Mother’s Day is coming this weekend. It’s the time of the year when we celebrate the contributions of all women who play the mother role. From mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, or foster mothers, the role of a mom can be played by many different people.
Throughout the history of recorded music, moms have been the subject of some of the best and most heartfelt of songs. A musician’s relationship with their parents will always color the material they write. Song writers are poets, and not many other subjects have been written about more than mothering and motherhood. Here now are a few essential songs about mothers to put on your Mother’s Day play lists.
“Mother” by John Lennon – Lennon’s song about the loss and disconnect he felt from his parents is at once raw, emotional and beautiful. His mother was killed tragically when John was just 17 years old. Throughout most of his childhood, he was raised by his aunt, and when his mother passed away, the permanent loss had a major impact on him. The line “Mother, you had me, but I never had you” sums up his feelings perfectly.
“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings – A playful sounding tune, the lyrics of the song serve as a warning to mothers to not let their sons get into the lonely and sometimes dangerous world of being a cowboy. One of Jenning’s most popular songs, the song tells the mothers of the world that they’d be better off convincing their sons to be “doctors and lawyers and such.” It’s unclear though, just how many cowboy careers were actually averted thanks to this song.
“You Can’t Hurry Love” – by Diana Ross and The Supremes – One of the most popular songs of the early Motown years, “You Can’t Hurry Love” is a re-telling of advice that one mother gave her child on the subject of loving someone. It’s a parent’s way of saying that love is not an easy thing to get into and you can’t force it to happen. The song was covered quite famously by Phil Collins and by The Concretes, a Swedish band who had moderate success in the 1990s.
“Mama Said” by Metallica – In 1996 Metallica released the follow up to their smash-hit eponymous record known affectionately to fans as “The Black Album” with “Load,” which quite a musical departure. “Mama Said” was a slowed-down, country-fied track that sung about a mother’s love and the separation that comes when she passes away, as lead singer James Hetfield’s mother had done when he was still a teenager. It’s surprisingly beautiful and touching, coming from the same band that brought us “Master of Puppets” and “Whiplash.”
“Mother and Child Reunion” by Paul Simon – The exact origin of Simon’s simply beautiful song is unknown, Simon has said in some interviews it was actually written about a dog that he loved and the feeling of permanent loss he felt when the dog passed away. In writing “Mother and Child Reunion” though, he was able to turn it into a song about a mother and her child separated, whether by death or other circumstances. But fear not, the song gives hope as Simon writes the reunion is “only a motion away.”