Happy Mother’s Day!
Moms are pretty spectacular. I know. I’ve got one of the best ones around, my grandmother is one the most formidable and impressive people I have met in my life, and my sister amazes me every day with the two pretty epic people she is raising. Moms (and Dads to be fair) listen, comfort, teach, heal, advise, inspire, protect, sacrifice, tolerate, endure, and are finally abandoned by their children. That’s a hell of a job description.
Every day at work, I see the emotionally crippling effect that not having the support of dedicated and loving parents can have. As a child and teenager, and probably still to this day, I sometimes took/take this support for granted, but at the end of the day, every time I take out my keys I see my parents’ house key on the ring, and I know that, no matter what happens, I will always have a home. I am always safe. This is due, in no small part, to my Mom.
Here’s to the Moms! This is our alternative list of Overblown’s Top Ten Mother’s Day songs. Let’s be clear. When I assert that this list is ‘alternative’, I don’t mean it is comprised of alternative music. Rather, it is an alternative to the lists already online, which seem to all be comprised of the same Boys II Men, and Garth Brooks songs. Enjoy, and say happy Mother’s Day to your Mom.
11. Bonus Song! Mr. T – Treat Your Mother Right
This. Always this.
10. The Beatles – Julia
John Lennon’s mother, Julia, was killed by a car driven by a drunk off duty police officer. Their’s was an unusual relationship. After Julia broke up with John’s father, John was taken in by his aunt Mimi, and Julia started a family with a new man. John didn’t see her for a number of years, even though she lived just a few miles away from his home with Mimi. When he got a little older their relationship improved, and Julia bought him his first guitar and encouraged his interest in music.
9. Johnny Cash – There’s Always A Mother Waiting At Home
The Man in Black had been very close with his mother. She helped to teach him guitar, and he learned many old hymnals and gospel songs from her. In 2004, Cash’s estate release My Mother’s Hymn Book, a collection of songs that Cash learned from his mother as a child. Before he died, Cash had declared that it was his favourite album he had ever recorded. ‘There’s Always A Mother Waiting At Home’ is not included on that collection, but I feel it sums up what he loved about his mother.
8. 2Pac – Dear Mama
2Pac’s attitude to women in his music has always been a complicated one. On the one hand, he offered a surprisingly fresh feminism in tracks like ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’, ‘Keep Ya Head Up’, and ‘Dear Mama’. Unfortunately, this progressive lyricism is offset by rather violent misogyny of songs like ‘Wonda Why They Call You Bitch’, ‘All About You’, and ‘Young Black Male’. What is not in question, is 2Pac’s love and respect for his mother. A Black Panther, she struggled to to maintain her family in the face of addiction, poverty, and isolation. ‘Dear Mama’ is a tribute to her struggle, in which 2Pac declares his love and respect for her efforts.
7. Sun Kil Moon – I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love
Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon is famed for his blunt, and vulnerable lyricism. It doesn’t really get any more up front than his track ‘I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love’. As with much of his music, the first time I heard the track I was silenced and taken aback. I genuinely had to stop and just listen to the music and the words. “My mother is seventy five / she’s the closest friend I have in my life. Take her away, I’ll break down and bawl / wither away like old leaves in the fall”. Beautiful, and gripping, stuff.
6. Nat King Cole – My Mother Told Me
Alright. I had to sneak a bit of Nat King Cole in here. I bloody love him. Best. Voice. Ever. In this bluesy number, Nat recalls advice that his mother told him to stay away from girls with “warm lips”. So, it’s here because I like his voice and piano playing. Deal with it.
5. Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young – Teach Your Children
Not strictly a song about mothers, this track from 1971’s Deja Vu explores how children teach their parents just as much as parents teach their children. Its important to listen to the younger generation. Often they are more optimistic, and less jaded than their more senior counterparts. Cynicism hasn’t set in yet. A nice sentiment, and a wonderful melody.
4. The Frames – God Bless Mom
I don’t really think that this track has anything to do with Moms other than the title. However, Steve, Honk, and I listened to this album a crap load when we were on our Sixth Year holiday in Playa Del Ingles. It was my first holiday abroad without my family, and I get the impression my mother was fairly terrified for my safety. Must be tough to relinquish the control one has over their child when they turn eighteen. Playa Del Ingles sucked.
3. Sufjan Stevens – Decatur, or Round of Applause For Your Stepmother!
Who has it tougher than Moms? Step-moms! In this track from 2005’s Illinois, Stevens claims that he and his siblings did everything they could to hate their step-mom, but in the end can’t figure out why he wanted to hate her so much and orders listeners with step-moms to “Appreciate her, appreciate her / Stand up and thank her”. He also rhymes “abominate her” with “why did we hate her?”. Legend.
2. Smashing Pumpkins – For Martha
In 1996, at the height of the Pumpkins’ commercial success, Billy Corgan’s mother succumbed to cancer. He took it a lot harder than he had thought he would, and penned this grandiose piano ballad in her memory for the Pumpkins’ grossly under rated album Adore, released in 1998. The track also reveals a striking delicateness, and vulnerability in places. Very refreshing in the face of all Corgan’s bluster and shit talk. Listen, and recall when Corgan knew is way around a melody.
1. Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
I’m not too sure if this Fleetwood Mac classic is about children or parenthood, but I’m claiming it due to the line “I’ve built my life around you.” This is, of course, the very thing that parents do. Not an easy task, to put one’s desires completely on the back burner so that the child has priority. Many people fail at this selflessness, but when one sees a parent essentially giving their life up for their child, it really is a beautiful thing.