'Round the Dial
Wednesday 07 May @ 10:26:01
by Tom Hallett
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’ve met all the women, and I’ll tell you—I’m more woman than any of them. I’m a real woman because I have love, dependability, I’m good, kind, gentle and I have the power to give real love. Why else would you think that such a strong man as David Bowie would be close to me? He’s a real man and I’m a real woman. Just like Catherine Deneuve.” —Iggy Pop
SONG OF THE WEEK: “They Call Me Big Mama” —Big Mama Thornton
Greetings, boogie chillun! Welcome to this week’s installment of Round The Dial, where we’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11th) with a special Fun Page Edition of the column. In previous years, I’ve pretty much avoided any mention of “Minor Holidays” like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Groundhog Day, and Michael Bolton Day (I know there’s one somewhere, I just don’t want to know where) simply because, well, I could. I mean, if you really, really dig a particular “Minor Holiday,” you’re gonna be celebrating it with or without my help, right? And if you don’t, you probably won’t appreciate my reminding you of it. But what the hey, we’ve all got moms, whether we get/got along with ‘em or not, or they’re still with us or not, and some of us are moms, and some of us are co-parents with moms, and some of us play the role of mom, and some of us would maybe have preferred to be a mom instead of a dad. Thanks to the marvels of modern science, the sky’s the limit these days.
You don’t even have to have kids to be a mom, really. You can be a mother figure (Earth Mother, Big Mama, Ma Barker, Mother Theresa, etc.) to other family members, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your significant other, or even a complete stranger. That’s all cool—we live in the 21st century, Elroy, and being a mom doesn’t have to mean being someone’s biological mother, or legal stepmother, hell, it doesn’t even necessarily have to mean being a woman anymore (see Iggy’s quote above). What it does mean is someone who’s always there, through good times and bad, someone whose wisdom, warmth, nurturing and concern shines through long after you’ve left home to be a mom or dad yourself, and long after they’ve passed on to the other side.
Moms don’t have to provide physical wealth, social stature, or a place for you to live once you’ve turned 21. They don’t have to worry, fuss, fret, stay up late at night developing ulcers wondering how you’re doing, religiously send cards and letters in the mail, or bake you brownies. A lot of them do, but they don’t have to. All they really have to do, to have done their job, is to make you appreciate motherhood. After that, it’s up to you. Everybody has their own particular way of celebrating the mom(s) in their lives, and I guess this is mine. For all the groovy mamas in my life—this one’s for you...
Top Ten Mother Songs Of All Time:
1) “That’s Alright, Mama”—Elvis Presley
2) “It’s Alright, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”—Bob Dylan
3) “Mother”—John Lennon
4) “Mama Tried”—Merle Haggard
5) “Mother’s Little Helper”—The Rolling Stones
6) “Motorcycle Mama”—Neil Young
7) “Mother Popcorn”—James Brown
8) “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”—Randy Newman
9) “Your Mother Should Know”—The Beatles
10) “Mother”—Pink Floyd
1) “I’ll Always Love My Mama”—The Intruders
2) “Mamma Mia”—Abba
3) “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows”—The Rolling Stones
4) “Mama’s Pearl”—The Jackson Five
5) “M-O-T-H-E-R”—Babes In Toyland
6) “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”—Waylon & Willie
7) “Mother-In-Law”—Ernie K. Doe
8) “Mama Kin”—Aerosmith
9) “Mama Said”—The Shirelles
10) “Mama I’m Coming Home”—Ozzy Osbourne
The Top Ten Worst Mother Songs Of All Time:
1) “Mother Freedom”—Bread
2) “Mama Can’t Buy You Love”—Elton John
3) “Mama Look At Bubu”—Harry Belafonte
4) “Mama, Teach Me To Dance”—Eydie Gorme
5) “Does Your Mother Know”—Abba
7) “Your Momma Don’t Dance (and your daddy don’t rock an’ roll)”—Loggins & Messina
8) “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”—Three Dog Night
9) “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”—Alan Sherman
10) “Mom’s A Surfer”—G. Love & Special Sauce (Sample lyric: “Yo, Mary Jane Lorraine/That’s my momma’s name/And when she steals your wave/Yo man, please don`t complain...” I mean, it’s cool that G’s mama knows how to surf, but this tune makes you wish Mr. Love would go deep sea diving with a damaged oxygen tank...)
Top Three Mother Songs (That Will Probably Cause Your Mom To Slap Your Face If You Play Them For Her:)
1) “I Fucked Your Mama”—The Whiskey Sournotes
2) “The End”—The Doors (Jim Morrison’s notorious “Oedipus” section of this ‘60s album cut contains the line, “Father—yes, son? I want to kill you. Mother—I want to fuck you!”)
3) “Motherfucker”—The Queers
Top Five Bands With “Mother” or “Mama” in their names:
1) The Mothers Of Invention (Frank Zappa’s backing band), also honorable mention to Jimmy Carl Black and crew, who carry on with the name “The Grandmothers” due to legal wrangling with the Zappa estate.
