15 Greatest Songs About Mom…So Far

Posted May 13, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Fifteen of the greatest songs about Mom of all time, so far – according to HiFi

Mothers are special. And musicians know that to be true. Over the years, there’s been a major fixation in planting mothers in songs, dating back to Ruth Brown’s 1953 footstomper “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” up to Carrie Underwood’s 2009 single “Mama Song.” But we’ve uncovered fifteen great motherly love songs spanning the genres of rock, pop, hip-hop and r&b. And we at HiFi take a great deal of pride in saying that it’s probably the best and most versatile “best-of” list out there. We hope you and your mothers agree.

Spice Girls
#1 UK

Sugar and spice and everything nice fills up this sweet love song to their mums. Although there’s nothing big and brassy here like their harder hits (“Wannabe,” “Say You’ll Be There”), it is nice to hear the Spice Girls sing something in a Babyface-meets-Mariah Carey shade of mellow for a change.

“Hey Mama”
Kanye West

Like an obituary written before the passing, “Hey Mama” is Kanye’s last words to his dear mom, but done up in royal sampling and precious memories. Kanye’s mother, Donda, passed away in November 2007.

“No Charge”
Melba Montgomery
#39 pop, 1974

As a young boy shows off his list of accomplished chores to his mom, expecting to get some monetary gain, Mom drops the bombshell on the money hungry lad. Mom’s done it all and the cost of that is no charge. Others have covered the song, some a tad bit better (Tammy Wynette, J.J. Barrie, Shirley Caesar), but Montgomery’s country-fried version about good motherhood takes the top prize for being the innovator.

“Oh Mother”
Christina Aguilera

Found on the Back To Basics double LP, Christina Aguilera lays aside her Stripped drapery for a breezy love letter to a mom whose endured a lot of hell from her husband. Sort of biographical, since Aguilera’s father is the primary target. But the song never turns into a total beatdown for deadbeat dads, thanks to the triumphant chorus: “So mother, I thank you/For all that you’ve done and still do/You got me, I got you/Together we always pull through.”

The Beatles

The White Album’s place of calm, “Mother” grants John Lennon ample space to enter into a peaceful utopia with him and his acoustic guitar, as he sings what sounds like a lullaby to his mum.

“A Mother’s Prayer”
Celine Dion

Take the batter of Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s 1999 adult contemporary hit “The Prayer” and focus it on a warm ballad for mothers, that’s what you’re left with. The great switch-a-roo works here: “Every mother’s prayer/Every child knows/Lead her to a place/Guide her with your grace/To a place where she’ll be safe.”

#54 pop

Not the prettiest name for ole Momma. But the precious memories of rushing to Sunday school, being “sweeter than cotton candy” and “stronger than Papa’s ole Brandy” are enough ingredients to fall in love with this ode to Mom. Wynne’s emotive ad-lib steals the show: “If there’s a heaven above, I know she’s teaching angels how to love.”

Alicia Keys
#82 pop

That hard-working single mom trying to raise a bundle of kids needs a good head lifter for those weary days. Keys raises the mantra: “This is for all the mothers fighting/For better days to come/And all my women/All my women sitting here trying/To come home before the sun.” This is the perfect anthem for that superhero of a mom.

“I’ll Always Love My Mama”
The Intruders
#36 pop, 1973

Halfway into the cute Hallmark card made of Philly disco, the guys conjure up their childhood memories mostly dwelling on Mom’s tough love – some funny, some not so funny. But the barbershop chatter layered across a MFSB spread and sensational Earl Young beat has to be oddest and coolest chit-chat rap segment invented since Isaac Hayes’ “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

#43 pop, 1988

Hard rock for the sweet maternal guardian. This Rick Rubin-produced heavy metal anthem rockets to the sky with its pounding drums, guitar blazing and – yeah, basic parental tips for those Parental Advisory albums. Thanks, Tipper Gore.

“Mama Used to Say”
#30 pop, 1982

A time capsule into the Eighties decked with cow bells, heavy synths and big bass. And then there’s the ever-turning of the family scrapbook where Mom leaves those wise words to an anxious-to-grow-old son. The music is most enjoyable, the down-to-earth message not so much.

“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
Bob Dylan

Dylan’s smart poetry and philosophy breaks away from the “fix this, fix that” protests of his early folk and starts to stare at the big picture. Basically the whole damn system is screwed. And the subject tries to normalize the broody apocalypse surrounding him. Also, it’s quite interesting how Dylan comes close to recalling a familiar Elvis line (“That’s all right now, Mama”).

“Dear Mama”
Tupac Shakur
#51 pop

Set to a Southern old-school r&b backdrop, the West Coast rapper leaves no stone unturned in his powerful portrait of a struggling “crack-fiend, black Queen.” His adoration for Mom, even for her obvious flaws, lives on when he sings “ain’t no woman alive can take my momma’s place.”

“Mother and Child Reunion”
Paul Simon
#4 pop, 1972

With a tinge of reggae and soul, thanks to Jimmy Cliff’s backing band and Cissy Houston’s backing vocal, Paul Simon conveys a message of hope that deals with passing time and death in a very honest and sincere way: “No I would not give you false hope/On this strange and mournful day/But the mother and child reunion/Is only a motion away.”

Song for Mama”
Boyz II Men
#7 pop, 1997

The masterpiece found on the Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds-produced Soul Food motion picture soundtrack. And the drama really starts to thicken as teary emotions anchored on O’Jays soul overtakes the rousing chorus.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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