Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rock of Love on Mother’s Day

Let’s all raise our cell phones in the dark in tribute to the women who rocked our world from Day One – our mothers.  We would love an encore to appreciate them just a little longer, wouldn't we?  Moms have had a special place in rock history, and I’m not just talking about The Mamas and the Papas.  How many rock songs can you name that use the word “Mama”, over and over and over again (not to mention “Baby Baby Baby”)?  It’s clear that even those anarchist guitar players hold a special love for their moms.  Moms rock. 

There are rock and roll songs that cry out for Mom’s help (Styx Renegade: “Oh Mama, I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law.”)  There are songs that recall the prescient advice from our mothers (Springsteen’s Blinded By the Light: “Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun, oh but Mama, that’s where the fun is.”)  There are furtive confessions made to mothers that don’t really make much sense at all (Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody: “Mama I just killed a man; put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he’s dead.”)  Let’s face it.  They loved their mothers enough to include them in some songs, but methinks they might have been on the pipe at the time.  I mean, if he just killed a man, don’t sing it – you're making her an accessory after the fact.  And why bring Galileo in it?

So excluding country songs and easy listening ballads, what are the great rock and roll mother songs of all time?  (Not to be confused with the mother of all rock songs, which would be a different list).  With all due respect to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention (not represented on my list), here’s what’s on my mix this year:

Mama Told Me Not to Come –Three Dog Night:  That’s right, rock fans.  Three Dog Night finally realized that their mother’s advice was right, but probably a few groupie encounters too late.  Should have listened the first time, boys.
Mother – Pink Floyd:  This has to be on everyone’s list.  It’s on mine because it is the only song so simple on guitar, that I figured it out myself without chord assistance.  It helps not to listen to all the words and analyze what they mean; otherwise, you get kinda bummed out.
Mother – Police:  Could be the worst 3 minutes 5 seconds of sound The Police ever recorded.  Before CDs and digital music, you had to actually stand up, walk over to the turntable, lift the needle after O My God, and carefully place at the beginning of track 5 (Miss Gradenko), lest the party end when it came on.  The song’s name is Mother, however, and I could not ignore that.  It meant something to Stewart Copeland, so it means something to me.
Lady Madonna – The Beatles:  Wasn’t the Madonna Jesus’ mom, before Madonna Louise Ciccone came along with her music videos and kabbalah worship?  Lady Madonna had “children at her feet”, “making ends meet”.  That’s a model mom. 
Mother’s Little Helper - Rolling Stones:  I guess it had to be tough being Keith Richards’ mom.  Can’t blame her for needing a little extra to get through the day with a Keith Richards' teenager in the house.  We were all easier to raise than that guy.
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby? – Rolling Stones:  Hey, baby, she standin’ in the shadows.
Welfare Mothers – Neil Young:  As Neil Young and Crazy Horse crooned, “welfare mothers make better lovers.”  This sentiment flies in the face of conventional conservative wisdom that welfare recipients are lazy.  Conservatives never listened to Neil Young anyway. 
Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon:  This is a song that I recommend listening to again.  Not a regular spin on your favorite FM station, but Paul Simon is a musical genius.
Mama – Genesis:  Phil Collins screams 'Mama' a few times in the song, and that reminds me a lot of my house on any given day.  Someone yelling for mom.  I am confident it was like that in your house, too.
Your Mama Don’t Dance – Loggins and Messina:  This song is for all those old, stodgy moms out there who won’t dance at weddings, scowl when they hear the word “hell” in public, and own a wide variety of underwear in both white and beige.  They’re still cool, though, ‘cause they are our moms.
Motorcycle Mama – Sailcat:  One hit wonder Sailcat has earned a place on my mother list.  I used to love this song as a kid.  Very simple, hypnotic beat that gets stuck in your head, much like the nagging entreaties from our mothers to either clean our rooms, make our beds, or do our homework.  These excerpts from the lyrics speak for themselves:
Your eighteen you can do what you like.
You'll be the queen of my highway, my motorcycle mama.
We'll see the world through my Harley.
And maybe in a year or two, we'll have a little one, she'll look just like you.
We'll add on a sidecar, electric guitar. We'll be a trio,
the baby makes three, oh.

Happy Mother’s Day, moms.  You all rock, and we love you for it.  Just for today, we’ll turn the volume down.

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