In these days of families spread all over the country and the world, a lot of mothers and their offspring will not be able to spend as much time together on Mothers’ Day as they would like. So, gentle readers, as a musical musing for the day I am drawn to the plethora of “Mom Songs” out there. These, just like all our mothers, are found in different styles and with different personalities.
Mothers’ Day is one of those holidays where those of you who are mothers, and all of us who have or have had mothers, can celebrate in person if we can, or in remembrance if we must. And, gentle readers, there are songs, songs, SONGS!
Let’s start with one about a young man gone astray who only wants to come home to the comfort of his mother.
Click or tap on the triangle in the next image for this tearjerker of a start, by the great Country singer Eddie Arnold.
And, of course, there are others of this ilk.
Anyway, the word “mother,” or some infantile singsong form of it, was probably the first intelligible word most of us spoke. Needless to say, the world of popular song is replete with references to “mother” in all its many linguistic forms.
And, of course!
Now, gentle readers, for another musical treat here’s one I’m sure we all know. It’s the most repeated nostalgic “m-o-t-h-e-r” song ever!
Click or tap on the triangle in the next image for a listen to this oldie from 1916. A bit scratchy, but there it is.
And, then, there were some pretty maudlin “mother” songs–particularly during the World War I years. These were, of course, always popular tearjerkers when played on folk’s parlor pianos or on the wartime vaudeville stage.
Here’s a more modern, barbershop take take on this Jolson tune. Click or tap on the triangle in the next image to see and hear these sailors sing.
And then, there are all the “remember your greyhaired mother” songs, another category of “tearjerker.”
Here’s a great song–a jazz favorite still today– that alludes to a grey-haired Mother even though the words are not in the title.
Tap or click on the triangle in the next image for jazzy interpretation of this old standby by The Ink Spots.
And, of course, there were many ethnic “Mama” tunes,
Click or tap on the triangle in the next image for a listen to this Irish chestnut.
Click on the triangle in the next image to give a listen to the great Sophie belt this one out!
And, needless to say, many examples of what we might call “linguistic appropriation” today.
Click on the triangle in the next image to hear Al Jolson, America’s most popular entertainer in his day, belt out this most popular song of his. And, if you want to see him do this in his signature blackface makeup, just go to YouTube on your own and search.
Now, just to wipe the tears away, there were some comedy “Mother” songs.
Click or tap on the triangle in the next image for a listen to this one from the 1950s, sung by a greyhair (not a mother) of today.
And, needless to say, the “slangification” of the word “Mama”–much like “Baby” and “Babe”–was a stalwart of the Jazz Age and gave new meanings to the words.
Instead of a scratchy, 1920s recording of this musical chestnut, here is a more up-to-date version played on one of my favorite non-ukulele instruments–a plectrum (four-string) banjo. Click on the next image for a real treat!
And then, here’s a red hot version of another “Mama” song of the period:
Click or tap on the next image to hear the great Sophie.
Anyway, remember your mothers on this day and send them a message of what they are, or were, to you—whether or not it involves flowers.
Maybe just a Zoom, a Facebook, or even the old-fashioned letter or telephone!
Click or tap on the triangle in the next image to hear this wartime favorite by Bing himself.
And, just for fun, click or tap on the triangle in the next image for a 21st Century musical Mother’s Day song. Smile!
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay in touch with Mom, stay as masked as you need to be . . .
and STAY TUNED!