – but give it a listen and you might find yourself appreciating 2Pac’s voice and probably the sentiment as well.
8. Mama Kin – Aerosmith – I had to have this one on the list. I love Aerosmith. I don’t even know if this is about mothers, but the chorus does have the line “Keep in touch with Mama Kin.” Good advice. Give her a call.
9. Mother – Roger Waters – This is from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” It is a little sinister in that the mother promises to protect her son so much that it becomes overprotection. She breeds in him a fear of the world and mistrust of others. The narrator rejects this at the end asking if the wall needed to be so high.
10. Mom – Earth, Wind & Fire – “Mom, the words of love, She gave me peace and love, She gave me thoughts of love.” What a nice Mom song after “Mother.” I hope your Mom has given you peace and love.
11. Hey Mama – Kanye West – Again, you either like rap or you don’t but if all of you know of Kanye is jumping on stage during Taylor Swift’s MTV Video Award thing, you should give this a try. First off, egomaniac or not, Kanye makes good music. Secondly, he talks about a tough time growing up but unlike 2Pac, we hear about a mother giving her son everything she can, expecting success and trying to keep his head on straight even when a burgeoning hip hop career was starting. Nice.
12. Mama, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne – Listening to this and looking at the lyrics, this could be like one of those situations where the guy calls his girlfriend or wife “mama” and she calls him “Daddy.” Eww. Let’s say that it is more about a man coming home to his Mama. They may have had their disagreements in the past but he wants to go back and see her. I don’t know. Just, enjoy an Ozzy song that isn’t about barking at the moon.
13. Mother – Tori Amos – Man, that Tori Amos Little Earthquakes album was incredible. Another deep one. I think this one is about growing up, leaving home and wanting to be sure there is a way back. The narrator also wonders if the dream she is pursuing is her dream or her mother’s dream? Tori Amos has a beautiful voice and plays piano beautifully as well.
14. Mama, You Been On My Mind – Jeff Buckley – I chose this version over Bob Dylan’s because Jeff Buckley had an amazing voice. This is another case of a narrator calling a girl Mama instead of talking to his mother. Very chill version of a cool song though.
15. Mama’s Eyes – Justin Townes Earle – I saw this guy open for The Decemberists last year and thought he was great. This is an interesting tune because he compares himself to his father and then realizes that he has his mother in his character as well. “And I still see wrong from right Cause I’ve got my Mama’s eyes.” Short and sweet.
16. Volvo Driving Soccer Mom – Everclear – This song has adult themes and subject matter. It’s also pretty funny – unless the song refers to your Mom. It’s all about how girls that used to party hard and act crazy grow up and become Volvo Driving Soccer Moms. It makes me laugh.
17. Hey Mama – Mat Kearney – Man, so many songs where Mama means girlfriend and not mother. Good beat, nice sound. It will cleanse the taste of Everclear out of your mouth.
18. Mother – Danzig – I think I heard this song before I knew who The Misfits were. They were a hard rock/horror themed punk like band and Glenn Danzig was the front man. This song is more mainstream and it seems like Danzig or the narrator is trying to tell parents to try and keep their kids away from his music or the darkness. Now, its a Guitar Hero song. Or Rock Band. Cool tune.
19. I Want My Mommy (Time for Bed) – Imagination Movers – This one will make you feel much better after Danzig. These guys rock. Yes, they play kid’s music, but they also add shout outs to U2, Van Halen, The Cult, Spinal Tap and more during their concerts. They played The Villages in Fayetteville a few years ago and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. I’m not kidding. The CD doesn’t do justice to a live Movers show.
20. Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud? – Eliott Smith – Smith is one of rock’s tragic figures. He was making great music but struggling with a lot of issues before his untimely death. The song seems to be about struggling with success and wondering if his mama would be proud – not necessarily with the success but the struggling.
Looking at the list, there’s some dark stuff on here. Trust me, I looked for other songs that might be lighter and more reverent of mothers, but I also wasn’t going to put music on the list that I didn’t like. I think the one thing that we can take from a lot of the music on the list is that relationships with our mothers can be complicated. This makes sense because in a lot of cases this is the first and most important relationship that we have. They can represent a lot of nice things – like safety, unquestioning love and home, but they also represent something that we had to separate ourselves from in order to form our identities and enter the world. If we did it right, we recognize their efforts and the amazing relationships that they were able to forge with us and we honor them, not only this weekend, but every day. Thank you for loving us and teaching us, molding us and shaping us.
And sorry for putting Volvo Driving Soccer Mom on the list, Mom. You know I have a sick sense of humor.