Songs about mothers: A parenting chronology

Songs about mothers: A parenting chronology

A few days ago, a reader sent me a song that he had written for his late mother.  Very sweet, I thought.  I wondered if this was a common practice?  I don’t often (ever?) detect songs written by popular artists about their mothers, but perhaps they were hidden deep within the bowels of an early album?  To Google I went, and I was right!  Everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd to the Spice Girls has paid tribute to their mamas.

I looked at various lists of songs about mothers and selected the ones I thought I could tolerate, limiting myself to only ONE Celine Dion song (there were several), for instance.  I soon learned why these songs don’t make the radio: for the most part they’re a little dull. And many of them have very similar themes.  A study of these songs is a veritable primer in parenting.  Here is the pattern I noticed (my hypothetical child throughout this example is a girl.  I’ll call her “Adele”):

Phase I: For the purposes of this exercise, Phase I seems to primarily involve a single mom, sometimes abused but definitely poor.  Somehow, through all her hardship, she still always did the right thing by little Adele.  Sometimes the hardship is what caused her daughter’s success in the long run.  This phase confounds me a little, because I can’t really be accused of having too many hardships, but I have a hard time imagining that my kids will remember me in such glowing terms as in the songs I sampled.  On the other hand, maybe some selective amnesia is at play?  It’s a bit encouraging.

Phase II: Adele was a giant pain in the ass growing up.  She did dumb things, possibly even landing herself in jail (to be honest, this seems to mostly be the rappers).  Through it all, her mother knew exactly how to handle her.  Tough love or a gentle touch?  Mama knows best.

Phase III: The devil child settled down and realized how truly awesome her mother was.  All the sacrifices, all the guidance…the giving really seems like it was endless.  And there was also a lot of contrition on the part of grown-up Adele about the pain-in-the-ass phase.  I’m super excited for my kids to someday (soon?) reach Phase III, but not as excited as I am about…

Phase IV: In all these songs the child blossomed into a successful recording artist.  YES!  What more could a mother hope for?  I’m a bit anxious that my kids are getting a slow start on this one.  They’re already too old to be Mouseketeers, and I am not certain any of them have musical talent, but that part doesn’t worry me.  That’s why God created Auto Tune!

Here is a short list of some of the songs I enjoyed.  Before anyone yells at me, I know that “Mother and Child Reunion” was written about the death of Paul Simon’s dog in real life, but everyone seems to enjoy believing it’s actually about a mother and child.  Paul should have thought of that when he gave the song its title.  Enjoy, and happy Mother’s Day!

• “The Best Day” – Taylor Swift

• “Oh Mother” – Christina Aguilera

• “Thank You Mom” – Good Charlotte

• “Look What You’ve Done” – Drake

• “Dear Mama” – Tupac

• “Hey Mama” – Kanye West

• “I Love My Momma” – Snoop Dogg

• “Mother and Child Reunion” – Paul Simon

• “Mama” – Spice Girls

• “A New Day Has Come” – Céline Dion

• “Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood

• “Simple Man” – Lynyrd Skynryd

• “A Song for Mama” – Boys II Men

• “Tell Mama” – Etta James

• “Coat of Many Colors” – Dolly Parton

• “Treat Me Like Your Mother” – The Dead Weather

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