In honour of Mother’s Day, today I got myself out of bed, I cooked my meals for the week, washed all my clothes and even bathed myself.
I now know up to 1 millionth of what an average day was like for my own Ma with five human shaped adult-piglets to raise, clean and cater for, plus literally everything else.
While I was tempted to give myself a little Mother’s Day treat after doing all of that in one day and put my feet up, I had an urge to do something to acknowledge all those mamas out there, past and present, especially my own.
One of my favourite musician’s-turned-mothers (it’s not a small category, believe me) is Lykke Li. The queen of the contemporary left-of-centre ballad today released Utopia, the third song so far from her forthcoming album so sad, so sexy.
The song is inspired both by her own mother, who has passed away, but also to her newborn son. Her first foray into experiencing the mother-child relationship from the maternal perspective.
This got me thinking of all the other special ditties penned and performed from mums to their babies.
These aren’t twee songs. They are songs I love in their own right, but admittedly have a little extra influence over the heartstrings due to that unique maternal connection.
Losing our Mum 14 years ago makes these songs that extra bit special. I sometimes imagine my Mum feeling a similar way to some of these lyrics and it makes me feel nice and cuddled. Yes, this post is 1000% sappier than usual but if you can’t do it on Mother’s Day, when can you?
Here are some my faves. There’s also a more extended playlist link at the bottom to Spotify and Apple Music.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you bedrocks of life and livelihoods.
Loving You – Minnie Riperton
Even though this is a subtly-racy love song (ala, “making love to you is all I wanna do”) Minnie came up with the melody while trying to distract her daughter. That daughter also happens to be Maya Rudolph of Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids fame (also amazing as the hormone monster in Netflix’s Big Mouth).
This song is so goddamn pretty. I’d say I hope when I get to 44 years old that I age even half as well but I think that ship sailed many moons ago.
Special lyric like only a mother could: And everything that I do is out of lovin’ you/ La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la/ Do do do do do
Acapella – Kelis
The best offering from Kelis’ ‘David Guetta’ phase, she dedicated this song to her son, Knight. Like many of the songs on this list, it’s easy to automatically think of them as love songs to significant adult others. But when you dig deeper into the lyrics, it makes more sense as a mummy-baby anthem.
Props to Kelis for creating an electronic track for an infant. It’s emphatic and uplifting, just like the best parts of a mother’s love.
Special lyric like only a mother could: Before you my whole life was acapella/ Now a symphony’s the only song to sing
Lullaby – Dixie Chicks
I got into this album, Taking the Long Way, in a major way after seeing their documentary Shut Up and Sing. If you’ve not seen it, it’s not too late. That kind of bravery and camaraderie doesn’t date, ever. Plus, Rick Rubin executive produced this album and seeing how he gently steers the sound is a special thing in itself.
In the documentary it feels like they are all constantly pregnant and they show a little piece of this song being recorded. This was one of the very first songs I knew on first listen was about a bebe. So it’s been a special one from day one.
Special lyric like only a mother could: How long do you wanna be loved/ Is forever enough, is forever enough? (I MEEEAN, has there ever been a more simple and poignant expression of the mother-child relationship?)
BONUS: I found this free link on YouTube with Portuguese subtitles. No excuses, so shut up and watch … pretty please.
To Zion – Lauryn Hill
This song goes one step further than its parenting peers by starting at the decision to go ahead with her pregnancy and having her firstborn, Zion, despite naysayers concerned about the impact on her burgeoning career. The song crescendos through three magic words each emphasised by her impeccable voice ‘joy’, ‘world’, ‘Zion’ before ultimately climaxing when she tears the song apart with all her heart and might with ‘MY JOY’ repeatedly at the end. Bliss.
Special shout out to that most of serenading of Spanish twangs care of Carlos Santana on the strings.
Special lyric like only a mother could: I touched my belly overwhelmed/ By what I had been chosen to perform
Childhood Dreams – Nelly Furtado
This little unsuspecting sneaker is the very last song on Nelly’s most-undeservedly unknown album Folklore.
This song makes no sense sonically, yet all the sense in the world. Nelly pours her heart out into this astrological sounding anthem. It’s peaceful and pure and at the same time as unbridled and
Disclaimer: My recent research suggests that this may not have been about her baby, because her baby was a girl and the lyrics clearly mention a boy. As they say, let’s not the truth get in the way of a good emotional opportunity so it’s staying.
Special lyric like only a mother could: You’re the little boy made for me in the stars/ In the stars, that’s why I can’t let you go
Blue – Beyonce
I’ll admit this isn’t the most striking moment from Beyonce’s blockbuster self titled album. But it is one of the few low key moments and is an important arc in its – and her – story. Amidst the hypersexuality of Beyonce (the album, and the person I guess) and the public relationship therapy that was Lemonade came the birth of her first, Blue Ivy. Then came this song in her name.
Special lyric like only a mother could: Make it last forever/ Come one baby won’t you hold on to me, hold on to me
I know this list isn’t exhaustive but these were the ones that have stood out to me over the years. What did I miss?
BONUS: I’ve also adding a few more to the playlist that are versions of the mother-child relationship.