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Try These Songs For Your Mother's Day Mix Tape

of the Oakland Press

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The flowers are set to be delivered.

Brunch, lunch or dinner plans have been made.

The appropriate gifts have been purchased.

Now, how about a soundtrack for your Mother’s Day celebration?

Though a different kind of love tends to be the more popular fodder for pop music, moms have had their fair share of mentions as well — good, bad and inappropriate. They’ve been loved, loathed, celebrated, sedated, tied down, taken out and just about everything else you can imagine.

What follows is a suggested Mother’s Day Mixtape of 20 of the most notable mother songs; take a few minutes to download ’em (legally) and play it while the food is being served and those presents are being opened. Mom may raise her eyebrows a couple of times, but that way you’ll know she’s really listening ...

“My Mammy,” Various Artists: Why not start with this early 20th Century classic in which lyricists Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis proclaimed “I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles, my mammy!” If it’s good enough for Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Liza Minnelli, Cher, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Slappin’ Mammys, your mom deserves it from you, too.

“Mama Will Bark,” Frank Sinatra and Dagmar (1951): A novelty tune birthed after the two American entertainment icons made a TV appearance together and hit the studio with producer Mitch Miller. The “Bark,” by the way, is worse than its bite.

“Mama Sang a Song,” Bill Anderson (1962): Country singer Anderson wrote his own chart-topping hit about a poor sharecropper family whose spirits would rise whenever its matriarch would sing a gospel hymn. Walter Brennan, Jimmy Dean, Faron Young and Crawford Bell also recorded it over the years.

“Mother’s Little Helper,” the Rolling Stones (1966): A biting bit of social commentary that hit the Top 10, but it could just as easily be about taking out the trash and doing the dishes, right?

“Mama Tried,” Merle Haggard (1968): Love means being able to say you’re sorry — even to your mother, which is what Hag did in this apology for the events that led him to be thrown into San Quentin State Prison 11 years before. A well-spent two minutes and 12 seconds that became his fifth single to top the country charts.

“Let It Be,” the Beatles (1970): A dream about his late “mother Mary” inspired Paul McCartney to share the “words of wisdom” that resulted in the Fab Four’s penultimate No. 1 hit.

“Mother,” John Lennon (1970): Need a little angst with your sweetness and light? The solo Beatle was in the midst of primal scream therapy when he wrote this for his “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” album, lashing out that “Mother, you had me/But I never had you.” The Barbra Streisand or Christina Aguilera versions might go down better.

“Mama Liked the Roses,” Elvis Presley (1970): To mama Gladys, from your hunka hunka burnin’ love ...

“Mama’s Pearl,” the Jackson 5 (1971): The good news? It was Michael and his brothers’ fifth consecutive Top 5 single. The bad? It was the first not to go No. 1, peaking at No. 2 (they’d never hit the top spot again, as a group). The original title, by the way, was “Guess Who’s Making Whoopie (With Your Girlfriend) — obviously for a different kind of mama.

“Mother and Child Reunion,” Paul Simon (1972): Simon’s first solo hit was inspired by reggae — and named after a chicken-and-egg dish he saw on a Chinese restaurant menu.

“Tie Your Mother Down,” Queen (1977): A single and perpetual fan favorite from the group’s “A Day at the Races” album. Freddie Mercury and company want us to “give her all your love tonight” — just keep it clean, buddy.

“Mother,” Pink Floyd (1979): There’s a deceptively gentle opening to this aching paean from the British group’s landmark concept album “The Wall.” “Mother do you think they’ll like the song?” Of course they will, darling ...

“Mama Said Knock You Out,” LL Cool J (1990): It was actually the New York rapper’s grandmother who told him to “knock out” the haters who were calling his career over. He hit ’em with a Top 20, gold-certified single that also topped the rap chart. Right on, (grand)mama.

“Always on the Run,” Lenny Kravitz (1991): He mentions what his “mama said” 14 times in this hit single (“Your life is a gift,” “Don’t take more than a mouthful,” “It’s good to be factual”). What most mothers wouldn’t give to have a boy who listens this closely ...

“Mama, I’m Coming Home,” Ozzy Osbourne (1992): Everyone’s favorite rock ’n’ roll madman commemorated a reconciliation with his wife and manager, Sharon, with this three-hanky love song co-written with guitarist Zakk Wylde and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. There’s apparently at least one full heart between those three famous headbangers.

“Dear Mama,” 2Pac (1995): The gangsta-with-a-heart’s ode to his mother, Afeni Shakur, topped the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart for five weeks and went platinum. Eminem has called it his favorite song, and it routinely shows up on lists of the best rap songs of all time.

“A Song For Mama,” Boyz II Men (1997): Sweet both harmonically and lyrically, the quartet’s homage hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

“Take Your Mama,” Scissor Sisters (2004): “Gonna take your mama out all night ... We’ll get her jacked on cheap champagne/We’ll let the good times all roll out.” At least she’ll feel appreciated.

“Hey Mama,” the Black Eyed Peas featuring Tippa Irie (2004): Not quite the same as the genuinely mother-loving “Hey Mama” Kanye West released the following year, this still put “Mama” back on the map — No. 23 on the Billboard charts, on an iPod TV commercial and in “Garfield: The Movie.”

“Hey Mama,” Kanye West (2005): Say what you will about Kanye, he loved his mother — the late activist and educator Donda West. And he showed it on this song from his “Late Registration” album, which he performed in her honor at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Yo Mama!

Have some mother-related songs that you like that you don’t see on our list? Visit theoaklandpress.com, click on the Entertainment tab and comment below the story with your choices. But be forewarned; the Spice Girls’ “Mama I Love You” isn’t here for a reason. Reference it at your own risk...

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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