2) The Mamas & The Papas
3) Mother Love Bone
4) Zap Mama
5) Joe Mama
Mother’s Day Rock N’ Roll Trivia Questions:
(answers appear at end of this column)
1) Elvis Presley, probably the first white rock n’ roller to unabashedly worship his mother (Gladys), kicked off his career with an ode to her, “That’s Alright, Mama.” Although she passed away when Big E was in his early 20s, she and her offspring would later share a bizarre coincidence. What was it?
2) Forties blues belter Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, who originally recorded Elvis Presley’s smash hit “Hound Dog,” has always been celebrated for “keepin’ it real.” What’s the one segment of her legend that wasn’t exactly accurate?
3) How many hit singles did singer/songwriter Paul Simon have that mentioned the word “mama” or “mother,” and which one used the maternal reference the most times?
Round The Dial’s Mother’s Day Musical Gift Suggestions:
For the “hipster” mama: Daniel Lanois, Shine, 2003. The uber-producer/musical genius’ latest, on Anti Records, is a gorgeous slice of shimmering, understated pop melancholy, and belongs right up there with such celebrated Lanois-produced gems as Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball. Pick this one up for mom, and watch her jaw drop at how totally “hip” the kid who used to crank up LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” actually turned out to be.
For the “mainstream” mama: Fleetwood Mac, Say You Will, 2003. Though songbird Christine McVie is no longer on board the ‘Mac train, the band soldiers on with the core commercial lineup of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. This album, a melange of wispy electronic swooshies, haunting themes, and slightly disturbing bass lines, is more akin musically to an ‘80s Nicks solo album than the crackling pop/rock they hit big with in the mid-’70s, but Stevie’s vocals are as tasty as ever. If your mom sits up late at night to watch reruns of “Soap” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” on TV Land, she’ll no doubt dig the shit outta this one.
For the “punk” mama: No Hold Back...All Attack!!! Twin Cities Hardcorepunkrockandroll Compilation, 2003. An ear-piercing collection of more than 50 local punk-oriented bands, from stalwarts like Dillinger Four and Ed Gein Fan Club to new, up-and-comers like The Bleeding Hickeys and The Soviettes. With song titles like “Video Games And The Simpsons Are Killing Hardcore” and “God Is The Biggest Bitch Of Them All,” every punk rock mama should find something to sink their teeth into here. Go to http://www.extremenoise.com for more info.
For the “R&B/Blues” mama: Etta James, Let’s Roll, 2003. Legendary blues/r&b giant Etta James releases one of her most powerful modern efforts with Let’s Roll. This collection of all-new recordings (produced by James herself) leans towards an edgier, rock n’ roll groove, and proves that, despite today’s radio playlists, a woman (yes, even an older woman of color who hasn’t had a hit in years) can be strong, loud, tough, nasty and cool without an accompanying dance, product endorsement, or line of clothing.
For the “country” mama: Caitlin Cary, I’m Staying Out, 2003. Former Whiskeytown violinist/singer Cary returns with a powerful follow-up to her excellent debut, While You Weren’t Looking. This batch of down-home, no-bullshit tunes showcases her brilliant songwriting talents, and her spot-on backing band now includes former Jayhawks keyboardist Jen Gunderman. Guest appearances by Don Dixon, Mitch Easter and Mary Chapin-Carpenter are tasteful and appropriate, and producer Chris Stamey (The db’s) weaves the package into a satisfying, wholesome foray into true American roots music. Don’t buy ma the latest Nashville claptrap—give her the real deal.
For the “rocker” mama: AC/DC’s early catalog reissues, 2002. Atco’s recent update of the Aussie bad boys’ first four studio albums (featuring original lead singer Bon Scott) gives fans both old and new a chance to hear the band’s strongest material in its finest form to date. With lusty, gut-bucket classics like High Voltage, Let There Be Rock, Powerage and Highway To Hell clattering around in her head, don’t be surprised if yer mama hops on the ol’ Harley and hits that asphalt trail for a long, lascivious roadtrip this summer.
Answers To Trivia Questions:
1) A: The two passed away nineteen years apart, nearly to the day. Gladys Presley died on August 14, 1958, at the age of 46. Elvis died on August 16, 1977, at the age of 42.
2) A: While she was “big” most of her life, Willie Mae Thornton was never a biological “mama.” Some irate housewives of the day, however, may have referred to the hard-drinkin’, pants-wearin’, saloon-goin’ singer as a “hoochie mama.”
3) A: Three—“Loves Me Like A Rock,” “Mother And Child Reunion,” and “Kodachrome.” And although the first two were specifically about mommies, they didn’t actually use the term(s) that many tim es. “Mother And Child Reunion” finds Mr. Simon employing the word “mother” six times, while “Loves Me Like A Rock” contains a sparse three “mamas.” Paul’s hands-down, chart-toppin’ winner in the ma category is “Kodachrome,” a song ostensibly about a photographer, in which he implores his mammy no less than ten times, “Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away...”
That’s it for this week, kids. Happy Mother’s Day to all mamas everywhere, especially the ones who’ve mothered me over the years. Tune in next time for more CD reviews, music news, and boogety-boogety-boos. Until next time—make yer own damn news.