This Mother’s Day, I thought I’d do a lil roundup of Mom-focused songs – I love crafting a good party playlist, and while this isn’t exactly the same task, I also love the challenge of thematically-linked playlists. This is a short one, and it is not at all food-related, but it is topical. You can also read an edited version of this post over at The LRMC, a great ladies bartering collective that I’ve contributed blog posts to before.
Admittedly, I am compelled to include this song because I have been watching a lot of Gabmore Girls lately, and I really like the story behind this song’s association with the show. When Carole King recorded this song, it was meant to be about her (male) love interest; with the rise of second-wave feminism, King decided that she felt uncomfortable with the message of the song, and stopped performing it live shortly after its release. Decades later, she re-recorded the song for Gilmore Girls, and this time re-imagined it slightly and recorded it with her daughter, Louise Goffin. And so, the song was renewed as a song about a caring and supportive mother-daughter relationship.
This is a song that my brother often uses to try and convince his mother (and my stepmother) that just maybe she might like hip-hop. With the spoken refrain “You are appreciated”, this song is one of 2Pac’s more sentimental songs – a presumably auto-biographical song where 2pac reflects on the challenges his mother faced raising Tupac and his sister. This song is not all sentimental sap though, there’s a fair bit of social commentary embedded within it as well – while Tupac does describe some of his own disobedience and the pain it may have caused his mom, most of the challenges described have a lot to do with systemic and systematic barriers that effect racialized, low-income families and single parents in North America.
Catchy as hell, this song is also star-studded; Paul Simon recorded it in Jamaica accompanied by members of Jimmy Cliff’s band (who also played with Toots & the Maytals) and with backing vocals provided by Cissy Houston, the mother of recently-deceased and much-beloved Whitney Houston. A quick google search tells us that Paul Simon wrote this song after the death of his family dog (presumably then, the mother and child reunion is his family dog reuniting with its mother in your chosen afterlife scenario) but also that he was inspired by a dish in a Chinese restaurant. “A dish in a Chinese restaurant?! Huh?” you say? Apparently Paul saw a menu item in said restaurant that was called “Mother and Child Reunion” and was made up of Chicken and Eggs. If that’s not one of the most clever-yet-macabre jokes you’ve ever heard of being on a restaurant’s menu, I don’t know what is.
I don’t care for this song very much, actually, though I think it’s mostly the chorus that irks me. That said, I thought that perhaps I would be remiss if I didn’t include a shout-out to all the bodacious mom-babes out there. After all, a mere 15 years ago nobody had ever heard or used the term “MILF” and now, like “cougar”, it’s common parlance. Most of us have known at least one Julie Cooper-style mom in our lives, and I think that these women are often treated/portrayed in the media as bad moms. As if being an attractive, single, and sexually active woman and being a good mother are mutually exclusive?! Damn, patriarchy’s the worst, amiright?!
I’m ending with this one because this is the song that, for me, is the perfect Mother’s Day tribute song. I do have a good mother – a great mother – and I think that Jann’s lyrics sum up how simple really good advice can actually be – “Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward, be yourself.” I saw Jann Arden live in the early 2000s with some of the best friends a girl could ask for (“I’ve got a friend who loves me”) and I often remember that concert when I hear this song in particular. Those friends are still a big part of my life, and while we have all been lucky enough to have some seriously bad-ass damn Good Mothers, we’ve lost a few of those moms over the years. Mother’s Day is not an easy day for everyone. So folks, honour your Moms year-round, not just this Sunday – and take care of yourselves, your friends, and the rest of your family too.
And if all else fails, listen to Jann.