To me, life is a song. That’s the kind of fella I am. I see the sky, I sing “Here comes the sun.” I see a hockey game, I sing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.” I see Marge Schott, I sing “If I only had a brain.”
There is pretty much a song for everything, I have found, from the time you get up (“Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”) to the time you go to sleep (“Goodnight, My Love”). There are songs for warm weather (“Summertime”), songs for cold weather (“Winter Wonderland”), songs for cities (“New York, New York” “April in Paris”), songs for countries (“O Canada”), songs for guys named Billy (“Billy, Don’t be A Hero”) and songs for major social whackos (“Psycho Killer,” “Helter Skelter,” “The Ross Perot Election Song”).
The fact is — and I believe this was sealed the day “Disco Duck” was recorded — we now, officially, have music for every occasion.
Which brings me to today’s subject, Mother’s Day, or, more specifically, the lack of any good “mother” songs. Don’t bother looking. There are none. Not a single true anthem we would all sing to dear old Mom, the way we sing “Happy Birthday” to kids, or “For He’s Jolly Good fellow” to retirees, or the always emotional “99 bottles of Beer on the Wall” to whoever is in the bar at that hour.
Friends have tunes. Lovers have tunes. Babies have tunes. Psycho killers have tunes.
Mother has been left without a tune.
Could you hum a few bars?
Oh, pop singers sometimes include mothers in their songs, but not in what you’d call the Mother’s Day spirit. For example, there is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”:
Mama . . . just killed a man,
put a gun up to his head
pulled the trigger, now he’s dead.
Interesting. But not exactly what you’d sing as you served Mom breakfast in bed.
Neither is “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jax:
Good-bye Mama, it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky.
Not exactly a picker-upper, is it?
Having done some exhaustive research here, which consisted of many minutes of me walking past my record collection, I have observed that most pop songs that mention Mama, or Mother, do it in a way that Hallmark never had in mind.
For example, there is “Rag, Mama, Rag” by the Band, and “Motorcycle Mama” by Neil Young, and “Yo’ Mama” by Frank Zappa, and something called “Mommy Stinks Real Bad Now” by a group named Theatre of Ice. I have not heard this song. But I am guessing you wouldn’t sing it to Nancy Reagan.
Things don’t get any better when you go from a different angle, such as the oldies tune “Mother-in-law” by Ernie K. Doe:
The worst person I know
(mother in law!)
There is “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys,” which might work for Michael Irvin’s mother, but nobody else’s. And there is “Mother’s Little Helper” by the Rolling Stones, which sounds like a sweet title. Too bad it’s about drug addiction.
Tunes for the ages
All of which prompts me to suggest some brand new Mother’s Day songs for Mothers. None of these are what you’d call “great,” nor are they what you’d call “good” or, for that matter, “listenable,” but someone has to make an effort here.
I broke them into age groups:
KIDS’ SONG FOR MOTHERS
(sung to the tune of “We Love You, Conrad” from “Bye Bye Birdie”)
We Love you Mommy,
Oh yes we do,
we won’t burn down the house,
or eat shampoo,
the girl who baby-sits turned blue,
Happy Mother’s Day, we love you!
TEENS’ SONG FOR MOTHERS
(sung to “I Saw Her Standing There” by the Beatles)
Well I am just 17,
My room is not clean,
And my MTV is way beyond compare,
But Mom, I vow not to get wasted whoo!
If I see you standing there.
ADULT’S SONG FOR MOTHERS
(sung to “That’ll Be the Day” by Buddy Holly
Well that’ll be the day,
when I need my Ma,
Well that’ll be the day,
I used to tell Pa,
And now that I am older,
I have to say shucks,
Mama can I borrow
Naturally, I expect no royalties on these songs. I offer them for the good of motherhood everywhere, and I hope you will sing them loudly and proudly. Next week, we will take on another distressing topic, why there are no songs for golden retrievers.