21 Classic Pop Songs About Mothers

A Playlist of Songs About Mothers, Mother's Day, and Motherly Advice

Playful mother and daughter at home
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As music grew out of folk music (gospel, country, blues), it was only natural that rock would occasionally celebrate the joys and pains of motherhood. But only occasionally: rock was also the most popular music on the radio, and therefore aimed mostly at teens who were going through that awkward, rebellious, and sometimes angry period of distancing themselves from home life. Still, there were enough to assemble this Mother's Day playlist.

21 Songs For Mother's Day

  1. Claude Thornhill and his Orchestra, "I Remember Mama"
    One of the earliest versions of this Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, the theme song for a project that found success as a book, play, film, and TV show.
  2. Dinah Shore, "Blues In The Night" (purchase/download)
    A classic piece of maternal advice, this jazzy Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer number became an instant pop vocal standard.
  3. Eddy Arnold, "Mama Come Get Your Baby Boy" (purchase/download)
    The country master longs for a mother to save him from an evil woman in his 1953 Top 10 country hit.
  4. Kitty Wells, "Mommy For A Day" (purchase/download)
    The first queen of country music tells a typically pathetic tale of a divorce where mommy doesn't get custody.
  5. Ruth Brown, "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" (purchase/download)
    A big influence on Little Richard, Miss Brown looks to unleash the full wrath of her mother's vengeance on this R&B smash.
  6. The Shirelles, "Mama Said" (purchase/download)
    In which the singer's mother warns her that love is fleeting... even for the person in love.
  7. The Miracles, "Shop Around" (purchase/download)
    The song that more or less launched Motown, this 1960 smash finds Smokey's mama counseling him on finding just the right girl.
  8. Barbara Lewis, "My Mama Told Me" (purchase/download)
    A relatively obscure slice of girl-group regret in the mashed potato mold.
  9. Jan Bradley, "Mama Didn't Lie" (purchase/download)
    A one-hit-wonder hit that shows how much Mom knows about men and "their tricks."
  10. Connie Francis, "Mama" (purchase/download)
    A real tearjerker with a strong Italian pop influence.
  11. Bill Anderson, "Mama Sang A Song" (purchase/download)
    Another country-music set of memories, this one a spoken-word tribute to how a mother's faith can make up for everything.
  12. Merle Haggard, "Mama Tried" (purchase/download)
    One of the more famous country laments this classic features Merle telling his own (mostly) true story of being wild -- and how his mother worked to set him straight.
  13. Elvis Presley, "Mama Liked The Roses" (purchase/download)
    The King was keenly feeling the loss of his own mother when he recorded this Mother's Day mainstay.
  14. Jerry Butler, "Only The Strong Survive" (purchase/download)
    The Iceman gets through the breakup of his first big love affair with the wise counsel of you-know-who.
  15. Bill Withers, "Grandma's Hands" (purchase/download)
    Because grandmothers are mothers too -- and sometimes do just as much work within the family.
  16. The Intruders, "I'll Always Love My Mama" (purchase/download)
    The most famous of the R&B oldies dedicated to a mother's love and devotion.
  17. Three Dog Night, "Mama Told Me Not To Come" (purchase/download)
    The rock vocal trio turns Randy Newman's sardonic party song on its head.
  18. The Beatles, "Your Mother Should Know" (compare prices)
    If you can ignore the "born a long long time ago" part, this Magical Mystery Tour album cut works as a fitting tribute.
  19. B.J. Thomas, "Mama" (purchase/download)
    Not one of the pop-country singer's bigger hits, but it's a tender waltz that makes its point all the same.
  20. The Kinks, "Some Mother's Son" (compare prices)
    A forgotten Ray Davies classic that details the worst pain a mother can know... especially when it's caused by war.
  21. Paul Simon, "Loves Me Like A Rock" (purchase/download)
    With help from the Dixie Hummingbirds, Paul Simon launched this folk-gospel tribute into the Top 10 in the early Seventies.